Sunday, February 27, 2011

HIMYM 6.17: "Garbage Island"

“She was a really great laser tag partner. She’s tiny, so she’s allowed to push kids.”

“Garbage Island” definitely had some cute moments, and it set up some interesting arcs for the final stretch of the season. Obviously, if you’ve ever read any of my other writing about HIMYM, I wasn’t happy with some of the plot developments, well, one plot development in particular. I wish I could say I had faith in Carter and Craig and the rest of the HIMYM team that even though I don’t like the detour that is Nora/Barney, everything will turn out well, but after the disaster that was Barney and Robin’s break-up last year and Robin’s relationship with Don, I’m not so sure. I chose to enjoy the many funny little moments in this episode and not dwell with my major problems with how Barney and Robin have been handled, though. On that level, it was a good viewing experience.

This episode used more extreme in media res than I’m used to seeing. We start with Ted stuck in the Hong Kong airport in 2021. He runs into Wendy the Waitress for the first time in the very long time, and Saget!Ted tells us (and the kids) that this is the story of what happened 10 years earlier to lead up to that meeting. The story starts in MacLaren’s of course, where the gang are sitting in their usual booth having dinner and drinks. Robin mentions to Barney that she heard laser tag was a good time. Barney tries to convince her that it wasn’t. Nora didn’t accept Barney’s offer for drinks, so he kind of tuned out to everything she said after that. Apparently Barney is incapable of listening to a woman if he doesn’t think she wants to sleep with him. This is a new one to me. He’s always listened to Robin and Lily just fine. Robin thinks Barney should give Nora a call, but Barney says he “don’t chase.” Meanwhile, Ted is happily telling Wendy the Waitress the “fairly tale” version of the story about how he and Zoey got together. The one where Zoey and the Captain had a huge fight, Zoey left, and Ted picked up the pieces.

Zoey wants Ted to pick up a box of things from her old apartment building (the box has been left with the doorman), and this starts Ted on a journey of finding out that maybe he wasn’t the good guy in this situation after all. When he goes to pick up the box, Ted runs into the Captain, who asks him to come with him to “the study.” The Captain is actually really friendly to Ted. You see, he needs a friend because he’s feeling really hurt over the divorce. He tells Ted a different story about what happened. In his version, he and Zoey were very happy, Zoey left him for another man, but he doesn’t know who that man is. Ted, for one, hopes it stays that way.

In the final plot of the episode, work has really been grating at Marshall ever since he got back from Minnesota. It’s all drudgery and paperwork. Lily’s frustrated because an upset Marshall means she’s not getting much of anything in the bedroom. One evening Marshall is up late at night watching a documentary about “Garbage Island.” Lily is desperately trying to get him into the bedroom, but Marshall isn’t interested. He says he has to save the planet. Marshall then starts a multi-phase plan to achieve his goal. First was a green initiative at MacLaren’s. Poor Wendy the Waitress now has to lug trash bags full of bottles to the recycling center every night. Phase 2 is a new green initiative for GNB. Barney doesn’t think this is a good idea. In fact, he thinks it could get Marshall fired. Barney turns out to be sort of right. Marshall’s presentation doesn’t go well at all. His boss wonders why Marshall wants to spend another $12 million when GNB already has a rather illusory green initiative for a lot less money. Only one of the other GNB employees at the meeting voices his agreement with Marshall, and he’s promptly fired. Marshall’s job is only saved because his boss feels kind of bad that Marshall’s father just died.

Throughout the episode, Barney and Robin continue to deal with Barney’s possible feelings for Nora. Kind of out of the blue, Barney propositions Robin. It’s at this moment, even more than when he earlier couldn’t not smile when he said Nora’s name, that Robin realizes that Barney really truly does have feelings for Nora. She tells Barney that she thinks he just propositioned her because he’s upset he missed his shot with Nora. There’s some wonderfully hilarious comedic acting on the part of Neil Patrick Harris as Barney flips back and forth repeatedly between revealing his feelings for Nora and trying to hide those feelings. As a final effort to get him to confront his feelings, Robin tells Barney he’s too late. Nora has started seeing somebody else, and she’s meeting him at “CafĂ© L’Amour.” Can you get any more obvious that it’s a set-up, Robin? Luckily (sort of) for Robin, Barney’s so far gone that he actually believes her.

After a long, unsuccessful stakeout, Barney confronts Robin about the lie she told. Robin then confronts Barney about really having feelings for Nora. Robin keeps trying to give Barney Nora’s phone number, and Barney keeps ripping it up. The final straw happens when Robin just says she put the number in Barney’s phone and Barney smashes the phone. Barney admits he likes Nora, but he doesn’t believe he can be anyone’s boyfriend. This is obviously complete bunk- we saw him go through these same issues when he dated Robin. He learned a great deal from that experience. This whole thing is retreading territory we don’t need to retread and with the “Robin lite” that is Nora. Robin gets frustrated and says if Barney is so unattached to Nora, he should stop by Robin’s apartment that night and she’ll provide the unattached sex he asked her for earlier. This storyline needs to be wrapped up pronto and Robin and Barney need to get back together in a relationship that works for them, not for Lily and Marshall or Ted and the Mother.

Barney does indeed show up at Robin’s later that evening. Robin starts going on a tirade, berating Barney for being able to commit, because she thinks he’s taking her up on her offer to have meaningless sex. That’s not what Barney was after, though. He wants Nora’s phone number finally. Robin complies, outwardly looking happy as long as she knows Barney’s watching. When he leaves to go call Nora, though, she looks a bit wistful. This scene was like a mini lecture on the amazing chemistry Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders have together. I hope that even if Barney and Robin don’t get back together right away, these two still have scenes together- they’re too good to ignore.

Meanwhile, Ted was so thrown by the Captain’s reveal that he forgot to get Zoey’s box. He goes back a second time to finally complete his mission, and the Captain calls him up to the study yet again. The Captain reveals that he thinks Zoey left him for the doorman. Whoever the mystery man is, the Captain thinks he must have a moustache. Because all evil guys have moustaches, of course. Ted starts trying to soften the Captain up, reminding him about how little he and Zoey had in common. The Captain reluctantly agrees, wondering if maybe he should thank the doorman. Ted chooses that minute to quickly blurt out that he’s the one Zoey’s dating and hightails it out of the study as fast as he can. He grabs the box on his way out.

Lily plans a romantic night for Marshall which is quickly scrapped when Marshall finds out she threw out six pack rings. Lily finds him in the dumpster, looking for the plastic rings, concerned that the rings might kill some defenseless birds. There’s more going on under the surface, though. Marshall reveals that he’s upset that his dad didn’t get to see him practice environmental law like he always planned. All his dad saw was Marshall being a corporate stooge. Marshall really wants to make the move to environmental law before they have a family, and Lily agrees that if Marshall is going to make the move, it has to be now. They agree to put off trying for a baby for a little while so Marshall can refocus his career.

In a little twist of fate, the likes of which HIMYM doe so well, the guy Marshall got fired from GNB meets Wendy the Waitress as she drags a bag of recycling outside of MacLarens. We then zoom back ahead to 2021 and learn several important things. Wendy the Waitress and the guy who got fired ended up getting married. Ted met the mother when he was best man at a wedding (the one we saw at the beginning of the season). Most importantly, Zoey is not the Mother. Apparently their relationship flamed out rather spectacularly. I’m not especially upset about that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Long Overdue Linkage

To acquaint you a little better with our guest blogger, Sarah, before she begins taking on regular write-up duties here at MTVP for "Body of Proof" at the end of March, I've compiled a little something I've meant to do for a while. Here are links to some posts on Sarah's blog that may be, as Wil Wheaton would say, "relevant to your interests." In other words, they're about TV.

Batman and Vader and Vampires, Oh My!: Comic Con Round Up

This post is a recap of New England Comic Con 2010. If you've read my recap of the event, you'll know I visited Sarah in Boston back in October, and we had a great time at this event. It was an amazing experience where we got to meet several of the actors from one of our mutual favorite shows, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and kind of got in the way of the Secret Service. True story.

Love's Bitch: Spike and the Women He Loved, Lost and Died For

This is an excellent essay (if I do say so myself...I helped to edit it!) Sarah wrote while we were still in a very "Buffy" mood from the Con. She looks at how Spike related to the most important women in his life: the two Slayers he killed, Cicely, Drusilla, Joyce, Willow, Dawn, and, of course, Buffy.

2011 and the TV Shows it Brings

Sarah came up with her own list, heaviily British genere-influenced, of course, of shows she was excited to see in 2011. It's a good mix of returning and new shows and British and American shows. There's something for everyone.

Through the Back Door: The Success (and Failure) of Back Door Pilots

In this post, Sarah took a look at the concept of the "back door pilot," which is when an existing show incorporates characters from a planned spinoff into one of its episodes to test the waters. For instance, "Grey's Anatomy" did this back in Season 3 when Addison took a trip to visit Naomi (played by Merrin Dungey instead of Audra McDonald) and the rest of the crew at Oceanside Wellness before "Private Practice" ever officially premiered.

In the Belly of the Mothership: Joshua and Lisa as subversive rebels or just pretty faces?

Just posted today, Sarah checks in on "V," a show I wrote about regularly here on MTVP last year but haven't had time to write about this season (by the way, just as it looks like it's about to be cancelled, it's getting really good...typical, right?). Specifically, Sarah looks at the characters of Joshua and Lisa, who have both filled the role of "rebel spy" on the show.

Fringe 3.14: "6B"

“I’m terrified. That I can’t fix this. That this is just who I am.”

I found “6B” to be the most compelling episode the “Fringe” team has produced in the new year. It was hard for me to take down notes to form the basis of this post as I watched because I was just that drawn into everything that was happening. It was a really beautiful episode, and it was perfect for Valentine’s Day, right down to the heart that appeared in the final glyph graphic at the end of the episode. I mean, given the events of the last episode, I know this all has to implode eventually, probably sooner rather than later. There is the fetus over on the Other Side that will not be spoken of again until it’s relevant to the plot. You can bet that will at least give Peter some pause when he finds out about it. Speaking of Peter, it seemed like the moody, weaponized Peter of “Reciprocity” is gone, at least for now. I wonder if that was bad writing, or if the machine only affects him temporarily when he gets too close to it. Or I guess it could be that he doesn’t have any shapeshifters left to kill at the moment.

The opening of “6B” was my favorite introduction to the case of the week that I can remember from this show. It was creepy and haunting in just the right way. A couple is going to a party at a pre-war Brooklyn apartment building. It’s an upscale place, complete with a very friendly doorman. Every bit character was memorable in this episode, from the doorman, to this couple, to the woman hosting the party they are attending. As the couple waits for the elevator up to the party, they are greeted by a woman dragging her suitcases down the stairs. That woman tells the doorman that she’s leaving because of crazy things that have been happening around the building.

The couple happily arrives at the party, and the woman from the couple happily introduces her new boyfriend to the party host. The happiness is short lived, though. The happy woman bites into a chicken skewer and goes into anaphylactic shock. Her friend the party host yells for the woman’s boyfriend, and he comes running in from the balcony. As the doorman is hailing the woman with the luggage a cab, a number of bodies fall from the balcony above where the party was taking place. It’s very sudden and jarring and much more carefully executed than many of the typical “Fringe” openings. You had to look very carefully when the allergy drama was going down at the party to see the balcony disappear and people start to fall as the boyfriend rushed to be by his girlfriend’s side.

We next lighten things up a little (before wallowing in angst again) with a little Bishop family wackiness. Walter is making the famous Bishop family blueberry pancakes, and he’s invited Olivia over for breakfast. He’s playing his usual role of number one Peter/Olivia shipper, trying to get the two of them back together. Peter’s not thrilled, because he’s been trying to give Olivia some space. Olivia soon shows up at the house, and she and Peter make super awkward small talk. The best moment of the scene is Walter not-so-secretly sneaking out the front door to give the kids some alone time. Peter says that they should use the situation to their advantage and try to talk out what’s wrong between them, and the resulting conversation is quite painful. Both Peter and Olivia are each blaming each other for the current strained status of their relationship. Before it gets so bad that it’s irreversible, though, Olivia is saved by a phone call from Broyles. They’ve got a new case- the mysterious moving balcony in Brooklyn.

The building in question is called the Rosencrantz, and as they look up towards the scene of the accident, Walter and Peter realize that the victims fell straight down. They didn’t jump off the balcony in some crazy mass suicide attempt. The balcony moved. Walter begins to be agitated, and as they move into the building, he starts flipping a coin. Every time he does a coin toss, it comes up heads. Walter is convinced that our universe is beginning to unravel, just like the Other Side. This development (and maybe the effects of the serum Nina gave him) has made him extra irritable, especially when the team is back at the lab and he’s handing out assignments. Peter and Olivia are sent back to New York (somebody on this show seriously needs to think about the distance between Boston and New York City some time with the way these characters constantly bounce back and forth). Their mission is to deploy a whole bunch of equipment at the Rosencrantz so Walter can monitor what’s happening. Astrid’s assignment is to retrieve a file about a case the team once investigated involving a bus encased in amber.

After deploying the monitoring equipment, Olivia and Peter decide to wait in a nearby bar for further instructions from Walter. They’re actually getting along well, which is nice to see. Peter is telling funny Walter stories, and Olivia is actually smiling and laughing. Suddenly things turn more serious, though, and Olivia tells Peter that she wants to know what a relationship with him feels like (it’s something Alt-livia got to experience, afterall). They kiss, but Olivia isn’t happy about it. She looks troubled and runs outside. Peter follows her to figure out what happened. It turns out that when they kissed, Olivia saw Peter glimmer. She’s concluded that this means she’s still extremely afraid of getting that close with him, and she doesn’t know how to fix it.

As they are standing outside, Peter and Olivia see a strange light coming from a window at the Rosencrantz, and Walter’s monitoring equipment starts going nuts. They rush to the apartment at the center of the phenomenon, and they see an elderly woman sitting in her apartment looking at the glimmer figure of an elderly man. Peter can’t see the man, but the woman and Olivia can. The woman, whose name is Alice, claims the figure is her husband’s ghost. This can’t be good. Any good Doctor Who viewer knows that when you see shimmery figures and think they’re the ghosts of family members, it’s really just beings from a parallel universe, who may be out to enslave you. Olivia questions Alice about her husband, and it’s obvious that given what she’s going through in her own personal life, Olivia is affected by Alice’s story of her 45 year marriage. Olivia doesn’t say anything about it, though. Walter interrupts and asks Alice when she first moved into the apartment. She moved in when she first got married, so she and her husband Derek were there for a long time. Walter theorizes that the “ghost” Alice saw was actually Derek’s doppelganger. See what I mean about “ghosts” really being from a parallel universe? I wasn’t playing.

Walter’s concerned that the soft spot at the Rosencrantz could turn into a full-blown vortex like the one that happened in the East River on the Other Side. Back at the lab, he says he’s been thinking about how the Other Side would deal with a potential vortex situation. They would probably use amber. The bus amber attack case he wanted Astrid to look into is being investigated at Massive Dynamic, so getting the file proves to be pretty easy. Throughout the second half of the episode, Walter works on synthesizing Amber for use in our own universe and struggles with the ethical qualms of that. It bugs him that he’s making the exact same move Walternate would make. He even sticks up for Walternate in a conversation with Nina, telling Astrid that he’s sure Walternate put a lot of thought into whether or not to use Amber, too.

Peter and Olivia take a different tactic, working from Peter’s theory that there has to be “a better way.” While Walter is working on Amber at Massive Dynamic, Peter and Olivia are trying to think about why the soft spot might be happening specifically at the Rosencrantz. Derek died when he was electrocuted fixing a household problem that became his job thanks to a coin toss. Olivia hypothesizes that since coin tosses are generally the opposite on the Other Side, Alt-Alice must have lost the Other Side toss and been electrocuted. Each is mourning the other in the exact same spot because both couples had lived in the Rosencrantz (or Alt-Rosencrantz, which should seriously be called the Guildenstern).

There isn’t much time left for investigating, though, because seismic activity at the building is intensifying, and Walter and Broyles have put an Amber team in place. Before the Amber is deployed, Peter and Olivia go into the building for one last shot at another way. They think they can stop the vortex without Amber if they can just get Alice to let go of Derek’s “ghost.” As Peter and Olivia enter Alice’s apartment, Alt-Derek appears more clearly than ever. Even Peter can see him this time. Alice is not convinced by Peter and Olivia’s explanation, and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Walter thinks the vortex is starting. Alice is finally convinced that this Derek isn’t “her” Derek when he says that “the girls” miss her. Alice and Derek in our universe never had any children. She finally lets go, and all the shaking and glowing stops. There was no need to use the Amber, but Walter is worried that this is only the beginning.

Back in Boston, Olivia shows up at Peter’s door. She’s got a bottle of some sort of booze with her, and she’s finally ready to make amends. Not only is she ready to make amends, she “wants what Peter wants.” They kiss again, and this time Olivia claims Peter didn’t glow. She happily leads him up the stairs to the bedroom. I liked how this was handled more than I liked how the first Peter/Alt-livia sex scene was handled. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Olivia forgiving Peter to that extent so quickly, though. I suppose the case this week just woke her up to the fact that it was finally time to start her life and quit making excuses. The less rational side of the Peter/Olivia shipper in me was certainly very happy.

We end the episode with a mercifully brief trip to the Other Side. Alt-Livia and Lincoln are investigating the Rosencrantz, too. Astrid reported that a “Class 4 Fringe Event” was taking place there, so they’re really confused about why nothing looks out of the ordinary. They knock on Derek’s door. He shows no sign of recognizing Alt-livia (which is strange, because he just saw Olivia), and he insists that nothing is going on. Alt-livia and Lincoln, who are very chummy in keeping with the theme of this episode, leave the Rosencrantz to go about the rest of the day. Happily, we viewers realize that Peter and Olivia’s method of fixing each individual reason for a soft spot solves the problem not only in our universe, but on the Other Side, too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.16: "The Cohabitation Formulation"

“Priya is highly educated, she’s an accomplished professional, and she comes from the culture that literally wrote the book on neat ways to have sex.”

Overall, I found “The Cohabitation Formulation” to be fairly entertaining. I certainly liked it more than the last few episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” It didn’t outright offend me. Something about it just didn’t click as well as with my very favorite episodes, though. On the positive side, Leonard dating Priya brought a different, interesting dynamic to the group (although I think my interest will be temporary). On the other hand, I don’t think this episode used Aarti Mann to her full comedic potential- I think she was a lot funnier in her last episode. Also, this episode has used up all the “oh maybe there’s something more under the creepy candy coating” goodwill I had built up for Howard in the past two or so seasons. I honestly don’t understand what Bernadette sees in him at all. The way he treats her, especially in this episode, can only be described as disgusting.

I’ve never loved Howard-centric episodes as much as episodes that center on the other characters, and this episode had quite a focus on Howard. Howard and Bernadette are in bed in Bernadette’s apartment, happily post-coital (which, since this is a Chuck Lorre show, has to be spelled out for good measure by each character saying “wow”). Seconds after saying how he doesn’t want the moment to end, Howard jumps up out of bed and starts putting his clothes on. He doesn’t want to get home late, because his mom needs his help with her various “beauty” procedures such as drawing on eyebrows and adjusting her wig. Bernadette, understandably, is not happy. She’s tired of playing second fiddle to Howard’s mom, and she wants Howard to grow up. She suggests moving in together, and clueless Howard counters with a suggestion that she move to his house after his mom dies. That’s not what Bernadette was hoping to hear, obviously.

Howard goes home to face more nagging from his mother. I guess she’s upset that he’s been spending so much time with Bernadette. She’s not really a developed character, just an annoying voice, so I won’t try to get at her motivations here. Howard has had it with the nagging, and he storms out of the house. He shows up at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, which throws Sheldon off a bit, although not as much as you might expect. He reminds Leonard to make some tea for Howard, because providing a hot beverage for an upset friend is not optional. He wants some cocoa for himself, too, because having a houseguest upsets him. Leonard is just starting on the hot beverages when Sheldon asks Howard why he didn’t go to Raj’s apartment instead, considering Raj is his “primary” friend. Howard lets it slip that Priya is staying with Raj while she’s in Los Angeles on business, and Leonard runs out of the apartment, leaving Sheldon to finish preparing the hot beverages.

Raj is not at all happy to see Leonard show up at his door. He keeps forbidding Leonard to speak with Priya, go into the bedroom with Priya, close the door to the bedroom…you get the idea. Priya just ignores him. The whole thing isn’t especially funny now that I think about it the bit. All the humor derives from Indian stereotypes of male dominance and imperfect English. Raj said Leonard can’t come in because he “forbidded it,” for instance. Needless to say, Leonard and Priya work out their differences in spite of Raj’s rather pathetic attempts ant interference. Priya joins the group for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory the next night, and there is much awkwardness when Penny is their server. The only slight amount of awkwardness when Penny learned who Priya was grew exponentially thanks to Sheldon announcing to Priya that Leonard and Penny used to “do the dance with no pants.”

Bernadette is working a shift at the Cheesecake Factory that night too, and Howard takes her aside to talk to her about how to get more alone time. He happily announces that his mother is going to Palm Springs for a few days, and minus any medical emergencies, they should have two nights alone together. This, understandably, does not make Bernadette happy, and she gives Howard an ultimatum- her or his mother. When Howard doesn’t answer right away, Bernadette storms off, exasperated. Later, Bernadette is back home at her apartment when she hears a knock on the door. She drags a stool over to the door so she can look out the peephole, which I loved. I need to get something similar for my own apartment! Anyway, it’s Howard at the door. He’s dragging luggage behind him, and he says he’s moving in. He starts composing a shopping list for Bernadette before he even puts his stuff down. Oh what a gem Bernadette’s got for herself.

Meanwhile, Amy Farrah Fowler pays a visit to her “bestie,” Penny. She’s concerned that Penny might be upset because of Leonard dating Priya, someone who is much more his intellectual equal. Well, actually, I’m not sureif she’s all that concerned. She wants to use Penny for one of her neuroscience experiments, and she needs Penny to cry for the experiment to work. Penny insists, however, that she’s just fine. Later that night, the boys, Amy, and Priya are eating pizza in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, and Penny is drawn in by the smell of free food. She didn’t expect to find Priya there, and he situation kind of throws her. Priya thinks Penny’s life as an actress must be extremely exciting, but Penny’s career has taken a downturn from her performance in a theater above a bowling alley days. She drove to an audition for what she thought was a cat food commercial, but it turned out to be porn. Sheldon was kind of surprised she didn’t take the job. Priya then mentions that she was in a production of “The Taming of the Shrew” at university, and of course Leonard thinks it’s the greatest Shakespeare work ever. Leonard and Priya giggle and recite lines together, and Penny realizes she’s way out of her league. After dinner, Amy pays Penny another visit, and Penny finally starts to cry.

Howard and Bernadette are having some pillow talk, and it becomes painfully obvious that Howard expects Bernadette to basically be his mother. He wants her to go shopping and do his laundry (with hypoallergenic detergent), and take him to the dentist. Bernadette finally puts her foot down, and Howard ends up moving back home. After reminding him that they have the dentist the next day, Howards mom grounds him “for running away.” And I think Howard and his mother have just gone from occasionally funny in small doses to just plain old creepy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.15: "No Ordinary Powell"

Sarah is here again with a write-up of the latest "No Ordinary Family," called "No Ordinary Powell." Enjoy!


“Everything I do is to help my family, to protect them, and Katie, well, she's my family too. But if you ever hurt her, there will be no serum to protect you from me.”

So this week’s episode starts with a narrative device I don’t recall seeing on the show so far. Stephanie walks in to find Jim lying (presumably) dead on the living room floor. She’s obviously distraught and I have to say it did pique my interest to see how it got to that point. We rewind 12 hour to find Daphne begging Stephanie for an advance on her allowance so she can go hang with her friends at the mall. Steph is pretty adamant about saying no until Daphne uses her new power to get her to say yes. J.J. is pretty impressed and tries to get Daphne to use it on Natalie so she’ll get back together with him. Meanwhile Jim is none too happy that Stephanie is going back to Global Tech. He doesn’t want her around Dr. King in case he discovers what they are up to. He gets George to tap King’s cell (federal offense but that’s what George is for) and they discover a number he called quite often. They’re trying to find a super villain to turn on King. I’m guessing it will turn out to be Joshua.

Meanwhile, Stephanie has filled Katie in on what’s happening. And Katie is kind of freaking out. She says that the bad guy never reveals his plan until he is about to kill the hero. Not a scenario they want to encounter. At roughly the same time, Dr. King gives Victoria a job. He fills her in on Jim and Steph’s powers and wants her to find out what she can, presumably by snooping around the Powell house. That will be easy since she can shape shift into anyone she wants.

The mini-Powell storyline for the week is actually kind of interesting. J.J. meets Natalie for coffee (well he orchestrates it so he’s there at her usual time). They’re sitting talking when Natalie sees a woman with a locket that looks exactly like the one that belonged to her mother. We learn that her mother was murdered. She and a colleague were walking home when they were robbed and shot. J.J. decides he’s going to try and solve the murder to give Natalie some closure. We also catch Victoria at the Powell house impersonating Stephanie. She gets called away by King as Stephanie is heading home.

Jim shows up at the address of the mystery number Dr. King was calling. It belongs to a guy named Jeremy. No one is home, but Jim breaks in. At first he finds a very sparse apartment and then finds a board with photos of the Powells with conspiracy-wall type stuff. He’s pretty freaked. Back at Powell central, Daphne takes a phone call she thinks is from Chris saying his bike won’t start. After she leaves to help him, Victoria takes her form. Victoria rifling around when J.J. finds her. She makes up an excuse for being in their parents’ room. J.J. tells her they need to head to the coffee shop. He’s just accumulated a ton of criminal profiling information and she’s kind of surprised. He tells her if he could read minds like she can, he wouldn’t need her help. So now Victoria knows of everyone’s powers.

Stephanie’s attempt to get in close with Dr. King fails. She says she wants to continue Dr. Chiles’ research and be a part of it. But King shuts her down. Jim is on the line (interrupting the meeting) and tells her about their stalker. He’s worried about the kids and after a minute of hesitation, Steph agrees they should warn Daphne and J.J. Jim calls the house and faux Daphne answers. She feeds him a line about being fine and not seeing anyone following them. Jim tells her that she and J.J. aren’t to leave the house, answer the phone or talk to anyone. Too bad they’re both out of the house already. They meet up, and after some confusion about what they said to each other (Daphne obviously doesn’t know that J.J. talked to her fake double and she apparently talked to Victoria pretending to be Chris) they find the woman with the locket. She says her boyfriend got it for her and that it was a one of a kind. Daphne works her mojo and we discover she saw the locket in an antique store and stole it because she thought it was overpriced.

Jim is still at Jeremy’s apartment and decides to dust for prints. Why George can’t just do a search for the guy and find a picture, I don’t know. So Jim improvises since he obviously doesn’t have a fingerprint kit with him. But he’s an artist so I guess it will work. He MacGyvers some fingerprint powder out of cocoa, and he lifts a print off a cell phone as the owner arrives. It turns out to be Victoria. So not what I was expecting. Of course it could not be her place. She is a liar and evil. She manages to get the slip on Jim, leaving him looking around all confused outside after chasing after her.

Victoria is reporting back to Dr. King, and he’s quite surprised that the whole family has powers and that the powers are permanent. And he doesn’t seem too concerned that Jim knows about Victoria. He just tells her to eliminate Jim and take his place. That has all kind of squicky consequences in my brain. After bitching that King is more worried about getting Stephanie for himself, she agrees to do the job. Meanwhile, Katie is home because “Joshua” wasn’t feeling well. He’s going through withdrawal again, and he begs Katie to help him. He doesn’t want to use the serum anymore, but he thinks Katie can replicate the formula with the plant Stephanie got in Brazil. Katie is snipping a piece from the plant when Stephanie finds her. Katie explains the situation (after Stephanie makes a Wonder Woman reference about the rope of truth) and asks Steph for help.

Back in teen-land, J.J. and Daphne are at the pawn shop where the locket was stolen. Daphne uses her mojo to get the information of the guy who sold it, and J.J. realizes that Daphne’s powers have evolved. He’s a little jealous. But they’re going to use it to their advantage. Jim is at the Lair trying to find anything on Victoria (he can’t find any DMV records or passports or anything) when George shows up and shoots him. Of course it isn’t really George. You can tell because, well, he shoots Jim and looks really surprised when the bullet just bounces and Jim turns the gun into a metal pretzel. The real George shows up and they figure out that it is Victoria who is messing with them.

Back at the lab, Victoria catches Jim on surveillance, and King tells her to make sure Jim sees Steph, but that it isn’t really Steph (ie Victoria will be impersonating Stephanie again). Victoria is good at the subterfuge, though. I’ll give her that. She uses what she saw in her sweep of the house to convince Jim she’s the real Stephanie. And she finds out his weakness (the lip gloss he’s allergic to). So not good. Meanwhile, the kids have found the rather grumpy guy who sold the locket to the antique store/pawn shop. He tells them that he was the co-worker who was with Natalie’s mom when she was killed. Daphne gets a hit off the guy’s wife and sees that the wife is the one who killed Natalie’s mom.

Jim and George finally discover Victoria’s (real name Amelia Hammond) ID, and we discover she was adopted by King. In a panic, Daphne calls Jim to tell him what’s happened and ask for his help. Just as she’s giving Jim the address, the wife sneaks up and knocks her unconscious with the butt of a gun. Totally not good for Daphne or J.J. The guy’s wife killed Natalie’s mom for sleeping with her husband. Jim gets there before she can do anything and is rather pissed that they were on their own investigating a murder. At school the next day, J.J. gives Natalie her mom’s locket back, and they share a hug. So it turned out pretty much okay for them. In other sort-of relationship news Stephanie pays “Joshua” a visit to tell him she’s going to help him. But not by making a serum to give him powers. She’s making a serum to counter the powers. He won’t have powers but he’ll be normal. She’s doing it for Katie and in a clichĂ© line, tells him that if he does anything to hurt Katie, no serum will keep him safe.

Jim tells the kids they’re grounded (for the rest of their lives) when Stephanie walks in. Not two seconds later the phone rings and Steph tells Jim she’s on her way home. Obviously the Stephanie that is at the house is the fake. Especially since when she got in, she gave Jim a big passionate kiss. Likely wearing the lip gloss that makes his powers go wonky. He gets Daphne and J.J. to go upstairs (to protect them) by telling Daphne telepathically to go and lock the door. He seems not that concerned that he doesn’t have his powers and says he can take Victoria/Amelia. But then she shape shifts into Jim. Now it isn’t looking so good.

I have to say the fight scene was rather confusing. I mean, I can understand them doing it, but keeping the Jims straight was nearly impossible. I mean, really. When Stephanie comes home to find Jim lying dead on the floor. I still wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t the real Jim until he/she reverted back to her real form. Steph was notably pleased with that. They ended up calling “Joshua” to dispose of the body. Guess it is good to know people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. He cautions that when King finds out Victoria is dead; he’ll go after the Powells with a vengeance and that the project is so much bigger than Dr. King. So they resolve to make King think that Victoria is still alive. The next day, Stephanie convinces King that she is Victoria in Stephanie form (by playing on his attraction to Stephanie) and tells him to let Stephanie into the fold while she (not-really-Victoria) goes to Brazil to check things out. Things are starting to get good now. Too bad the season’s nearly over.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Glee 2.13: "Comeback"

“My dad always said there are two ways to get a woman to love you- take her hunting, and rock and roll.”

“Comeback” was a decent episode of “Glee,” although I felt it was a little disjointed. And I didn’t love the fact that it was a bit of a love letter to Justin Bieber, either. But you can’t win them all. There was a musical performance that I think I will count among my all-time favorites, and there was just good energy throughout the episode. Oh, and Emma was back and not constantly talking about John Stamos, so that was most definitely a good thing too. I missed her awesome wardrobe! I was in a bit of an old school HIMYM mood earlier this week, and I watched “Okay Awesome,” one of my favorite episodes. After seeing so much of Jayma Mays as Emma on “Glee” I was impressed by just how different she was as the Coat Check Girl. Beyond the drastic difference in the mind-set of each character, you couldn’t even hear a trace of her Virginia accent as the Coat Check Girl. I kind of wish Ted had dated her longer than the space between “Okay Awesome” and “Slutty Pumpkin” so we could have seen more of her.

Anyway, the episode opens with Will actually teaching his Spanish class (we don’t see that often anymore). He voice-overs about how he thinks he’s finally “back” after all the drama that went down with Terri and Emma. Ironically, seconds after he says he’s over Emma, Emma appears at the door, says she needs his help, and he comes running after her. Emma thinks she has found Sue’s suicide note. Sue was indeed attempting suicide. Sort of. If you count taking lots of chewable vitamins as a suicide attempt. Later, Sue is physically violent towards glee kids she sees in the hallway. Will and Emma have had enough. Emma thinks Sue should join New Directions for a week- work out her issues through song and dance. Emma even has one of her awesome pamphlets that I don’t think we’ve really seen since the second episode of the series. Have I mentioned how much I missed Emma?

Meanwhile, Sam is (rightfully) worried that he’s losing Quinn to Finn, so he comes up with a plan to try to impress her again. He goes Bieber. As in, he combs his hair in that signature ‘do and forms a one man band calls the “Justin Bieber Experience.” He knows he’s a hit when he gets mobbed by tween girls at a birthday party. At glee rehearsal, Will says that this year, the rules say that everyone must perform an anthem at Regionals. Will gives the kids an anthem for their assignment of the week. Not surprisingly, Sam decides to perform “Baby.” My reaction is pretty much “eww,” but the glee kids mostly all seem to dig it. Even Puck is singing along, which I find completely ludicrous. Pucks a badass, not a belieber. And yes, I’m in my late 20’s and I’m familiar with that term. I blame it on reading too much E!Online when I’m procrastinating.

In yet another “comeback” related plot in this episode, Rachel pays Brittany a week’s allowance to try to make one of her signature looks popular. The first attempt involves leg warmers. Because this is Brittany, though, things don’t go as Rachel planned. Brittany wore a tank top because she forgot it was winter, so she decides to wear the leg warmers on her arms. It most definitely becomes a trend around school, but it’s not a trend associated with Rachel. Finally, Rachel gets Brittany to wear the right thing- a pony sweater and a plaid skirt. All the girls start wearing the same thing, just like Rachel planned. To Rachel’s chagrin, even though they all look like her, they still don’t give her credit. They basically all say that Brittany is an amazing trend setter for the school.

Meanwhile, continuing my least favorite plot of the episode, Puck, Artie, and Mike beg Sam to let them in on the Justin Bieber experience. All their relationships are in a post-Valentine’s Day lull, and they think a Bieber impersonation might be just the thing to get their ladies interested in them again. Sam reluctantly agrees as long as Puck promises to do something about his hair. The boys all do another Bieber performance for glee rehearsal- this time of “Somebody to Love.” And not the awesome “Queen” song. Again, I say, “Eww.” Tina, Brittany, and Quinn are really into it, but Lauren isn’t into it quite as much. Finn just sits through the whole thing like a sourpuss until Quinn decides she’s going to stay with Sam because she’s turned on by the whole Bieber look. Santana, who was also pretty turned on by the Bieber explosion, approaches Sam and tells him she knows he and Quinn are having problems. She wants to be Sam’s mistress. By the end of the episode, Sam has broken up with Quinn and announced that he’s dating Santana.

Sue sees her week with New Directions as an opportunity to destroy the organization he hates from within. Which is really so first season of her, but I’ll forgive her because it leads to awesomeness. She tells Rachel and Mercedes that each has said rude things about the other, and the girls decide that the only way to settle their differences is through a diva-off. They sing “Take Me or Leave Me” from “Rent,” and it is amazing. Rachel and Mercedes are all happy and smiley afterwards, and Sue accidentally lets slip that the whole thing was a set-up. Will notices that Sue is still in need of an attitude adjustment. He takes her to a hospital, where he apparently visits once a month to sing with the kids in the pediatric cancer ward. Although this was a pretty blatant emotion-grab, I did appreciate the rare occasion of seeing Sue acting like something remotely human.

Puck confronts Lauren about why she wasn’t into the Bieber performance, and Lauren says that she sort of was. She has a proposition for Puck. Later, she tells him that she’s afraid to sing her first solo at glee rehearsal, and she needs some advice. Puck gives her the “classic” advice to picture the audience in their underwear. Lauren ends up performing “I Know What Boys Like,” and it starts off really rocky. Puck mouths “underwear” to Lauren, and she gets her act together. I still didn’t find the performance very good, but she put more energy into it at least. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t wearing an awful 80’s knock-off outfit.

Sue is sick of all the performances that aren’t really anthems, so she wants to pick the next song. She chooses “Sing,” which I don’t think is all that anthem-y, either, but it was sort of a fun performance. The best part was that Sue had a plaid track suit to match the lumberjack look the rest of the group had going on. I think that’s the most creative use of Sue’s signature track suit to date. Following the performance, Rachel says that she doesn’t think the song is good enough to compete with the Warblers and Aural Intensity. She thinks they should write their own music for Regionals. And she’s shot down completely. Sue then pulls the mother of all turnarounds and announces that she’s coaching Aural Intensity. Which I find kind of lame. After rehearsal, Finn very smarmily tells Rachel that she’s right about her original song idea, and she should write the song herself. He also tells her she’s making a comeback. If he wasn’t being such a jerk right now, I’d be happy about that moment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

HIMYM 6.16: "Desperation Day"

“And I thought Pompeii was smokin’”

As much as I was trying to resist, because this episode marked the introduction of Barney’s new love interest Nora, I found myself enjoying “Desperation Day” quite a bit. The episode had a lightheartedness to it that was definitely welcome. It also took some time to deal further with the very serious subject of the death of Marshall’s dad. I thought the way that was handled was really the best part of the episode, and I’m not generally a big Marshall fan. I mean, I don’t dislike Marshall, he’s a big teddy bear and is responsible for the phrase “lawyered” (which, naturally, I use quite a bit), but he’s never really been the focus of my attention when I watch HIMYM. I thought this episode provided a wonderful showcase for Jason Segel, and he rose to the occasion.

Marshall is still in Minnesota, but the rest of the gang still in New York seems to be experiencing various romance-related frustrations as Valentine’s Day approaches. Since Zoey is going through a divorce, she and Ted are taking things very slowly. Which makes perfect sense to me. That frustrates Ted a bit though. I suppose that’s in character, considering Ted is the guy who told Robin he loved her on their first date. Which is why what happens later in the episode doesn’t make quite as much sense. Zoey has invited Ted over for Valentine’s Day to “bake cookies,” and Lily and Robin convince him this is a lady’s classy way of making a booty cal. Lily is getting frustrated that she doesn’t have Marshall with her. She’s taken to dressing up her body pillow in Marshall’s clothes and calling it her “Marshpillow.” She’s upset that Marshall won’t be there to take part in their Valentine’s Day tradition of watching Predator (the college flashback explanation of the tradition was highly amusing).

Another great thing about this episode was that we got another crazy Barney dating theory, complete with historical lecture. Barney has decided that calling February 13 Desperation Day is going to be “a thing.” The historical lecture takes place in Ancient Rome because it’s (very loosely) based on the real story of Saint Valentine. With the addition of “Saint Desperatious,” Saint Valentines best bro who hangs around to pick up bridesmaids. The bridesmaid in this little fantasy of Barney’s just happens to be Robin, and Barney is Saint Desperatious, of course. Robin says that this year, she is absolutely not going to be desperate. She’s planning on going out with some single lady friends from work to celebrate their singleness.

The next day, Barney and Robin are sitting around Ted and Robin’s apartment eating popcorn, and the rest of the group starts making strange confessions to them. First there’s Lily, who tells them about the Marshpillow. She then says she’s going to Minnesota, because she doesn’t want to be without Marshall on Valentine’s Day. Ted then announces that he seriously screwed up with Zoey. He brought an overnight bag to the cookie baking date, and Zoey said that was inappropriate. She kicked him out. Neither of these situations resolve as you might expect. Lily arrives at the Eriksen family home in Minnesota to find that Marshall has regressed. The cool thing about that is that he has a Gameboy. The not so cool thing is that he’s not taking care of his mom, his mom is taking care of him. Judy silently begs Lily to get Marshall out of her house.

Back in New York, Barney is hilariously acting like Predator as he prowls MacLaren’s for Desperation Day lays. Robin and two of her coworkers arrive for their solidarity drinks. One of them had the idea that instead of typical Valentine’s colors, they should all dress in purple. As much as I’m a fan of Barney, I have to admit that he kind of makes an ass of himself in front of Robin’s friends with all his boasting about Desperation Day. Another friend of Robin’s, Nora, arrives, but she’s not dressed in purple like the rest of them. She tells Barney that she’s dressed in yellow as a rebellion against the rebellion. She doesn’t hate Valentine’s Day. She also sees right through Barney when he tries to pretend that he’s a romantic who likes Valentine’s Day and chocolates, too. They also talk about Barney’s love for laser tag. Nora, who is British, has never heard of laser tag before, but she thinks it sounds like fun.

In other relationship news, Zoey shows up at Ted’s apartment to apologize. She’s ready to move forward with their relationship, and she’s looking forward to spending the first of what she hopes is many Valentine’s Days together. When Ted tells this to Robin, she questions the speed at which Ted and Zoey are moving forward in their relationship. Ted starts freaking out and ends up running to Minnesota to spend some time with Marshall. Ted ends up regressing too, and Lily finds the two of them up in Marshall’s bedroom playing with more of Marshall’s old school video games. Lily, at Judy’s request, tries one last time to convince Marshall to come home. She says she’s leaving for New York immediately, and she wants Marshall to come with her. He says he can’t, and it soon becomes even more apparent that Marshall’s overstaying his welcome in Minnesota is about his having trouble getting over his dad’s death, not his desire to take care of his mother.

After Lily leaves, Marshall admits to Ted how much he misses his dad. He gives this really moving speech about how when he was a kid and the family was going on vacation, his dad would drive the car through the dark and Marshall wouldn’t be scared. He thought of his dad like a superhero. I thought this was a wonderful bit of characterization for Marshall, and it provided the heart that so many newer episodes of HIMYM lack. The death of Marvin did not have me near tears like it has apparently for so many other people (I think I was desensitized because I knew what was coming), but this moment was definitely the closest I’ve come. Marshall confronts Ted about why he came out to Minnesota, and he realizes that both of them were running away from things. Marshall was running away from tackling real life without his dad, and Ted was running away from committing to Zoey. It was a lovely moment, but like I said earlier, since when has Ted ever been a commitment phobe? He’s the opposite of a commitment phobe.

Anyway, Marshall decrees that they will go back to New York immediately. A coming snowstorm has grounded all flights, so they’re going to drive. While driving through the dark, Marshall has a lovely imagined conversation with his dad. They talk about how Marvin didn’t really know what he was doing any more than Marshall does now, but he just kept driving straight ahead. It wasn’t quite as moving a scene as Marshall’s story about the car rides, but it was still a touching scene. Zoey comes over to Ted’s apartment on Valentine’s Day as planned, and this time she brings the overnight bag.

To wrap up the final story of the episode, Robin notices how well Barney and Nora are getting along, and after Nora leaves to go home, Robin points out that it’s past midnight. Desperation Day has come and gone without Barney sleeping with any desperate women. The next day, Barney is at the laser tag championships, wondering where Robin is. She was supposed to be his partner, even though she didn’t want to be. Which doesn’t make sense to me. We can see in “Zip Zip Zip” that they make an awesome laser tag team. Instead, Nora shows up. Barney figures out that Robin set them up. Nora gets really into the laser tag, yelling that Barney “will be avenged” after a kid shoots him. Nora’s a lot of fun, and I especially loved what I saw of her at laser tag, but I don’t want to see her and Barney together. She seems a bit like a Robin clone, down to the having fun at laser tag, for one thing. For another thing, I just don’t see the chemistry. Neil Patrick Harris has great chemistry with Cobie Smulders, but I’m just not seeing it here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fringe 3.13: "Immortality"

“No children. That is not an option.”

If you’ve been reading my “Fringe” write-ups on this blog, you’ll be able to accurately guess my overall feelings about this episode. As in: not positive. Alt-livia’s pregnancy feels like a cheap ploy to try and gain viewer sympathy for the character of Alt-livia and make her into a plausible rival to Olivia for Peter’s affections. And for this viewer, at least, it didn’t work. It’s just too much. I had almost two full seasons to invest in Olivia before Alt-livia ever appeared, and Olivia has had so many horrible things happen to her that I hate to see even more added to the freaking huge pile of everything she already has to deal with. As for Alt-livia, I don’t feel sorry for her at all. She stole another woman’s man through trickery, and now she’s paying the price. I don’t care that she’s developed feelings for Peter, because she never should have done what she did in the first place. I don’t care that Frank left her because she cheated, therefore she deserves it. Turnabout is fair play. She destroyed the life Olivia was finally starting to put together for herself, so her life is now destroyed too. I maybe care a teeny tiny bit that Walternate is probably going to use her and her unborn child for his own nefarious plans, but that’s about it. To bring it back around to actual critique and stop looking like I’m way too invested in these characters, I’ll say that the “Fringe” Powers that Be failed at their goal to make Alt-livia sympathetic because most viewers likely do not want her to be sympathetic.

This episode takes place entirely on the Other Side. Which didn’t make me especially happy. The Other Side was a fun diversion for a little while, but when I tune into “Fringe,” I want to see Olivia, Peter, Walter, and Astrid. That’s what I watch for. I watch for the kooky father/son dynamics of Walter and Peter and the caring relationships between the little found family that is Fringe Division. Anyway, we first see Alt-livia pick up Frank at the airport. They are very affectionate, but when they get to their apartment, Frank questions whether everything is okay with Alt-livia. He feels like between his phone calls from Texas and their car ride home, she’s been very distant. Alt-livia just tries to play it off as having trouble with Frank being away for so long, but she’s so obviously lying. Frank really wants them to reconnect, so he suggests a weekend trip to Annapolis. Annapolis is pretty much my favorite place (and where I would live if there weren’t a ton of other things to consider), so I’m not sure how I feel about Alt-livia being well acquainted with it. I’d be curious to see what Alt-Annapolis is like, I suppose. They apparently have an Obryki’s, whose real life Baltimore location is scheduled to close after this coming summer.

Also at the airport, we see two men sitting at a bar. The older of the two men causes a distraction and uses that to switch drinks with the younger man. Not realizing what has happened, the younger man drinks the drink he didn’t order. The younger man goes into an airport bathroom, and we can quickly tell that he is most definitely not well. He collapses in a stall. The older man follows him into the bathroom, and the younger man yells out for help. The older man isn’t going to help, though. He has a very smug, satisfied look on his face, and he pulls out a small container as he strolls towards the stall that is occupied by the younger man. By the time Fringe Division gets to the airport bathroom, they’re investigating a suspicious death. There are large beetles everywhere, and most of them are dead. This leads them to hypothesize that the bugs don’t last long outside the body.

Alt-livia and Charlie take one of the beetles to a geeky redhead named Mona. She’s the bug girl, and she treated Charlie for that pesky spider infestation. She has a thing for Charlie, I think because he still technically has spiders in his blood. Gross. Mona IDs the bug in question as a Skelter Beetle. This particular beetle has, until now, only been known to live in sheep. Clearly that must have changed, though, because on the Other Side, sheep have been extinct for the past ten years. Meanwhile, the creepy older man from the airport is investigating the beetles, too. He’s looking for them to produce some sort of enzyme, but the experiment doesn’t work.

Back at Fringe Division headquarters, Frank is now working with the team. Apparently, Lincoln, who is now in charge since Broyles is “missing” called in a CDC consult, and Frank was it. One of the few things I liked about this episode was how much Frank liked Alt-Astrid and her math and common sense skills. He’s very impressed when Astrid suggests sending out a “Fringe Alert” about Skelter Beetles. She’s done the math to know exactly how many credible responses they should expect to receive. Unfortunately, the alert goes out while the culprit is watching TV. He’s at a diner, talking to another guy about his research. We see the Fringe Alert come on the television, and the creepy guy says “I’ll have what he’s having.” Clearly he’s about to do the food/drink switch again.

Frank tells Lincoln that he’s planning to propose to Alt-livia during their trip to Annapolis, and since Lincoln still has a thing for Alt-livia (does any straight male not have a thing for her? anybody?), he freaks just a tad. Maybe I’d care if I had seen more of their history, but I haven’t, so I don’t. Lincoln immediately tells Alt-livia the news, and her reaction is really difficult to read. She certainly doesn’t want to talk about it with Lincoln, that’s for sure. There isn’t much time to fret over those issues, though, because Charlie actually gets a legit call from the Fringe Alert hotline. The call is from a scientist who used to work next door to another scientist named Silva. Silva was working on a vaccine for Avian Flu made from an enzyme produced by the Skelter Beetle. Sounds like we have a winner.

The urgency to find Silva is increased when the team find the guy from the diner dead in his car and covered with beetles. The beetles are getting bigger now, which can’t be good. Frank, of course, is the one who puts all the pieces of the puzzle together, because he’s “pretty perfect” as Alt-livia puts it. He figures out that Silva must be trying to grow the beetles in people since he can’t grow them in sheep anymore. He gets caught up in the moment and chooses right then and there to propose to Alt-livia. She says yes, even though she’s been cheating on him. Such a lovely person, Alt-livia is. Lincoln cuts the celebratory moment short when he calls Alt-liva to let her know that a shipment the materials Frank says Silva would need for his experiments has been traced to an address in Brooklyn.

Alt-liva and Lincoln are on the case, but they quickly get separated inside the creepy old Brooklyn warehouse. Lincoln finds himself locked in a freezer, and Alt-livia falls through a rotten floorboard right into Silva’s lab. Alt-livia wakes up from her fall to find Silva giving her something to drink. She’s still pretty out of it, so she doesn’t give it a second thought, but given Silva’s modus operandi thus far, we’re led to believe it’s bad news. Silva then starts babbling what seems like an evil speech of evil about how one more host is necessary for the queen. Alt-livia then realizes she’s probably been infected, and when Lincoln arrives on the scene (he busted himself out of the freezer using liquid nitrogen), she lets him know. This drives the over-protective Lincoln just a touch crazy. Thankfully, additional back-up arrives, led by Charlie, and Alt-livia is taken away in an ambulance.

In the ambulance, Frank is getting ready to inject Alt-livia with a really powerful anti-parasitic while one of the EMTs or Paramedics is trying to get an ultrasound. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Lincoln is going a bit nuts trying to get answers out of Silva about how to cure Alt-liva. After some taunting, Silva reveals that he didn’t infect Alt-liva at all. He infected himself. And a really big queen beetle chooses that moment to eat its way out of his neck. I guess it can’t be an episode of “Fringe” without the creepy and gross. We then cut back to the ambulance, where the crew realizes that the movement on Alt-livia’s untrasound isn’t a beetle, after all. She’s pregnant. Frank is not at all happy about this (understandably), and he questions her about it at the hospital. When Alt-livia makes it clear that she’s in love with her baby daddy, Frank leaves. Good for Frank, I say.

Alt-livia’s not going to be going through this alone, though. Alt-Brandon (who is somehow still alive despite being shot by Alt-Broyles) has told Walternate about an important breakthrough regarding the chemical they synthesized from Olivia’s brain. It’s killed just about everyone they tried it on, but one guy was able to levitate a book before he keeled over. He was the youngest of the subjects, so Alt-Brandon hypothesizes that if children were treated with the chemical, it just might not kill them. Walternate refuses to go through with this, though. Experimenting on kids, interestingly (unlike his doppelganger), is a line he refuses to cross. Because he lost Peter at such a young age, obviously. He confides in his mistress (who is kind of gross) his displeasure at discovering a line of evil he can’t cross. At the end of the episode, though, he pays Alt-livia a visit. Smirking, he tells Alt-livia that she’ll be well taken care of, since she’s the mother of his grandchild. It appears he won’t mind experimenting on kids if they’re biologically related.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.15: "The Benefactor Factor"

“I refuse to be trotted out and shown off like a prize hog at the Texas State Fair. Which, by the way, is something you don’t want to attend wearing a Star Trek Ensign’s uniform.”

Once again, an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” that I didn’t love. I just found it kind of crude overall, as opposed to funny. I find the concept of “laughing at geek culture versus laughing with geek culture” to be extremely important when evaluating an episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” and unfortunately, like most episodes I don’t love, “The Benefactor Factor” fell more in the former category than the later. This episode was more about embarrassment squick than geek-driven humor, and I don’t find that entertaining. Watching the boys essentially (and in Leonard’s case, literally) prostitute themselves out for the sake of their research was upsetting and not really funny. I’ve worked for nonprofits before, so I understand living and dying by grants, but in my experience, the most that’s meant is giving up a weekend to help write an application. I’m not naive enough to think this sort of thing never happens, but it’s not what I want to see when I watch a sitcom.

As many episodes do, “The Benefactor Factor” opens with the guys eating lunch in the university cafeteria. The guys are having a conversation about zombies when the university president graces them with his presence. The one thing I like about this episode is that the president was played by Joshua Malina, who is a veteran of the Aaron Sorkin shows “Sports Night” and “The West Wing.” It’s funny to see the dorky statistician from “Sports Night” as a university president now. Jeremy Goodwin has grown up! President Siebert tells the guys that the university is holding a fancy event for major donors, and he would like for them to attend. The idea is that they can tell the donors about the exciting research they’re working on, and the donors will become even more inclined to donate. Sheldon absolutely hates the idea (he equates it to livestock being taken to the state fair), but the rest of the guys seem willing to go with it.

As you’d expect, the fundraiser doesn’t go especially well for the guys. Sheldon has completely refused to attend at all, and the other guys just look around at the proceedings awkwardly. President Siebert introduces them to a major donor, Mrs. Latham. As you could predict, given that this is a “laughing at” the nerds episode, this doesn’t go well at all. As soon as introductions are made, things go south. Howard almost immediately runs to the bar. Then Leonard is incapable of describing his work. He can’t even answer Mrs. Latham when she asks about the first machine he turns on when he gets to the lab in the morning. Then Raj “has to tinkle” and runs off. What does it say about this show that the only continuity that really jumped out at me in this episode was Raj’s small bladder issues and use of cutesy words for urination?

Back at the apartment, Sheldon is Skyping with Amy. She thinks Sheldon should go to the fundraiser. Amy may have many of the same neuroses as Sheldon, but she does at least seem to push them in the background when necessary for practicality’s sake. I think that’s the real difference between Sheldon and Amy. Amy genuinely wants to change (she wants friends, she sees the benefit in fundraising), while Sheldon has determined that the rest of the world should bend to his needs. Amy finally succeeds in convincing Sheldon to go to the fundraiser by using a trick we’ve seen the guys, usually Leonard, use on Sheldon before. She appeals to his highly inflated sense of self-worth, asking him if he really wants to leave the future funding of his own research in the hands of others, especially Leonard, Raj, and Howard.

When we next see the fundraiser, things are even more chaotic. Sheldon, in his plaid suit, has arrived, and he is being batshit crazy as always. The particular manifestation of the crazy seems a little different than usual this time, though. Sheldon has magically transformed into an extreme germaphobe who refuses to even shake hands with the donors. Mrs. Latham has decided to focus her attention on Leonard, who is squirming like you’d expect. Leonard starts to loosen up a little when Mrs. Latham tells him that she donates to all these causes mostly because she enjoys making smart people feel ill at ease.

The next morning, Sheldon is eating breakfast and talking on the phone with President Seibert, who informs Sheldon that he is not to attend a university fundraiser ever again. Which is fine with Sheldon, I’m sure. After Sheldon hangs up, he receives another phone call. This time, it’s for Leonard, and the call is from Mrs. Latham. She invites Leonard out to dinner to give him another opportunity to tell her about his research. This outing presumably goes much better than their first meeting, and on the car ride home, Mrs. Latham tries to kiss Leonard. Leonard pulls away, and when he gets home, he’s kind of upset and confused. The guys are not very sympathetic, though. Howard doesn’t seem to think a rich woman trying to kiss a scientist is such a bad thing. Sheldon not only doesn’t think it’s a bad thing, he thinks Leonard should sleep with her. Sheldon really wants additional funding for his lab.

Mrs. Latham invites Leonard to yet another dinner the next night, and Sheldon enthusiastically gives Leonard a bad of supplies for the evening. Including a photo of Mrs. Latham at age 25. I have to admit I did find that pretty funny. Mrs. Latham tells Leonard that she’s sorry she made him feel uncomfortable, and she’s giving her donation to the physics department whether or not he’s interested in pursuing a physical relationship with her. Then she insinuates that the fact she has a rich husband means she’s really good in bed. I was disappointed to see Leonard finally give into her. He ends up doing the walk of shame back to the apartment the next morning. He also gets a round of applause from his coworkers at the university. I can’t even describe how wrong I found all of this to be, so I’ll just end here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.14: "No Ordinary Double Standard"

Sarah has once again been kind enough to blog an episode of "No Ordinary Family" for MTVP. Enjoy her take on "No Ordinary Double Standard."


“What do you say honey, you want to take down a super villain with me?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
- Jim and Stephanie

The first thing one will notice when watching this episode is that the opening sequence has changed. I’m not sure if I like it or not. In the long run, it probably doesn’t even matter. Anyway, after the new opening, we find Stephanie out to drinks with her friend, Lena. They haven’t seen each other in a while and Lena complains that all they did was talk about her. Stephanie brushes it off and is surprised to hear Lena call Dr. King by his first name. Apparently they are still chummy. As Lena leaves, we see an ominous figure watching who turns into smoke. I guess Smokey finally found a way off the island! Stephanie gets home just in time to tell Jim they had a great time, for Jim to joke about how it would be awkward he went out with her and her single friends, and for Lena to call. Unfortunately, the call doesn’t last long before Lena is attacked. Stephanie races (literally) over to Lena’s house while Jim calls the cops. Jim promises Stephanie he’s going to get the guy that hurt Lena, much to Stephanie’s dismay. She wants to find the jerk herself.

The next morning, we find “Joshua” in the kitchen squeezing orange juice and making pancakes at the same time. I guess telekinesis really does come in handy. Too bad we have another instance of Katie finding information out about “Joshua” that looks bad and Joshua using his abilities to make her forget storyline this week. But for the moment things are happy in Katie-land. Sadly, now we must also venture into mini-Powell land for their plot of the week. J.J. is tutoring Bailey, and she asks him out on a date for Friday night. He’s not the only mini-Powell with a date though. Chris asks Daphne out, too. Things feel pretty good until Jim tells Daphne she can’t go out with Chris but J.J. can go out with Bailey. Talk about double standards (oh wait, we are because that’s the name of the episode). It doesn’t stop Daphne from going out though.

Stephanie arrives at the lab to find that Lena left her a message. She’s been discharged from the hospital. Stephanie then complains to Katie that Jim blew her off when she offered to help with the crimefighting. Katie has the bright idea for Steph to show Jim she can be just as good at solving cases. So Stephanie ends up talking to the only potential witness before Jim (he shows up at the precinct and tells Jim he doesn’t see why he needs to be there again). Later that evening, Stephanie challenges Jim that she’ll solve the case first and that his powers aren’t better than hers. We catch Smokey whisking into a different house as the act break ends. Next we get a scene that reminds me a lot of “No Ordinary Sidekick” with the split between Katie and Stephanie in the lab and Jim and George in the Lair. Both sides are psyching themselves up to solve the crime before the other side. We’ll see how well that works.

Daphne is still not happy that J.J. gets to go on his date, so she tries to prove to him that Bailey is only using him for his brain. She finds out however, that Bailey is actually into J.J. Too bad she reads J.J.’s mind and realizes he still has feelings for Natalie. And too bad for Bailey J.J. admits this on their date. Way to end a potentially fun night, kid. Daphne ends up sneaking out with Chris, and they have a fight when Jim calls and Daphne lies about where she is. The fight doesn’t last long because as Daphne is walking home, a creepy bum tries to get it on with her and Chris comes to her rescue. Well, sort of. It seems Daphne’s powers are increasing because now she can say things and people will do them. So the bum puts away his gun and leaves them alone. Likewise, Daphne gets out of being grounded for going out with Chris by telling Jim she’ll be grounded the next time she sneak out with a boy. I’m not sure why her powers are evolving and everyone else is staying stagnant. Maybe it has something to do with what “Joshua” did to her. After all their powers are quite similar.

Speaking of “Joshua”, he gets a surprise visit at home from Dr. King. It’s much like the times “Joshua” threatened Dr. King before when he was sans powers. Well minus the kind of icky sweaty look he had going. Once again, Dr. King baits “Joshua” with asking what Katie will think if she found out all the horrible things he’s done with his powers. It looks like Dr. King agrees to stay out of “Joshua’s” life but he can’t stay out of Katie’s. She still works for him.

Back in crime-solving land, Jim shows up at Lena’s to get a sketch of the suspect and finds Stephanie there as well. Their competitive side comes out and Stephanie insists on sketching the suspect as well. It doesn’t turn out well. But Katie’s gone ahead and bought the same software Jim uses at the precinct and Stephanie gets to the guy (the valet from the night of the attack) before Jim. Unfortunately, the valet has a rock solid alibi and they’re back to square one. Katie stops by the Lair and plants a device that can hack through George’s firewall so she can follow the intel that he and Jim get.

That night, Stephanie tells Jim she didn’t realize how hard the crime fighting thing was, and she tells Jim she’ll leave it to him. Their conversation is cut short when George and Katie both call reporting a second attack. Steph and Jim make excuses to leave and they end up at the house. Stephanie arrives first and is nearly caught by the intruder when Jim attempts to knock him out. That obviously doesn’t do much when the guy can turn into smoke. Really, can someone please tell me how Smokey got off the island? So Jim and Steph regroup at the Lair with Katie and George and agree to work together. Jim is a little frustrated that his sketch hasn’t turned up anything yet, and George (channeling Hardison from Leverage) tells Jim to not take it out on his computer. Katie is at the lab packing up some things when Dr. King approaches her. He gives her information on “Joshua” that reveals the things he has done with powers while in the employ of Dr. King. Poor Katie. She just can’t catch a break with this.

Jim shows Steph what the sketch search results revealed. It turns out that all the super villains they’ve faced thus far in the series were all inmates at a local penitentiary. And Lena worked there, too. At least we’re getting more progress on the conspiracy front. Smokey shows up at the Powell house and nearly strangles Stephanie in the shower. But he claims he just wants to talk. He reveals that Dr. King was in charge of turning him into Smokey. And now Smokey is going after Dr. King. I have to say I don’t find that upsetting at all. I mean the guy is a giant prick and deserves to get the crap kicked out of him.

Smokey shows up at the lab and attacks Dr. King. We also get a crucial piece of information from Dr. King while he lies through his teeth about why he did what he did to Smokey. Anyone who King turned into a super person can’t hurt Dr. King himself with their powers. Stephanie and Jim get there just in time to stop Smokey from killing Dr. King (he was going to use methods other than his powers). Unfortunately, as Stephanie introduces Dr. King at the banquet honoring him, we get a montage of King looking at the security footage and it is quite clear that Stephanie zoomed in and Jim yanked a container of nitrogen from the wall. So I guess the secret is out. Speaking of secrets, “Joshua” gets home to Katie’s apartment to find Katie once more pissed off at him. He uses his powers; much like Daphne did, to make Katie forget about knowing that he killed people and such. They look pretty happy. As Dr. King gives his speech, we see someone taking out Lena and what looks like Smokey but I can’t be sure. I guess Dr. King is trying to tie up loose ends so Stephanie doesn’t catch on. Leaves things in an interesting place for next week.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Glee 2.12: "Silly Love Songs"

Much thanks to Sarah for saving me from having to blog two episodes of "Glee" in one week. Enjoy her take on the Valentine's Day episode, "Silly Love Songs."


“There are two lessons I learned the hard way. One, never punch a cop. The other one, you can’t choose love. Love chooses you.”
- Puck

Overall, I thought “Silly Love Songs” was a decent Valentine’s Day episode. There were some plotlines I liked more than others. We start with Puck mooning over Lauren (the girl he got to join New Directions for Sectionals) and he thinks he’s in love with her. He gave her a heart-shaped box of candies, which she ate and then said sucked. So now, he’s determined to get her to go out with him on Valentine’s Day. Finn is riding high after winning the Championship game and everyone is treating him like he’s on top. And apparently every girl at McKinley is giving him those little candy hearts, including Becky. It’s nice to see Becky not under Sue’s thumb for once. And it is all going to Finn’s head. Then there’s the whole Quinn-kissed-him-after-the-football-game thing. So, Finn decides to use his “celebrity” at the school to raise money for Glee (aka set up a scenario where Quinn might actually kiss him again). He sets up a kissing booth and will charge one dollar for every kiss. This is the plotline I found to be the most offensive. You’ll see why later on.

We actually get to see Kurt in this episode for more than thirty seconds. He actually has a pretty big storyline. He and Blaine are out and about getting coffee and discussing Valentine’s Day. Blaine says it is his favorite holiday, and he thinks it is really romantic to be able to just lay it out on the line and tell someone how you really feel. He asks Kurt for his opinion. Blaine has feelings for a guy he’s only known for a little while and he wants to sing his feelings. Kurt, believing that someone is him, says Blaine should totally go for it. I mean, yes, Darren Criss is cute, but Blaine is so clueless! Kurt further thinks his dislike of Valentine’s Day is disappearing when Blaine knows his coffee order by heart (and pays). It’s kind of adorable.

Back at McKinley, Will is giving the kids their weekly Glee assignment; partner up and sing what they think is the greatest love song. An appropriately themed assignment, if I do say so myself. This scene actually has some intense stuff with Santana. She gets a verbal smack down from just about every member of the club. The club makes it clear that Santana can dish crap but she can’t take it. It ends with her sitting in the hallway sobbing with Britney at her side. Puck also gets his personal challenge for the episode: woo Lauren so she’ll go to Breadstix with him for Valentine’s Day.

And we’ve now bopped back to Dalton Academy where Blaine has called an emergency meeting of the Warblers. He wants them to help serenade the guy he likes in public. There is much outrage because the group hasn’t performed in public since 1927. Kurt manages to step up and explain that even though New Directions were heckled basically everywhere they went, it gave them confidence and kept them loose. He thinks that the Warblers need some of that. Blaine says the performance will be at the GAP, because that’s where the guy he likes works. You can see Kurt’s face just fall with the realization that he is not, in fact, Blaine’s crush. Luckily for Kurt, he gets to have a slumber party with Mercedes and Rachel to complain about his heartbreak. It is rather adorable. Plus, we get to see Mercedes for more than half a second as well. And she has a good point. The three “divas” need to be single for a while and focus on their talent and their musical ambitions. They don’t need love to be happy.

The next day, Puck sings “Fat Bottomed Girls” to try and impress Lauren. It’s a fun song and I rarely dislike the things Mark sings. The song starts off with the boys singing a Capella which is kind of cool. Lauren acts offended by the song, but she’s really playing hard-to-get. Finn has set up his kissing booth and all the girls are excited. He steps out to floss (or so he says) and Quinn approaches him. She says that she knows what he’s up to and it won’t work. She won’t lead him on or hurt Sam by kissing Finn again. Sam sees this exchange and kind of freaks a little. He tells Quinn he saw her and Finn together. She assures him that she only wants to kiss him. He’s not satisfied and after a little fight, she says she’s going to kiss Finn after Glee rehearsal.

At rehearsal, we get Mike Chang and Artie doing a duet of “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”. It’s awesome. Artie really does soulful songs well. It fits his voice well. Britney and Tina are pretty impressed by their men. After Glee, Santana tries to get back with Puck but he’s not having any of it. Thus ensues the crazy Santana/Lauren cat fight in the hallway. I have to say, it was pretty hilarious. Puck is one step closer to getting Lauren to go out with him. And the cat fight makes him want to date Lauren even more than he did before.

Rachel stops by Finn’s booth and after some babbling, they kiss and Rachel is insulted that it was a kiss on the cheek. Rachel tries to say she still loves Finn and that messing around with Puck doesn’t mean anything. Finn is still upset that she cheated on him. Finn gives Rachel the present he got her for Christmas (a little late), a star necklace, and he says that Rachel should be alone for a while. Then it is time for Quinn to kiss Finn at the booth, with Sam watching. And there are fireworks on Finn’s end. He thinks he is still in love with Quinn and she tells him to meet her in the auditorium. No good can come from that at all.

Next we see the Warblers’ big crazy “GAP Attack” singing extravaganza. Blaine almost chickens out, but Kurt tells him to go ahead and he’ll be great. It was an impressive number and they really like doing kind of funky/hip-hop type numbers. The guy that Blaine likes, Jeremiah, kind of keeps slipping away from Blaine as they sing and then afterward, he tells Blaine he’s kind of not interested. For one thing, not many people know he’s gay, and also they couldn’t go out because Jeremiah would get arrested since Blaine is underage. Oh, and then there was the fact that Jeremiah got fired for it. Blaine is kind of bummed, to say the least.

Santana is pissed at being single on Valentine’s Day and then gets vengeful. She kisses some guy in the nurse’s office who got mono and kisses Finn at the booth. Course it is all misinformation about how mono is spread. Anyway, Finn and Quinn end up in the auditorium kissing. Quinn tells Finn that it makes her a cheater, the thing that got Finn so upset that he broke up with her and Rachel. Finn says he was hurt so bad because it meant they didn’t love him anymore. Double standard much? I think that this part of the Finn storyline is what pissed me off so much. He got angry at them for cheating on him with Puck but here he is getting Quinn to cheat on Sam. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for Sam, which is kind of sad. But Quinn tells Finn that she won’t break up with Sam until she’s absolutely sure she doesn’t love him.

Blaine and Kurt are back out together for coffee, and Blaine’s tune has changed. He finds Valentine’s Day horrible now that he’s had his heart broken. Kurt tells Blaine that he thought the song was for him (based on how much they hang out and singing duets). Blaine admits he’s clueless (you think?) and tells Kurt he’s never been anyone’s boyfriend before. Kurt replies that he hasn’t been either. So by the end of the episode, they’re sort of together, or at least on the way. They basically agree to be really good friends and see if anything romantic comes of it. Kurt seems happy anyway.

Puck gets stood up by Lauren at Breadstix (he managed to get her to agree to a pre-Valentine’s Day dinner with him). He doesn’t seem too worse for wear, considering he’s making out with a waitress (until her husband calls). The next day, Finn announces he raised $324 for Glee and then promptly ends up going to the nurse with Quinn because they both feel like crap (mono). Like I said before, massive misinformation about how mono is actually spread. Tina ends up singing “My Funny Valentine” to Mike. Well sing would be the wrong word. She cries through most of it. Tears of happiness, though. Quinn tells Finn that they can’t keep cheating until she knows what is going on with her and Sam and Finn knows what is up with him and Rachel. Finn tries to deny that there is anything going on with Rachel but Quinn knows it’s true. She catches him staring at Rachel (when he’s not staring at Quinn).

Puck confronts Lauren for standing him up. Things end well though because she agrees to go to dinner with him on Valentine’s Day as friends. She wants to take it slow and he’s willing to try that. Later that afternoon, Rachel shows up at the nurse’s office and basically tells Finn she is better off alone for now. He tries to convince her he still has feelings for her, but telling her that he saw fireworks when he kissed Quinn probably wasn’t the way to go about it. But it inspires Rachel’s Valentine’s Day song. She does Katy Perry’s “Firework”. I think that is the 3rd or 4th Katy Perry song they’ve done/used this season. They must really like her. The episode ends with the Warblers performing “Silly Love Songs” (had to work the episode title in somehow) at Breadstix. It’s a fun way to end the episode, except that Sam was getting all oogly eyed with Santana. Never a good sign. Guess we’ll see how things shake out next week.

HIMYM 6.15: "Oh Honey"

“We hate Ted now. Get on board or the sexting stops.”

“Oh Honey” was a decent episode of HIMYM, certainly one of the better episodes of the later seasons. I’m still not sure I’d call it an overall favorite, though, but that’s just because I’m really partial to Barney and Robin, and this particular episode dealt more with Ted’s romantic exploits. On a purely subjective level, this was a good quality episode. There was a fun framing device, an all of the characters got to be their best. Ted was the dopey romantic trying to be responsible. Barney was the trickster rogue who then has an attack of humanity. Marshall was back to being the dorky, polite Minnesotan. Lily was the loving and supportive but sassy wife. It was definitely an enjoyable half hour overall. I like having the characters I thought I knew back. I missed them during season 5.

Marshall is spending some time out in Minnesota helping his mom, and that provides the episode with its framing device and its charm. He’s in his childhood bedroom, which has been preserved as it was when he lived there, and the best way to describe the situation is to use a term HIMYM coined a few seasons ago-revertigo. Robin calls Marshall on a landline- believe it or not- with big news about Ted and Zoey. The story starts out with a flashback (that Marshall was actually a part of, so it doesn’t really make sense Robin would include this in the story). In December, Robin was trying to have a dinner party for the gang, including Zoey. The dinner was a disaster, of course, since Robin can’t cook, but there was an important moment between Ted and Zoey. Ted and Robin are out of ketchup (necessary for the very burnt food Robin has produced), and Ted and Zoey argue over who is going to go out to get a replacement. Ted agrees to get the ketchup if Zoey sets him up with her hot cousin.

After not hearing from Zoey for a while, Ted calls her. Not because he’s worried about her, but because he wants to collect on the hot cousin deal. We then flash to MacLaren’s, where we meet Zoey’s cousin. Nobody can remember her real name when retelling the story. Everyone just calls her “Honey” because she’s so gullible. She’s gullible to a farcical degree. She talks about the landlord being kind enough to install a camera in her shower and giving her social security number to some nice people. Basically, every time she says something, it makes the person listening want to say, “Oh, honey.” Hence the nickname. Ted likes Honey well enough, and of course Barney is instantly drawn to her. He likes independent women like Robin for long-term, but he’s never been one to shy away from vulnerable, gullible chicks when he’s not with Robin. In fact, he relishes it. Ted actually leaves Honey to Barney.

Robin tells Marshall she’s proud of Ted for this move, and after Marshall’s mom interrupts the phone conversation with some commentary (which was adorable- an adjective I could use to describe most of the Minnesota scenes in this episode), Robin explains that Ted let Honey go because he’s in love with Zoey. Ted recognized this was a problem (considering Zoey’s married to the Captain), so he calls his own intervention, complete with the “Intervnention” sign. I love the little bits of continuity HIMYM manages to incorporate in every episode. It’s like a little reward for being a loyal fan. At the intervention, Robin tells Ted he needs to shut down his feelings for Zoey immediately. She doesn’t want him to stop interacting with Zoey, because she doesn’t want to have to stop hanging out with Zoey too.

Marshall’s next call comes from Barney. Marshall is surprised by this because it’s a number he doesn’t recognize. It turns out Barney has gone all Barksdale crew from “The Wire” and has started using burners to make his phone calls. He wants to tell the Honey story from his perspective. The visual representation of the fallibility of memory is one of the things I find most interesting about HIMYM. Of course, Honey was much more into Barney in Barney’s version of the story than Robin’s. Barney brags about his conquest to Zoey (while making squeaky bed noises) the next day, and instead of being grossed out, Zoey hugs Barney. It turns out that Marshall’s brother Marcus is listening in on this call too, and he interjects that Zoey must be in love with Ted.

Marshall calls Ted to get Ted’s take on the situation, but Ted has a story to tell Marshall first. Zoey came over one day and filled Ted’s refrigerator up with ketchup. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever liked Zoey. It reminded me of the episode “Benefits” where Barney filled up Ted and Robin’s refrigerator with milk so Ted and Robin would have one less excuse to have “stop arguing” sex. Ted appreciates the gesture, but then he tells Zoey they can’t be friends anymore. At that point in the story, Marshall has to take a phone call from Lily. She says they hate Ted now. Apparently, Ted’s excuse for ending his friendship with Zoey was that Zoey hates her. Zoey goes to Dowisetrepla to confront Lily about this. At first, Lily goes with it and tries to pretend she hates Zoey for Ted’s sake. But then Zoey mentions she’s going through a difficult time, and Lily can’t help but comfort her. She says Robin is the member of the group who actually hates her.

Marshall then gets another call from Robin warning him that Robin told Zoey it was Marshall who hates her. He hears a call waiting beep that he thinks is from Zoey, and his polite Midwestern self just can’t not answer. It actually turned out to be Honey. Barney left his cell phone in the trash there, and she’s been calling all his contacts. When Barney went back to Honey’s apartment, he said “Who’s your daddy,” and it went horribly wrong. He started to completely break down because he wrote a letter to his father and hasn’t heard anything. I’m assuming that’s why Barney ditched his phone and why he still hasn’t heard from his dad. Marshall tricks Honey into telling him about the “difficult stuff” Zoey has been going through. It turns out that Zoey and the Captain are getting a divorce.

While Marshall is in the process of learning this very important information, Ted is trying to scare off Zoey once and for all by telling her that he himself hates her. Marshall, luckily, with the help of a corkboard (another “The Wire” shoutout like Barney’s “burners”), his Clue board game, and his family, has a plan. Again, Marshall’s life in Minnesota is so completely adorable. Ted is yelling at Zoey about how much he hates her when she gets a phone call from Marshall. We can’t hear what Marshall’s saying, but we can see the expression on Zoey’s face change as he says it. After Zoey hangs up, Ted’s phone rings. Presumably, Marshall’s telling him about Zoey’s impending divorce. Ted stops his tirade, and the two kiss. The lady who lives across the hall peeks out, then goes back into her apartment, where she phones Marshall to give him the good news. The Eriksen clan all cheer from Marshall’s childhood bedroom. Again, I’ve got to say, how freaking adorable is this episode (even if I’m not a massive Zoey fan)!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Glee 2.11: "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle"

“Yeah, well maybe you’ll think it’s cooler when I go all ‘Tik Tok’ on your face!”

Overall, I found “The Sue Sylvester Shuffle,” like everything connected to this year’s Super Bowl, to be a disappointment. Sue was entirely moustache twirling, and I like my villains with depth. But that is only the tip of the iceberg of my dislike for this episode. Like many post-Super Bowl episodes, it had to be generic enough to capture the attention of many potential new viewers. Unfortunately, though, that effort to create an easy entry point for football (or commercial) fans made this episode feel completely out of place. It struck the wrong notes tone-wise, and the plot took place at the completely wrong time of year. It was, as Shakespeare wrote (yes, I am quoting Shakespeare on a TV blog…I’ve got culture!) “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It was all flash and no substance. Okay, maybe there were little bits of substance, but it wasn’t really substance that I liked.

A perfect example of the point I just tried to make, the episode opens with the Cheerios doing a flashy, pyro-laden rehearsal performance to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” My initial reaction was “Why would a cheerleading squad from Ohio choose that song.” It made no sense. Did anybody make an Ohio-themed parody of the song? Like “Pennsylvania Guys” (cracks me up every time I watch it, since I was born, raised, and went to college in two very different areas of the state). Or “Geek and Gamer Girls” (gotta love Seth Green rapping). Even if nobody has, you’d think Sue could afford to commission one. Anyway, despite the over-the-top performance, Sue is bored and demands something more. Quinn, in dialogue that is way too overly exposition-y, explains that this is the most elaborate routine the Cheerios have ever done, and Sue is just trying to top herself for her own amusement- they’re already a shoe-in to get to Nationals. Sue confirms Quinn’s assessment by writing in her journal about how she just wants to feel things again- she’s become extremely jaded. She’s watching a cartoon on television and sees a character shoot out of a cannon. This gives her a very bad idea.

The main plot of this episode, however, involves the football team. We see them playing an important game, which is happening at completely the wrong time of year. A playoff game like this one should be in late November, not February. And we already saw the Christmas episode, so there’s no argument to be made that they slowed down the timeline. Finn makes a big speech to his teammates about how proud he is of them because they’re guaranteed a spot in the conference championships this year. The speech devolves into a stupid argument with Karofsky, where of course Karofsky makes fun of Finn being in glee club and being friends with Kurt. Karofsky threatens not to protect Finn from being sacked, and Finn blows the last play. The Titans lose the game, and there’s a huge fight in the locker room after the game between the guys who are part of New Directions and the guys who aren’t. There would be lots of fighting in this episode. It gets old.

Coach Beiste tells Will that she’s concerned that if her team doesn’t quit this infighting and start working together, they’re going to lose the championship. Will, of course, has a brilliant idea that he’s sure will solve the problem. He gets Coach Beiste to bring the rest of the football team to a glee rehearsal. Nobody on either side of the war is happy about that. Puck and Rachel perform a decent rendition of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” It wasn’t as offensively Autotuned as most “Glee” music, but it was still too polished. The original song is beautiful because it’s raw and gritty, and that’s something that never applies to “Glee” music, other than the impromptu karaoke “Piano Man” by Bryan Ryan and Will in “Dream On” (still my favorite musical moment on the show to date). Anyway, following the performance, one of the football players insults Puck, and the whole thing devolves into a knock-down-drag-out fight. Again. Later, Finn and Puck privately decide to call a truce and unite against the anti-Glee football players.

Turning to the absolute worst plot of the episode, Sue procures a human cannon from “carnie folk” and decrees that Brittany will be shot out of said cannon as part of the Cheerios’ Regionals performance. Brittany is rightfully scared, and Quinn reassures her that she will go to Will with the problem and fix everything. We next see Sue, Will, and Principal Figgins all having quite the argument in Figgins’ office. Figgins (thank God) stands up to Sue and says that she will not be shooting anyone out of a cannon without their consent. I thought he should have said no cannon at all, but I’ll take what reasonableness I can get on this show. Sue throws one of her classic tantrums, seeming to hurl just about any stationary object in the school in an effort to demonstrate her rage. I didn’t like these tantrums back when she did them in the (higher quality) season 1, and I still don’t like them now. As a final insult, Sue gets the cheerleading Regionals competition moved to the same night as the football team’s championship game. The game will have no cheerleaders.

Will thinks that to replace the Cheerios number and build some school unity, New Directions and the football team should do the half-time show instead. They’re going to do a mash-up of “Thriller” and “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in full zombie make-up. And this plot would be better suited to a Halloween episode. Quinn, Santana, and Brittany now have a choice to make: glee club or Cheerios? After a rehearsal, Will pulls Karofsky aside and tells him how talented he is. I guess Will is hoping that by embracing his talent, Karofsky will stop making fun of the glee kids. The plan works temporarily. Karofsky enthusiastically comes up to Finn and asks if they should do a warm-up number before the big mash-up. Finn is pleasantly surprised by Karofsky’s initiative and agrees with him.

As quickly as Will’s plan comes together, it starts to fall apart. The glee club Cheerios are all having a ladies room discussion about the choice they have to make when Sue interrupts. She reminds the girls that they rely on Cheerios for their social standing at school, and she gives them all pre-written New Directions resignation letters to hand in to Will. Scared by Sue’s ultimatum, the girls turn in their resignations like Sue told them to. Finn is furious about this and yells at Quinn for not being as strong as he knows she can be. Meanwhile, the hockey players (all with highly comedic, stereotypical mullets…one of the few things in this episode that genuinely made me laugh), are giving the football players a hard time about joining up with the glee club. The football guys all experience their first Slushie-ing, and it shakes Karofsky, who really has no spine whatsoever. He quits the performance and takes all his football buddies with him. They all end up quitting the football team too, because Coach Beiste says they can’t play if they don’t do the half-time show.

We then take a break from the drama for the obligatory poorly-integrated-into-the-rest-of-the-episode Dalton Academy Warbler performance. This time, Blaine, Kurt and the boys are performing the Destiny’s Child classic “Bills Bills Bills.” I love me some old school Destiny’s Child, and the performance was one of the better musical performances of the episode, but I think that splitting the show between the two schools just kills any momentum each episode manages to get going. We kind of abruptly transition into a coffee meet-up with Kurt, Blaine, Rachel, and Mercedes. The conversation convinces Rachel and Mercedes that they need to do something to save the football game and half-time show. Their solution? The non-Cheerios New Directions girls are going to join the football team. Their plan is to lie down at the beginning of every play so they don’t get tackled (except for Lauren, since she’s badass). And the part of me that is a massive “Friday Night Lights” fan who has been following the coverage of the DirecTV airing of the series finale this week weeps.

The plan works in the sense that the game is allowed to take place and the girls don’t get hurt, but the Titans are losing horribly. One of the opposing team members fumbles the ball, and Coach Beiste yells for somebody to pick it up and run with it. Tina is tired of just lying down, so she does as Coach Beiste says. And gets her bell rung when she gets tackled. She’s eventually able to get up after giving everyone a little scare, and the incident sparks Finn to tell everyone that the only way they can really salvage this game is to put on a great half-time show. He calls Sam in from the sidelines to play quarterback while he goes and gets the missing Cheerios glee clubbers. And, why, if they were so short of players, was Sam on the sidelines, even if he is QB2? Surely he’s capable of playing another position too in a pinch? Finn also asks Puck to go convince the other football guys to come back. Both are successful. Finn convinces the girls that Sue doesn’t care about them, and Puck convinces the guys (except for Karofsky) that being a loser is better than being nothing at all.

The half-time performance was pretty cool, but as a high school colorguard veteran, I kept thinking that the drill design for the marching band would have been rather hellish with all the extra dancers on the field. You see, you don’t just move around the field willy-nilly. There are maps of different steps in the drill and dots that mark where each person is supposed to be. It’s not something they could have just whipped up at the last minute. The performance had good energy, and eventually even Karofsky got over himself and ran onto the field to join in. Coach Beiste gets the guys stay in makeup for second half of the game- she thinks it will be good for intimidation. With just seconds left in the game, Finn realizes that the Titans can win if the opposing team’s QB fumbles the ball. He gets the guys to start saying “Brains” zombie style to provide a distraction. Everyone in the stands join in the chant. I guess it was a cool moment, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that Finn does not play defense (he’s the QB1), so he shouldn’t have been on the field to orchestrate that little maneuver. Anyway, the plan goes off as Finn imagined it, and the Titans win.

We next cut to Katie Couric interviewing Sue, who has been named “Loser of the Year” for her cannon stunt backfire, which apparently let to Cheerios losing Nationals for the first time in eight years. To (rightfully) add insult to injury, the rest of the Cheerios budget for the year is going to New Directions. The glee kids all hope that this victory is the start of a new paradigm in how the school social scene works, but Finn soon finds out that in some ways, that won’t be true. He happily goes up to Karofsky to tell him that the club has agreed he can be a permanent member if he apologizes to Kurt. Karofsky is not at all interested, though. He’s on top because of winning the championship (never mind that his own issues almost singlehandedly lost the game for the team), so he doesn’t want things to change. In news that was so infuriating that I’m only going to give it a brief mention here at the end of the post, Quinn appears after Finn’s confrontation with Karofsky and tells Finn that she’s proud of how he handled himself regarding the championship game. And then they kiss. I could go on a rant about why that makes me irrationally angry (mostly because of how irredeemably badly Quinn hurt Finn last season), but this post is already way too long. So I’ll leave it at that.