Thursday, March 31, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.19: "No Ordinary Future"

Since there were two episodes of "No Ordinary Family" last week, Sarah generously agreed to blog one of them for MTVP. Here is her take on the season (and probably series) penultimate episode.


“Don’t forget, I gave you life. I can take it away again just as easily.”
- Mrs. X

I was a little sad to blog this episode seeing as it is the penultimate episode of the season (likely series). So we start where “No Ordinary Animal” left off. Steph is out running and she’s sort of dematerializing. She ends up reappearing at the house and there’s all manner of SWAT and military people surrounding the house. Steph tries to talk to the lead guy at the scene once she figures out its her house, but no one sees her. She makes it inside to find Jim and the kids trying to find a way out of the now surrounded house. Again, they can’t see or hear Stephanie. Jim tells J.J. and Daphne to slip out the back while he distracts the guys outside so they can meet Stephanie at Katie’s. Before Stephanie can try and stop Jim, she is yanked back through a big flash of light (à la the crack in the universe from Doctor Who series 5) and ends up back at the house. But the scene is far quieter. Steph is rightly confused but tries to hide it when she walks in to find Jim there. He asks if the run helped, and she mumbles an answer. She puts on a brave face and tells Jim to go to Captain Cordero’s goodbye party.

Jim doesn’t believe her that she’s okay but goes to the party anyway. He tells George obviously there has to be something wrong. Stephanie nearly died the day before, and i trillsettum changes people. Jim and George spend a little time with Cordero, telling him how they’ll miss him and how the precinct won’t be the same without him before a few of the other attendees pull Cordero away for some drinks. And to think he used to not like Jim! Later, Jim, George and Cordero are heading out. After some quick goodbyes, Cordero heads to his car when a car drives by and Cordero ends up looking like bloody Swiss cheese. George hastily calls for an ambulance, but it’s no use. The next morning at the precinct, George and Jim meet the two cops who are supposedly handling Cordero’s case. They’re definitely sketchy in my book. Anyway, Cordero’s wife shows up and thanks Jim for all he did for Frank. She reveals he was really stressed over some trial and couldn’t sleep. Which was unlike Frank. This sets Jim and George on the investigatory path.

Back at the house, Stephanie is still wandering around a little dazed and confused, and she overhears Daphne telling J.J. what she heard when she read Mr. Litchfield’s mind. He’s scared someone will hurt him. This prompts Stephanie to butt in, and after J.J. explains they were biochemical equations, she tells J.J. she doesn’t want him doing any more work for Mr. Litchfield until she can talk to him. At school, Chris catches up with Daphne, and after some arm twisting, gets her to agree to see him at his work after school so she can mind push his boss into giving him a raise. Daphne really doesn’t want to do it but agrees. Chris really has been kind of a jerk since he found about Daphne’s powers. At Global Tech, Stephanie is running some tests on Katie to make sure she’s safe. Katie has a little freak out about having a superbaby. After all, it usually ends in the baby killing its parents. But Stephanie assures Katie that she’s fine and gives her the name of her own OB/GYN so Katie can get an appointment. With that, Stephanie races off to school to try and talk to Mr. Litchfield.

Like before, Stephanie shows up and things are weird. She finds George running down an empty hallway and J.J. and Daphne hiding in a classroom looking rather worse for wear. George hands over some food and water, but there’s agents searching the school again. Stephanie watches helplessly since she can’t seem to communicate with anyone as George almost misdirects the agents who stop by the room. But J.J. accidentally nudges a beaker, and George resorts to blocking the door into the room so the kids can escape. Steph has time to see the date, March 31, before she’s yanked back to the lab. She tells Katie she doesn’t think she just ran to the school, she saw the future.

And now we get what I thought was a pretty shocking reveal. Mrs. X has somehow (my guess is through the trillsettum) brought Victoria back to life. It was apparently rather difficult to bring Victoria back, but Mrs. X did it, with Joshua’s help. He told Mrs. X to take care of Victoria. Victoria is kind of excited and asks if Joshua’s there, but obviously he’s not. Her excitement then turns to confusion because she figures he wouldn’t want anything to do with her after what she did to Katie. And then the boss lady drops the baby bomb. She wants Victoria to find out everything she can without raising suspicion.

Back at the lab, Katie is trying half-heartedly to convince Steph that she didn’t go to the future and that it was just some hallucination. But Stephanie is positive. She just doesn’t understand what she’s seeing or how it could have come to pass. Katie gets super excited about time travel and rattles off other super heroes that had similar powers; The Flash and the Silver Surfer. Steph hasn’t told Jim yet. She doesn’t want to bother him with everything else that’s going on. Just as she gets up to try and zip off to the future again to try and figure out what’s going on, she loses her balance and Katie insists on running some tests of her own.

At the Lair, Jim is searching through Cordero’s cases to try and find the one that was keeping him up at night. He finds a case about a gang member who was facing drug charges, and Jim thinks they’ve got the right case. The ADA prosecuting is a friend of George’s and they go to find out what the ADA knows. Cordero apparently called the ADA the day before and wanted to meet in private so Frank could submit some evidence. Definitely something fishy afoot in Pacific Bay.

We hop over to teen land for a few minutes as Chris waits for Daphne to work her mojo on his boss. She comes over and tells him that it didn’t work. She mumbles something about it maybe being the fumes that are messing with her ability but Chris calls her out on it. He’s none too pleased that she didn’t actually do it. He pretty tells her to stay out of his life and he’ll fix his problems himself. Somehow, I doubt that will really end well.

And we’re back at Global Tech. Katie is making an OB/GYN appointment while going over Stephanie’s test results. Katie shows Steph the results that prove Stephanie’s body is starting to suffer the effects of time travel. Stephanie brushes it off, but Katie tells her that she may feel fine now, but eventually, her body won’t be able to handle the stress. Stephanie isn’t interested in listening. She needs to get to the future at the precinct to make sure Jim’s okay. She arrives to find it occupied by scary looking military types, and the jerk FBI agent that was at the house is pacing in front of Stephanie. Jim and the kids are chained up nearby looking rather groggy. They’ve apparently been sedated. The Agent wants to know what Stephanie is and once they do, they’ll decide whether she and her family are more useful dead or alive. Stephanie begs for a lawyer, but the agent scoffs and tells her those rights are only for human beings.

Katie is at her doctor’s appointment and she’s anxiously waiting in the front office. Dr. Klein is on his way in from the garage when Victoria accosts him with a metal pipe and morphs into him. Faux!Klein is giving Katie an ultrasound and finally finds the fetus. Katie’s pretty excited until the doctor produces a very big needle and claims they need to an amniocentesis. Katie unfortunately doesn’t have much choice in the matter.

Back at the Powell house, Steph is filling everyone in on what she’s seen. She tells them their secret will be exposed in two days and they’ll be taken into military custody. Jim and Steph share a look after she says that maybe someone in the family spilled the beans. J.J. denies that Mr. Litchfield knows anything. All eyes fall on Daphne. She finally admits she told Chris but professes he’s cool enough to not blab it to anyone. Daphne is told to get in touch with Chris to find out if he told anyone. Meanwhile, Jim gets called away by George because someone broke into the Cordero house. Nothing was taken, but Mrs. Cordero says they were probably looking for the hidden safe behind a bookshelf. It was so well hidden that even she didn’t know it was there until cops discovered it. Jim and George convince her to let Jim try opening it and he does with ease. They find police personnel files, and they realize Cordero was delivering intel on a dirty cop to the ADA.

Back at the house, Stephanie is going to race off to Global Tech to see what’s happening there, since Dr. King knows about them and the lab sometimes does military contracting. She finds Agent Annoying Jerk questioning Katie. Katie’s holding her own with snappy comebacks until he shoves her up against a wall and arrests her. She falls to ground in pain and yells at him that she’s pregnant. Apparently that’s the magic word because he orders someone to get a paramedic. The important thing is, Stephanie sees a newscast that clues her in to a rather shocking truth; whatever happens to reveal the Powell secret happens on the 29th at 5:07pm. Stephanie ends up smacking into the car when she’s pulled back to the present, much to J.J.’s surprise.

Stephanie is insistent that she needs to go to the future to see what happens and try to stop it. The kids protest, but she gets J.J. to help determine the exact coordinates she needs to run to. She zooms off to find Daphne and Jim at the scene. Chris is there too, but Daphne’s got him covered. George is giving a eulogy at Cordero’s memorial service, and Jim realizes that someone is about to kill George. He races off to stop them, but gets caught on camera as he flips the car with the gunman in it. And thus begins the potential hell that the Powells find themselves in. At the precinct (in the present) one of the cops investigating Frank’s case corners Jim and says his partner is dirty. He tells Jim to meet him somewhere in private, and just as Jim heads out, he nearly gets gunned down. He knows it was the cops. Another piece of the puzzle falling into place.

Stephanie zooms back and has another crash including smashing up the table in the house. She tells J.J. that it is Jim that exposes them when he tries to save George’s life. Too bad, Jim doesn’t listen. He can’t let George die. And Daphne’s already left to find Chris. Daphne confronts Chris and he says that while he was angry at her, he would have never revealed her secret to anyone. And this time, Jim is more careful about not being caught on camera as he stops the gunman. But it’s only half the equation. His partner is still in the crowd of blue and it’s up the Daphne to stop him. She reads minds until she finds the guy and ends up mind pushing the guy to give her the gun and not shoot George. Jim and Stephanie aren’t happy to hear Daphne has these powers, and they force her to use her powers on Chris again. She’s never mind wiped someone before, but she’s never needed to either. She thinks she’s only going to erase his memories of knowing she has powers but, like when Joshua did it to her, it wipes all the memories surrounding that knowledge. So, Chris is back to being his extra jerk self. Meanwhile, Mrs. X and Victoria are chatting about Katie’s results. The baby’s DNA has full incorporated the trillsettum. Mrs. X is very excited by this news and informs Victoria that she will be raising Katie’s baby once it is born. After all, at that point Mrs. X will have no use for Katie. Things are not going to end well in the finale. I can tell.

Song Beneath the Song: A Meditation on Television's Musical Episodes

I know I “broke up” with Shonda Rhimes and “Grey’s Anatomy” way back in the first month of MTVP’s existence, but I will *gasp* be watching “Grey’s” this week. That’s because tonight is what they’re dubbing “The Music Event.” In other words, it’s a musical episode, featuring the amazing vocal talents of Tony-winner Sara Ramierez and other selected cast members. The singing is apparently worked into the plot due to “Callie’s mental state” as Ramirez has put it in interviews, which I much prefer as opposed to random breaking out in song. The episode will feature songs from the first three seasons of the show, which is pretty much why I’m watching (that and because I can’t pass up a chance to hear Sara Ramirez sing). During those early seasons of the show, I was obsessed with the music. If you look on my iPod right now, you will see an over 2.5 hour long “Grey’s” playlist, with all songs in the order they appeared on the show. In honor of tonight’s big event, I’m going to explore some other past musical episodes. There’s the classic musical episode always associated with the genre, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” “Once More With Feeling.” I’ll also be looking at two musical episodes (which were not quite as music-heavy) from last season, “Fringe’s” “Brown Betty” and “How I Met Your Mother’s” “Girls vs. Suits.”

“Once More With Feeling” was Joss Whedon’s first attempt at writing a musical, and while I find his later offering, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (check out the super-awesome book that just came out this week!) to be more polished, there are plenty of things to like about “OMWF” as well. There’s a wonderful variety of music, from pop to rock to songs that sound like Broadway standards. I love Xander and Anya’s duet “I’ll Never Tell” because it’s cute and retro, and I love that Anya keeps making meta jokes about how the song is retro throughout the episode. “Walk Through the Fire” was the theme song that kept me sane while taking the bar exam. The greatest vocal talent in the episode is displayed by Anthony Stewart Head as Giles and Amber Benson as Tara, but I love that the rest of the cast really dove into the challenge and gave it a valiant effort, too. I also appreciated that there was a reason that fit with the logic of the show and the plot of the episode for the singing and dancing to be happening. There’s a demon who uses singing and dancing as a weapon, of course! Most importantly, the whole episode is infused with the trademark Whedon wit.

The only way to describe “Brown Betty” in one word is beautiful. When I first saw this episode of “Fringe,” I wasn’t feeling that well, and I didn’t really like it. When I rewatched it in a better mind set, however, I was blown away. The music isn’t as central in “Brown Betty” as it is in “Once More With Feeling,” but what we did get was memorable. I especially enjoyed Lance Reddick’s surprisingly wonderful night club jazz interlude and Anna Torv’s heartbreaking rendition of “For Once in My Life.” Jasika Nicole’s solo also stood out. The music wasn’t quite as organically as part of the plot in this one, but there was still an attempt made to justify the singing. There was no strange phenomenon causing people to spontaneously burst into song. Instead, Walter was telling a story to Olivia’s niece, Ella, and trying to process his feelings about Peter running off after finding out he was kidnapped from the Other Side as a child. I think what I love most about this episode (other than the fact that the great chemistry between Peter and Olivia is fully on display) is the noir vibe. Walter remembers his mother loved musicals and noir detective stories, so that’s what he creates for Ella.

“Girls vs. Suits” barely qualifies as a “musical episode” as it really only has one big song-and-dance number near the end of the episode, but it was marketed as a musical episode, so I’m including it here. How could I pass up a chance to gush about Neil Patrick Harris, after all? The plotting of this episode was fairly lacking (Barney’s dating a really hot chick who claims she doesn’t like guys who wear suits), but I really enjoyed the big production of “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit” at the end. Neil Patrick Harris got to go into full-on song and dance man mode, which is always fun. The rest of the cast got in on the fun too, each singing a few lines where they challenge Barney about what could possibly make him give up his precious suits. I love the end of the number the most, where it goes complete Busby Berkeley-style. Bringing this blog post full circle, it really reminds me of a moment in “Once More With Feeling” where a bit character played by frequent Whedon-verse writer David Fury sings with joy (and lots of dancing back-up) that the drycleaners “got the mustard out” of his clothes.

So will the “Grey’s” Music Event (the actual title is “Song Beneath the Song,” itself an homage to a wonderful song from the show’s musical heyday that is on my playlist) be worthy of standing among these other musical episodes, or will it be a self-congratulatory waste of an hour? When I first heard the concept (we’re going to do a musical episode using songs that our show made famous!), I thought it would probably end up being the latter. After seeing some sneak previews and watching some interviews with Sara Ramierez, however, I have hope. It sounds like the cast really poured a lot of effort into this one, and an hour with a lot of Sara Ramirez singing can’t possibly be all bad. Given that the music of the first three seasons of “Grey’s” is so great to begin with, I’m actually looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fringe 3.18: Bloodline

“Promise me you’ll save the baby.”

Okay. They did it. The writers of “Bloodline” actually made me care a teensy, teensy bit about Alt-livia. I still don’t have an ounce of sympathy for her over the “I fell in love with Peter while I was stealing him away from his real girlfriend and now I’m pregnant and alone” drama. What she went through in this episode was pretty darn horrific, though. The type of horror her doppelganger in our universe has been through. I think the main reason I rooted for Alt-livia in this episode was Lincoln, though. He loves her, and he was so earnest in his quest to save her that I just had to hope he would succeed. Alt-livia should reciprocate and leave Peter to his Olivia. Then everyone would be happy! And I’ll stop being Pollyanna now. Fringe is too dark a show to take that easy a route. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy when things go the way I would like them to go, though, even if I know it’s only temporary.

The episode opens with Alt-livia at a OB/GYN appointment. She is having blood drawn because she needs to be screened for something called VPE. It is what Alt-Rachel and her baby died of, and it’s something that can start to affect Other Side moms 8-10 weeks into their pregnancy. Because her sister was a carrier, there is an 80% chance that Alt-livia is a carrier too. There is virtually no chance that mother and baby will survive if the mother has VPE, so the stakes are high. This kind of reminded me of the abandoned “pregnant women die in their second trimester on the Island” plot on “Lost.” Considering “Lost” and “Fringe” are both Bad Robot shows, I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. Alt-livia’s mom drops her off at her apartment building, where our favorite Observer, September, is watching. Alt-livia takes a call from Lincoln as she walks into the building. She tells him that she feels like she’s being watched, and Lincoln promises to send over a security detail. As soon as Alt-livia hangs up, it’s obvious that her fears were legitimate, because masked men taser her and kidnap her.

Lincoln and Charlie are happily chatting about the women in their life when they get the news. Lincoln is still holding a torch for Alt-livia, and Charlie is now dating Mona, aka Bug Girl. As soon as Lincoln takes the call from the security detail explaining what they found at Alt-livia’s apartment, Lincoln calls Walternate. Walternate is, understandably, pretty grumpy about this, considering Alt-livia is pregnant with his grandchild. He doesn’t seem quite as upset as you might expect, though, which is mighty suspicious. Lincoln, Charlie, and their team fire up the technology needed to follow Alt-livia’s satellite tracker (apparently a tracker is a common thing for important people on the Other Side, although it’s a classified program.). Some things don’t change no matter the universe, though. The team finds Alt-livia’s tracker on a random sidewalk, and definitely not in Alt-livia.

Alt-livia, meanwhile, is in a really creepy, scary situation. She’s being strapped down to a gurney in what seems like a once abandoned, only recently repurposed medical facility, and masked doctors and nurses are doing all sorts of scary medical stuff to her, including a needle to the belly. Again, this reminds me of “Lost.” Particularly, it reminds me of “Maternity Leave,” where Claire starts to remember what happened to her while she was kidnapped and experimented on by Ethan in the Staff hatch. The medical personnel have been trying to keep Alt-livia sedated, but as they keep saying, she’s a “fighter.” The doctor says it’s “almost time” to do something important they’ve been planning, and he wants a nurse to make sure Alt-livia is properly sedated for once. The nurse gets Alt-livia to open her mouth to take the sedative, but when the nurse is no longer looking, Alt-livia spits the sedative out.

Back at Fringe Division headquarters, Astrid has made an important discovery. She’s been analyzing the CCTV footage from outside Alt-livia’s apartment building, and she notices a commercial vehicle that has driven by the building a suspicious number of times. It’s none other than Henry the cab driver who helped Olivia escape back to our universe! I’m going to continue to call him Bubbles, though, because I’m an adopted Baltamorean and “The Wire” will never die! Anyway, Lincoln and Charlie find Bubbles and his cab and start to question him. They soon realize they are in a much stranger situation than they ever thought they would be. Bubbles starts talking about how he was surprised to see Olivia again, because all she used to be able to talk about was how Fringe was evil, she was in the wrong place, and she wanted to go home. Then Bubbles makes the mistake of mentioning something about two universes. Next thing we know, Lincoln and Charlie have him handcuffed in the back of their SUV. It’s the funniest moment of the episode. Clearly Bubbs knows too much! Thankfully, this incident makes Lincoln start to accept that Charlie’s old theory about the switched Olivias wasn’t all that far out.

Alt-livia’s mom gets a rather disturbing (on several levels) call from Alt-livia’s OB/GYN. First of all, the doctor has been trying to contact Alt-livia directly, but Alt-livia hasn’t been answering her phone. Second, she has the results of Alt-livia’s screening- she tested positive for VPE. The doctor tells Alt-livia’s mom that she needs to speak to Alt-livia right away to schedule “the procedure.” On the Other Side, it appears that pregnancies of women with VPE cannot be allowed to continue. This is especially bad news for Alt-livia, considering she’s currently in no position to make any decision about her pregnancy. She manages to reach a scalpel on a nearby table, and she starts trying to use it to unbuckle one of her restraints, but all of a sudden she feels extreme pain in her abdomen. The camera pans out, and we can see something moving under her skin.

Back at DoD headquarters, Lincoln confronts Walternate with what he has learned from Bubbles. He demands to know if the Olivia switch happened and which Olivia is currently part of his team. Walternate claims to explain everything, telling Lincoln the exact time when our Olivia was part of Lincoln’s team. He also explains that Alt-livia is pregnant with Peter’s baby, Walternate’s grandchild. The pain on Lincoln’s face as he hears this tale is just heartbreaking and just the beginning of Seth Gabel’s outstanding work in this episode. Walternate acknowledges that Lincoln needs to know everything in order to have the best chance at finding Alt-livia, but he really doesn’t tell everything. Like the fact that he was planning to kill our Olivia- he didn’t “send her home.” And that he killed Colonel Broyles. Luckily Lincoln’s a smart guy.

The doctors are moving Alt-livia to “phase two” of whatever horrible thing they’re trying to do to her, and she now looks heavily pregnant. They say scary things about positioning her in a certain way if her bones can take it, and the nurse mentions that they’ve had to give her several blood transfusions. When Alt-livia comes to, the nurse takes her to use the toilet. Alt-livia uses this time to try to appeal to the nurse’s sense of caring and healing by telling the nurse that she probably has VPE. The nurse seems to hesitate for a moment, knowing that continuing on with this procedure could well cost Alt-livia her life, but then she steels herself. That wasn’t the only trick Alt-livia had up her sleeve, though. As the nurse is leading her back to the gurney, Alt-livia grabs the scalpel she had been using earlier. She uses it (and her fists) to get out of the medical facility. The nurse sounds the alarm, but it’s too late. Alt-livia is gone.

Outside, Alt-livia finds herself in just as creepy a location. She’s in Chinatown in the middle of the night, and this guy walks by her in a porcelain mask. It’s bizarre. She tries to get the attention of a woman who is vacuuming inside a closed restaurant, but she has no luck. To make matters worse, she starts to go into labor. Somehow she manages to get herself to a phone booth and call Lincoln. Lincoln is escorting Bubbles out of the Fringe Division headquarters when he gets the call. A trace on the phone soon tells Lincoln exactly where Alt-livia is, and Henry offers to show him a short cut to get there.

Lincoln and Bubbles end up helping Alt-livia to deliver the baby. Bubbs apparently delivered one of his own children in the back of his cab, so he does the hard part (the prep and the catching), and Lincoln cradles Alt-livia in his arms. The whole thing is heartbreaking because Alt-livia and Lincoln both think Alt-livia, and probably her son, too, are going to die. Lincoln is just doing the best he can to comfort Alt-livia, and at one point, he finally tells her he loves her. Alt-livia doesn’t exactly reciprocate, but she doesn’t seem upset by the declaration either. She just asks Lincoln to promise to save the baby. Bubbles successfully delivers the baby, but Alt-livia doesn’t seem responsive. It’s just a fake out to make us think she died, though- she eventually opens her eyes. I think it might have been an interesting direction for the show to go to actually kill her off.

Once Alt-livia and baby are safe, Lincoln and Charlie discuss what they’ve learned. They are starting to not trust Walternate, and they’re really beginning to wonder what happened to Colonel Broyles. I think this bodes well for the future of both universes. Meanwhile, Alt-livia and her mom are in Alt-livia’s hospital room enjoying the baby. The nurse takes the baby to collect a blood sample, and of course I thought she was going to kidnap him or something. An ominous looking guy (I think he was one of the doctors from Chinatown) takes the blood sample card and delivers it to yet another ominous looking guy (well, we see the second guy’s arm) instead of taking it to the lab. We ultimately see Brandon deliver the blood sample card to Walternate, which leaves us to wonder if he was behind the whole abduction and pregnancy acceleration. And if he was behind it, for what purpose? Because he knew Alt-livia was possibly a carrier for VPE, or because he needs the child to either run Cortexaphan tests or operate the doomsday device?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.18: "No Ordinary Animal"

“You have three degrees, Mr. Lichfield, and you’re teaching high school. Since when has knowledge helped you achieve anything?”
-Dr. King

“No Ordinary Animal” ratcheted up the stakes for the Powell clan and their friends for sure. What was essentially “No Ordinary Family’s” take on a werewolf movie put everyone in danger and almost cost Stephanie and Daphne their lives. On a lighter note, I’m amused and intrigued by the direction in which they’re taking Katie. Still, with the show overall, I feel like the movement we’ve been getting in the plot lines lately is too little, too late. I would have liked to have seen the Powells defeat one villain, Dr. King, before bringing in a new villain in the form of Mrs. X. I have a feeling that Dr. King is going to be the Benjamin Linus of “No Ordinary Family.” Now Ben is still my all time favorite TV villain, and his marginalization in favor of the Man in Black and all the machinations going on above his pay grade on “Lost” still makes me bitter. Dr. King hasn’t reached Ben levels, but he still was creepy and had some potential. Pushing him aside in favor of someone above his pay grade, Mrs. X, is just disappointing. In this episode we really get to start seeing the marginalization of Dr. King.

The episode opens with a scene that feels very much like a horror movie homage. A woman is jogging through the park, and she starts hearing rustling noises. Instead of jogging the hell away from the troubling noises, she pauses to investigate. And of course, she gets attacked for her trouble. We can hear growls and see the results of some really big claws. I immediately suspected that the culprit was probably Lucas, the Death Row prisoner Stephanie helped turn into a supe in the last episode. When they hear the story of what happened, George and Jim are instantly suspicious. This park isn’t really known for its wildlife at all, let alone vicious wildlife. They’re on the case, and they’re going to try to figure out what really happened. Jim has the exact same theory I did, that a supe did it, but Stephanie is skeptical. Jim finally wants Stephanie in on an investigation, probably because in this case, she’s in the best position to do the investigation. He wants her to look through Dr. King’s records to see if any supes could turn into an animal as their superpower.

The teen land stories in this episode are as vapid as ever, although they do actually have some ramifications for the mythology and the episode’s overall plot. Daphne is really excited because Sarah Bareilles, her favorite singer, is shooting a music video in Pacific Bay. She innocently tells Chris about it just because she thinks it’s really cool that Sarah Bareilles is going to be in town, but Chris thinks that means Daphne wants to ditch class to go to the shoot. Daphne is really reluctant to ditch class at first, but Chris encourages her, and she eventually agrees. Meanwhile, J.J. is very unhappy with academic decathlon. Mr. Lichfield is making him do more difficult practice problems than the rest of the team. When he is assigned a complex biochemical equation to balance, J.J. has had it. He complains to Mr. Lichfield, who predictably, shows him no sympathy whatsoever.

Stephanie talks to Dr. King about the potential werewolf supe, and Dr. King assures her that it wasn’t one of “theirs.” He’s wrong or lying, of course. Or maybe a bit of both. Mrs. X is making her limo appointments again, and this time she’s talking to Lucas. She’s extremely upset about the murder in the park, because Lucas left a body, and a body can be traced back to them. Lucas smarmily dismisses any chances of trouble, but that doesn’t placate Mrs. X. She commands Lucas to “go fetch.” Not surprisingly, when George and Jim arrive at the coroner’s office, the coroner is dead, the body is gone, and there’s lots of blood. I found this part of the episode frustrating, because we already know exactly what happened, but George and Jim are still fumbling to figure it out. When recapping the latest developments for Stephanie, Jim sees a story about yet another animal attack come on the TV news. Of course he has to hightail it to the crime scene. Again, there’s lots of blood and no body. Stephanie shows up pretty quickly too, and she takes a superspeed run through the place. She snatches a vial right out of a poor CSI’s hands, and not surprisingly, it’s a vial of the trilsettum serum.

Chris, for some reason, is really set on getting Daphne to ditch class for the music video shoot (any excuse to get out of class, I guess), so he goes to J.J. for help. Daphne had said she would consider ditching if she finished her history paper, so Chris asks J.J. if he’ll write it for her. J.J.’s not enthused about the idea of doing his sister’s homework, so Chris, since Daphne told him about her family’s powers, resorts to blackmail. Why is J.J. always the one blackmailed on this show? He’s just a kid! Daphne, surprisingly, isn’t horrified when J.J. confronts her about knowing what she told Chris and how he knows it (ie the blackmail). The siblings end up striking a bargain. J.J. will write the paper if Daphne will read Mr. Lichfield’s mind to find out why he’s assigning J.J. such difficult problems. Oh the trials and tribulations of teen Powell life. The difficult problems are, of course, related to something Dr. King wants, and Mr. Lichfield gets a rather threatening phone call from Dr. King in this episode. Near the end of the episode, Daphne reads Mr. Lichfield’s thoughts and finds out he’s worried about what “he” will do if J.J. doesn’t figure out the equation that will make superpowers permanent. The promise of this formula is the only thing that is keeping Dr. King out of deep trouble with Mrs. X.

After doing some investigating, Jim, Stephanie, and George figure out that their killer is targeting fellow supes. The runner had trilsettum in her blood. George isn’t sure that’s an entirely bad thing, but he’s forced to retreat from that position pretty quickly following some looks of death from Jim and Stephanie. Meanwhile, we see that their theory is right. Lucas approaches Katie as she’s taking groceries out of the car, and he starts asking about Joshua. Katie insists that Joshua is long gone and never coming back, but Lucas sniffs the air and insists Katie is the person he needs to kill. Somehow, Katie is able to push Lucas away with telekinesis and sends him sprawling. Jim and Stephanie come over to help her with the situation, and Katie’s powers get more intense as she gets more agitated. By the end of the episode, we find out that these new powers are happening because Katie is pregnant. Jim and Stephanie aren’t really processing what’s happening to Katie, though. They’re more concerned about Daphne and J.J. now that they’ve confirmed the killer is targeting supes. Even though it seems heartless, their decision turns out to be pretty smart. Lucas calls Mrs. X to tell her there are supes out there who weren’t on her list, including the Powells. His new orders are that anyone with trilsettum in their blood dies.

Stephanie pulls J.J. out of school, and once he finds out the gravity of the situation, J.J. tells his mom about Daphne and Chris ditching. Chris has been goading Daphne into using her powers all afternoon, and he’s not endearing himself to me at all. First he gets her to mind push the vice principal, played by “Star Trek: Voyager’s” Robert Picardo, when he catches them trying to ditch. What is it with Star Trek actors playing high school administrators? Armin Shimmerman was Principal Snyder on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” after all. When they arrive at the video shoot, Daphne and Chris aren’t let in because they aren’t on the list. Chris gets Daphne to mind push the bouncer, and she not only gets the bouncer to let them in, she gets him to lead them to the front row, too. By the end of the episode, Chris tells Daphne he has a “wish list” of things she can do with her powers- he’s seriously bad news.

Jim draws a sketch of the killer with help from Katie, and when Stephanie sees it, she instantly recognizes Lucas. Lucas, meanwhile, is lurking around the Powell house. He goes into Daphne’s room and sees a Sarah Bareilles flyer. Stephanie confronts him, and he stabs her fairly severely with one of his claws. When Stephanie doesn’t make it back from her trip to the house, Jim goes after her. He finds her bleeding on the floor, but she refuses to go to the hospital, thinking her super healing will do the trick. Jim and J.J. really need to find Daphne before she gets stabbed too, so J.J. hacks Daphne’s cell phone. He finds a text that mentions “Sarah B.,” so now they know where she is. Unfortunately, Lucas makes it to the video shoot first and tries to trick Daphne into coming with him. He concocts this ridiculous story about how he’s from Daphne’s school, and he’s there to break the bad news about his mom’s attack. The whole thing makes no sense, and it makes even less sense that Daphne even buys it for a few seconds.

Jim arrives at the music video shoot just in time to save Daphne from Lucas. Lucas and Jim have a bit of a fight, but Jim is able to best Lucas pretty quickly. Jim starts just wailing on Lucas, and Daphne begs him to stop. She just wants Jim to call the police instead of doling out his own justice. Jim agrees, and they go to check on Stephanie. Her condition has seriously worsened. Jim decides to take her to the one doctor they can trust (since he’s involved in the whole superpower mess), Dr. King. It turns out that Stephanie has a drug resistant staph infection from her wound. Jim insists that Dr. King use the trilsettum serum on Stephanie because of its healing powers. Dr. King is reluctant because of the side effects, but he eventually gives in. When she recovers, thanks to the trilsettum, Stephanie decides to go for a run. She runs faster than she ever has before, and it looks like she’s starting to disintegrate.

Friday, March 25, 2011

HIMYM 6.19: "Legendaddy"

“You know what, I’m going on a trip too, Scott. It starts in Narnia, it works its way up to Candy Land, and then, hey, congratulate me, because I’m the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Expelliarmus!”

I’ve been kind of reluctant to watch “Legendaddy,” mostly because an episode focusing on Barney with John Lithgow as a guest star just has to be amazing, and I was afraid of it not meeting expectations. But meet my expectation it did. The only way it could have possibly been better would have been if Robin had taken more of a role in helping Barney get through the difficult situation in which he found himself. But what we got was still great. Both Neil Patrick Harris and John Lithgow got to show great range from comedy to drama. Although I am absolutely a Barney fan, I haven’t always been a fan of Barney-centric episodes. There have been some great ones like “Game Night” and “Of Course,” but then there have also been unfunny 90’s sitcom parodies like “The Stinsons” or all joke and no heart episodes like “The Playbook.” This episode, however, struck all the right notes. It had its humorous moments, like any sitcom should, but it had a whole lot of heart. And things weren’t wrapped up in a neat bow, either. Barney still has a lot of work to do to come to terms with his father.

The episode opens with the gang taking a trip to Ted’s house, which I thought was nice because we haven’t seen it since he bought it, and it feels like that happened a while back. Ted and Barney have very different ideas about what should be done with the house. Well, maybe they don’t actually have different ideas, but what Barney says should be done is certainly different. Ted’s going on about how to make it a nice space for family, including a basketball hoop outside. Barney thinks it should be a seduction lounge, complete with “Vietnamese shame wheel.” The purpose of the trip isn’t really to see Ted’s house, though. It’s an intervention for Barney, complete with the infamous intervention banner. I do love when HIMYM brings back little details like that.

We then backtrack a bit to see why exactly the gang called an intervention for Barney. This episode’s structure was a little more complicated than your typical in media res, which was nice. We even eventually find out why the intervention was held all the way out at Ted’s new house. Several days earlier, the gang had been at Barney’s apartment (which is not something I think we’ve ever seen them do before), presumably to watch something on his big screen TV. The TV is broken, and a screwdriver is needed to fix it. Not knowing a thing about tools, Barney calls the landlady, presumably to bring him a screwdriver, and maybe even to fix the TV. When he opens the door to his apartment, however, the landlady isn’t standing there, though. His dad is. He got a letter Barney sent.

The gang (minus Barney, who is meeting with his dad), reconvenes in Ted and Robin’s apartment. Barney’s earlier complete lack of knowledge about tools leads them to start discussing their own gaps in knowledge. I thought this was the weakest aspect of the episode, because it seemed so transparently an attempt to jam in the classic HIMYM “give a name to a social phenomenon.” Where the story ended up made it somewhat worth it, though, although it still felt a little hollow compared to Barney’s story. Anyway, we learn that Ted’s gap in knowledge is that he mispronounces the word “chameleon,” and we see a quick flashback of him mispronouncing it in a lecture to his class. I enjoyed Robin’s gap more, which is that until a boyfriend told her he was going on a scientific expedition to the North Pole, she didn’t think the North Pole was actually real. I love how many geeky references to fantasy stories (and one board game) are fit into the flashback to illustrate this gap. We later learn that Lily’s gap is that she has terrible aim, illustrated by her accidentally throwing a beer for Marshall against the wall of the apartment.

Barney rejoins the rest of the gang, and everyone instantly wants to know how the meeting with his dad went. Barney tells a fantastical tale of drinks at MacLaren’s, where he discovered his dad is essentially his older carbon copy. He says his dad is awesome, with the same drink order and some of the same mannerisms. He was a groupie when Barney was a little kid, but now he’s a rock tour manager. Barney says he offered to let him come along with him on an Australian tour. To top it all off, Barney’s dad, Jerry, can pick up chicks like nobody’s business. He got the number of a woman sitting at the bar in five seconds. The rest of the gang privately worries that Jerry is pretending to be Barney’s definition of awesome, and that Barney is going to get hurt.

It turns out that Barney is indeed going through the emotional wringer thanks to this experience, but not in the way they think. Jerry finds the gang (conveniently minus Barney) at MacLaren’s and asks for their help. He hasn’t heard from Barney since their initial meeting and was really hoping to connect. He’s also not tour manager traveling the globe. He’s a suburban driving instructor. Jerry tells the story of his and Barney’s drinks at MacLaren’s, and we see what really happened that evening. Jerry was really more the endearing old dad type than womanizer, and Barney just acted bored. Jerry tried to apologize to Barney because Jerry’s former hard partying ways made Barney’s mom say he had to stay away, but Barney still doesn’t seem to want to listen to him. Finally, Jerry starts bragging about his achievements, but all those achievements are pretty lame.

The intervention from the beginning of the episode was to make Barney go to dinner with his dad again, because Jerry conveniently lives only ten minutes from Ted’s house. Barney says he never wants to speak to his dad again, but Marshall changes Barney’s mind by reminding Barney that he actually never can speak to his dad again. Barney ends up eating dinner at Jerry’s house with his stepmother, eleven-year-old half-brother, and Jerry. Barney has a half-sister, too, who is in college. He goes into total little boy mode, really getting into the sibling rivalry with his half-brother, J.J. It was funny at first, until it became obvious that Barney’s behavior was coming from a place of deep pain. Barney gets especially upset when he finds out that J.J. stands for “Jerome Junior.” He’s crushed that he wasn’t named after his father, but this kid from his father’s new life was.

While waiting for Barney, Marshall confronts the group about treating him with kid gloves since dad’s death. He mentions that with all the gaps in knowledge talk recently, nobody has mentioned any of his gaps. He has also been testing the group. Nobody made fun of him when his voice cracked, nobody disagreed when he said that “The Phantom Menace” was the best Star Wars movie, and nobody disagreed when he said that he has no gaps and he’s perfect. Lily confirms that everyone has been trying to treat him nicely since he lost his father. Marshall insists that what would help him the most would be if they went back to ribbing him like they used to. What Marshall wants, Marshall gets. We’re treated to a long list of Marshall’s gaps, including the fact that he can’t wink and he can’t swallow pills.

We next see Barney standing on the hood of Jerry’s car, trying to take down the basketball hoop on Jerry’s garage by shaking it. Jerry goes outside to see what the commotion is, and Barney starts to freak out. It’s amazing work by Neil Patrick Harris. Certainly his best this season, and it’s definitely up there with his other top performances throughout the series. He yells at Jerry that since he couldn’t have his childhood, he’s at least taking the basketball hoop. Jerry wants to know why the fact that he’s boring and kind of lame bothers Barney so much. Barney, in probably the most poignant line of the episode, explains that it makes him wonder why, if Jerry was going to be a “lame suburban dad,” he couldn’t have been that lame suburban dad for Barney when he was growing up.

Jerry admits that he doesn’t have a good explanation for his absence, and he continues to apologize profusely. He also teaches Barney how to take down the hoop using a screwdriver, a task Barney had never learned to complete before due to Jerry not being in his life. Jerry says that he now wants to be a part of Barney’s life when Barney is ready, but clearly Barney isn’t ready just yet. He leaves Jerry’s house carrying the basketball hoop, still angry and upset. The gang heads back to Ted’s house, and Barney gives Ted the basketball hoop. Trying to cheer him up, Ted suggests that maybe Barney’s idea for an outdoor stripper pole wasn’t so bad after all. Barney, however, insists that “a kid needs a hoop.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fringe 3.17: "Stowaway"

“A compassionate soul vampire?”

I found “Stowaway” to be a middling episode of “Fringe,” when compared to other recent episodes (just about anything the “Fringe” team produces now is better than the first half of season 1), but it definitely had a few positive qualities that stood out to me. Although I still think Anna Torv’s Leonard Nimoy impression is somewhat lacking, I did enjoy the schoolboy giddiness with which Walter and “Belivia” approached their work in this episode. I also found the mystery of the week to be satisfyingly emotionally affecting. Paula Malcomson (who I recognized as Amanda Graystone from Syfy’s short lived series “Caprica”) gives a wonderful performance as Dana Gray, a woman who cannot die, no matter how desperately she wants to. Ethical quandaries abound, both in the mystery of the week and the drama surrounding William Bell’s “rebirth.” And most importantly, to me at least, we finally get to see what our universe’s Lincoln Lee is up to! He’s quite nerdy, and just as endearing as the Other Side’s Lincoln (should I start calling him Alt-Lincoln now?).

The episode opens with the rest of the Fringe team reacting to William Bell taking up residence inside Olivia’s brain. Everyone (especially Peter) is upset about the situation except for Walter. Walter is actually kind of giddy. Peter is especially peeved when Belivia says that Olivia’s brain can only accommodate another consciousness for a few weeks. No way is Peter risking his girlfriend in this way for several weeks on end. Broyles makes Bell promise that he will stay in Olivia’s brain for no more than 48 hours. By that time, they’re all sure that Walter will have been able to find a suitable alternative host for Bell. Bell has very detailed requirements for her permanent host, and they are all written down in a file called “Reentry” at Massive Dynamic. Peter rushes off (as much as one can rush from Boston to New York) to fetch the file. Has anybody around this lab ever heard of express shipping?

We then transition into the case of the week. A woman, who we later learn is Dana, is trying to stop a man named Jim from committing suicide by jumping off the roof of a building. She reminds him to have “hope in raindrops,” which I thought was rather beautiful, the idea being that every raindrop nourishes the ground and has a purpose. Dana manages to keep him talking for a while, but eventually Jim says he doesn’t believe in hope and jumps up on a ledge. Dana grabs onto him to try and keep him from jumping, but after Jim keeps going on about how cruel the world is, Dana pushes off the building and they both smash into a car down on the street. Dana, only slightly bloodied, manages to get up from the fall and run away. At first I thought that Jim must have cushioned her fall enough for her to survive, but I was thinking too simplistically for this show!

The Fringe team is brought into the case of the week when they see an online video of Jim and Dana’s fall from the building. Walter, always ready to blame himself these days, thinks Dana must have survived due to soft spot between the universes. The Fringe crew aren’t the only people affiliated with the FBI to be interested in this case. We take a brief detour to the FBI office in Hartford, Connecticut and meet none other than our universe’s Lincoln Lee. A fellow FBI agent alerts Lincoln because he’s seen the video and Dana is well known to our office. Lincoln later explains to the Fringe crew that his office investigated the murder of an entire family, including Dana, several months ago. She should be dead, but her image and fingerprints have turned up at multiple double suicides since. Meanwhile, Belivia has run some tests to confirm that there was not in fact a soft spot near the building from which Dana and Jim jumped.

Peter brings Lincoln to Walter’s lab, and Lincoln is…surprised…to say the least. He’s especially confused by Gene the cow, understandably. There’s a hilarious scene where Walter and Belivia hypothesize whether they could put Bell’s consciousness into Gene, by the way- it’s one of the highlights of the episode. Walter and Belivia have a hypothesis about what is going on with Dana. They have figured out that her molecules are stuck together more tightly than most people’s. They think this could be why she is surviving all these suicide attempts. They also hypothesize that she’s stealing energy from all the people she jumps with. As Lincoln puts it, they think she’s a “soul vampire.”

We see Dana visiting her family’s graves, delivering some flowers. As she’s leaving the cemetery, her cell phone rings. She’s taking a call from a suicide prevention hotline. Meanwhile, Peter and Lincoln (who make a pretty good and adorable-until-Olivia-return team) have discovered the suicide prevention organization where Dana had been working under a pseudonym. Her boss only had glowing things to say about her, being sure to mention how many lives Dana had saved. Dana’s boss also mentions that Dana had been struck by lightning twice. This provides some sort of explanation for why her molecules were so stuck together.

It doesn’t take long for Dana to arrive at the caller’s house (it’s her MO to make house calls- presumably so she can “die” with the caller). He’s sitting by a window with a gun in his hand. He has put a bomb on a train, and he can’t live with what he has done. He gives Dana the details of which train car has the bomb, and he wants Dana to get rid of the bomb. Shocked, Dana calls 911. Just as the dispatcher picks up, the man says something about Azriel and shoots himself. Intrigued by the mention of Azriel, Dana pays a visit to a church, where a nun reminds her of the story. Azriel was not going to be let into Heaven, but angels lifted him up anyway, the idea being that the innocence of the angels would outweigh anything Azriel had done. It was here that I began to suspect Dana was looking for a “good” death for herself and was going to use the bomb to do it. My suspicions were heightened by the fact that when Peter and Lincoln were going through Dana’s belongings, they found a book called “Afterlife of the Soul.” Peter and Lincoln also think Dana wants to die, but they don’t yet know the Azriel connection.

The Fringe team gets a lead on the case. Someone who lived in the bomber’s apartment building heard the gun shot and saw Dana leave. The Fringe folds discover that the bomber’s apartment is truly the lair of a sociopath. They get especially nervous when they see receipts for bomb making materials on a table. Meanwhile, Dana has arrived at the train with the bomb, and she sits in the seat the bomber told her about. She picks up a bag from underneath her seat, opens it slightly, and confirms there are explosives inside. She places the bag on her lap and makes small talk with fellow passengers when forced to.

Peter calls Dana’s cell phone, thinking he can either talk her down or keep her talking long enough that the FBI can get a trace on her. She doesn’t answer the call on the first attempt, so Peter has the caller ID on his phone changed to make Dana think it’s her late husband’s phone calling. Peter succeeds in getting Dana to answer the phone, but he doesn’t succeed in talking her down. The FBI folks also couldn’t get a trace on her phone. Astrid is able to narrow things down to three trains using the times they left the station in Boston. Walter and Belivia, giddy and hyper as ever, do the rest. The FBI has the train stopped, and when Dana sees the agents approaching, she runs. She and the bomb blow up in a nearby field, and she finally dies. Water and Belivia speculate the explosion finally broke the bonds between her molecules.

At the end of the episode, Belivia shows up at the Bishop house and tells Peter that Walter suggested s/he stay the night there. Which I imagine is seriously awkward for Peter. They do have a nice conversation about destiny and fate, though (their second of the episode) as Belivia pours some tea. This was a big red flag for me, because apparently Bell put the soul magnets in Olivia via a cup of tea she had in his Other Side office at the beginning of season 2. As Peter and Belivia are talking, nearby church bells start to ring. Just for a few seconds, Olivia comes to the surface, obviously feeling very confused. Peter is thrilled to have her back, but it’s fleeting. Belivia says that there must be some complications s/he didn’t anticipate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friday Night Lights 4.09: "The Lights in Carroll Park"

“It’s always about the money, isn’t it?”

So, as promised, I’m trying to finish up my write-ups for season 4 of “Friday Night Lights” before season 5 has its NBC premiere on April 15. It’s about time I catch up on watching and writing about this beautiful show! “The Lights in Carroll Park” did indeed have beautiful character moments, like I expect of an episode of “Friday Night Lights,” but I wouldn’t rank it among my favorites. I think it needed more focus. The centerpiece of the episode could have been the football game between the Lions and the teens who hang out at Carroll Park. I enjoyed what we did see of the game, especially Coach hopping the fence to finally turn on the lights, and it was a great opportunity to see the Lions really gel as a team, but I think seeing more of the game and the outcome of the game could have provided more cohesion to the episode. As it was, I really couldn’t see a theme tying the stories together in this one. It was more “here’s what’s happening next in all the storylines we’ve started in the past few weeks.”

The episode opens with Coach making one of his patented visits to a troubled player’s home. This time, he’s looking for a student named Dallas who hasn’t shown up to practice for a few days. The door is answered by Dallas’ sister, who suggests Coach try looking for Dallas at a place called Carroll Park. Coach goes to Carroll Park and gets a whole lot more than he bargained for. The scene looks like something more out of the Baltimore neighborhood where I used to live than anything we’ve seen in Dillon before, with rap music blaring, a large number of people just hanging out, and shady business probably going down. I think it is an interesting choice for the writers to depict a part of Dillon in this way. If there are really areas of small Southern towns like this, I think it’s important that it be shown to a national TV audience so we can understand the full scope of poverty in this country. Coach is asking around for Dallas and only getting sass back when shots ring out. The Sherriff’s Department arrives almost immediately, and they start doing all they can to try to save the life of a twelve-year-old boy.

While not as dramatic as a shooting, several other Dillon kids are dealing with tough issues this week. Vince desperately wants to get a job to help put food on the table, but the owner of the restaurant he hoped to interview with does an abrupt turn once she’s informed of his criminal record. Meanwhile, Becky is in the bathroom surrounded by positive pregnancy tests, on the phone with the company that made the test asking if the test is ever inaccurate. The father is Luke, and I think that even though it has the potential to jump into melodrama, this arc could be extremely interesting for Becky, given that Becky herself was born when her mom was a teenager. Jumping down a level on the continuum of seriousness, Tami is making Julie work on a Habitat for Humanity build. She thinks it will be good for Julie’s resumé. Julie is not particularly enthused. She’s more interested in continuing to mope over Matt leaving.

Coach gets called into the police station as a witness to the shooting, and the officer he speaks to is surprised and a little suspicious that Coach was even in Carroll Park in the first place. Coach explains he was looking for one of his players, and he expresses concern that so many of his players don’t have a safe place to go in the evening. He wants to know if the city could spare an extra officer for the park, or even just turn the lights on again. The officer explains that there just isn’t any money for that. Coach later vents his frustration to Buddy, who offers to talk to the Mayor. Since Buddy is Buddy, he has to smarmily allude to the fact that he and the Mayor were an item long ago. Coach also talks to Virgil, Jess’ dad, about the problem. Virgil warns Coach that the Carroll Park kids are going to be really skeptical about his wanting to help, but he offers to hook Coach up with an ex-gang member who now does community outreach.

In other Taylor-related news, Glenn pays Coach a visit at school. He wants to thank Coach for being so classy about what happened with Tami. Coach has no clue what Glenn is talking about, and Glenn gets roped in to telling the whole story about how he tried to kiss Tami at the karaoke bar. Coach’s reaction is seriously priceless. He vigorously scratches his head for a few seconds, then says “okay.” He’s slightly perturbed about the whole thing, but he’s not going to make a big scene about it. He brings it up with Tami, and he’s more upset that she didn’t tell him than about what actually happened. They both know that neither of them would ever cheat, though, so the whole conversation quickly devolves into jokes about how Coach has now kissed Glenn by proxy. Between this incident and the news that J.D. McCoy’s parents are splitting up, Tami thinks it’s time they work on their marriage a bit, so Coach and Tami plan on having a date night. After several false starts, Tami ends up taking Coach to the lakeside site of their first “date” (emphasis theirs), and Coach says, “Damn, I love you.” And this is why Coach and Tami are the greatest married couple on TV.

Julie ends up liking her time with Habitat much more than she originally thought she would. Mostly because she meets a new boy there named Ryan. She meets him when he discovers that she’s accidentally tiling a closet floor instead of the bathroom floor. He’s on staff with Habitat, but he’s still pretty young. He asks Julie out to dinner, but she hesitates because it’s so soon after her break-up with Matt. She eventually decides that she’d be okay with kissing and “no strings attached” as opposed to lunch or dinner, and Ryan is okay with that too, kissing her almost immediately. Tami, being Supermom, stops by the build site to see how Julie is doing, and when she sees how close Julie and Ryan are, she has her suspicions about why Julie has suddenly had such a change of heart about volunteering for Habitat.

Vince decides to go to Coach about his job troubles, and Coach is pleasantly surprised when Vince awkwardly asks him to be a reference. Coach even offers to ask around about jobs for Vince. Coach indeed finds a job for Vince at Ray’s Bar-B-Q (Virgil’s restaurant), which Vince accepts, despite the fact that his history with Jess is going to make it all kinds of awkward. Virgil offers to hire Vince as long as he’s willing to work hard for minimum wage and stays away from Jess. This becomes increasingly difficult for Vince, especially as Jess and Landry’s relationship moves ahead. There’s a beautifully awkward scene where Vince is leaving the restaurant for the night just as Landry is arriving to hang out with Jess as she closes up. There’s also a scene where some of Vince’s buddies from Carroll Park stop by the restaurant to harass him, and Virgil has to break it up. Somehow, by the end of the episode, Vince is still employed.

One of my favorite moments of the episode was when Coach, Buddy, and Virgil pay a visit to Virgil’s ex-gang member friend, Elden, for help with Carroll Park. My reaction was “It’s D’Angelo!” Larry Gilliard, Jr., the actor who portrays Elden, was also the very tragic D’Angelo Barksdale in the early seasons of “The Wire.” Elden, like Virgil, is a little skeptical at first, but he warms to Coach and Buddy when Buddy comes up with a great idea to show the Lions’ commitment to making Carroll Park safe. Buddy wants to have a football game at Carroll Park between the Lions and the teens who usually hang out at the park. Another favorite scene of mine, which I’ve already sort-of mentioned, is also tied to the Carroll Park plot. The big football scrimmage is about to start, and the lights at the park still aren’t on. A switch needs to be turned on in a box that is behind a fence and padlocked. Elden grabs garden clippers, and he and Coach jump over the fence to do what needs to be done. Everyone from both teams cheers when the lights finally come on. We see Vince rally his Lions and finally start acting like a leader, which is a great thing to see.

Throughout the episode, Becky is trying to deal with her pregnancy. She desperately doesn’t want to become her mother, so she confronts Luke with the news and asks him for half the money needed for an abortion. Luke is shocked by the news, especially since Becky hasn’t even talked to him since their night together, but he tries to be supportive. After thinking it over for a while, though, Luke isn’t so sure about the idea of an abortion. He’s not sure if voluntarily giving up on fatherhood in that way is the right choice. Becky’s not happy about this, obviously, because her fear of this pregnancy comes from a very deep place. Becky has also been experiencing awkwardness with Tim following her attempt to kiss him in a recent episode. Tim thinks the reason for her being so upset is the kiss, and he very unsuccessfully tries to make her feel better by saying the kiss was a mistake. By the end of the episode, Becky finally confides in Tim what’s really going on, and he does his best to comfort her in a big brother-type way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Glee 2.16: "Original Song"

Our always helpful guest blogger Sarah has agreed to blog the latest episode of "Glee" so I have time to bring you (few) readers of MTVP a little something extra. I'm going to be sprinkling in some FNL Season 4 recaps to try to bring us up to speed before season 5 premieres on NBC on April 15. With out further interruption, here's Sarah's take on "Original Song."


“Go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth. Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down. Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out. You wanna be a loser like me!”
- New Directions (“Loser Like Me”)

So I was glad we finally got to Regionals in this episode. It’s felt a lot of this season was not focused on an overall storyline, but with this week we actually had some forward motion. So this week’s episode starts off with music. The Warblers are doing “Misery” (not the version I like) as a possible Regionals set piece. It’s upbeat and a lot of fun. But you can tell Kurt’s not all that into it. At one point he’s more interested in his nails than the song. Once it’s over, Blaine asks what Kurt thinks and Kurt (read: writers actually listening to fan wank) says that it was nice, but that Blaine’s solos are numerous. It doesn’t feel like they are the Warblers. It’s more like Blaine and the Pips. I’m so glad the writers are addressing this because I’ve felt for a while now that Blaine is featured too much in the Warblers.

Meanwhile, over at McKinley, Rachel is singing another original song for Finn. This one is called “Only Child”. It’s only marginally better than “My Headband”. Finn tells her that when Rachel sings, she shines and that she needs to go to the place where she is when she sings to find the material she needs to write a song worthy of Regionals. Quinn is watching their little exchange, and she decides she’s going to be nice to Rachel so she (Quinn) can get to be prom queen. I’m really unhappy that Quinn has regressed to season 1 episode 1 personality. It’s disgusting actually.

We spend a lot of time this episode bopping back and forth between Dalton and McKinley. At Dalton, Kurt is whistling to Pavarotti, when all of a sudden the bird just keels over dead. At about the same time (I don’t entirely know how Kurt had time to change clothes, but whatever) Blaine is trying to convince the Warblers to change the colors of their outfits. Seriously? Mercifully, Kurt comes in to break the news about Pavarotti dressed in black and ends up singing “Blackbird” by the Beatles in honor of the bird. Definitely a good performance. I’ll have to look into getting the full version off iTunes. Slowly the other Warbles start to back Kurt in a nice little harmony and even Blaine joins in. The look on his face is kind of priceless at the end. It’s like he’s seeing Kurt for the first time in a new light. Which I guess is accurate in a sense.

And we’re back to McKinley. Will has gotten a cease and desist letter from My Chemical Romance to keep New Directions from performing one of their songs at Regionals. The song is “Sing,” which is the anthem Sue suggested for the group at the end of “Comeback.” We get a brief scene where Sue says she’s responsible for the letter (she informed the band of the song usage) and this spurs the Glee kids to decide to perform original songs. Of course this is mainly prompted by Quinn (and then Finn backs her) as part of her campaign to get on Rachel’s good side. All the kids are going to write original songs. It should be interesting.

After Glee rehearsal, Brittney and Santana are at their lockers and Brittney is sad that Santana is avoiding her. At least the writers have some sense of continuity. Santana is still upset that Brittney chose Artie over her, and now Santana is going to write a “heterosexual” song about Sam. The moment could have been touching if Sue didn’t blow it. She put dirt in their lockers. She really ought to be arrested for child endangerment (but more on that later). And we swivel back to Dalton where the Warblers are arguing over what song Blaine should sing. Blaine has finally had enough and says he wants to do a duet at Regionals. And he wants to do it with Kurt. Kurt is quite shocked by it and obviously over the moon. Surprisingly, everyone agrees (without even holding auditions).

Mr. Schuster has gotten everyone (sans Rachel and Quinn) rhyming dictionaries because they’re going to try writing an anthem of their own. Santana says she’s already been working on a song. It’s called “Trouty Mouth.” And while it’s got a nice sultry tone to it, the lyrics are dreadful and rightfully, Sam is pissed. Puck says he’s got a song too for Lauren. “Big Ass Heart”. It’s equally as bad and offensive as Santana’s. Though Mark Salling does a pretty good job. One thing I do have to say is that it is unrealistic to think kids who have never written music before can write vocals as well as instrumentation in a week. Especially at a level that will be needed to win Regionals. Moving on. The Glee kids like the song (the feel of it anyway), but Mr. Schuster suggests they keep trying.

Quinn has cornered Finn at his locker and asks him what he wants to wear to prom. He’s obviously thrown by the question, but Quinn fills him in. She wants to be back on top of the popularity pyramid and winning Prom King and Queen is what she needs. Finn tries to get out of it by saying they should wait to go public with their relationship until after Nationals. Quinn throws a fit (“scary Quinn,” as Finn puts it), and Finn agrees to reveal their relationship after Regionals instead. Of course, Rachel sees the end of the exchange. These kids really need to learn to have their private conversations in private.

Blaine finds Kurt decorating Pavarotti’s casket and says he’s got the best song for their duet at Regionals; “Candles” by Hey Monday. I’ve never heard the song before, but I guess it’s popular. Anyway, Kurt asks why Blaine picked him as his duet partner. We get this little speech from Blaine about how there’s a moment when you realize the person in front of you is the one you’ve been looking for all along. Blaine says that when Kurt sang “Blackbird,” that’s what Blaine felt. And they share their first kiss. It’s kind of adorable, especially the look on Kurt’s face when they pull away. He so wasn’t expecting that, not that he’s complaining of course. Blaine says they should practice and Kurt in a cute flirty way says he thought they were. And more Blaine/Kurt smoochies.

Mercedes has written a song too called “Hell To The No”. It’s got a fun beat and decent melody but like the previous attempts, the words basically suck. Including the line about having diabetes. But Will likes the enthusiasm too. But yeah, not Regionals material. So Mr. Schu tries to get the kids to dig deeper to a place of real pain. They start telling him about all the stuff Sue does to them (including throwing sticks at Mercedes) and they come up with a song title; “Loser Like Me.” Meanwhile, Rachel’s inspiration for her ballad comes from a really sad place. Quinn tells Rachel that she and Finn are together and that Rachel will end up alone. Rachel tries to tell Quinn that she and Finn had something, but Quinn isn’t interested. She tries to spin it by saying that she and Finn will stay in Ohio and start a family while Rachel goes off to bigger and better things. I can’t quite tell if it is sincere or not. But Quinn says the right thing to Rachel to inspire her. Rachel needs to stop living in her fantasy world. And she goes to write “Get It Right.”

Sue tries to brag to Will that she’s going to win. She faked the letter from My Chemical Romance, and she says she’s got songs for her kids to sing that pander to the judges. This year’s judges are Tammy Jean Albertson (read: Sarah Palin) and Sister Mary Constance and Rod Remington. First up is Aural Intensity and they sing “Jesus is a Friend of Mine” with lame sock hop dancing. It’s honestly painful to watch and I had to turn the volume off while they performed. Next up is the Warblers. The duet of “Candles” is pretty good. They don’t actually AutoTune too much, so you can hear Blaine and Kurt’s voices. I think Kurt needs to stay a little lower in his range. I know he’s a tenor, but he’s been developing his range this season and I like it. It is a slightly odd song for two guys to sing together, but I think they made it work. I liked the glow sticks in the audience during the song. They then break into Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” which was more their standard fare. The dance for this song was kind of funny, and Darren Criss totally got into it.

And now we get to New Directions. Finn tells Rachel before she goes on that she’ll do great. She says last year, he told her that he loved her, and she also says to listen to the song because she means every word of it. They start with Rachel singing “Get It Right’ (joined by the Glee girls). It’s actually a pretty good song. It has a decent harmony and it’s not surprising that it is a ballad. Lea Michele does like ballads, and we get a soaring note or two at the end per usual. They end with “Loser Like Me” which unfortunately is back to Rachel/Finn singing lead. They could have done so much better if they mixed it up more. But it was an upbeat, punchy number. They end with tossing cups filled with red glitter and confetti into the crowd as if they were about to Slushie them. Sue looks kind of freaked out.

The judges’ deliberations this year were only slightly less irritating than last year. Tammy doesn’t think Dalton should win because Kurt and Blaine sang the duet, and Sister Mary Constance thinks Aural Intensity’s song was cheap pandering. And she didn’t like to be pandered to when she was a stripper. It’s fairly obvious who the winner would be. There are only so many times the writers could say “oh you lost Regionals…try again next year” before it got old. So not surprisingly, New Directions is going to Nationals. The Dalton boys look a little sad about losing, Kurt especially. I’m sure he’s thrilled for McKinley though on the inside. Sue in typical fashion ends up punching the announcer in the face.

Kurt and Blaine are burying Pavarotti in the park. It’s a cute little scene. Kurt’s upset they lost Regionals because he really wanted to go to Nationals. Blaine says they’ll still be able to perform around town and that they got each other out of the experience. Lose Regionals, gain a boyfriend. I can see how that math works out. At McKinley, Will announces that they are going to give out an MVP award after every competition. It was a unanimous vote to give it to Rachel, and she gets a perfect “gold star” trophy. In un-Rachel fashion, Rachel is humble. She’s grateful for the support of the group, and the group is pleased to see her change in attitude.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fringe 3.16: "Os"

“It was Belly’s intellect that made the company great. All I’ve managed to do with its vast resources is to create a new flavor of cupcake frosting. Baconberry.”

“Os” was a decent episode of “Fringe,” although I didn’t like it quite as much as “Brown Betty” or “6B.” It featured a great performance by Alan Ruck as a scientist using unethical (to say the least) means to find a cure for his son’s paralysis. I believe it is Ruck’s performance that really lifts this episode out of complete mediocrity. There was some typically excellent work from John Noble, as well, as Walter struggles with the growing implications for our universe of his kidnapping of Peter from the Other Side over twenty-five years ago. There was also a fun little cameo from Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley from “Lost.” I kind of thought that if they went to the trouble of hiring Jorge Garcia, he would have had a bigger role, but alas it was not meant to be. Between his Thanksgiving guest stint on HIMYM and this episode, though, Garcia has certainly managed to land guest spots on some great shows post-“Lost.”

Garcia’s cameo came at the beginning of the episode. He plays a Massive Dynamic security guard, and he and Walter are looking at all the CCTV monitors and getting high. Walter thinks that being a security guard sounds like a fun job. Waxing philosophically, he compares watching the Massive Dynamic employees and visitors move around the building to a dance. He then notices one particular door that nobody ever seems to use. The security guard tells him that’s William Bell’s old office. Next thing we know, Walter is bursting into Nina’s office with an armful of files he procured during a raid on Bell’s office. Nina is not at all happy about this development. I think she's still very protective of William Bell, even following his death. Walter explains that he wants to remember how he used to think when he and Bell worked together. He feels like he’s lost so much since he asked Bell to remove those parts of his brain, and he desperately needs to regain some of that function if he wants to stop the two universes from destroying each other.

Next we get the introduction of the mystery of the week, and for once it actually isn’t creepy and gross. I would describe it as simply odd. Two men are breaking into the Massachusetts Metal Depository, and they’re suing strange weighted boots to accomplish the task. A security guard spots them as they walk on the side of the building. One of the thieves appears to be trying to take something out of his pocket, and the security guard, fearing that something is a gun, opens fire. One of the thieves is shot, and he starts floating up in the air. His blood floats, too, which I guess could qualify as something gross. The second thief somehow manages to get away.

Meanwhile, Peter is in Harvard’s engineering building, working on some sort of research related to the shape shifters he killed a few weeks back. Olivia calls him, wanting to go to a street fair. Peter lies and says he’s at the gym, but he still wants to go to the fair. He offers to meet her there. Plans are never certain for a pseudoscience crime-fighting duo, though, as Olivia soon gets a text from Broyles telling them to come into work. Olivia has her car read the text to her, obviously a thinly-veiled attempt at turning the show into a Ford commercial like “White Collar.” The crime scene itself is surprisingly entertaining in a macabre sort of way. Walter and Peter struggle mightily with corralling the floating body of the thief, and it’s hard not to chuckle. Heck, even Olivia chuckles at the scene. Olivia finds out that the thieves didn’t take a typical precious metal like gold or platinum. They took Osmium, which Walter explains is the densest natural element on Earth. He describes the theft as “using balloons to steal bowling balls.”

We next see a fancy building called Frost Aerodynamics, and we also get our first glimpse of Alan Ruck as Dr. Krick, the very unethical scientist. He’s in a parking garage walking to his car, and the surviving thief is there to surprise him. He complains that he’s not feeling well, and he thought Dr. Krick had said he worked out a way to make the weightlessness permanent and eliminate the side effects. He also mentions that he has what Dr. Krick asked him to acquire. Dr. Krick tells him to meet him at his lab. At the lab of another mad scientist, one Dr. Walter Bishop, of course, some breakthroughs have been made. Walter and Peter figure out that whatever made the thief float seriously weakened his immune system. Olivia has traced a key car found at the crime scene to a warehouse. As Peter and Olivia get ready to leave the lab and head to the warehouse, Walter starts gushing about how romantic a drive can be. I think it’s adorable how much of a Peter/Olivia shipper Walter is.

Dr. Krick arrives at the warehouse (the location of his lab) before Peter and Olivia do, and he finds the second (as opposed to dead at the crime scene) thief there bleeding profusely. He’s obviously having some sort of reaction to the treatment that made him weightless. He doesn’t last very long. Dr. Krick is trying to make some sort of compound that is supposed to help the second thief, but he dies before Krick finishes his preparation. Back at the lab, the first (also dead) thief isn’t doing so well, either. His floating power is wearing off. Eventually, he falls to the floor with a rather satisfying thud. Astrid tries to pick him up to put him on a table, but the body has become extremely heavy. Even Astrid and Walter combined can’t maneuver him. Walter figures out that the thief has Osmium in his blood.

On the way to the warehouse, Peter and Olivia play a game they call “full disclosure.” Olivia tells Peter about how she doesn’t like the way he rubs her back when they watch TV, but Peter is hesitant to share anything. Which is not good at all, considering he’s got a doozy of a secret- the fact that he killed several shape shifters. He’s getting quite uncomfortable with the direction the whole conversation is taking. Meanwhile at the lab, Dr. Krick is cutting the foot off the dead second thief and doing something with the bone. He sees Peter and Olivia arrive on a CCTV monitor, and he flees. When they investigate the warehouse, Olivia and Peter find a walk-in freezer with several dead former test subjects. Walter joins in the investigation and discovers that all of the victims had undergone Osmium injections. Broyles chimes in with the fact that they all had muscular dystrophy. At that moment, we cut to Dr. Krick at a murderball (intense wheelchair basketball) game, where it appears he’s trawling for new test subjects. He focuses on one boy sitting in the stands who says his health hasn’t allowed him to play for a while.

Later, Peter and Olivia decide to take a break from work in the lab and go on a pizza run. On their way out of the building, they run into Nina, who has a file for Peter of shape shifter research. Peter tries to play it off to Olivia as just being general background research, but it’s getting progressively more difficult to keep his secret. After giving Peter the file, Nina turns her attention to Walter. He has latched on to William Bell’s idea of “soul magnets,” because he want to bring Bell back to help him figure out the doomsday device. Nina tries to convince Walter he can succeed on his own, but I don’t think she’s especially successful.

We next switch perspectives back to Dr. Krick for a while. He injects Vince (the kid from the murderball game) with the Osmium treatment, and Vince is amazed as he begins to float and can actually stand again. After Dr. Krick finishes the injection, he informs Vince that he doesn’t have the materials necessary to make any more treatments. Vince, who is now totally hooked, immediately asks when he would have to do to get more. Now we know how those two other guys were recruited to try and steal the Osmium. We next see Dr. Krick at home, saying good night to his son. His son turns out to be wheelchair bound- he was also at the murderball game we saw earlier. It looks like Dr. Krick did everything he did to try and cure his son.

Walter is still experimenting, and he figures out that another very dense element has been mixed with the Osmium. This element is only found in meteorites. The team hypothesizes that the Boston Science Museum, which has a display of several meteorites, is the likely next target. It turns out they’re right. We see Vince go all Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and lower himself in to the exhibit hall with the meteorites. The Fringe team arrives before Vince and Dr. Krick can finish the theft. Olivia manages to catch Dr. Krick as he’s running away, and Peter leaps from a rafter and tackles Vince as Vince was trying to float away. That one was a little ridiculous, but still kind of fun.

We next see Dr. Krick in jail. Olivia and Peter bring his son, Michael, to see him. Michael is not at all happy with what his dad has done. He sees it as his dad not loving him for who he is, disability and all. Michael storms off, and Walter steps up to the cell for his own conversation with Dr. Krick. He wants to know how Dr. Krick made those people float. It turns out that it was an experiment that never should have worked. Dr. Krick happened upon the combination of elements by chance. Walter goes to talk to Nina, extremely agitated because he thinks this is a sign that the laws of physics are starting to break down. This break-down is obviously happening because of the breach with the Other Side Walter created back in 1985. He thinks he knows how to fix everything, though. Nina has a small bell in her office, and Walter suspects that’s the trigger for Bell’s soul magnet. The trigger should bring Bell’s soul to a host Bell designated before his death. Before Nina can do anything, Walter rings the bell.

Peter, meanwhile, has finally embraced “full disclosure.” He is ready to tell Olivia everything about what he has been up to, because he desperately needs someone he can trust who has his back. Olivia is shocked and not especially happy about what Peter is telling her (especially when he gets to the killing shape shifters part), but it doesn’t look like she’s about to run away screaming, either. Just as she’s looking around Peter’s lab, ready to offer some sort of opinion, we hear the faint sound of bell. All of a sudden, Olivia’s voice changes. She has become William Bell. I’ve got to say, as good as Anna Torv has been this season tackling both Olivias, her Leonard Nimoy impression needs a little work. I’m still really interested to see where all this goes, though!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.18: “The Prestidigitation Approximation”

“I’m saying believe in magic, you Muggle!”

“The Prestidigitation Approximation” was a decent episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” I don’t think I would count it among my absolute favorites, but I didn’t find it overly offensive. It had some good laughs (mostly thanks to the surprising comedy chops of Kaley Cuoco) and some heart as well (again, mostly thanks to Kaley Cuoco). What can I say? Penny really stole the show in this Leonard-centric episode. This episode also started to take us down the road of seeing why Leonard and Priya won’t work in the long term. Priya is trying too hard to change who Leonard is fundamentally. Penny always accepted Leonard in all his glasses-wearing, poor-clothing-choices nerdiness, and think there’s a lot to be said for that. At least I think that’s the message the writers were trying to send with this episode. Frankly, I’m just impressed an episode of a Chuck Lorre show had anything resembling a message at all, even if the message was overshadowed a bit by Leonard being completely hen pecked by Priya.

The episode opens with Leonard and Priya having some morning pillow talk. They’re talking about how much they enjoyed the previous night when Priya remarks that Leonard has nice eyes. She wonders if Leonard ever thought about contacts. It turn out Leonard did back in middle school or so, but they were never comfortable, so he gave up on them. Leonard, ever the eager puppy for the women in his life, spends much of the rest of the episode trying to get used to his new contacts. His eyes can’t focus with them in, and he bumps into people and objects everywhere. Priya doesn’t seem to care about that, though. When he decides to take a break and wear his glasses to a date, she just asks where his contacts went. It’s a rather irritating plot point overall.

The B-story of this episode is rather simple, but it was definitely good for some laughs. At lunch at the university, Howard demonstrates a card trick to Raj and Sheldon. Sheldon at first derides the idea of magic tricks all together, but then he wants to know how Howard did the trick. Being a good magician, Howard refuses to reveal his secret. Later, at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, Howard is doing the card trick again, this time with Penny. And it’s still driving Sheldon nuts. Leonard and Priya walk into the middle of this amusing scene. Priya has taken Leonard to buy some new, more stylish clothes. Penny acts awkward at first, congratulating Priya on managing to upgrade Leonard’s style. Then she starts to get really defensive. She keeps talking about how much she likes Priya, even after Leonard and Priya go to the next room. I’m sure Howard could really care less. When she finally gets herself back together, Penny does have a little fun with Sheldon, pretending that she knows how Howard does his card trick.

Meanwhile, Priya is thinking it’s really odd that Leonard still hangs out so much with Penny, considering he’s her ex and all. Priya’s probably right, but she doesn’t exactly go about bringing up this issue in the nicest way. She wants Leonard to stop hanging out with Penny, and Leonard, being pretty spineless, agrees. Also because Leonard is spineless, he has pretty difficult time carrying out what he’s been asked to do. Penny runs into Leonard in the laundry room as Leonard is washing all the new clothes he got with Priya. Penny keeps Leonard from accidentally putting a silk shirt in the washer, and she reiterates that she really does like Priya, and she’s glad Leonard is happy. Leonard tries to give his “get lost” speech by talking about a type of bird where when two birds are fighting over one food source, one of them develops a different type of beak and goes to feed elsewhere. Penny doesn’t get what Leonard is trying to say, just thinking it’s a fancy lead-in to “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”

We see Leonard and Priya having pillow talk again, and Priya naturally asks if Leonard has delivered the bad news to Penny. Leonard says he did talk to her, and Priya hopes Leonard wasn’t too cruel. As they’re talking, Sheldon does his signature knock on the door. He wants to test out whether or not he’s figured out the card trick. Leonard refuses to get up and open the door, so Sheldon slides the playing cards under Leonard’s door. This was probably one of the funniest bits in the episode. The visual of the cards sliding under the door was great. Leonard just pretends he picked a card (Sheldon can’t see in the room, after all) just to get Sheldon to leave him alone. Then, every time Sheldon tries to name the card Leonard picked, Leonard says that wasn’t it. The situation is driving Sheldon off the deep end. He’s procured all sorts of fancy equipment, like infrared cameras, and he’s hacked into a computer used for national defense to run some computations. Leonard reminds Sheldon that’s a federal offense before leaving the apartment. Sheldon is so on edge that he’s considering trying to procure uranium from Craig’s List to test the theory that Howard might have used a radioactive tracer to identify the card.

Leonard and Priya are on a date at an Indian restaurant, and they’re sitting in a table next to the window. All of a sudden, Penny is pressed up against the window with a goofy smile on her face. This scene is where Kaley Cuoco really gets to show her comedic chops. She crashes Leonard and Priya’s date, and she’s completely inappropriate, telling Priya about how she saved the silk shirt, tasting a bite of Leonard’s food, and drinking some of Leonard’s tea. Priya very quickly realized that Leonard must not have delivered the “get lost” message as well as he said he did. The next day, Leonard and Penny run into each other in the hall, and Leonard manages to get out enough about what’s going on with Priya that Penny can infer that she needs to keep her distance for a while. She doesn’t seem upset about it, and it doesn’t seem to be rude about it. She just says “goodbye, Leonard” and goes off to work.

At lunch at the university, Sheldon thinks he has the card trick figured out, and he wants to test it out with Raj and Howard. All of the cards have a small barcode on the back, and Sheldon tries to disguise using a scanner by making the scanner look like a magic wand and saying some magic words. Howard and Raj know what he did immediately, and they conspire to keep messing with him. They aren’t even making it look like a magic trick anymore. Raj will pick a card, and whatever Howard guesses, Raj will say he’s right. Sheldon gets even more frazzled once the Department of Homeland Security predictably goes after him for hacking into a government computer and trying to procure uranium. He wants Howard to do the card trick one last time, but he wants to be the one to pick the card. After Sheldon picks his card, Raj helpfully signals it to Howard. Clearly Howard had been relying on his friends being in on the joke the whole time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Glee 2.15: "Sexy"

“Celibacy, ladies. Dig it!”

“Sexy,” not surprisingly, given the title and “Glee’s” tendency to make its episode titles directly reflect the episode’s theme, was about sex. Surprisingly, given the subject matter, this was not really a “very special episode.” The issues presented were handled in a much more complex way than that. And it didn’t hurt that a lot of the episode was actually really funny. Surprisingly, considering it’s billed as a comedy, I don’t really laugh at “Glee” all that much. This episode was the exception to that rule. Some of the humor was a little juvenile and embarrassment squick-y, but I laughed anyway. Finally, there was actual movement forward on several of the plots that have been sort-of building this season (I say sort-of because the season arc hasn’t been all that coherent). The show had been kind of stuck in neutral for a little while, so I most definitely appreciated that some things finally happened.

Emma has decided to be advisor to the Celibacy Club. The only two members of the club at the moment are Rachel (who wants to focus on show business) and Quinn (for obvious reason), but Emma is really gung ho about it. Emma has this amazing, frantic monologue (expertly delivered by Jayma Mays) defending celibacy, and it’s painfully obvious that she and Carl haven’t consummated their marriage yet, and she’s feeling self conscious about it. Later that day, Emma and Will talk about the Celibacy Club in the faculty lunch room. The conversation barely gets started when none other than Holly Holliday shows up. She’s subbing for the health teacher, so of course she has opinions on sex ed in general and celibacy in particular. She thinks celibacy is unrealistic, and she’s concerned about how clueless the glee kids are when it comes to sex. As Holly goes on, Will pays increasing amounts of attention to her, and he pretty much ignores Emma.

Meanwhile, Santana, who I guess is a little bored with Sam, propositions Brittany. Apparently it been a while since there was any making out, or anything else, between them. Brittany says that although she’d like to spend some time that way with Santana, she can’t. Because she’s pregnant. Word of this gets around school like wild fire, and poor Artie thinks his life is over. At rehearsal, Will asks Artie what’s wrong, and then Brittany chimes in to explain that she’s pregnant because she saw a stork building a nest outside her bedroom window. This is the final straw for Will. He pays a visit to Holly at her Jazzercize class (complete with 80’s workout attire!) to ask for her help. Holly says she thinks she knows a way to sneak some sex ed covertly into the next glee rehearsal.

I didn’t really think Holly’s attempt went all that well. Backed up by some of the New Directions ladies, she performs “Do You Want to Touch Me?” I thought it was kind of the most inappropriate glee rehearsal ever. I enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance of “F- You” during her first guest appearance more. That could be because her singing ability was more of a surprise the first time around. Emma is very upset when she hears about Holly’s lesson, and even though her fear of sex is taken to extremes in the episode, she absolutely has a point. I’m not at all a supporter of abstinence-only education, but there’s a middle ground between that and having students and teachers do a Burlesque-style dance in the middle of the choir room. Will sort of understands Emma’s point, and he offers to let Emma and the Celibacy Club do a sort of counter-performance in support of abstinence.

Sue, always on the lookout for ways to cause glee club related trouble in general, seeks out Kurt and Blaine at their favorite coffee shop hangout. She warns the boys that “New Directions” has decided to go in a “sexy” direction for their Regionals performance. Blaine is concerned because he recognizes that Warblers performances are usually pretty tame in that respect. He thinks the Warblers need to get “sexified” to have a chance at winning the competition. He gets a bunch of girls from Dalton Academy’s companion all girls’ school to test out a dress rehearsal of their new, supposedly sexier performance. The Warblers do a performance of Neon Trees’ “Animal,” and I thought it was the tamest “sexy” performance ever. I like the song, and I thought it was cool that Kurt finally got co-lead on a song (Blaine usually takes every solo for the Warblers), but poor Chris Colfer was AutoTuned to within an inch of his life. And his “sexy” face looked kind of constipated. Which turned out to be a plot point, so that was okay.

Holly actually turns out to be quite a voice of reason on multiple fronts in the middle of the episode. First, Lauren told Puck she wanted to make a sex tape because she wants to be famous like Kim Kardashian. Holly catches the two of them in the library researching how to make porn, and she manages to successfully convince them to abandon the plan by reminding them that what they want to do could be considered child porn. Then, Brittany is unhappy with her “relationship” with Santana because they only fool around once in a while and never talk about feelings, like she can talk to Artie. The girls decide to chat with Holly about it, and Holly offers to help them perform a song that will air all their feelings. They end up performing Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and it’s one of the better performances I’ve heard on “Glee,” I think. Santana makes it clear that she has feelings for Brittany. She makes this even more clear in a later declaration to Brittany by the lockers, but Brittany shoots her down. She doesn’t want to hurt Artie by breaking up with him, but if she’s ever single again, she says she’d choose Santana. I don’t think this is a healthy approach to the situation (misleading Artie is not cool), but I’ll go with it to see where it leads Santana.

Will calls in Holly to practice a tango performance to a Prince song with him. I usually adore Matthew Morrison’s vocals, but he should really never sing falsetto. It was painful! Will and Holly kiss at the end of the number, but then Holly runs off. She says she doesn’t want to break Will’s heart. He’s much more of a long-term relationship person than she is. And that’s not the end of the relationship drama in this episode by a long shot. Emma and the Celibacy Club perform “Afternoon Delight” at the next glee rehearsal, which had me howling with laughter. Poor naïve Emma! She thought the song was about eating dessert with lunch. Carl takes the opportunity to ask Holly if she can meet with the two of them in her role as substitute sex ed teacher. At the appointment, were the writers kind of hang a lantern on the fact that using Holly as a couples therapist is strange by having Holly repeatedly remind Emma she’s not a doctor, Emma reveals that she’s still confused about her feelings for Will. Apparently that’s why she hasn’t been able to have sex with Carl.

In one of the more serious plots of this episode, Blaine asks Kurt bout why Kurt looked so odd during the performance of “Animal,” and Kurt reveals how little he knows about sex and how little he wants to know about sex (he covers his ears and starts to sing any time somebody asks him about it. Blaine doesn’t think this is healthy or even really safe, so he has a rather boundary-pushing conversation with Burt about it. He basically says that Burt needs to bite the bullet and have the talk with his son. Burt isn’t thrilled by Blaine’s presumptuousness, but he ends up following his advice, because, of course, in the world of “Glee,” Burt Hummel is the best dad ever. Even the talk is perfect. He gets a bunch of pamphlets for Kurt, and he reminds Kurt not to treat sex casually and that he is worth something.

The episode ends with some interesting couples forming. First of all, we see Finn get out of his bed, followed quickly by Quinn. They’ve been seeing each other and apparently having sex. I think I may have screamed at the television at this point. It still irritates me that Finn is written to be so dumb as to get back together with Quinn after the horrible, horrible thing she did. And I don’t think she even really likes Finn all that much. She just thinks he’s her stepping stone back to the top of the social ladder at McKinley. In the McKinley auditorium, Holly finds Will and lets him know that she’s got a substitute teaching job at another school. She also doesn’t want to say goodbye. Will convinces her to give a relationship a try, and they kiss. I don’t love this pairing, but it didn’t irritate me all that much. I don’t think Will is quite ready to get back together with Emma yet, and if he can learn something about himself from a (temporary) relationship with Holly, so much the better.