Friday, September 30, 2011

Fringe 4.01: "Neither Here Nor There"

“If you really want a story, you can look under the dome. I’m growing an ear.”
-Walter

So “Fringe” returned for its fourth season with sort of a whimper. While I certainly wouldn’t count “Neither Here Nor There” among the show’s worst episodes (there are some monster-of-the-week episodes in the first two seasons that could take that award easily), it wasn’t spectacular, either. And lately, I expect spectacular from “Fringe.” I think it’s a case of going one shocking twist too far. It’s getting difficult to stay invested in the characters when they keep changing universes. This time we had yet another main title sequence color (following original blue, Other Side red, 1980s awesome, and future white), amber, to denote that this is a completely new timeline where Peter never existed. Sort of. Traces of his presence have been left behind, and the Observers other than September aren’t very happy about that. We also get to know the Lincoln Lee on this side a little better, too. I guess he’s going to be sort of filling Peter’s place on the team until they finally realize Peter is missing and bring him back. Which I hope is soon, because he’s an integral part of the chemistry between the characters.

The episode opens in the bridge between the universes under the Statue of Liberty. The two Olivias are exchanging case files and giving each other a hard time. The animosity doesn’t make as much sense without Peter. Alt-livia having a baby with Olivia’s boyfriend was a whole lot worse than Alt-livia just taking on Olivia’s cases and hanging out with Olivia’s friends for a little while. At a diner elsewhere in New York (I presume), two Observers, one of which is our old buddy September, talk about how traces of Peter still remain, even though he should be completely erased from existence. September promises he’ll take care of it. Can we just have Peter back already?

In Connecticut, we see the rather nerdy, our-universe version of Lincoln. He’s at the house of his partner, Robert, and we see him interact with Robert’s wife and kids. I guess all of this is supposed to make us care about Robert somewhat, but it didn’t really do much for me. We then see Lincoln and Robert at work. They’re chasing a translucent-looking bad guy, and Robert goes down. The translucent man places his hand on Robert, and Robert seems to sort of shrivel up. A translucent suspect and shriveled-up FBI agent are odd enough to get Fringe Division involved, and Olivia and Astrid go to the scene. Olivia is cold in her interactions with Lincoln because she doesn’t know him anymore. She won’t really tell him any information about what happened to Robert or what’s going to be done with the body.

Walter is trying to reanimate a bird (and he’s sort of successful) when Lincoln walks into the Harvard lab demanding to know more information about Robert’s death. He threatens to call a journalist friend and tell him about the lab if he doesn’t get the information he wants. Olivia is pretty pissed that Lincoln found them, but she doesn’t really have time to deal with it because a call about another death has come in. And there’s that whole going to the press issue too, of course. This latest strange death is in Boston, and Lincoln tags along. He begins to get in Olivia’s good graces by noticing one witness who is sitting apart from the group. Olivia talks to this witness and gets a photo of the translucent man out of the conversation. She then tells Lincoln that there have actually been more than two murders related to this case. This episode has been very much from Lincoln’s outsider point of view (we really don’t know things until he does), and I’m not sure if I like that. We viewers have been hanging around with these characters for a long time, so it feels like we should have the inside scoop.

Broyles shows up and gives Lincoln the additional clearance level he needs to officially know about and help with the investigation. Lincoln quickly is able to contribute yet again, mentioning that Robert took iron pills for Crohn’s Disease. Walter will definitely look into to this lead. When the team returns to the lab, Walter is missing. Lincoln manages to find him in the dunk tank, and Walter explains that he was hiding from a man who appeared in a mirror. Walter is just generally really paranoid and pretty much agoraphobic in this universe without Peter. Oh, and Lincoln’s lead about the iron pills turns out to be helpful, although not in the way everyone originally thought it might be. None of the other victims had Crohn’s Disease, but all had some sort of condition caused by heavy metal poisoning. We then quick cut to the translucent man (who looks really gross, by the way), who is injecting himself with something.

All of a sudden, the Fringe team picks up a charge on the credit card of one of the victims. It’s a re-up of the victim’s commuter pass. The team then realizes that the areas where the victims were killed were all centered around the commuter rail system. They’ve got to check the train stations for the translucent man. Olivia and Lincoln are surveilling one particular station, and Olivia is telling Lincoln about John Scott in a sort of “I know what it’s like to lose a partner too” attempt at bonding. The conversation is interrupted when the translucent man arrives on the scene. Two agents go down in the ensuing fight. Lincoln tends to one of them while Olivia goes after the translucent man. The man attacks her, but she puts up a fight and eventually shoots him. The injured agent wakes up and tells Lincoln that there’s more than one translucent person. Lincoln ends up having to shoot another, and we later see a third translucent person sitting on top of a tank. They’re zombie-like, and it turns out they’re shapeshifters from the Other Side.

Lincoln returns to the Harvard lab to thank Olivia for releasing Robert’s body to his family, which is something she pretty much said couldn’t possibly be done at the beginning of the episode. Walter starts getting really agitated when he makes the translucent man-shapeshifter connection, because that means Walternate is responsible for the havoc. Olivia, meanwhile, takes Lincoln to the bridge under the Statue of Liberty. He meets Alt-livia and looks very, very confused. Back in Boston, September is about to fire up the machine he built to completely erase Peter from the time stream. For some reason, though, he thinks better of it. Walter sees Peter’s image in his television screen and goes absolutely nuts because he has no idea who Peter is.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Person of Interest 1.01: "Pilot"

As I mentioned before, Sarah will be covering two shows regularly for MTVP this fall, the first is "Body of Proof," and the next is the new J.J. Abrams' affiliated crime drama, "Person of Interest," which airs on CBS. Enjoy her take on the pilot epiosde.

***

“I think you and I can help one another. I don’t think you need a psychiatrist, a support group, pills. You need a purpose. More specifically, you need a job.”
- Mr. Finch

Before we begin, I just wanted to say I think “Person of Interest” was one of my most anticipated fall premiere shows. With a combo of J.J. Abrams, Michael Emerson, and taking over the coveted “CSI” timeslot on Thursday nights, CBS clearly has high hopes. Anyway, let’s get to it.

We begin with what turns out to be a memory of a man and a woman in bed together somewhere calm and bright. A man does a voiceover about how losing the one person that connects you to the world leaves you wondering who you are, and we cut to a subway car in New York and a group of white gang members who think they’re pretty tough. Tough enough to take on a drunken bum. Until said bum beats the crap out of all them without even getting a scratch. A female cop, Carter, shows up to take statements from everyone and has an interesting chat with the bum. She pegs him as special forces or some other covert branch of the military since the way he fought is no basic training. Carter says it would have looked better if he’d let the kids get some hits in, too. That way it wouldn’t look like he just went bat shit on them. He doesn’t seem interested, and in fact, he refuses to give his name. So she resorts to a little cop trickery and snags his drinking glass to get DNA. Turns out his name isn’t in the system, but his prints have shown up at various crime scenes all over the country over the past few years.

A man claiming to be the bum’s lawyer shows up and gets him out of the station before Carter can confront him about his prints being at multiple crime scenes. Turns out the attorney’s boss wants to speak with the bum. The bum, whose name we learn is John Reese (or at least that’s one of the names he uses), is driven to an underpass near a river, and he meets Mr. Finch (played by Michael Emerson). Mr. Finch offers John a job and a purpose. He knows John used to work for the government and now the government thinks he’s dead. Finch also knows John’s been trying to drink himself to death. Admittedly, if I were John, I would be a little disturbed by this.

And it only gets creepier. John and Mr. Finch walk through the city, and Finch gives his spiel about how someone dies in the city every eighteen hours and he has a way to try and stop it. But he needs John’s skills. Finch points out Diane Hanson, an ADA whose name came up on his list. He doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen to her, but he wants John to find out and stop it from happening. John says he’s not interested and heads home. We next find he’s cut his hair and shaved his rather impressive beard. He looks much hotter clean-shaven. And this way, while the cops are looking for a bum, they won’t notice him at all. He passes out with a bottle of something, dreaming about a woman named Jessica (the one from the beginning of the episode), only to wake up to a phone call. It’s Mr. Finch. He forces John to listen to a woman being murdered and not be able to stop it. John manages to get free (he’s tied to his bed) but finds it was a three-year-old recording Finch used to make a point. He says John couldn’t save that woman or Jessica, but that he can still save Diane.

John seems to agree to help Mr. Finch, and so they head to a defunct library Finch owns which seems to be his base of operations. It also happens to be where his machine is that churns out the information he uses to stop violent crimes from happening. He gives John six cover IDs with plenty of money and passports. Just like when he worked for the CIA. The interesting thing about the machine is it only produces social security numbers, not names. And he’s got the list tacked up on the wall, mapping out to all kinds of people. Finch calls them lost chances. But that’s likely to change with John in the mix now. We get a montage of sorts as John breaks into Diane’s apartment, clones her phone and sets up video surveillance. He’s also narrowed the suspects (he thinks she’s going to be a victim of a crime) to two people, a co-worker and the defendant in her current trial. We got a glimpse of the trial as Diane questions one of the detectives, Lionel. He goes off-script from what they prepared, and John overhears (thanks to tapping her phone) that she has to make absolutely sure the right person goes to prison.

That night she goes to see the defendant, Pope, in prison for a private meeting (without his lawyer). She tries to tell him she thinks he’s innocent and wonders if his younger brother, Michael, saw what really happened. Pope gets pissed at the mention of his brother, so John knows something is up. He needs to find the brother before whoever framed Pope goes after Diane.

We get another bit of memory about John and Jessica. They’re down in Mexico and she’s lying to her mother about who she’s with. And John says he’s quit his job to be with her. The happiness doesn’t last long because Jessica turns on the TV to see that 9/11 has happened. So I guess we know approximately how long ago Jessica was alive. Back in the present, John is watching Diane’s office from a rooftop. He sees her co-worker, Wheeler, check the information on her computer and sees the information on Pope’s brother on the screen. John manages to find Michael, but Michael dodges him. John does slip a phone into Michael’s bag to track him, but he’s going to need more than just a cell phone to handle whoever is coming. So he stops by for a visit with Anton (one of the kids from the subway) and ends up shooting pretty much everyone in the room in a pretty sweet stunt. He takes all the guns so he’s got firepower. And it turns out he’s going to need it. Michael’s been picked up by whoever is after Diane. It turns out to be the cops. Oh joy.

John gets to be pretty bad ass and shoots up the car and drags Michael to safety. Things are only going to get worse. John snaps some shots of the group of corrupt cops, a mix of narcotics officers and Lionel. It seems the drug cops steal the drugs and money and kill the witnesses, and Lionel sets up a fall guy. John shares the intel with Finch, and we get a rather long walk-and-talk with exposition. I mean, I get they needed to explain how the machine came about and what it does, but it was a little bit of an info dump. Anyway, we learn that Finch built this machine after 9/11 to cull the terrorists from the general population before they acted. But the machine picked up other crime indicators, too. So Finch programmed it to split the lists, one relevant (major loss of life) and the other irrelevant. And he built himself a back door to access the irrelevant list (he gets the social security numbers before midnight when the list erases).

Things are about to get extra dicey. Pope is killed in his cell, and Lionel makes a call to Diane to tell her where to meet. John thinks this is it. The cops are going to kill Diane. She shows up and it looks pretty sketchy. Diane’s looking around, calling out to see if anyone’s there, but it quickly turns out she’s not a victim-to-be. She’s in it with the cops. And they need to get rid of Wheeler. John, unfortunately, gets spotted, and Diane gives orders to Lionel to get rid of him, permanently. So now John’s got two problems: save his own ass and stop one of the narcotics cops, Stills, from killing Wheeler.

John regains consciousness in the back of Lionel’s car. They’re at Oyster Bay, and that’s where Lionel’s going to kill John. They have a little conversation about why Lionel became a ‘bad” guy. John says he knows Lionel is loyal and he needs a cop on the inside to help do his work. John releases what looks like a flash grenade in the car and causes an accident. He manages to climb out the back of the car, drag Lionel free, and then shoot Lionel in the back to make a point (Lionel’s wearing a bullet proof vest). Now it’s time to save Wheeler.

Stills shows up at Wheeler’s building, and they’ve got one guy watching him from the apartment. They think he’s alone, and one of Stills’ cronies assures him that Wheeler goes to the gym every night. So they’ll kill him in the lobby. And they’re using an ex-con that Wheeler put away to do it. But they didn’t count on Wheeler’s son being there. Stills says he doesn’t care and he’ll make the ex-con shoot the kid, too, but John intervenes and Wheeler and his son get out safely, without knowing anything was about to happen. Things aren’t looking good for Diane. She’s in the middle of another trial, and when she tells the bailiff to play a recording, it turns out John switched them and we hear her giving orders to have Wheeler killed. Too bad for her.

John and Mr. Finch meet up at the same spot under the bridge (though this time there’s a nice bench), and John says the machine gave Finch another number. Finch explains the numbers never stop coming and that he chose John because they have quite a bit in common. Both are thought dead and both have lost someone. It looks like John’s going to be sticking around a while. And Carter will be looking for him. We end with him staring directly as a traffic camera and pull back to reveal all the machine drives in a giant warehouse somewhere. Nice way to say the government is watching.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ringer 1.02: "She's Ruining Everything"

“Does a shoe sale at Bergdorf’s constitute an emergency?”
-Bridget

The second episode of “Ringer” most definitely continued the soapiness of the pilot. Which I don’t really think is a bad thing. I like a good soapy drama in my TV line-up. That’s what I liked about “Grey’s Anatomy” before it went too far with the melodrama. A positive change from the pilot is that this episode was somewhat slower paced. The pilot had to do a lot of work setting up a rather complicated premise. Now that work is done, the story can linger a bit, and we can get to know the characters a little better. I felt like I could really settle in and enjoy the twists and turns. No, “Ringer” is not great television or television-as-art by any means, but it is good fun. And I think that’s what the creative team is going for. “Ringer” is meant to entertain, and it definitely does that well. Especially since they cut back on those damn mirrors!

The episode opens with Bridget still at the new loft, trying to deal with the aftermath of killing her attacker. She wraps up the body and tries to figure out what the heck she’s going to do with it. She’s still trying to clean the place up when Gemma walks in. Gemma is really upset about the hole in the wall (from when Bridget and the attacker crashed through it), and she vows to fire the contractor who has been working on the renovations, thinking that the contractor is somehow responsible. After she gets over being pissed about the mess, Gemma mentions that she confronted the nanny about whether or not she’s been having an affair with Henry. It turns out that the nanny is a lesbian. So Bridget’s “the nanny did it” attempt to cover Siobhan’s tracks isn’t going to work well. Bridget shoos Gemma out of the apartment because she doesn’t want Gemma to find the body.

Back at home, Bridget starts to pack up her stuff. She wants to skip town before the body is discovered. Unfortunately for Bridget, Andrew interrupts. He’s panicking because he hasn’t been able to get in contact with Juliet all evening. The next morning, Bridget does indeed run into Juliet, who is very hung over. This makes Bridget flash back to a time when she was very drunk herself and needed to call Siobhan for a ride home. She offers to help Juliet, but Juliet doesn’t want anything to do with her. Probably because the real Siobhan never tried to open up to her. Meanwhile, Andrew is at work talking to his business partner, Olivia. Who happens to be played by Jaime Murray, who also plays H.G. Wells on “Warehouse 13.” And I need to take this opportunity to say that the in-the-works spinoff with H.G. Wells as a steampunk Sherlock Holmes with “Torchwood’s” Ianto as her Watson needs to happen yesterday, pretty much. Anyway, Andrew and Olivia talk about this upcoming event they’re having to try and recruit more investors to their company.

Bridget’s back at the loft, still trying to clean things up, and she manages to get a quick call in to Malcolm, her sponsor out in Wyoming. He wants to meet with her somewhere between New York and Wyoming. Bridget’s about to leave the loft to start packing when there’s a knock on the door from her FBI handler, Victor. She answers the door, but acting as Siobhan, she blows him off pretty quickly. This turned out to be sort of a bad idea. Because “Siobhan’ is being evasive, he enlists the help of the local FBI office in investigating the Martins in general, including Siobhan. Meanwhile, across town, Gemma decides to confront Henry about her suspicion that he’s having an affair. He denies it up and down, but Gemma shows him a hotel key that was found in his dry cleaning.

Bridget goes to the bank and tries to withdraw some money from Siobhan’s account. The ATM doesn’t work for her because she doesn’t know Siobhan’s PIN, and when he tries to talk to the teller, her account seems to be flagged. The bank manager is only too happy to help her out, though, saying she should have gone to him immediately. He says there isn’t a ton of money in her checking account, but there should be plenty in the emergency account she recently set up. Bridget asks if a shoe sale constitutes an emergency, and I think that this is the first time in the series that Sarah Michelle Gellar has shown that “Buffy” spark.

Andrew calls Bridget to say that the original location where the potential investor cocktail party was going to be held fell through, and he had the great idea to have the party at the new loft, instead. Bridget tries to convince him it’s a bad idea, but Andrew says it’s too late. The event planning staff is already there and setting things up. Bridget panics, because it would definitely not be good if one of the event planners found a dead body in the loft. She distracts the workers by treating them to lunch at the food truck outside, and she hides the body in a decorative trunk that has been brought in for the party. When she gets home, she runs into Juliet again and tries to have a heart-to-heart with her about alcohol and drug abuse, but Juliet’s not buying it.

Now it’s time for the big, important cocktail party. Bridget and Andrew are actually having a nice, civil conversation when they’re interrupted by Olivia. Bridget then proceeds to have separate conversations with both Gemma and Henry, but her conversation with Henry is cut short when she sees blood seeping from the corner of the trunk where she hid the body. She’s desperately trying to clean it up and hide it when Victor shows up at the party. They talk outside, and it turns out that he’s (rightfully) suspicious of how “Siobhan” doesn’t usually allow people in the loft, except for this one occasion. The conversation ends when Gemma causes a scene with Olivia by the door to the apartment building. I think she’s trying to accuse Olivia of stealing Andrew and/or Henry. Bridget uses the distraction as an excuse to throw Victor out.

Andrew and Olivia are giving a big speech to think all the potential investors for coming to the party, and a phone starts to ring. Bridget is terrified to discover that the ringing is coming from the trunk with the body in it. She quickly offers to take care of the problem and blames it on the contractors. She reaches in and grabs the cell phone, and a mysterious guy creepily watches as she does it. At the end of the party, just to reinforce how mean/evil she is, Olivia accuses “Siobhan” of getting pregnant just to try and hold on to Andrew. Thankfully, Andrew has a different view. He thanks Bridget for being on his side at the party and he asks her not to “go away” again (aka go back to being the cold bitch Siobhan has become).

Later that night, Bridget again tries to sneak out of the Martin house, and this time she’s stopped by Juliet, who is in a pretty bad state. She’s spending some quality time in the bathroom after taking a pill she shouldn’t have at a party. Bridget, again remembering the time Siobhan helped her out when she was really wasted, stops to help Juliet. She cradles her by the toilet and tells her it will be okay. And Andrew sees this from the doorway. Guess he figures “Siobhan’s” material instincts are finally kicking in or something. Poor Malcolm is out in the parking garage on his way to meet up with Bridget when a car driven by the crime lord Bridget set free pulls up. Malcolm is saved by one of his students stopping him to ask about a paper. Guess the crime lord doesn’t want witnesses, because he drives off.

Near the end of the episode, we finally see the real, present-day Siobhan again. She’s in Paris, and she’s really, really pissed that her emergency bank account was closed. She wants something done about Bridget immediately. I’m left wondering why she’s so extremely cold and horrid. It must be whatever event drove Bridget and Siobhan apart in the first place, probably involving a kid. Bridget’s got more immediate problems than Siobhan’s anger from across the Atlantic, though. She goes back to the loft to finally get rid of the body once and for all, but she finds the trunk empty.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Body of Proof 2.01: "Love Thy Neighbor"

Sarah's back to blogging "Body of Proof" on a regular basis here at MTVP. She'll also be blogging "Person of Interest," so keep an eye out for that, too. But for now, enjoy her write-up of the "Body of Proof" season premiere.

***

“You couldn’t handle a desperate housewife. Believe me.”
- Megan

I want to start off by saying I’m not sure if the first batch of episodes are the “lost” five episodes from season 1’s 13 or not, but it definitely felt like we were following straight from where we ended last season. Anyway, I’m excited to be back blogging this fun show.

We begin in the woods in the very early morning, and we see a young girl looking really nervous. It turns out she’s waiting for her boyfriend to show up. He almost didn’t make it because his dad nearly caught him sneaking out. They have about two seconds to share a kiss before a car comes racing over the nearby embankment and straight at them. They dive out of the way just as the car smashes into a tree. Cut to later in the morning as Megan arrives to take Lacey to school. Megan’s ex-husband, Todd, needs Megan to drop Lacy off because he’s got a deposition. Megan seems thrilled to get to spend some time with her daughter until Kate walks out the front door. The two share very tense “good mornings” before Kate and Todd leave. I sort of don’t blame Megan. We get an interesting little beat with Megan and Lacey, and Lacey declines breakfast in order to study for a test since she couldn’t study the night before. The walls are too thin. Megan starts to panic a little until Lacey elaborates that she could hear the TV in the living room.

At the crash site, Megan finds Peter waiting for her. They examine the body as Bud and Sam show up (I’m glad we have them back as partners. Having just one or the other in episodes was a little dull). They discover a cell phone that fell out of the car as the EMTs tried to get to the driver, Daniel Davidson. Megan has her own phone troubles as she drops it in a puddle while trying to answer a call from her mother. It also turns out that there are no injuries consistent with Daniel being conscious when the car went over. In other words, someone subdued him and then pushed his car over the embankment.

Back at the lab, Kate is wandering around the with a schematic of a mass spectrometer when Curtis notices. Poor Curtis, he’s going to be in for a tough time this week. He starts to freak out since the new equipment costs his entire budget, but Kate assures him that she bought it with grant money. Curtis makes the comment that at least she’s in bed with the right people and Megan takes the chance to make a snarky comment about it. I like the tension between the two of them, but I really hope it gets resolved soon. Down in autopsy, Megan tasks Ethan with fixing her phone. Too bad he’s got no clue how to fix it and spends a few minutes very comically trying and nearly breaking it. Megan notices some restraint marks on Daniel’s wrists plus a splinter in his arm and a red fiber in his nose. So it’s off to talk to the grieving widow.

It turns out Daniel lives on a cul-de-sac, and we get a sort of iconic pan around of the people going about their business; one guy is fixing his motorcycle, another is watering his lawn. We don’t learn much from the widow, other than they were married sixteen years and he was a CPA. Megan is immediately suspicious of the neighbors given what kind of secrets such communities hold. While I’m not a fan of “Desperate Housewives” (I only saw one or two episodes) I loved the references and little nods to Dana Delany’s previous claim to fame. Just as Bud and Sam drive off, Megan notices Peter flirting with one of the women in the neighborhood. She calls him on it in a sort of brother-sister way which I thought was cute. The cuteness ends when Megan spots a broken white picket fence. And said fence has blood on it. So we’ve got the answer to one of Daniel’s injuries. Turns out he had a fight with one of his neighbors (played by Eliza Dushku’s boyfriend Rick Fox). The neighbor accused Daniel of poisoning his dog.

Back at the lab, Kate is looking for Megan and ends up putting Curtis in the middle of everything. Megan shows up not two minutes after Kate heads up in the elevator, and Curtis comments that it’s like a tele-novella and no one survives. It turns out Kate needed to tell Megan that Lacey was sick at school. Since she can’t get in touch, however, Kate ends up getting Lacey herself. It’s quite obvious Kate is really uncomfortable with the parent-like role she’s had to play. Meanwhile, this season we get to see more of the police precinct. Bud has found glove impressions on the back of the car and a fancy key in the driver seat. Sam discovered an unsent text message to a woman named Vicky, one of Daniel’s neighbors. And the plot thickens. Megan gets a chance to bitch a little about her dislike of Todd and Kate being together when Peter shows up to ask about cause of death. Megan says it was a result of the car crash. She’s concerned about his brain though. It was discolored and shows signs of a disease that would only be present with a weakened immune system. And Peter rules out organ transplant and cancer. The only other possibility is that he’s HIV positive.

Bud and Sam head back to the cul-de-sac to talk to Vicky, but it gets interrupted pretty quickly by her husband, Bill. Before Bill can throw them out, Bud discovers the key found in Daniel’s car goes to the locked cabinet in Vicky and Bill’s bedroom, containing all manner of bondage gear. Yeah, they went there. Creepy. And the creep factor (and the fascination with alternative lifestyles) continues when Bill reveals most of the community was into partner swapping. And Vicky had a relationship with Daniel. But Bill denies that Daniel could have been HIV positive because everyone got tested frequently. The lifestyle wasn’t all rosy for everyone. One of the neighbors, Kevin, lost his wife and kids because of the set up. Vicky admits that Daniel was with her until 4:45 that morning, approximately 15 minutes before the car went off the road. But he wasn’t really into the swapping thing anymore. He claimed it had consequences.

As usual, Curtis comes to Ethan’s aid when he can’t figure out how to fix Megan’s phone. Curtis stuck it in some rice, which absorbs the liquid. Good job Curtis! He also finds the restraints used to tie up Daniel in Vicky’s trunk of bondage gear. Just as Megan turns on her phone, she sees a missed message from Lacey and races off. She’s rather pissed that Kate didn’t try harder to get in touch. I have to say though, it’s not all Kate’s fault. If Megan hadn’t been so bitchy, she would have gotten the message and could have picked up Lacey herself.

The next morning, Ethan greets Megan with the news that Daniel didn’t have HIV or any other immune-suppressive disease and that he was knocked out with brake cleaner. So she and Peter head back to the row of unusual suspects to talk to Kevin, the guy who’d’ been working on his motorcycle the day before. They don’t find anything suspicious in his garage, though. He admits he had been seeing Daniel’s wife, Andrea, and that his wife realized before he did that he had feelings. So she left. Megan wants to understand the whole culture but stops herself from asking because it would be too weird. Peter and Megan call Sam and Bud to share the latest intel, and they discover that Andrea took out an advance of $15,000 on her credit card. So the new theory is she hired someone to kill her husband.

The gang brings Andrea in for questioning, but she says she didn’t hire a hit man. She took the money out to put as a down payment on a new time share condo on an island near Bermuda. She wanted to go there so she could rekindle her relationship with Daniel. But he got pissed when he found out about the money. Apparently, Vicky was the one touting this new condo set up and that she was having a presentation at her house. Megan offers to go to see what it’s all about since Bud and Sam don’t have a shot in hell of getting back in. Not surprisingly, it turns out to be a horrible scam. Megan shoots it down pretty quickly. There is no island. It’s more of a landfill and it’s not near Bermuda, but in the Bermuda Triangle. She clears the group out pretty fast and demands Vicky return all the money. But it’s not the only thing going on. She notices all the women crying for no reason and Peter points out that Megan’s crying. Megan snags a few tears in an evidence vial and even though it comes back as negative, it’s a pH of 4. Something changed the pH levels in their mucus membranes. It’s time for Megan to take another look at Daniel’s brain slides. It turns out he was suffering from toxins found in paint thinners, acrylics and many other things.

Megan and Kate also butt heads over Lacey. Megan shares a moment when she felt like Lacey’s hero and that she’s only disappointed her daughter ever since. Kate doesn’t want to be caught up in the family drama. Meanwhile, Bud, Sam and a whole mess of cops head back to the cul-de-sac to evacuate everyone since whatever was affecting Daniel was in the whole town’s air and soil. They spot some funky flowers in Kevin’s yard. Kevin’s been cooking meth and Daniel found out. Kevin started cooking it after his wife left to try and get enough money to get him out of the hole he was in. Daniel found out and Kevin killed him to keep from losing anything else.

It looks like Peter’s hooking up with the cul-de-sac chick he’s been flirting with, and when Ethan says he wants to get in on the action, Megan says he couldn’t handle that kind of neighborhood. That night, Megan stops by to check up on Lacey. Megan correctly points out that Lacey wasn’t really sick. Lacey admits she wanted to miss her science test because she knew she was going to fail and she didn’t want to disappoint her mother. She likes art (and is pretty good) and Megan assures Lacey that she can never be a disappointment.

New Girl 1.01: "Pilot"

“You know, when I saw your ad on Craig’s List, I thought you were women.”
-Jess

I think Tuesday night was the beginning of what will be the replacement in my TV pantheon when HIMYM likely goes off the air after next season. “New Girl” is a fun, quirky comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, but unless you live under a rock, you probably knew that already. I thought, from the preview, that with the twee and the quirk, this show would be right up my alley. I’ll admit, when I first saw this pilot, I wasn’t quite sure if it lived up to the expectations I had built up in my mind. But I will say this. When I finished rewatching the pilot to write this blog post, I had a big smile on my face. The likes of which I haven’t seen since Pushing Daisies (on the spectrum of smiles caused by TV, that is). Sure I like my “eat your vegetables” television like “Friday Night Lights” and “The Wire” just fine, but I also need a dose of cute now and then. And “New Girl” delivers in spades. It’s not just Deschanel who does the quirky cute thing for which she’s famous. Her three roommates are also all charming in their own ways.

The episode opens with Jess explaining to her potential new roommates why she needs to move. She explains her rather embarrassing break-up in painful detail. Her boyfriend didn’t seem especially happy, so she decided to spice up their relationship by arriving home dressed only in a trench coat and doing a striptease for him. Only problem is that he had another woman in the bedroom. And there’s also the little detail that all the guys wanted to know was whether or not she had any pets. Our Jess is an oversharer for sure! And did I mention she likes to sing? She’ll randomly sing lines to herself on a pretty regular basis, and Deschanel even sings the show’s theme song.

The tenant interview also gives us an introduction to the guys. Schmidt (Max Greenfield, aka Deputy Leo from “Veronica Mars”) is a smarmy guy who likes to take off his shirt and often has to pay a dollar to the apartment “Douchebag Jar.” Coach is a personal trainer who has trouble interacting with women in a way other than yelling. Nick is kind of a doormat. His girlfriend, Caroline, broke up with him six months ago, and he hasn’t been the same since. We see brief flashbacks to illustrate each of the guys’ personalities, and I think Nick’s was my favorite. As Caroline tries to break up with him, he puts his hands over his ears and starts singing “lalalalala.” I also really like the concept of the Douchebag Jar, which is pretty much around just for Schmidt. I like it because it shows self-awareness on Schmidt’s part and the easy friendship between the guys. The other guys have no problem telling Schmidt to pay the jar, and he’s got no problem paying it.

True to his doucheyness, Schmidt is all for letting Jess move in as soon as he finds out that she has many friends who are models. The guys need to conference in the bathroom to make the final decision, though. Schmidt is in favor of letting Jess move in, and Coach is not in favor (because he wants to be able to relax with his pants off when he gets home from work), so it’s all up to Nick. Nick starts listing the pros and cons of living with a woman, all learned from living with Caroline, of course. Schmidt threatens to make an executive decision that Jess is in, and Jess hears him. She yells with happiness, thinking she’s in, so the guys don’t want to let her down by refusing her. They quickly regret this decision, as Jess spends the next week in the living room, dressed in pajamas with take-out containers around her, watching “Dirty Dancing” over and over.

The guys don’t really feel they have time to deal with Jess’ antics. Schmidt is most concerned with the upcoming “Wild, Wild West” charity auction party. It’s a tough invite to get, and the only person who can make it happen for the group is Nick’s ex, Caroline. Nick really, really doesn’t want to call her to ask for the invites. Coach is the first to take a proactive step towards de-whinifying Jess. He starts yelling at her to “stop it,” like he would for one of his clients, but that just makes her cry more. Then Schmidt takes over. He suggests that Jess should find a rebound, and he says that the group will go out after work that night to find one. Jess seems to think this is a good idea, even coming up with a theme song for the event.

There’s an awkward but amusing conversation in the apartment bathroom while Jess is in the shower (wearing a bathing suit for some reason). Nick and Schmidt are talking about the party and how Schmidt doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to motorboat hot women. Jess gets out of the shower and tries to give Schmidt a pep talk, and it becomes obvious that she has no clue what motorboating is. The boys have a laugh at that, of course. Jess also bonds with Coach while she’s curling her hair for the big rebound hunt outing. Coach says that he’s been told he’s not good at talking to women (he just yells at them), and he’d like Jess’ help with that. They have a little conversation about shopping for jeggings where Coach makes a little progress, but then Jess accidentally sets her hair on fire with the curling iron.

The guys and Jess are all at the bar where Nick works as a bartender. There’s some goofiness where Jess is getting advice from Schmidt about how to smile, but when she actually tries to hit on a guy, it’s a disaster. Her brilliant pick-up line is “hey, sailor.” What I did like about this scene was that Coach and Schmidt were cheering her on like they were watching sports. While they’re all at the bar, Schmidt’s douche friends drop by and give him a hard time about not being on the list for the Wild, Wild West party. Schmidt begs Nick yet again for help, but Nick isn’t enthusiastic. Jess and Nick have a really sweet conversation about how they’ve both been dumped and their different perspectives on life in general. They definitely have some chemistry. Jess is distracted from the conversation when Schmidt’s friend Peter starts hitting on her, and she ends up accepting a date with Peter. Meanwhile, Nick, motivated by Jess telling him not to live life bitter over Caroline, texts Caroline and gets the group into the party.

At some point in the near future, Jess is getting ready for her date with Peter. Her friend (and former roommate) Cece is sitting in the living room, and since she’s a model, the guys can’t help but ogle her. Schmidt is especially gross about it. If it wasn’t for the Douchebag Jar, he’d be an irredeemable character. Not able to take the boys anymore, Cece goes to help Jess with getting ready. Jess is wearing overalls because she thought the milkmaid look would be sexy. Cece and Jess end up switching clothes, and the guys are surprised to find that when wearing a little black dress, Jess is kind of hot. I thought this was a rather clich├ęd moment, personally. The one thing that saved it was that Jess stopped the adoration dead when she started doing some silly dance moves.

Outside the Wild, Wild West party, Nick runs into Caroline. Caroline wants to go for a drink so they can catch up. First, though, Nick wants to know why she dumped him. It turns out that Caroline never realized he actually cared about her until after they broke up. They’re about to go for that drink when Schmidt’s douchey friends, including Peter, show up at the party. The guys realize that Jess has been stood up for her date with Peter (Peter thought she texted him too many times), and Nick leads the charge to go rescue her. And he abandons Caroline to do so, which was surprising. Schmidt is the last of the guys to decide to leave. Which is understandable, considering he wanted to go to the party more than the rest of them.

Jess is about to get kicked out of the restaurant because they need the table when the rest of the guys show up. They tell the waitress that they’re her boyfriends. Jess cries happy tears at the gesture, but the guys don’t quite know what to do with that. To get Jess to stop crying, Nick starts singing “(I’ve Had) The time of My Life” from “Dirty Dancing” really off key, and the rest of the guys join in too. Schmidt is the last to join in, of course. Jess pretty much thinks this is the greatest thing ever. The hostess doesn’t think so, though, and she kicks them all out of the restaurant. Back at the apartment, they all watch “Dirty Dancing” together. Schmidt makes a comment about how no matter what, he’d do Jess, and after thanking him for the compliment, Jess tells him to pay the Douchebag Jar. This makes her officially a member of the group. Now I’m just left to wonder which of the guys she’ll date first. Sweet but sort of bland Nick, or kind of gross but more interesting Schmidt?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

HIMYM 7.02: "The Naked Truth"

“Robin, get me my legal pad. It’s pros and cons time!”
-Ted

CBS just had to go and make my schedule even more crazy by airing two episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” this week. Thankfully, it was at least a very good episode. And, to my surprise, Ted’s plot was what I liked most about it. Now I’m not a Ted hater, I’m just more entertained by Barney’s antics, so I tend to like Barney plots the best, as long as they aren’t too cartoonish. And that was just a whole lot of hedging for one sentence. Can you tell I’m a lawyer? Anyway, I liked Ted in this episode because his douchiness (more like dorkiness in this case) was channeled in a direction with which I can identify. Yay pros and cons lists! And the surprise appearance of an old favorite character at the end of the episode was great, too. I’ll discuss this character more at the end of the blog post to give those of you who read the blog and don’t want to be spoiled (is there any such person out there?) a chance to stop reading. I didn’t enjoy Barney’s plot because Nora needs to go away ASAP (for obvious reasons), and I didn’t especially love Marshall’s plot because I just don’t have sympathy for people who do things that incredibly stupid and use alcohol as an excuse.

The episode begins with the gang back in New York recovering from Punchy’s wedding. Marshall is still very hung over (because he was “drinking for two” until he and Lily decided to reveal the pregnancy), and he makes a “sweeping declaration” that he’s not going to get drunk again. Saget!Ted (and a kicky montage) inform us that this is not the first (or the last) time that Marshall will make a sweeping declaration about drinking. Barney manages to change the subject by hobbling into the apartment in a cast. He figured it would earn extra sympathy points from Nora, and thankfully the gang convinces him it’s a really bad idea. They don’t convince him that a neck brace isn’t a good alternative, though. Setting up another plot of the episode, Ted tells the gang that he used the New York Magazine cover to pick up two women at the newsstand. Well, it caught the attention of more than two women, but they’re the two finalists, and he’s got dates with both. After this story is told, Marshall receives a phone call from big time environmental lawyer Garrison Kootz. He is interested in hiring Marshall, but he needs to do a background check first.

So let’s start going through all those plots that were just set up, shall we? First, Nora meets up with Barney at a diner. Anybody know if it’s the diner he always went to with Robin? If it is, I’ll be pissed. Nora totally sees through the neck brace gag and calls Barney on it by telling him there’s a well-endowed woman behind him. When he cranes his neck to see, he blows his cover. Nora’s not happy that Barney is still lying, and she starts to leave the diner. Barney begs Nora to stay, telling her that he’ll never lie again. Nora proceeds to test the limits of this promise by grilling him about lies he has told women to get them into bed. And lo and behold, Barney tells the truth. After several hours of this, Nora starts getting tired of hearing Barney’s creepy stories. She leaves the diner, telling Barney he’s a sociopath. Barney persists in trying to get Nora to stay, refusing to leave the diner until she agrees to a second date. Nora leaves anyway.

Meanwhile, Ted still can’t decide between the two women he picked up at the newsstand. One of them was charming and funny and smart and had compatible life goals with ted. The other reached for the check after dinner. There’s only one way Ted can solve this dilemma. He asks Robin to bring him a legal pad so he can make a pros and cons list. And the rest of the group cheers! To make things even more complicated, Ted’s been invited to the Architect’s Ball. He thinks this is the greatest thing ever, and he really wants to take one of the two women to the event. This means it’s time to make a color chart! Ted mentions that “Lenny Kravitz” is going to be at the Architect’s Ball, and all of a sudden Robin thinks it would be a really great idea if Ted took a friend to the ball instead. She even puts on a fancy dress (which she bought to go to a funeral with Ted way back when) to make her point. So Ted makes his color chart, and the first woman is ahead of the other in everything but “reached for the check.”

Meanwhile, Marshall has been Googling himself to figure out what unflattering information Kootz might find. Most everything is pretty tame, but then Marshall finds a video of him streaking as “Beercules” in college. He was pledging a fraternity that at the time he didn’t realize was fake. Marshall goes to visit Pete, the guy who ran the fake frat and shot the video (and put the video online). He’s playing a game called “Edward 40 Hands,” which involves having massive bottles of alcohol taped to his hands. Marshall asks Pete to take the video down, but Pete’s not really interested. He thinks Marshall has turned into a bummer. Marshall tries to tell Pete that he’ll feel differently when he has children, but Pete already has children. He says, however, that he’ll take down the video if Marshall beats him at a game. He wasn’t thinking of Edward 40 Hands, but Marshall thinks that’s what’s going to happen, and Pete goes with it. Marshall ends up getting drunk yet again and making yet another “Beercules” streaking video.

Marshall, Lily, Ted, and Robin are talking about the video at the diner, and Lily makes a threatening call to Pete trying to get him to take down the video. Barney’s at the diner, too, because he’s still waiting for Nora. This makes Robin rather angsty, which is understandable. Ted realizes that he wants to feel about someone the way Barney feels about Nora, so choosing between two women is no good. He’s going to take Robin to the Architect’s Ball. So about that diner, I’m wondering if this is an attempt to start transitioning the group to a new hang out location. Hanging out in a bar all the time is going to seem kind of strange once Marshall and Lily have their baby. It’s a little “Seinfeld,” but it could potentially work, I suppose. Oh, and Nora does eventually come back and is happy to see that Barney’s still at the diner. And that’s all we’ll say about that.

Marshall gets a call from Garrison Koot. He’s seen the Beercules videos, but he doesn’t mind. He gives Marshall the job. Just after he gets the job, Marshall gets a call from Pete, saying he’ll take down the video. At first, Marshall wants his child to see how fun-loving his father was. Then he comes to his senses and decides Pete should take down the video. And did I mention that Pete’s a surgeon. That was kind of a lame gag, but it was sort of funny. Meanwhile, the Architect’s Ball is not all Robin hoped it would be. Leonard Kravitz is not the musician, but a really old architect who is going to give a lecture. Meanwhile, Ted looks across the room and sees none other than first season ex-girlfriend Victoria setting up cupcakes. I’m pretty excited about this development. Victoria has pretty much been the most tolerable of Ted’s placeholder girlfriends, and I’d be happy to have her around again for a bit until Ted finally meets the Mother.

HIMYM 7.01: "The Best Man"

“Oh, thank God! Barney Stinson needs to see you right before his wedding, you assume there’s at least one dead stripper in the closet.”
-Ted

I don’t shy away from unpopular opinions here at MTVP. Mostly because there are only one or two people who actually regularly read this blog, and one of them writes for MTVP too. So here goes. I pretty much liked the season premiere of “How I Met Your Mother.” I know some people were horribly upset/offended by it, but I’ve learned to pretty much just role with the stupid “the story’s not over yet” taunts and revel in the great character moment. And “The Best Man” had some great character moments. I’m a little sad that we’re going back to will-they-won’t-they with Barney and Robin (because they totally will), to the point of having them involved in an all-out love triangle, but I’m willing to be patient for now because they had some wonderful moments in this episode. And just so I don’t get accused of basing my opinion of the episode solely on the Barney/Robin of it all, I loved the scene between Ted and Robin near the end of the episode as well. It capitalized on their friendship, and that made it special.

The episode opens by reintroducing us to Barney’s wedding, which looks to be happening in the not-especially-distant future. Ted’s having his Best Man talk with Barney. Barney’s mostly concerned about which tie to wear. Well, he plays it off like he doesn’t know which tie to wear, but what he really wants is validation from Ted that he’s marrying the right woman. Ted says Barney’s “nailed it.” They then go on to reminisce about how Marshall totally ruined Punchy’s wedding. This leads nicely into a flashback to the gang at MacLaren’s, talking about getting ready for Punchy’s wedding. Ted is super-planning his wedding toast, because he has a history of giving really lame toasts. Mostly because weddings seem to occur at low points in his life, like right after he got fired. To make matters worse, Punchy has put of a montage of Ted’s worst wedding toasts online. And it’s AutoTuned. All of Ted’s friends back home think he’s really lame now. Ted is anything but lame, though. Because he’s designing a Manhattan skyscraper at such a young age, he got his picture on the cover of New York Magazine. Barney, naturally, thinks Ted should use that to pick up chicks at the wedding. It comes out that Barney hasn’t called Nora yet, and Robin encourages him to do so. Meanwhile, Lily and Marshall have a sidebar conversation. They’re struggling to hide the fact that Lily is pregnant from their friends.

When we finally get to Punchy’s wedding, we see that Barney is going to be spending some time “test marketing” new plays to use to pick up chicks. They’re really lame, kind of creepy plays, though, like “escaped manslaughterer” and “patient zero.” Not surprisingly, none of them test well. While Barney’s off being creepy, Robin uses what Lily calls her “truth voice” when trying to joke about maybe wanting to get back together with Barney. Apparently Robin uses a certain whiny tone of voice whenever she’s trying to play the truth off as a joke. Anyway, Lily does her best to convince Robin that Barney still has feelings for her (he is running super lame plays and not trying really hard at it, after all) and that Robin should tell him her feelings. Robin starts trying to talk to Barney, but he interrupts her for a dance. A really awesome Latin-style dance to “Groove is in the Heart,” that is. Hello flashback to my early-90’s dance recitals! If “Dancing With the Stars” was for, you know, actual stars, I’d be rooting for Neil Patrick to participate. He was great in the dance scene. And Cobie Smulders wasn’t so bad herself. A steamy end to the dance is cut short when Barney’s phone rings. It’s Nora. He did finally call her. Five times. Poor Robin is devastated. Robin plays Cyrano for Barney on the phone call, which gets to be kind of heartbreaking. Barney is using the words Robin is using to pour her own heart out to get a date with another woman.


Meanwhile, Marshall, who is quite drunk, tries to help Ted get some cred with his hometown friends by talking loudly about Ted’s magazine cover. He stats acting superior to a wedding guest who manages a car rental business, when all of a sudden the car rental guy’s wife brings over their baby. Marshall is instantly sidetracked and can’t stop being distracted by the baby. Marshall brings the baby over to Lily, who is also super distracted by it, and they decide that they want to tell their friends the baby news, three-month wait convention or not. Following the magazine incident, Robin and Ted find themselves out on a balcony. Both are upset, but Robin doesn’t really want to tell Ted why she’s upset. Ted chimes in first. He thinks he’s stopped believing in love. He doesn’t think about romantic possibilities as he walks through life anymore. Robin and Ted reaffirm their “if I’m not married by 40” pact, and Robin makes Ted promise to start believing again. Marshall, Lily, and Barney join them out on the balcony, and Lily and Marshall make the big baby announcement. The rest of the group is thrilled.

Ted starts yet another weepy wedding toast, but this time it’s because he’s so happy about Marshall and Lily being pregnant, not because something horrible has happened in his own life. Nevertheless, the wedding guests start snickering at him. Marshall (still drunk) intervenes and tells everyone why Ted is weepy. Although when he refers to somebody being pregnant, the bride thinks Marshall is referring to her. Because she’s pregnant, too. That sets up a huge feud between the bride and groom’s families, and that’s how Marshall ruined Punchy’s wedding. Flashing forward to Barney’s wedding again, Lily pops her head in the room where Barney and Ted are chatting and says that the bride wants to talk to Ted. I’m hoping this is a sign that Barney will be marrying Robin, because last season, Ted agreed to be her Best Man, too. And why would Nora want to talk to Ted of all people pre-wedding? I am seriously hoping that I’m right about this one.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doctor Who 6.11: "The God Complex"

Since my life is insane right now, Sarah was nice enough to take on the latest episode of "Doctor Who." This was a good one, written by "Being Human" creator Toby Whithouse. Toby for next "Doctor Who" head writer, please!

***

“Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. I wanted to be adored. Look at you, the glorious Pond. The girl who waited for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. Now it’s time we see each other for who we really are, Amy Williams. It’s time to stop waiting.”
- The Doctor

The last few episodes, including “Night Terrors” were billed as scary. To be honest, I haven’t been all that scared. A little creeped out, definitely. But not scared. Maybe that’s because I’m not a little kid. We begin this week with creepy sort of elevator music playing as a black and white camera flips through various places and we learn it’s a hotel with lots of winding staircases. Next we meet Lucy, a police woman giving us a somewhat creepy voiceover about being the only one left. She explains that you don’t know what’s in your room until you see it, but that afterwards you know it couldn’t have been anything else. Like I said, that’s kind of creepy. She opens a door and sees a giant gorilla and screams. And then she starts saying “praise him” and we see a giant blue eye open. Whatever owns that blue eye seems to be after Lucy now, and it gets her just as we hit the opener act break.

As usual (or at least in the last couple episodes), the Doctor promises to take Amy and Rory somewhere spectacular (this time with people 600 feet tall), and they end up in the creepy, dingy 80’s-style hotel. But they aren’t on Earth. It just looks like Earth. And in short order, they find a wall with photos of people and aliens with odd phrases under them like “defeat” (under a Sontaran) and “Daleks” (under a woman’s photo). And Lucy’s photo is up there, too. The Doctor rings the reception desk bell, and three other inhabitants burst in brandishing weapons (well chair legs mainly). They’ve been in the hotel two days and explain the shifting corridors and rooms with scary/bad dreams in them. We’ve got Howie who is a blogger, Rita who is a nurse and Gibbis, a mole man from the most invaded planet in the galaxy. The Doctor says they’ll use the TARDIS to get out of the situation, but they find it’s disappeared. No big surprise there, Doctor.

They decide to stick together, and Rita leads them to Joe in a dining room full of laughing ventriloquist dummies. And for some reason Joe is tied to a chair. And Joe definitely ups the creep factor. Joe sounds a bit like an ultra-religious person going on about how he’s seen the light and is now redeemed. He even uses a food analogy (they weren’t ready to be ‘eaten” when they first arrived). Joe is waiting for Him to arrive (which will be soon), and the Doctor decides it best to bring Joe along with them. It reminded me a little bit of the scene in “The End of Time Part 2” where the aliens and Wilf are rescuing Ten and he’s still strapped to the chair).

Now the real fun begins. The gang is back in reception, and they’re trying to figure out how to escape. Rita is concerned that whatever is coming will kill them all, and Gibbis just wants to be enslaved. Joe pipes up and says that He is coming, and everyone ends up roaming the halls. But the Doctor’s given orders not to open any door that they feel drawn to. And quite mercifully, they’ve gagged Joe. Things are a bit spooky for sure as they wander the halls. Howie makes the comment that he thinks they’re in a secret city in Norway that the US established to hide rich people when another planet collides with Earth. Yay conspiracies? Rory thinks it’s amazing that Howie could come up with something even more out there than reality. As they walk along, the Doctor is accosted by a burly gym teacher. It’s quite an odd scene, and the look on Matt’s face is priceless.

Unfortunately, Howie opens a door and see a bunch of girls (who honestly looked like Playboy Bunnies a little bit), and we see this weird transformation (from scared to happy and giggling) as Howie utters “praise him”. Not good, Howie. Not good at all. He begins to stutter, and in no time at all the group gets split up as heavy footsteps echo nearby. Rita and Joe end up in a room where she sees her father scolding her for getting a B in math. She too has the weird scared/happy-giggly face. Rory sees a Fire Exit door, but when he tries to draw everyone else’s attention to it, it disappears and he, Amy, Howie, the Doctor and Gibbis end up in a room full of Weeping Angels. It’s unclear whose bad dream it is because Gibbis seems really freaked out, too.

The Doctor decides to peek through the eye-hole in the door of their room and catches a glimpse of what’s been following them. And much like whenever he sees something big and alien, he thinks it’s beautiful. Too bad it hauls off Joe, and when the Doctor finds him, Joe’s dead. The group reconvenes in the dining room and Rita’s made a pot of tea. Every hotel kitchen (alien fake ones include) should be well stocked. Amy tries to reassure Gibbis that she knows what the Weeping Angels are like and promises that the Doctor is going to save them all. Rory makes the comment that every time the Doctor gets close to someone, he feels the urge to notify next of kin (more on this later). Amy laughs at it and then remembers she found Lucy’s notes in the corridor.

The Doctor and Rita share a brief chat over tea and Joe’s dead body. Rita thinks they’re in the Islamic version of Hell. But she’s not scared of it. She’s strong in her faith and has to believe that will keep her sane. Amy shares the notes with the Doctor and as soon as he finishes reading them aloud, Howie gives another “praise him”. The Doctor manages to get Howie to shed some answers the next time he’s possessed and realizes that the monster feeds on fear. He tells everyone to hold on to whatever makes the not afraid and that they’re going to catch themselves a monster.

It’s really an ingenious plan. They broadcast Howie’s voice rambling into the dining room to draw the creature in. Amy, Rita and Rory block the doors so the monster can’t get out. The Doctor is waiting in the room and they play a sort of hide and seek (so you don’t quite see the creature fully) but it turns out to be a giant Minotaur. The Doctor (sine he speaks all kinds of languages) can communicate with the Minotaur. We learn that the Minotaur is in a prison, but the Doctor and the others aren’t ready. The Doctor learns the Minotaur wants to die because it’s lived so long it just wants to stop. It’s operating on instinct now.

Howie is being guarded by Gibbis, and Howie convinces Gibbis to let him go so he can die. Howie wants it to end, and Gibbis can always say he was overpowered. Unfortunately, just as the Doctor is getting somewhere, Howie shows up and leads the Minotaur away. In its rampage, it knocks Rory down. Amy and Rita arrive, but of course, Amy runs off in search of the Doctor. He’s found Howie, dead just like Joe. And Amy looks in room number 7. Rita shuts the door, but we still hear “praise him.” It looks like it may have gotten Amy, too. And they find Gibbis, and it’s quite clear the Doctor is not at all pleased.

Back in the dining room, they’ve now laid Howie’s body next to Joe. The Doctor and Rory are talking by the wall of dead portraits, and the Doctor asks if Rory’s found his room yet. Rory says no and that maybe after he’s spent so much time with the Doctor, he’s not scared of anything anymore. The Doctor wanders off and tells Rita he’s very close to getting them all out. She comments that he’s got quite the God complex. I have to agree. I think we’ve had hints of it throughout the series (and not just series 6), but it’s really showcased here. He says he brought Amy and Rory (even though it was their choice), so it’s his job to save them. As they’re talking, he notices a CCTV camera mounted on the wall, and he takes off in search of the control room. On his way, he sees room number 11 and takes a peek. Whatever he sees in there, it makes perfect sense, though he doesn’t start saying “praise him”. He finds the control room and sees on one of the CCTV screens that Rita is wandering a corridor. They have a brief conversation where she talks about being at peace and wanting to be left to lose her faith in private. Amy and Rory show up just in time to see the Minotaur show up. The Doctor blanks the screen before they can see anything else.

If you thought he was mad before, he’s absolutely ripping now. The Doctor is smashing things and screaming. And it’s at this point he realizes the Minotaur isn’t feeding on fear, it is feeding on faith. Religious faith, faith in external forces, luck. And it’s got the biggest meal of all waiting in Amy. She’s got so much faith in the Doctor. They end up in Amy’s room, and we find little Amelia, sitting and waiting. The Doctor tells Amy there’s nothing he can do to save her. He destroyed her childhood and now he’s led her by the hand to her death. He tells her to lose her faith in him and that he’s a vain old man to who took her along to be adored. The scene was intercut nicely with bits of Amy (Karen Gillan) and bits with little Amelia. The Minotaur breaks in, but as the Doctor continues to talk, it backs out and in the end, it collapses. The Doctor talks to it, telling it that the food source is severed and it can die in peace. He makes reference to a creature thousands of years old drenched in innocent blood welcoming death. He denies it is about him, but he’s not fooling anyone. He would gladly welcome it with all he’s seen and done.

We end with the Doctor, Amy and Rory back on Earth, and they’re at a new flat (with a shiny new sports car). Amy asks why he’s doing this, and the Doctor says he’s leaving because she’s still alive. He could take her on more adventures but he’d only end up over her grave or her broken body. He’s saving her by leaving her. And I think he’s finally realized that Rory is right. He makes people dangerous to themselves. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him just leave his companions behind and move on. But Amy tells him that if he runs into River, tell her to stop by for a visit. I’m sure this isn’t a final goodbye.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ringer 1.01: "Pilot"

"Mistakes aren't tragedies."
-Bridget

So the fall season is finally upon us. The new shows are going to start arriving fast and furious, and some old favorites are due to return as well. There are two new fall shows I’m going to cover here at MTVP: “Ringer” and “New Girl.” “Ringer” premiered this Tuesday, and let me tell you, it was very strange to tune my television to the CW. I generally don’t watch CW shows as a rule, but I made an exception for this one because it marks the return of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar to series television. And she gets to play not only one character, but two! “Ringer” is soapy and a bit noir. Definitely more heavy on the soap. That could make it a fun watch each week, just to see what sorts of crazy plot twists the writers will come up with next. It also created an issue for the pilot episode, though. Pilots are a difficult creature to begin with. “Pushing Daisies” is really the only show I’ve fallen in love with from the pilot episode. Pilots have to do many jobs, such as introducing characters, building the world, and having some sort of story. Often, they do all those jobs but none of them well. The “Ringer” pilot wasn’t bad by any means, but it was very plot heavy. It felt a bit like we were getting the pieces all moved into place on the chess board before the real action starts happening. Most of the episode was devoted to setting up the series’ rather complicated premise.

The episode uses an in media res structure, which is acceptable in this case, although I think the technique is becoming a bit played out. We see one of the twins (we later find out it’s Bridget) hiding in a house. A masked man is looking for her. Bridget tries to run, and the masked man catches up to her and attacks her. As she is trying to fight him off, Bridget says, “you have the wrong girl.” Which is such terrible dialogue, but moving on. We next see Bridget nine days earlier at a substance abuse meeting (I couldn’t tell if it was AA or NA). She tells the group that her twin sister Siobhan wants her to visit. Siobhan lives in New York. After the meeting, we meet the two men in Bridget’s world, her sponsor Malcolm and her FBI handler, Victor. Victor is played by Nestor Carbonell from “Lost.” Bridget has an FBI handler because she is going to testify against a crime boss, and she’s in protective custody. She’s kind of doubtful that anybody can actually protect her, though. Victor drops Bridget off at the cheap motel where the FBI is putting her up, and when he returns the next day, her nighttime FBI handler is tied up in the shower, and Bridget is gone.

We next see one of the twins in the bar. At first, it seemed like Bridget because she leaves shadily when a police officer appears, but it’s actually Siobhan. Which should have been obvious considering she was drinking and Bridget seems pretty serious about her recovery. Siobhan meets up with Bridget outside of the bar, and then she takes her to her “weekend house,” which I think is out in the Hamptons or something. Her husband, Andrew, is in London visiting his daughter, and Siobhan hasn’t even told hi that Bridget exists. The twins wind up in a room with so.many.mirrors. It’s a little too strong on the symbolism for my taste. A bit anvilicious. Anyway, the two are kind of beating around the bush about something that happened to someone named Sean. It’s something Bridget did, and it must have been horrible. Siobhan says Bridget is forgiven, but I’m sure Bridget doesn’t quite buy that.

When we next see Bridget and Siobhan, they’re on a boat, having what seems to be a great time. Bridget mentions that she’s waitressing now instead of shipping. She’s really been going all in on the turning her life around thing. Bridget naps, and when she wakes up, Siobhan is gone. Bridget sees a pill bottle on the deck and starts to panic. She seems something floating and jumps in the water, thinking it might be Siobhan. There’s nobody there. Now it’s time for Bridget to get her brilliant idea. We see her get out of a car at a fancy home in New York City. Siobhan’s husband Andrew arrives home, and Bridget kisses him, thinking that’s how she should act. He just thinks it’s odd, because apparently they’ve been quite cold to each other for some time. Andrew remarks that she’s too thin, which I think is supposed to be a signal that he knows something isn’t right, he just doesn’t know what. Bridget can’t take the pressure of the charade, and she rushes off to call her sponsor. She tells Malcolm everything about what she’s done, but she doesn’t tell him where she is. Then Bridget sees someone watching her and ends the conversation.

Bridget wakes up to a phone call. It’s Siobhan’s friend Gemma, who is also an interior designer. She’s surprised Bridget missed their plans, because it should have been in her orange book. Isn’t that a convenient little device to help Bridget better impersonate Siobhan. Bridget ends up meeting up with Gemma after all, who is designing a new house for Siobhan and Andrew. Gemma reveals that she thinks her husband is having an affair, but she doesn’t have any proof yet, and she doesn’t know the identity of the other woman. The actual complexities of this soapy mess become clear when Bridget and Andrew are at an opera fundraiser. After the performance, when everyone is mingling, Bridget sees someone watching her again. As she tries to walk away, a random guy comes up to her and kisses her. This turns out to be Henry, Gemma’s husband. Turns out Siobhan is the “other woman.” Henry notices that “Siobhan” is acting differently, too, but they agree to meet at a hotel. After the benefit, Bridget tries to be extra nice to Andrew (I guess she feels bad that Siobhan has been cheating on him). Andrew thinks this is strange, and he likes it, but he’s not sure he believes it’s genuine.

Bridget goes to a meeting, where she talks about how she’s upset that she lost her sister so soon after finding her again. When she gets home, she finds Siobhan’s stepdaughter Juliet having sex on the couch. Bridget is most worried that Juliet may have found the gun Bridget hid in the house, so she runs of to her bedroom to make sure it’s still there. While Bridget is upstairs, Juliet answers the phone and tells Bridget that a guy is coming up to see her. It’s FBI handler Victor. He wants to talk to “Siobhan” about Bridget. They have a chat, and “Siobhan” says that she has no idea where Bridget is. Somehow, Victor buys the act. He tells “Siobhan” that Bridget is in serious danger. Because Bridget didn’t testify, there was a mistrial, and the crime boss she was supposed to help put in jail is now free. We quick cut to Wyoming, where Bridget’s AA sponsor is most definitely being watched.

Bridget sees a newspaper story about a woman’s body washing ashore, and thinking it’s Siobhan, she gets all angsty. She’s at the new apartment, and she’s startled by Gemma stopping by. They talk about the affair again, of course. Bridget feels horrible for betraying Gemma, so she goes to see Henry. She says she wants to lay low for a while and not really see him. Henry doesn’t really take this well. Bridget arrives at home to see that Andrew is pissed at Juliet about something. Before she has time to really investigate, though, she gets a call meant for Siobhan saying that she’s pregnant. And Andrew hears it.

Later, Bridget, Andrew, Henry, and Gemma are at a bar. And it looks like Bridget is going to use the “pregnancy” as an excuse to not drink. Pretty convenient, considering she’s a recovering alcoholic and all. Andrew is extremely angry, because he’s convinced that the baby is his. He wants her to leave Andrew for him, and he gives her an ultimatum. She says she chooses Andrew. Later back at the house, we see Andrew making a shady call, saying he “wants out.” He hangs up as soon as Bridget walks in the room, and he tells her that Juliet was kicked out of boarding school for using drugs. In other news, Victor the FBI handler finds a letter from Bridget to Siobhan. So he knows that “Siobhan” was lying when she said she hadn’t seen Bridget in years.

Gemma calls Bridget, and she says she wants to meet up to say who she thinks Henry is having an affair with. This makes Bridget a bit nervous, of course. Bridget gets to the new apartment, and nobody’s there. Now we’re up to the scene we saw at the beginning of the episode with the masked attacker. Bridget almost gets away from him, then they crash through a wall. Bridget grabs a gun and shoots, and she says “I’m not Bridget.” It doesn’t appear to be Bridget that the attacker was after, though. He’s carrying a picture of Siobhan. In probably the best twist of the episode, we then see Siobhan, who looks like she’s taking a rather relaxing vacation. She gets a phone call that says “we have a problem.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

MTVP 2011 Emmys Coverage: The Aftermath

The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards were a study in contradictions. The telecast itself was seriously lacking, and after the solid, even wonderful, telecasts of the last two years, that drop in quality was noticeable and disappointing. The only way I could think of to describe the change in tone last night was that the Emmys were “Fox-ified.” The production felt cheap, and despite host Jane Lynch’s best efforts, the jokes were terrible and were often the offensive, scared of everyone who isn’t a straight, white man dreck that one would expect to find when turning on the network’s cable sister, Fox News. The results in the Comedy category were also largely disappointing. “Modern Family” won every single category for which it is nominated, and while I have never personally watched the show, I have to believe that they aren’t the only good comedy out there. On the other hand, the middle of the telecast featured some wonderfully surprising winners, some of which I thought might have a shot, and others completely out of nowhere in the best possible way.

I could tell from the opening seconds of the telecast when the orchestra began to play Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” (which is a song I like, just not in this context), that the era of the super classy, grown-up Emmys telecast ushered in by Neil Patrick Harris and nurtured by Jimmy Fallon was over. The telecast opened with a pre-taped segment of Jane Lynch meeting with the “President of Television,” none other than Leonard Nimoy (who I was pleased to see on my television screen again, considering he has “retired” from acting), and then walking through the sets of several television shows. The segment was funny at first (Lynch’s time with the “Mad Men” crew was the most entertaining), but it went on for far too long. I can almost forgive it for being too long because it opened with Leonard Nimoy insulting the excessive use of AutoTune on “Glee,” but the whole segment was nowhere near the level of difficulty of the live, original song-and-dance number, “Put Down the Remote,” used by Neil Patrick Harris to open the 2009 show.

Apparently trying to build on FOX’s “Glee” success, and resulting in an odd and unfunny extension of the technique Jimmy Fallon used to introduce each awards category last year, a group of actors, dressed in typical New Directions costumes, were the “Emmytones,” tasked with introducing each awards category with a capella music. It was kind of fun to try and recognize the actors who were participating in the Emmytones. I spotted Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”), Joel McHale (“Community”) and Zachary Levi (“Chuck”). That being said, the Emmytones segments just weren’t funny or clever. The whole thing felt forced. When the best part of a bit is when L.L. Cool J shows up, you know it’s not working. There were also, as I mentioned in the intro, an abundance of rather offensive jokes. There were jokes about people with foreign accents, jokes about the LGBT community, and jokes about women and how men are so oppressed by them. It wasn’t a pretty sight. There was also an incredibly stupid pre-taped send-up of all things tacky from New Jersey, with Lynch playing a typical Jersey housewife. By far the worst bit of Fox-ification, however, was the choice to have Charlie Sheen present an award. While Sheen acquitted himself in a civil manner, I can just picture (not saying this actually happened, but I can definitely see it as within the realm of possibility) the FOX execs planning the telecast salivating over the possibility of him saying something completely off the wall. The drama just wasn’t necessary, and it was tacky (a recurring theme).

Now on to the winners, which was an aspect of the show much more palatable than the production values. The Comedy awards were, for the most part, a disappointment. I was slightly sad that Julie Bowen (who will always be Sarah from “Lost” to me) beat out Jane Lynch for Outstanding Supporting Actress. I was waiting to see how Jane would handle the loss (I loved the humble self-deprecation approach Neil Patrick Harris used in 2009), but unless I missed something while trying to deal with a work emergency in the middle of the show, she chose not to acknowledge it at all. There was, overall, way too much “Modern Family” represented among the Comedy winners. They won all the major categories for which they were nominated. I understand that “Modern Family” is a critically well-regarded, relatively popular show, but we’re on the cusp of a new golden age in comedy (the needle is shifting back from drama), so surely there were other shows just as deserving of some Emmy love, too. The one highlight of the Comedy awards was Jim Parsons repeating his win for Outstanding Lead Actor. “Big Bang Theory” has declined somewhat in quality in the past two years, but Parsons always gives 100% and always appears so humble and grateful for the recognition that it was nice to see him take home the trophy again.

I’m going to skip over Reality and Variety except to say it’s kind of a travesty that “Top Chef” didn’t repeat their Outstanding Reality Competition win. The Drama awards is where it got really interesting and quite wonderful. Finally, finally, finally, the Academy showed the masterpiece that is “Friday Night Lights” some love. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch the fifth and final season yet, but the cast and crew that made “Friday Night Lights” happen put out such quality work on such a consistent basis that it was high time the show was recognized. Taking what is usually thought of as Matt Weiner’s (Mad Men) award, Jason Katims, “Friday Night Lights” showrunner, won the writing award for the series finale, “Always.” The best “Friday Night Lights” related surprise was Kyle Chandler, the legendary Coach Eric Taylor, winning Outstanding Lead Actor. Chandler was not at all expecting to win, and he had to come up with some people to thank on the fly. And to make it even better, his former “Friday Night Lights” costar, Minka Kelly, got to give him the award. She knelt down in a sort of “I’m not worthy” pose while holding the statue as he walked across the stage, and it was a really touching moment. The other great Drama win was Peter Dinklage winning Outstanding Supporting Actor. This one wasn’t as much a shock, but it wasn’t a sure thing, either. I loved the reaction of Dinklage’s wife as he included their dogsitter in his acceptance speech. The award was certainly well deserved for his spectacular work as Tyrion on “Game of Thrones.”

The wonderful surprises continued in the Movie/Miniseries category. Many critics were anticipating that “Mildred Pierce” would walk away with most of the wins because the Academy generally favors HBO in this category. Instead, it was the wonderful “Downton Abbey,” which was broadcast on PBS here in the States, which ran away with many of the awards. Julian Fellowes won for writing the show (a category for which Doctor Who head writer Stephen Moffat was also nominated for his work on “Sherlock”), and the legendary Maggie Smith won Outstanding Supporting Actress. Sadly, Smith could not attend the awards ceremony. I wished they could have at least arranged a video acceptance. To top it all off, “Downton Abbey” even won the Outstanding Movie or Miniseries award. The show ended on a more predictable note with “Mad Men” and “Modern Family” winning Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy respectively, but that really couldn’t sour a night of otherwise unexpected and well-deserved wins.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

MTVP 2011 Emmys Coverage: The Players

It’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl for us TV junkies. This Sunday is the Primetime Emmy Awards on FOX. The telecast is due to be hosted by Jane Lynch of “Glee” fame, which is a choice I’m pretty happy about. Lynch is a talented comedienne, even if her role as Sue Sylvester has made her dip into the same well way too many times. Mostly I’m just really glad that FOX didn’t tap Ryan Seacrest to host again like the last time thy broadcast the show. Long time followers here at MTVP (all one…maybe two…of you) know my drill. I’m no Emmys expert, but I love TV, and I’ve picked a few categories where I have an especially strong opinion about who I would like to see win. These aren’t predictions, just my wishes, really. For real Emmys analysis, if you’re into that kind of thing, I highly recommend Gold Derby or the blogs of any of the “real” TV critics like Alan Sepinwall, Dan Fienberg, or Mo Ryan.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Louis C.K. (Louie)
Steve Carrell (The Office)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

My Pick: Jim Parsons

For the third year in a row, I’m rooting for Jim Parsons to take home this trophy. Sure “The Big Bang Theory” has declined in quality somewhat in the past couple years, but Parsons always brings energy and amazing effort to the role of Sheldon Cooper. Parsons submitted “The Agreement Dissection,” which I suppose works in his favor, because there’s plenty of Sheldon acting neurotic, and Emmy voters favor more broadly comedic performances. I think Alec Baldwin or Steve Carrell could be the real upsets here. Baldwin because he’s won the category before and Carrell because Emmy voters might want to thank him for his time on “The Office.” I was very surprised that Johnny Galecki was nominated. While he does an admirable job portraying the hapless Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory,” he often has to play the straight man to the other characters’ antics. That sort of role doesn’t usually get a lot of recognition.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Chris Colfer (Glee)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Ed O'Neill (Modern Family)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)

My Pick: Chris Colfer

Any of you who have read much of this blog at all can guess that I was pretty darn furious when the nominees for this category were announced this year. I am an unapologetic Neil Patrick Harris fan, and I thought it was ridiculous he wasn’t included on the list. Barney meeting his father gave him some great material to work with this year. Furthermore, I was shocked that four of the six slots were taken up by the guys from “Modern Family.” I understand that “Modern Family” is a positively reviewed show with a lot of fans, but is it really that much better than everything else out there? Spread the love around, people! I picked Chris Colfer here because a lot was asked of him on “Glee” this year, and for the most part, he delivered. He got some sass by the end of the season, which was fun. I don’t think he can win this, though, because Kurt is not at all a broadly comedic character. As long as Jon Cryer doesn’t win again, I won’t be throwing things across the apartment and making my roommates worried. Let’s hope he doesn’t get “he had to deal with the Charlie Sheen mess” sympathy votes.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Nominees:

Boardwalk Empire
Dexter
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men

My Pick: Game of Thrones

“Game of Thrones” started off slow, but it ended brilliantly. I deeply cared about many of the characters by about two-thirds of the way through the season. Even before that point, though, the episodes were improving drastically. The real turning point for me was when Tyrion was on trial at the Eyrie, and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. Beyond great characterization, I thought the production values on “Game of Thrones” were amazing. Everyone involved did a wonderful job making the fantastical world of Westeros come to life, from the Wall to King’s Landing. If “Game of Thrones” can’t win it because of the inherently anti-genre bias of these sorts of awards shows, I’d go for “Friday Night Lights.” I haven’t watched season five yet (TV fan fail, I know), but the show has been of excellent quality on a fairly consistent basis. We just won’t talk about season two). I always love a little trip to Dillon, Texas, even if the experience will often be so raw and emotional that it’s painful. My guess is that “Mad Men” will take home the prize, though, just because they seem to be the perennial critical darling. Personally, I couldn’t get past season one. The whole thing was just too dour and the characters all rather hateful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The Nominees:

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
Walton Goggins (Justified)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Andrew Braugher (Men of a Certain Age)

My Pick: Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage has the distinction of making Tyrion the only Lannister I can at all stand on “Game of Thrones.” I appreciate that he uses his wit to survive in the world, and Dinklage does a good job of conveying that, always with a sparkle in his eye. His shining moment is really in “A Golden Crown,” the sixth episode of the season, when Tyrion is put on trial for murder and attempted murder. You can see the wheels turning as Tyrion talks his way out of trouble and his glee when his scheming succeeds is infectious. Dinklage instead to submit “Baelor,” the penultimate episode for consideration, which has some great moments as well, with Tyrion leading his mountain men troops into battle. I just like the trial more. For a second choice, I’d go with Josh Charles. I haven’t ever watched “The Good Wife,” but I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin and “Sports Night,” so Josh Charles can have the award for just being awesome in general as far as I’m concerned.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Kennedys
Mildred Pierce
The Pillars of the Earth
Too Big To Fail

My Pick: Downton Abbey

This is a first for MTVP. I never usually talk about the usually tortuous Miniseries or Movie category here. But thanks to Sarah (yet again), I discovered “Downton Abbey” a few weeks ago. I watched the whole thing in the few days before school started. I’d describe it as “Upstairs, Downstairs” for the twenty-first century, as it chronicles life at an English manor house from both the family and the servants’ perspectives. The atmosphere is transportive, and the costuming is absolutely gorgeous. There were also many great performances delivered in the course of approximately seven hours. The best part of it from an acting perspective was watching two British acting legends, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton battle it out as dueling family matriarchs. How can you not love Professor McGonagall and Harriet Jones (we know who you are!) competing like crazy and driving each other nuts? Smith and Wilton seem to relish those scenes. Finally, I think it’s spectacular that this was an original story and not an adaptation of a novel. I’m really looking forward to the second season, which should be on PBS next year here in the States, but for now I’d be happy if this show could get some Emmy love. It’s a long shot considering the Emmy voters love HBO miniseries and movies more than anything else.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Evan Rachel Wood (Mildred Pierce)
Melissa Leo (Mildred Pierce)
Mare Winningham (Mildred Pierce)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Eileen Atkins (Upstairs Downstairs)

My Pick: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is just positively delightful as the Dowager Countess in “Downton Abbey.” It’s a role that is absolutely perfect for her. She gets to be stern, wise, and show a surprising amount of heart. You can tell the Smith loves playing the role, as well. She and Penelope Wilton just seem to radiate joy when on screen. Any time those two ladies were up against each other at the hospital, I knew I would be laughing. Besides excelling at dry comedy, she could also convey a commanding, serious presence when necessary. The scene that really comes to mind for this is when she finds out that her eldest granddaughter has done something incredibly stupid that could dishonor the entire family. Even in a serious situation, she can bring a little lightness, though. I love a scene where the Dowager Countess and her daughter-in-law conspire about what they’re going to do about their dishonored granddaughter/daughter, and they decide that they’ll take her to Rome because Italian men aren’t picky. Seriously, though, the Emmy needs to go to this acting legend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

True Blood 4.12: "And When I Die"

“I am so over Sookie and her precious faerie vagina. And her unbelievably stupid name.”
-Pam

“And When I Die” was an episode of “True Blood” that I actually didn’t hate. Which I guess is saying something these days. I liked the episode because nothing was taken too seriously. There were a lot of moments that made me laugh with the rather self-aware campiness. That’s how I like my “True Blood.” I watch the show for fun escapism. Not drama and gore. The main season arc was wrapped up in a rather stupid way, but because this episode embraced the camp, I didn’t really mind. As “True Blood” finales do, this one wrapped up some stories nicely and set some stories moving for next season. And it took place on Halloween. Regular readers of this blog know that I love me some Halloween and Halloween themed episodes of television. There were some gorgeous shots of Jack-o-Lanterns in this episode, and seeing everybody wearing Halloween costumes was a lot of fun too. Overall, it was, surprisingly, a rather enjoyable viewing experience.

The episode opens with Lafayette and Jesus eating breakfast. Jesus is apologizing to Lafayette for introducing him to magic so quickly, and Lafayette isn’t saying much, because, as we know, he’s currently possessed by Marnie. Jesus realizes what’s going on very quickly, but it doesn’t really do him much good. Marnie stabs him in the hand with a fork. And the violence doesn’t end there. Jesus is tied up on a kitchen chair, and it turns out that she really wants his magic. She just wants power in general. I’m not sure why. Marnie has never had especially good characterization. We get some silliness in this episode about how she sort of felt bullied all her life, but really, she’s a grown up lady. That’s not good enough for me. Especially when she stabs Jesus (fatally) while he’s in his dark, demon-y form, to take his magic.

Meanwhile, Sookie arrives home and is puttering around the kitchen when she sees a vision of Gran. It’s not some happy, light vision, either. It’s Gran murdered on the kitchen floor, exactly how Sookie found her. Tara provides a distraction with some breakfast conversation, where they talk remember Gran and talk about their hopes for the future. And how their lives ended so completely screwed up. As I already mentioned, it’s Halloween, and at Merlotte’s, the holiday is in full effect. Sookie stops by the bar to talk to Sam and offer her condolences for Tommy. Sam had just gotten back to work after having a little funeral or Tommy with Momma Fortenberry, which was actually really hilarious. Well, as funny as a funeral can be. Mommy Fortenberry is just so ridiculous. Sam finds out that Tommy fired Sookie when he was skinwalking, and Sam has to think quick. He doesn’t let on that it wasn’t him who fired her, but he says she can have her job back. As long as she wears bunny ears for her costume. Honestly, if I were Sam, I wouldn’t have given her the job. She was rarely showing up for work thanks to vampire drama, anyway.

Let’s get some Jason drama out of the way before I continue along with the main plot. Hoyt is working on the road crew, and Jason shows up to tell him the truth about how he slept with Jessica. Impressively, Hoyt doesn’t take this news nicely. This was a major violation of the Bro Code, after all! He actually gives Jason a bit of a beat down. Later in the episode, Jessica shows up at Jason’s house in a rather hot Red Riding Hood costume (if such a thing can be hot). They have sex (as you’d expect, considering it’s “True Blood” and all), but they decide they aren’t going to commit to a relationship just yet. Jessica’s not quite ready to be serious again after what happened with Hoyt, and Jason’s happy to just take what he can get. Which is fair enough. Jessica is about to leave to go feed on a random (because she’s not ready to get that intimate with Jason yet), and they have a nice conversation where they establish that they care about each other but need to go slow. Jessica leaves with the two of them in a good place, but clearly happiness can’t last long. Jason hears a knock and opens the door thinking Jessica is back. But it’s Reverend Steve, and somehow he became a vampire. And he’s not too happy with Jason.

Back at Merlottes, a new guy in town shows up wanting to talk to Terry. He’s an ex-Marine named Patrick, and he and Terry served together. Apparently they’ve saved each other’s lives or something. Clearly Patrick is shady, and no good is going to come of his arrival. Elsewhere in the bar, Sookie and Alcide are having a conversation (see what I mean about how Sam should have let Sookie stay fired?). Alcide asks Sookie out, but Sookie turns him down. Which is a good choice on her part. I think her reasoning was pretty much the same as it was in the books- he just got out of his relationship with Debbie and is nowhere near over her yet. Later, Sookie and Holly are setting up Jack-o-Lanterns, and Holly is wearing a faerie costume. I found this really funny for many reasons. Mostly because of Sookie’s faerie drama and the fact that Andy, who went on a date with Holly earlier this season, just had sex with a faerie in the last episode. Tara breaks up the party, though, with the news that she found Jesus murdered.

The ladies hop in a car and rush off to find Bill and Eric, because if Marnie’s back, she’s most certainly going to go after them. Turns out Marnie beat Sookie and company to it, though. She’s got Eric and Bill silver-chained to each other while shirtless in the yard between Bill’s house and the graveyard. That made me laugh, too, just because it was so over the top campy. I bet the slash fans had a ball with this part of the episode. This all leads to a big showdown in the graveyard, naturally. Marnie surrounds the boys with a ring of fire, which, even though they’re vampires, is still a really, really bad thing. Fire is one of the ways vampires can die. Sookie, Tara, and Holly start chanting a spell, and they manage to make spirits rise from the graveyard, including Antonia and Gran. Antonia manages to convince Marnie that she should cross over by helping her realize that being able to be at peace while vampires must live in pain for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years is its own victory. And Gran does the hard work of giving Marnie that final push over. Gran and Sookie have a little tearful goodbye as all the spirits head back where they belong.

Sookie ends up taking her chat with Gran to heart, and after letting the boys feed on her to recover, she dumps them both. I found this funny because Sookie was doing her very best Bachelorette final rose ceremony impression, and believe me I’ve watched my share of “The Bachelorette.” The changes in Alex Skarsgard’s face as he keeps hoping and then doubting that Sookie is going to choose him is comedy gold. Sookie arrives home after playing Bachelorette to yet another nasty surprise. Debbie Pelt is there, and she’s got a shot gun. Tara sees this going down and moves into the kitchen, and she ends up taking the bullet for Sookie. Sookie is enraged, and she ends up shooting and killing Debbie. If her first murder wasn’t traumatic enough, Tara has taken the bullet to the head, and she really doesn’t appear to be alive. When we last see Sookie, she’s yelling for help, probably in vain. Okay, strike that, you know those boys are all going to come running to help when the sense she’s in distress. If it’s like the book, Eric will help her bury the body. Hee.

The rest of the episode is devoted to setting up the rest of next season’s plot lines. Ghosts are all over Bon Temps on Halloween night, and Rene’s ghost appears to Arlene. He warns Arlene that Terry has a dark past, and Arlene is understandably freaked out. Too bad I don’t really care about Arlene and Terry. In other Bellefleur news, Andy and Holly have a good conversation (with Holly still in the faerie costume), and it seems like they might be on a good path. Until she finds out about the real faerie he had sex with, at least. Sam says goodnight to Luna and Emma, and as soon as they leave the trailer, Sam turns around to find a snarling werewolf behind him. Alcide’s checking out one of his construction projects, and the foreman shows him a hole in the floor with a silver chain. Nan arrives at Bill’s estate with her guards and announces she quit the Authority. They had ordered her to kill Bill and Eric, and Nan figured she was next. She wants Bill and Eric to defect from the Authority with her. She might have had some willing listeners, but she makes the mistake of insulting Sookie. Eric kills the guards while Bill kills Nan. And that was my final giggle fit of the episode.