Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fringe 4.20: "Worlds Apart"

“I think I shall miss them. More than I imagined.”

After the really rather spectacular “Letters of Transit,” “Worlds Apart” was a bit of a letdown. It was an episode pretty much entirely focused on the mythology and had no separate case of the week element. Granted, the same could be said of “Letters of Transit,” but that story was much more engaging. There was a very fully realized new world and new characters to discover. In contrast, “Worlds Apart” involved saying goodbye to a bunch of characters we’ve known for a couple seasons now. On the one hand, I applaud the “Fringe” creative team for trying to pare down the number of universes they’re using to tell stories, especially since we now know when the series will definitely end (they have a 13 episode final season next year). On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion that the complexity of the Red Universe is going to be replaced by the complexity of the future war with the Observers. With only 15 (counting the remaining two episodes of season 4) more episodes in which to tell this new story, I think it might suffer. All in all, I think this means it’s pretty much the right time for “Fringe” to be winding down. Better to let it go before it is completely creatively spent.

The episode opens at the Bridge, where Walter has called a meeting of the key players on both sides. He announces that he believes he knows what David Robert Jones is planning. He thinks that Jones wants to create a gravitational singularity, and this would result in the mutual destruction of both universes. The ultimate result would be a brand new universe that Jones would control completely, down to the laws of physics. I’m not quite sure how this second part (about Jones having complete control) works, but I guess we’re just supposed to go with it. The group starts to get a little skeptical of Walter when he says that this idea came to him in a dream, but Walternate ends up sticking up for him. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this timeline’s Walternate not being evil. If Walternate, with a full brain, is a decent guy, why did Walter need those parts of his brain removed, and why did Future Walter go kind of dark and twisty when his brain was repaired?

Anyway, we next get a look at what the team will be dealing with in this episode. We see four people holding maps who have timers strapped to their wrists. They’re all over the world- Sydney, Beijing, the Himalayas, New York City. Each of them stands at the exact spot marked on their map, and they start to go into a sort of trance, with veins popping in their foreheads. Around them, earthquakes cause destruction. Back at the Bridge, everybody starts getting called out of the meeting because of the earthquakes. There were 27 in total. Back at the lab on our side, Walter is investigating some objects from the Manhattan earthquake. These objects are not tuned to the normal frequency of either universe, which leads Walter to theorize that Jones is trying to tune each universe to a common frequency. This process has the unfortunate side effect of chipping away at the barrier between the universes. On the Other Side at Fringe HQ, former Cortexaphan kid (on our side, at least) Nick Lane pays a visit to Lincoln. It turns out they grew up together in Philadelphia. Nick says he had a vision of himself causing one of the earthquakes (the earthquakes happened in both universes). Lincoln calls Olivia with this news, and after she sees an image from Sydney with another fellow Cortexaphan kid, the tells Walter that she thinks Jones is using the Cortexaphan subjects as devices to cause the earthquakes.

The realization of what is happening causes quite the moral dilemma for the Fringe teams in both universes. Peter suggests closing the bridge. Then our universes Cortexaphan kids won’t be able to connect to their doppelgangers and cause the earthquakes. Walter says that closing the bridge, while it wouldn’t make conditions on the Other Side worse, would stop the improvement they’ve been seeing. Olivia decides there must be another way. They need to catch Jones once and for all. The plan involves bringing Alt-Nick over from the Other Side, accompanied by Alt-livia. Walter hooks Alt-Nick up to a typically crazy machine and gives him some also-typical LSD. Olivia then uses the machine to connect to his mind and see what he sees. This is possible because of the old connection between Olivia and Nick when they were fellow Cortexaphan subjects. While this is being set up, Alt-livia gives a nice speech about how she likes being able to see rainbows on our side (the atmosphere on the Other Side is too degraded). It’s a good way to show us the stakes, and it shows Alt-livia’s gratitude to our side’s team. Olvia successfully makes a connection, and she sees our Nick at Salem Bay University. Peter, Lincoln, and some FBI back up hightail it there immediately. They stop Nick just in time, but they can’t stop the 26 other earthquakes from happening.

Olivia, Peter, and Walter take a trip to the Boston federal building for a debrief with Broyles. Broyles informs them that higher-ups in DC want to think about closing the Bridge as a solution to the earthquake problem. Broyles wants to kno just how much longer Walter thinks the universes can hold out before more drastic action needs to be taken, and Walter says he’s surprised that the quakes haven’t caused both universes to collapse already. Olivia, however, wants one more chance. She asks for permission to interrogate Nick. She thinks she’ll have the most success because of their existing connection. Nick does open up to Olivia, but what he has to say isn’t really good. Nick tells Olivia that Jones is helping the Cortexaphan kids protect our world in the war with the Other Side, and after one more offensive, they’ll have won. Olivia tells him the truth about how both universes are allies now and the Other Side is healing, but it doesn’t seem like the message really gets through.

In another room, Peter is taking apart Nick’s timer and trying to learn about it while talking to Lincoln. They talk about what folks on the Other Side must think about the prospect of the bridge closing, and they talk about how if the bridge does close, Peter is going to stay in our universe even though he’s originally from the Other Side. As Peter puts it, “home is where the heart is.” And we can see the gears start turning in Lincoln’s brain. As they’re talking, the timer starts counting down again. They’ve got six hours before another round of earthquakes and the probable destruction of both universes. Olivia tries talking to Nick again. He explains that Walter’s Cortexaphan treatments made him a reverse empath. One day, he was feeling especially down, and he accidentally caused his sister to commit suicide. He also says Jones helped him get control of his condition. Olivia tells Nick once again that Jones is lying and they need Nick’s help to stop the destruction of both universes.

Nick purportedly agrees to help, and Walter tells him that they’re looking for a safe zone Jones may have set up (like in “Welcome to Westfield”) to ride out the impending destruction. Nick mentions a warehouse where he once met up with Jones. There was a lot of equipment there. The FBI raids the place immediately, of course, and Nick and his handler wait in a car outside. Nick tells his handler that the raid is taking too long and that he feels pathetic for believing Jones’ lies. It’s pretty obvious he’s trying to drive his handler to suicide. The FBI finds nothing in the warehouse, and the handler ends up with a self-inflicted knife to the gut. Their final plan having failed, the Fringe teams have a summit meeting at the Bridge. Broyles say that the DC higher-ups have promised to go along with whatever the summit decides. Walter says decisively that they have no choice but to close the Bridge. Walter and Peter start a process that will overload the Machine and close the Bridge. As the overload is in progress, Walter and Walternate have a heart-to-heart, mostly about Peter. Everybody else says their goodbyes too, and Lincoln decides to go to the Other Side permanently. I’ll certainly miss Seth Gabel’s work on the show. Here’s hoping Lincoln has better romantic luck with Alt-livia than Alt-Lincoln did. Everybody waves goodbye as the overload completes and the bridge closes, presumably separating the universes forever.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Person of Interest 1.20: “Matsya Nyaya”

“Whoever sent us here, doesn’t want us to retrieve the package. They want to confirm it’s destroyed. They want everyone who had contact with it destroyed. And you just gave them a beacon.”
- Reese

We start this week in 2010 in the Middle East while Reese and his partner Stanton are working. Reese is watching her interrogate some guy when Reese swaps out the SIM cards in his phone and he’s got a message from Jessica. She sounds kind of scared and he immediately calls her back. She didn’t think he’d do it. He says she’s okay but that she needed a friend to talk to. Before she hangs up, Reese promises to come for her. He just needs 24 hours.

Back in the present, Carter and Reese are at a bar. She wants more detail on how process works. So he tells her they’ll work the current number together. He points out a guy and girl at a table and says that girl is not the guy’s girlfriend. A woman storms in and pulls a gun. That’s the girlfriend. Carter manages to take the girlfriend down without anyone getting hurt (though a shot does go off). She’s a little annoyed that Reese said they’d be working it together. He doesn’t have too much time to revel in his witty quip back because as usual, they’ve got a new number. Tommy Clay (married ten years with a 9-year-old son) works as a hopper for an armored car service. He’s the guy that has to go in and out of the truck with the goods. Reese is going undercover as a trainee guard. This should be fun. He plants a license plate detector under the car to see if they’re being followed.

At first, things are looking pretty good. They make it to a couple stops with no problems, though Tommy doe explain they don’t always know what they’re carrying. As they’re getting back in the truck after a stop the driver says he’s spotted guys with guns coming their way. Reese reacts accordingly, especially since the plate reader picked up the same plate three times that day) but when he gets to the back of the truck again, Tommy jumps out with a clown mask. Apparently it’s a little ritual hazing for the new guy. Unfortunately, as Finch points out, the Machine never issues a false number. The robbery will happen. And on the HR front, Lionel has been tasked by Lynch (one of the higher ups) to go with a street thug who used to pay the mob to get the money so HR can take it. I can tell this is not going to end well at all.

We jump back to the Middle East in 2010 where Snow shows up with some other woman and they issue orders that Reese and Stanton need to go to China to retrieve a computer with a program that was supposed to be able to disable Iranian nuclear devices. Apparently, they were also developing it for use against China. Reese tells them to find someone else as he has a family emergency and needs leave. Snow blows him and tells them they need the team to go now. On his way out, Reese has a little chat with Snow. Snow ants him to kill Stanton when the job is done because she’s been compromised. As her partner, Reese should have noticed so now it’s his problem to fix.

In 2012, Reese is getting ready for day 2 on his undercover gig. Finch hacked the system so he knows the route and figure out what they’re picking up. I have to say Finch really is clever. Reese is still waiting on a call back from Carter on the plates from the day before when he gets a call from Lionel with an update. Reese just tells him to keep gathering info. Finch made the point earlier in the episode that he thought it was time to tell the two cops about each other. Reese of course said no. But I have to agree with Finch on this one. Not only do we only have three episodes left in the season, but I just really want to see the look on Lionel and carter’s faces when they find out. Reese finally gets in touch with Carter and she says it belongs to a seventy-two-year-old guy. But it looks like his nephew is out on parole for armed robbery. Looks like he’s the guy casing the truck. We get a little scene with the armored truck guys in a diner for breakfast and we meet Ashley, the waitress. The driver notes the really nice diamond bracelet on her wrist. She brushes it off as a gift from her grandmother.

Most of the stops are no problems, just like the day before. Finch seems a little confused when they pick up raw platinum and nothing happens. He spoke too soon. The truck hits something that explodes and it gives the robbers some time to start shooting at the truck. Reese takes both of them out (though he doesn’t kill them) just in time for Tommy to climb out and shoot the driver and Reese. Of course it was an inside job. We jump back to 2010 again but this time we’re in China. Reese and Stanton are getting instructions from the guide to the little town where the computer should be. They head into the town which is under quarantine. The locals were told it was bird flu. Reese and Stanton quickly figure out that everyone in the town was killed.

Reese comes to in the hospital and watches as the driver from the armored truck dies in the ER. Luckily Carter is there to sneak him out of the ER for a chat. Finch calls her cell and he’s quite happy to hear that Reese is alive. Finch doesn’t really show it much but I think he cares a lot about Reese. Anyway, Reese is going to try and track Tommy down before he can fence the platinum. Carter is going to talk to his wife. It doesn’t take long to figure out Tommy’s been having an affair. Finch is a step ahead of her and manages to clone Ashley’s phone. Reese finally tracks Tommy’s burner phone to a hotel but he’s too late. The other two robbers are dead and Tommy’s gone. Or so Reese thinks until he hears someone at the door. He lies in wait and grabs the guy. It turns out to be Lionel, sent there by Lunch to get the platinum from Tommy. Man are things getting super complicated.

We jump back to 2010 in China yet again. I swear this episode has more flashbacks than any other episode we’ve had this season. Apparently Reese isn’t superman because Stanton has to talk to the one guy who managed to sort of survive. He says that some people came and took the machine. So the computer they’re looking for is gone. But she doesn’t tell Reese this. Obviously, something is up. They find a case though and decide to wait somewhere “safe” until the helicopter picks them up at dark. Back in the present, Lionel feeds Lynch a line about the two guys being dead. Well I guess it’s not really a line since it is true. They’re going to check all the places Tommy could fence the platinum together. I guess Lynch doesn’t really trust Lionel to not screw him.

Meanwhile, Reese scares Ashley into telling him that she was supposed to meet Tommy but that he never showed up. Reese learns from Finch moments later that Tommy got a new burner phone and had a voice mail message from his fence about where to meet. Reese heads off and Carter is about to join him when she gets sidetracked by Snow and his buddy showing up. They tell her to stop talking to the FBI about Reese. Okay, really? We’re going have to his immature inter-agency nonsense? I just want to smack that stupid little snide grin off his face. Anyway, things go south pretty quickly. Turns out Ashley and Tommy were working together. Reese sees it coming too late that Ashley is turning on Tommy. Her solo act doesn’t make it far. Lynch and Lionel show up and shot her. Lionel’s quick thinking saves Reese’s life. So that’s one more HR cop out of the way.

We end up back in China as Reese and Stanton are heading out to meet the helicopter. Stanton thinks soon they’ll all be replaced by technology and drones and stuff. Reese isn’t so sure. Unfortunately, he has a momentary change of heart about shooting her, giving her the window to shoot him first. Snow told her that he’d been compromised. Looks like neither of them were supposed to make it out alive. Reese staggers away just as the helicopter launches a rocket and we see a really big explosion where Stanton was just standing. So it appears she’s dead. Except, when we jump back to the present, we find Snow and his partner sneaking into a room paid for with funds from the Caiman Islands that they think they tracked to Reese. But they were wrong. Stanton’s alive and well and seriously pissed at the CIA.

New Girl 1.22: "Tomatoes"

“That’s pathetic, Nick. You’re just saying that because you don’t have the patience or the courage to be alone.”

“Tomatoes” wasn’t one of my favorite episodes of “New Girl,” but like all episodes thus far that I’ve placed in that particular category, it still had some great, hilarious moments. Most of the humor in this particular episode was courtesy of Nadia, Cece’s Russian model roommate. Seriously, everything that woman said was comedy gold. There was also a Little Jess flashback that played out in an amusing way, and the pathetic comedy of how far Nick has really gone of the deep end since the break-up with Julia. Jake Johnson has mentioned in interviews that he’s had a lot of fun with Nick’s arc of being the sane one of the group in the early episodes to being the craziest, and it’s really just as fun to watch. As I’ve said many times before here on MTVP, Jake Johnson yelling random shit is never not funny, and we got lots of random funny from Nick in this episode. Nadia is funny almost in the same way. She’ll say things in a very matter-of-fact way, and she’ll say kind of random stuff too. I know the humor that comes from her character is not really politically correct, but I can’t help laughing anyway.

The episode opens with Nick having called a meeting of the roommates and their significant others on the roof. He announces that after his rough year of breakups with both Caroline and Julia, he’s giving up women for a while. Instead, he’s going to try growing tomatoes in a container garden on the roof. The rest of the group thinks this is pretty silly. Jess tries to defend Nick, but she only makes it worse by using plant humor. The derision from the rest of the group doesn’t sit well with Nick, obviously. As this plot develops, it mostly focuses on Winston and Nick, because Winston and Shelby are in a really great place right now, and Nick is kind of feeling left behind. We have several scenes between the two of them to develop this. First, Nick is desperately trying to take care of his plants, but doing it stupidly. He spits water into the plant containers and yells crazily at birds flying by. Winston is up on the roof too, but he turns everything in the conversation to Shelby. He wants to show Nick a picture of Shelby’s cat on his face, and he mentions how Shelby loves birds.

Later, Nick is trying to make a scarecrow, and Winston comes up to tell him to be quiet with the hammering, because he and Shelby are trying to “make love.” Nick is fed up and says that he used to be Winston’s Shelby, and Winston replies that it’s not his fault that Nick’s life still sucks while his is getting better. Nick picks up his pitchfork, goes into farmer mode, and tells Winston to “git” off his farm. By the end of the episode, Nick and Winston make their peace. Nick is in the loft trying to jam his scarecrow in a trashcan, and Winston approaches him. They exchange apologies, and Winston tells Nick that he shouldn’t give up on love. After all, calling Shelby and asking her to get back together was something Winston did kind of on a lark. They were both very different people from the first time they dated, and so far it has worked out wonderfully. We can see the gears starting to turn in Nick’s head.

Meanwhile, Schmidt pays a visit to Cece’s apartment because he and Cece haven’t really talked since the pregnancy scare. Cece tries to break up with him, saying things are moving too quickly and have gotten too intense. Schmidt tries to passive aggressively get Cece back by agreeing to go out with Cece’s crazy roommate Nadia. The date between Schmidt and Nadia is probably the funniest part of the episode. Schmidt asks Nadia what she likes best about living in the United States, and she has a very long, very specific list, which includes “Leon J. Panetta.” Nadia notices Schmidt is eating a lot of cheese, and she asks him if he’s “Mick Mouse.” This results in some arguing before Schmidt realizes she actually means Mickey Mouse. Then she says she’s going to “sex [Schmidt] in his face.” Seriously. Everything this woman says is comedy gold.

Back at the loft, Jess mentions to the guys that she saw Russell’s wife Euli at Russell’s gym. Predictably, this was all sorts of awkward, especially since the meeting took place in a sauna and Euli was naked. Jess was wearing an awesome retro swimsuit, though. Seriously, if I had the abs to pull off a two-piece, I’d be hunting that swimsuit down. It was adorable. Anyway, Jess says she inexplicably invited Euli to dinner with her and Russell. The guys think that’s a bad idea, but Jess thinks that because she grew up with divorced parents, she’ll be able to navigate it. We get a flashback to Little Jess trying to stop her parents from fighting by singing and doing a tap dance number to “Surrender.” As you’d expect, Russell and Euli start arguing almost immediately at dinner. They’re arguing over a kind of disastrous vacation they once took, and it just keeps escalating until Jess starts doing her “Surrender” tap dance routine. That was a kind of predictable joke, but it was still hilarious.

After the dinner, Jess tells Cece all about the serious heat between Russell and Euli, and she implies she wants that too. Schmidt enters the room and starts stretching before a run, trying to give Cece a chance to tell him not to go out with Nadia (yeah, I mixed up the order of my recap a bit to organize things more by plot instead of chronologically). Cece doesn’t take the chance, though, and she lets Schmidt leave. Jess takes the opportunity to try and make Cece realize that she likes Schmidt and wants him back, but Cece runs right out of the apartment rather than confront her feelings. Poor Cece and Schmidt. They just keep shooting themselves in the foot relationship-wise. Maybe it means they weren’t really ready for something serious yet. It’s hard to say.

Jess meets up with Euli at the gym again, and Euli goes on and on about how being with Russell is such a roller coaster of passion. It makes Jess feel uncomfortable and inadequate. We next see Jess sitting on the couch with Russell, having low key evening. Jess starts trying to provoke a reaction out of Russell, starting by asking him what she does that annoys him (bugging out her eyes and squatting when she thinks), then doing those things, then finally devolving to Jess throwing coasters at Russell. Russell finally takes the bait and demands to know what’s going on. Jess explains that she wants passion, but Russell says passion is overrated. Frustrated, Jess says she wants to go home. In Russell’s car in front of the loft, Russell says that he’s not looking for the stressful, crazy, want to kill the other person type of passion anymore. Jess says that is what she wants, and thus they break up.

Cece arrives home to her apartment and asks Nadia how the date with Schmidt went. Nadia says she dropped Schmidt off at the hospital. An incredulous Cece rushes out the door to go check on him. When she arrives at the hospital, Schmidt tells her that he broke his penis having sex with Nadia. This forces Cece to admit that she doesn’t want Schmidt sleeping with other women because she likes him. They kiss, but this causes too much pain for Schmidt to continue. They’re going to have to put anything physical about their relationship on hold until Schmidt has healed. Cece leaves the hospital, promising to call a heavyset male nurse to help Schmidt.

Jess enters the loft after her breakup, and she runs into Caroline exiting Nick’s bedroom and dressed in one of Nick’s shirts. While Caroline is in the bathroom, Jess confronts Nick about how getting back together with Caroline is a really, really bad idea. Nick says he thinks they are different people now and can make it work. He really doesn’t want to hear Jess’ criticism. They end up having this huge fight where they scream about what annoys each of them about the other, and they end up shaking their asses at each other. It’s really kind of hilarious. It’s also pretty obvious that this scene was meant to show that Jess has the passion she seeks with Nick. After the big fight, we end the episode with a tag featuring Winston trying to make Schmidt feel pain with funny mental images like Bernadette Peters.

Game of Thrones 2.04: "Garden of Bones"

“The Mad King did as he liked. Has your Uncle Jaime ever told you what happened to him?”

“Garden of Bones” was a mixed bag for me. There were scenes that I loved, and there were scenes that were way too violent and/or torture-filled for my taste. I’m a pretty easy going, not easily offended person, but the one thing that can cross my personal line in a television show is torture. I don’t want to watch it. So this was a difficult one for me. It also didn’t help that some of the best stuff was at the very beginning of the episode (all I need is Richard Madden on my television screen and I’m happy), leaving the worst of the torture for later, although there was some fun Tyrion material later in the episode as well. The torture and violence in this episode was not, for the most part, gratuitous, at least. Through it, we learned the true nature of Joffrey (he’s plain sick and twisted, not just some unsure new king), the cruelty of those employed by the Lannisters, and the practicality of Tywin Lannister. I appreciated that there was a reason for the violence, but that still doesn’t mean that I really want to watch it.

The episode opens with one of my favorite sequences of the series thus far. It was a really effective way of handling battles without having to spend the money depicting the actually battle. Far better than Tyrion getting knocked out right before the battle last season. We see two Lannister soldiers on guard duty. It’s raining, and they’re just generally goofing off and being crude. All of a sudden they notice that the horses in the area are spooked. One guard takes this seriously, and the other guard doesn’t. The guard who doesn’t take it seriously finds himself quickly mauled by Grey Wind, Robb’s direwolf. The camera then pans to an awesome power shot of Robb and his bannermen looking on, about to go in for the attack. We then cut to the battle’s aftermath, where we learn that the battle was a decisive victory for Robb. Robb is discussing the battle with one of his advisors, and we see how much of his father Robb has in him. The advisor recommends torturing prisoners, but Robb refuses to allow it.

Robb and his advisor come upon a nurse telling a young man who had been fighting for the Lannisters that his foot needs to be amputated. Her name is Talisa, and she is helping all injured soldiers, not one side or the other. The kid is begging Talisa not to amputate, but Talisa says the rot will spread if she doesn’t. Robb jumps in to help, holding the kid down and giving him something to bite down on. Then he sort of makes eyes with Talisa as she saws off the foot. You stay classy there, King in the North. After the operation is complete, Robb and Talisa banter for a bit about whether or not the war is a good idea. Talisa is a true pacifist. Even though Joffrey is horrible, she thinks they’re worse off for having a war to dethrone him. Robb is forced to admit that he doesn’t really know what the next step would be if Joffrey was completely defeated. He just wants to rule the North- he doesn’t want the Iron Throne. They continue on like this until Talisa rides off on a cart.

Joffrey is extremely pissed off about Robb’s recent military victories, and he’s taking it out on Sansa. He orders her clothes ripped, and he has one of his Kingsguard start to beat her. Tyrion walks into the throne room and puts a stop to the violence. Which upsets Joffrey, of course. As she leaves the throne room, Tyrion asks Sansa if she wants a way out of her engagement to Joffrey, and Sansa just repeats the party line of how Joffrey is her King and true love. Tyrion remarks that she may just survive her time with the Lannisters after all. He clearly admires her strength. Bronn suggests to Tyrion that maybe Joffrey just needs to get laid, so Tyrion sends Joffrey two whores as a belated Nameday present. Joffrey’s not interested, though. Instead of enjoying the whores, he forces one to beat the other, first with a belt, then with a scepter. He wants the one whore to take the injured whore to Tyrion so Tyrion can see what Joffrey thinks of his gift.

We next pay a visit to Renly’s camp, where Littlefinger has arrived to start the process of freeing Jaime at Tyrion’s request. Petyr’s kind of desperately trying to ingratiate himself, but Renly is not really having it. Renly becomes a little more interested when Littlefinger implies he might be able to ensure the gates to the Red Keep are open when Renly decides to invade. After the meeting, Margaery shows Littlefinger to his tent. On the way, Littlefinger asks really inappropriate questions about Margaery’s marriage to Renly and implies that he knows all about Renly’s relationship with Loras. Margaery is a good wife, though, and doesn’t give Littlefinger any of the answers he seeks. When we next see Littlefinger, he has made an unwelcome appearance in Cat’s tent. She is not at all happy to see him, considering his role in Ned’s death. He tries to come on to her, and Cat pulls a knife on him, which I think is much deserved. Littlefinger then suggests trading Jaime for Sansa and Arya, lying that he knows Arya is safe in King’s Landing. Cat says that Robb will never agree to such a trade, but Littlefinger doesn’t want Robb involved in this transaction. He’s asking Cat to think about this decision as a mother. Then to sweeten the deal, he has Ned’s body brought in as a token of goodwill from Joffrey. Cat kicks Littlefinger out and cries over Ned’s bones. It’s one of Michelle Fairley’s finest moments in the series.

We next visit the Red Waste, where Dany and her horde are still hanging out dehydrating and waiting for news on where to go next. A horse approaches it, and this time, a still-alive Bloodrider is riding it. Dany remarks that her Bloodrider is riding a new horse, and he says it was a gift from the Thirteen who rule the city of Qarth. Qarth is three days away. Jorah advises that they will die if the Qarthians close the city gates instead of welcoming them, but Dany decides they must take the risk. When Dany and the horde arrive at the gates of Qarth, they are greeted by the Spice King, who appears to be the leader of the Thirteen. He doesn’t really want to let them into the city, especially when Dany refuses to show him her dragons. Dany threatens to lay waste to Qarth once her dragons are grown unless they let the horde in, but that doesn’t really help her case. The Spice King still says no. One of the other members of the Thirteen, a man named Xaro, stands up for Dany and the horde and says he doesn’t agree with leaving them outside the city to die. The Spice King still says no, but then Xaro invokes a rule where he personally vouches for Dany and the horde, and they are finally allowed in.

Arya, Gendry and the other captives arrive at a Lannister-affiliated keep called Harrenhal, and it’s quite a miserable place. It rains a lot, and prisoners are kept in outdoor muddy cages. Every day, the Lannister guards torture and kill one prisoner. At night, Arya lays in the mud and rain and repeats a list of names that include Cersei and the royal executioner. These are presumably people she wants revenge upon some day. Harrenhal is pretty dire. We see The Mountain choose the prisoner to be tortured and killed for the day. The first prisoner is someone we don’t know. The guards as him if there is gold in his village and they ask him about The Brotherhood. The prisoner knows nothing about either of these subjects, but as rats start to chew on him (part of the torture), he starts making up names of Brotherhood members. The torture continues anyway until he is dead. That night, Arya adds the Mountain and other torturers to her list. On our next visit to Harrenhal, Gendry is chosen for torture/killing. The process starts, with Gendry saying he doesn’t know what the Brotherhood is, but he’s saved from further torture (and death) by Tywin showing up. Twyin is appalled at the waste of prisoners who could be put to work. He has a good point there. Gendry is going to make armor, and Arya, who Twyin instantly recognizes as a girl (but not a Stark, thankfully), is going to be his cupbearer.

At King’s Landing, Lancel stops by Tyrion’s chambers to bring a note from Cersei. It’s a demand that Pycelle be released from prison. Tyrion refuses, and this makes Lancel very upset. He thinks Cersei’s word is law, and he’s on a bit of a power trip since being knighted. Tyrion notes the time of night at which Lancel is delivering the message, and together with the fact that Lancel is unlikely to delay delivering a message from his Queen, correctly accuses Lancel of sleeping with Cersei. Tyrion figuring this out doesn’t seem to bother Lancel much until Tyrion threatens to tell Joffrey. Joffrey understandably won’t be happy to learn that Lancel is banging his mother. Tyrion smartly uses this threat to blackmail Lancel into being his spy. Lancel is going to stick with Cersei and continue doing whatever she asks, but he’s going to report on all her actions to Tyrion now.

Cat tries to broker a summit between the two Baratheons, Stannis and Renly, vying for the Iron Throne. Cat tries to play mom, scolding the boys that if they were her sons, she’d knock their heads together and send them into a room to fight it out, but the summit still doesn’t go well. Stannis is using the symbol of the Lord of Light as part of his sigil now, and Renly pokes fun at his finally finding religion thanks to a beautiful woman. They keep sniping at each other, and eventually they leave the summit with no peace brokered. That evening, Stannis asks Davos to smuggle Melisandre to the mainland. Davos is reluctant to do this, because he’s still kind of freaked out by the Lord of Light religion and all, but he eventually agrees. He takes Melisadre to the mainland, and when they’re in a tunnel, she suddenly takes off her robe. This reveals that she is very heavily pregnant. She just as suddenly goes into labor and seemingly gives birth to our good friend the Smoke Monster from “Lost.” This is just plain gross, and it can’t possibly end well for Stannis and his crew.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fringe 4.19: "Letters of Transit"

“You know, I think you're just what we've been waiting for. Someone to show people that we don't just have to accept our fate. That we can fight back. That we can use our will and our imagination to make a better world, a better life.”

So “Fringe” has a history of doing crazy things in the nineteenth episode of each season. Sometimes the results are exquisite, like the noir detective story musical “Brown Betty” in season two. Sometimes the results are just strange, but you can appreciate the creative risk anyway, like last year’s episode featuring cartoon versions of all the characters as the team took a trip through Olivia’s mind. This year’s nineteenth episode involved a trip to the future, and this one was definitely on the exquisite side of the spectrum. I think it was my favorite episode of this season by far. It takes place in 2036, where we follow some future Fringe agents in what looks like a day of work. Only a few members of the regular cast appear, but it is fantastic anyway. Normally I’d be upset that we were losing a whole episode with the usual suspects we know and love, but the story was so good in this one that it didn’t matter. Not only was the story good, but the world that was constructed for this episode was instantly engaging. That the world-building was excellent shouldn’t be a surprise considering the work this same creative team developed the also very creative Other Side.

The situation in 2036 is rather post-apocalyptic. The Observers aren’t just observing anymore. They have completely taken over. Humans are called “natives” and are subject to Observer rule. Fringe Division is supposed to keep their fellow Natives in line, but some of them are secretly aiding a rebellion. We meet a blonde-haired young woman who is a member of Fringe Division who is patrolling a night club the Observers seem to enjoy frequenting. The night club manager gets upset when an Observer spends a bit too much time with one of his dancers (when this happens, the dancers don’t usually return), and the Observer starts trying to wipe his mind. I think whoever wrote this saw the “Firefly” episode called “Ariel,” because the mind-wiping side effects are similarly gross and disturbing to the method the “hands of blue” guys used to kill. The blonde saves the night club owner by reminding the Observer that as a Fringe agent, Natives are her jurisdiction. The blonde and the nightclub owner then go outside, where the nightclub owner shows her something in a van she finds interesting. He then implies there is something else similarly interesting elsewhere in the city. Before he can explain further, he’s shot and killed. The blonde gets in the van and goes to the location the night club guy suggested, and she finds Walter seemingly encased in Amber.

The blonde’s name is Etta, and we soon meet her boss, Simon, who just happens to be played by one of my favorite actors, Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond from “Lost” or Stephen from “Scandal”). He’s upset that Etta is late for work at Fringe Division, and she responds that she has a good excuse for being late. She found a member of the original Fringe team that was supposed to have died twenty years ago. She leads Simon to the location the night club guy told her about and shows Simon Walter. Etta and Simon take him to their lab, and they begin working on de-Amberfying him. This is going to be more difficult than they anticipated, because Walter is encased in a type of Amber that resolidifies very quickly when it is turned back to its gaseous state. They don’t think Walter could move quickly enough to escape the gas before it becomes Amber again. Etta has to go to what looks sort of like a typical police show evidence department to check out some “level 2 tech.” The guy manning the evidence department warns her not to trust Simon, but that doesn’t really go anywhere. The tech is a crowd control device that can throw somebody across a room, and they use that to move Walter before the Amber resolidifies. Walter wakes up, and he’s quite hungry from being asleep for twenty years.

A much older Broyles still runs Fringe Division, and an Observer comes to see him in his office. He is very displeased about the murder of the night club guy. Apparently “native on native” killing is prohibited, and this particular observer is in charge of making sure the Natives obey such laws. I thought the phrasing used in this scene provided some interesting social commentary. So often I’ve read nasty comments on crime news stories talking about “black on black” and “black on white” murder, as if the perpetrators and victims weren’t even human, and I think this phrasing of “native on native” was meant to criticize that.

Meanwhile, Etta and Simon feed Walter some Red Vines, and the fact that he doesn’t recognize his favorite candy makes Etta and Simon realize that Walter has suffered some degradation in his cognitive function. Some sort of fancy scan of his brain confirms it. Presumably the time he spent encased in Amber caused brain damage. Etta and Simon take Walter to see Nina, and Nina mentions that the removed pieces of Walter’s brain are still being held at Massive Dynamic’s old facility in New York. She thinks that reintroducing those pieces of brain might encourage healing of Walter’s brain overall. New York City, however, is crawling with Observers, so it’s going to be a dangerous mission. Plus, having a whole brain kind of makes Walter evil (Nina neglects to tell Etta and Simon this), so the plan seems like kind of an overall bad idea to me.

The team runs into a little trouble getting Walter to New York City in the first place, because in the train station, he starts yelling and calling the Observers monsters. A guard confronts them, and Simon has to concoct a story about how Walter’s Etta’s grandfather (which is true, although Simon doesn’t know it) and they’re taking him to see his wife’s grave. The story works, but they soon run into more trouble when they accidentally trip the security alarm in the old Massive Dynamic building. Broyles is alerted to the alarm and sends a full contingent of troops to the building. Before the troops arrive, however, our team recovers the pieces of Walter’s brain, and Simon injects some brain into Walter’s scull. As they wait for Walter to wake up, Simon tells Etta about how he was in college during what they call “The Purge,” and that event is what made him vow to stop the Observers. Walter finally wakes up and is much more together cognitively. Unfortunately, he also seems a bit more like Walternate than the Walter we know. Oh, and the troops are drawing closer.

Etta and Simon show Walter some blueprints for a device that could help with the war against the Observers, and Walter says he can build it. He also explains that the Observers invaded earth because they poisoned their own planet. Etta asks about what happened to the rest of Walter’s original Fringe team, but Walter doesn’t have time to answer before the troops get dangerously close. Luckily, Walter has a secret way out of the room where they have been hiding which involves holding his hand up to the wall. There’s a big chase scene, then Walter sets up this sort of antimatter bomb that makes the whole building disappear along with the troops (after Walter, Etta, and Simon have been able to escape, of course). Once they’ve reached relative safety, Walter tells Etta and Simon that he knows where the rest of the team was Ambered. It turns out to be the antique shop that had the typewriter used to communicate with the Other Side. Meanwhile, though, the guard from the New York train station contacts Broyles to tell him about the disturbance Walter caused there. Broyles orders Simon’s tracker activated and a team assembled to stop Simon and crew.

At the antique shop, the team uses the crowd control weapon method to free Astrid from the Amber, but then they discover that the device is broken. Simon starts frantically trying to fix it, and Walter points out something to Astrid that he doesn’t want her to share with the rest of the team. William bell is encased in Amber, too! I’m so glad Leonard Nimoy agreed to come out of retirement to do a few episodes of “Fringe” this season. Anyway, when investigating why their Amber rescue set-up isn’t working, Simon discovers that his tracker is on. He realizes they’re out of time to fix the crowd suppression device, and he sacrifices himself to save Peter. As the Amber turns gaseous, Simon pushes Peter out of it and becomes encased himself. Everyone not Ambered manages to escape before Broyles and the troops arrive. On the train back to Boston, Walter shows Astrid that he took Bell’s hand (still encased in Amber), presumably to use the finger prints to get around certain security protocols. Also, Etta and Peter have their reunion. The moment when Peter realizes that Etta is his daughter is really sweet. And it certainly explains why Etta was so invested in finding the original Fringe team.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ringer 1.22: "I'm The Good Twin"

“I so wanted Siobhan to have changed. I guess you believe what you want to believe.”

“Like I wanted to believe you might forgive me. That you might somehow love me for me.”
- Andrew and Bridget

Well we’ve made it to the finale. It’s been a crazy ride, and it remained that way until the end. We start off with Bridget and Andrew renewing their vows. Or at least that’s what it appears to be until Bodaway shows up and we realize it’s a nightmare. We next find Bridget at an NA meeting, getting her one year chip. It’s a big deal because she didn’t think she could make it. And she’s finally going to come clean to Andrew and Juliet about “her secret." Obviously the rest of NA thinks it is about her drug habit, but we know she means to tell them she’s really Bridget. Unfortunately not all of Bridget’s allies think it is a good idea to out herself. Namely, Solomon. I have to say I like him a lot better than Malcolm. He’s competent and can actually protect her. She understands the risks but doesn’t think they outweigh the damage she’s doing to her relationships with Andrew and Juliet by continuing to lie.

Speaking of liars, we find Tim signing off on papers with Andrew to take over Martin/Charles. Have I mentioned how much I dislike Henry’s father-in-law? He’s a slime ball. Now, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a point that Andrew screwed up and so did Henry. But he should just move on. It’s not worth the drama. We jump over to the hospital where Henry finds Siobhan watching the twins in the NICU. It looks like they’ll be released the following week. Those babies must not have been that premature if they’re going to be released only a couple weeks after birth. Henry wants to move to Chicago, and he says that the only keeping him in New York is Siobhan. So she needs to drop her vendetta against Bridget, because if she was wrong about Andrew wanting to kill her (Siobhan), she’s probably wrong about Bridget, too.

Now before you start wondering what happened to Mr. Obsessive (aka Agent Machado), he’s back in Denver getting his job back after the heroics with Catherine last episode. But it comes with a price. He can’t work on the Bodaway case anymore. This is a little unfortunate seeing as former Detective Kemper shows up in the Martin’s apartment just as Bridget gets back from shopping. He wants her to pay him $50,000 to keep his mouth shut about Siobhan and their plan to make Bridget run to New York seven months ago. So that’s what Bridget and John were doing in Wyoming before the trial. Siobhan really is a heartless bitch. Unfortunately, it looks like Bridget is going to go along with the demand seeing as the alternative is Jimmy tells Bodaway that she is Bridget. Across town, Siobhan is packing for Chicago, and when Henry mentions a house listing, she offers to put the down payment down to show him that she’s moving on and giving people the benefit of the doubt. We flit back to Denver for a minute where Victor gets the news that Jimmy escaped from prison and a body was discovered in Hoboken that is likely Malcolm Ward. So Malcolm really is dead. Can’t say I’m too choked up about it.

The Martins are enjoying a spirited family dinner when Juliet gets a text from a friend and races off. Her being rude means she’s doing better (thanks to therapy and the upcoming vow renewal/vacation). Bridget is about to spill the beans on her identity when Andrew interrupts and asks if he can read her a poem he found. It’s kind of sappy but that’s the point. And both times I watched it, it made me cry. He’s so in love with her and Bridget sees that. She can’t break his happy mood by telling him the truth. We next cut to Jimmy racing around stuffing cash into a duffle bag. He doesn’t get far because Bodaway had him followed. He gets a knife in the gut for his betrayal, and Bodaway heads off in search of Bridget. So that’s death number two of the episode.

Siobhan is hanging around Henry’s apartment and finds a letter from the hospital. It has the paternity test results. She confronts Henry about it and he says that since she was sleeping with Tyler, he wanted to be sure. He asks what it says and she lies, saying he’s the father. At this point I’m banging my head against a wall at how absolutely clueless Henry can be. Well, maybe he’s not so stupid after all. Siobhan is checking her account balance to find it drained. Henry says he took all her money just like she took everything from him. He already knew the test results before she opened the letter. He throws her out on the street with no money and nowhere to go. Harsh but finally he grew a pair and didn’t sissy out five seconds later.

Solomon and Bridget are having another chat where she shares the info about Siobhan and John being involved in why she ran to New York. He had a police buddy from the Hamptons send John’s file, and it shows he met with Siobhan in September shortly before Bridget arrived. He’s going to check it out. And Bridget swears she’s going to tell the truth after the going away party that night, despite how far she has to fall from the high pedestal Andrew has her on. The fall comes painfully hard when Andrew shows up to the party having just learned from Tim that Henry and Siobhan had an affair. He orders everyone to leave. Greer sticks around to make sure everyone gets home and sends Juliet to her place to cool off.

As Greer’s trying to comfort “Siobhan”, the news comes on that Jimmy was found dead. Bridget mumbles something about needing to be alone and calls Machado to tell him that Bodaway is in New York. He promises to send a team, but Bridget hangs up before he can tell her to stay on the line. Andrew’s come back and she finally admits to him that she is Bridget. I have to say, this is another bit of the episode where I got teary eyed both times I watched the episode. Bridget’s world comes crumbling down around her as she tries to apologize to Andrew. He admits that he does love her but that it was all built on a lie. Juliet has much the same reaction. I understand why they’re so upset, but I really like Andrew and Bridget as a couple and I hope they can find their way back to each other (if there is a second season). Sometime between Andrew telling Bridget to leave and Juliet getting back to the apartment, he swings by Henry’s place and gives him a solid punch in the face. I cheered a little at that. So father and daughter are off for a much needed trip to the beach just as Siobhan slips past the security guard to raid the apartment for things she can pawn.

She’s about to start on a cabinet full of shoes when Bodaway grabs her from behind. She manages to stab him with something and run out to the balcony, but he catches her and he almost gets her when Bridget shows up with a gun that Solomon gave her. She shoots Bodaway and thinks he’s down until he grabs her ankle and drags her to the ground to choke her. I mean really. Has she not seen horror movies? Unless he’s got a bullet in the brain, he can still attack you. Anyway, the FBI busts in with Victor in the lead, and Bridget shoots Bodaway a second time. This gives Siobhan a chance to get out of the apartment. She ends up at the hospital and a nurse goes to find her a cot. She proclaims that she wants her old life back. Meanwhile, Solomon shows Bridget some video footage from the marina where Siobhan docked her boat. John had a boat there too and three hours after Siobhan’s supposed time of death, she and John are caught on camera getting into his car. This prompts Bridget to storm over to Henry’s to demand information about Siobhan’s whereabouts. He rightfully says he has no clue and says that Siobhan knew someone wanted her dead so she faked her death to put Bridget in her place as her twisted idea of justice for Sean. Bridget is shocked that Siobhan wanted her dead. And thus ends Ringer.

New Girl 1.21: "Kids"

“Yeah Schmidt, that’s what this is. That’s the deal. Just take someone else.”
- CeCe

Well it seems that Jess has finally accepted CeCe and Schmidt’s relationship because she’s trying to comfort CeCe about the possibility of being pregnant. But since pregnancy tests don’t work until 6 days after conception, Jess just urges CeCe to keep quiet for the weekend. And of course, Schmidt has to burst in while the girls are speculating about what a Schmidt baby would be like (gotta say I loved the idea of a douche baby jar). We get a really odd flashback to a baby Schmidt with a huge fro supposedly break dancing. Jess finds Nick and Winston in the kitchen talking about Winston’s boss and how he (Winston) has to drive his boss to an interview. Jess interrupts by saying that Sarah, Russell’s daughter, will be staying for the weekend and so they have to be on their best behavior. Which means no bombs and no college girls.

Sarah’s mom is kind of really intense and a little crazy. It’s clear she’s not so sure about letting her daughter stay the weekend. And she this odd habit of calling Russell her husband even though they’re divorced. Anyway, back in the loft, Schmidt is freaking out about why CeCe is avoiding him. He tries to engage Winston in some bonding to help him figure it out but Winston takes off after a call from his boss (whom he has to play getaway driver to from some random people’s house). Anyway, Sarah meets Schmidt and Nick and starts acting really odd around Nick. As Jess is trying to show her how to make pasta, Sarah wanders off to Jess’s room and finds her entire laundry basket full of bras. Okay, I kind of have to agree with Sarah on this. Jess has WAY too many. And then Jess makes the mistake of telling Sarah that she can ask anything which leads to Sarah asking all kinds of questions about odd sexual positions.

Winston is really not having a good day. He thinks he’s going to get his boss to the interview early so he can clean up when his boss nearly dives out of the car at the sight of a yard sale. His boss is really just so odd. And back at the loft, things are getting even weirder. Schmidt asks CeCe out on a date but she turns him down, telling him to take someone else. So he calls Nick, pretending he’s called a girl while nick is on a date with Chloe at an art gallery. It’s probably one of the funniest scenes of the episode. Unfortunately, just about this time, Sarah professes her undying love for Nick which prompts to hide out in his room while CeCe freaks out to Jess about Schmidt asking her out. In short order it comes out that CeCe thinks she’s pregnant and Schmidt doesn’t seem freaked out.

Just because Schmidt isn’t freaking out doesn’t mean the rest of the roommates aren’t. Well, specifically Nick. Which is kind of odd that he’s so panicked since it isn’t his potential offspring. Jess is getting things ready for dinner and Sarah continues to swoon over Nick. CeCe is kind of all emotional and Schmidt actually is really mature in trying to support her. Until they get to the dinner table and he comments on how her breasts are going to get bigger and the kind of crazy names he’s come up with for the baby. Sarah spends most of the meal glaring at Chloe. And things get super awkward when the roommates realize that Chloe is only 18, used to ride the same bus as Sarah and Jess subbed for her eighth grade English class once. Yeah, I’d be a little mortified if I were Nick, too.

We wrap up the Winston plot with him realizing that his boss has been acting so weird because the guy he’s being interviewed by makes him feel stupid. Winston gives him a pep talk and they head off for the interview. At the loft, Jess goes all angry teacher at Nick and Schmidt. Sarah’s mom is on her way and she sends Schmidt to stall her while she (Jess) and Nick try to convince Sarah t come out of Jess’s room. It turns out Sarah’s hiding out because she put on all of Jess’s bras and can’t get them off. Her mom shows up just as Jess and Nick start to untangle her. Talk about awkward. And CeCe bursts in announcing that she’s gotten her period. Sarah manages to get the bras off and her mother drags her home. CeCe heads out and Schmidt nearly has a heart attack when she almost sees the “Marry Me” sky writing he paid for. Interesting that he’d go that far. And I did feel bad for him. The tag for this week’s episode is Nick and Schmidt at Italy on Ice and Nick is having a blast. He just keeps shouting out random things as people skate by.

Friday, May 25, 2012

HIMYM 7.21: "Now We're Even"

“Guys, we’ve had some pretty legendary nights, but we’ve also had some nights that weren’t so legendary. Looking at you the night Ted made us watch ‘Norbit.’”

I think “Now We’re Even” is one of the more enjoyable episodes of HIMYM I’ve watched lately. Minimal Quinn, minimal drama, and some really great laughs. Pairing up Josh Radnor and Neil Patrick Harris is never not funny, and this episode was no exception. The Ted/Barney escapades were the best, funniest part of the episode. Okay, Robin got to be pretty awesome too, but Ted and Barney made me laugh. Not only did they make me laugh, but we saw their genuine friendship, too. It’s always nice to be reminded that these characters actually like each other. One thing I didn’t especially love about the episode was the Marshall and Lily plot, because it was yet another variation on the “pregnant people are stupid” meme. At least this time it implied that expectant dads could go a little nuts too instead of just demeaning women. Overall though, my happiness with the Barney/Ted humor outweighed by annoyance with the Marshall/Lily plot. The episode made for a legendary night indeed.

The cold open of the episode features just Ted and Marshall at MacLaren’s, and they’re talking about Ted living alone for the first time in his life. Marshall first seems to think it could be kind of lonely, but then Ted starts enumerating all the things he can do since nobody else lives with him to judge him. Ted especially loves drinking beer and eating ribs naked in front of the television. While I’ve never done that specifically, I can attest to the fact that the lack of judgment inherent in living alone is indeed pretty awesome. I could especially relate when Ted said how nice it was to just be able to leave the laundry basket right in the middle of the living room. Once Marshall hears all this, he agrees that living alone does indeed sound pretty awesome.

We next see the whole gang, minus Robin (who is still not speaking to Ted) at MacLaren’s. Marshall sends Lily away by making her realize she needs to go use the ladies’ room, and when she’s gone, he tells Ted and Barney that Lily had a strange sex dream the other day. She got really red (he describes it as “vermillion”) when he asked her about it, so Marshall is convinced she was dreaming about somebody they know. Ted’s first instinct is that it was Robin, but Marshall can confirm that’s not the case, because he and Lily went to visit Robin at her new World Wide News office. Robin couldn’t find her ID, and the guard wouldn’t let her pass through, even though there’s a big picture of her on the wall. Robin kind of wants to be famous, so this is a bit of a letdown.

When Lily returns, Barney wants to turn the conversation to himself, so he proposes that the gang try to “make every night legendary.” That’s his new philosophy. Ted is the only one to get roped into the “legendary nights.” Marshall and Lily hightailed it out of MacLaren’s to cheesy sound effects that made me think I was back in Morocco watching “Radio Wak Wak” instead of a modern American comedy. Anyway, we see the first couple legendary nights, complete with really humorous descriptive title cards. The first night involves Barney and Ted pretending to be a Mariachi band, and the second night involves them eating everything on the MacLaren’s menu. As the episode progresses, the titles Barney gives for their legendary nights get longer, and the time for which the title card appears on the screen gets shorter. It’s pretty much the funniest bit of the episode. Ted finally draws the line when Barney proposes bungee jumping off the Statue of Liberty. Ted keeps shooting down other ideas such as stealing from the Natural History museum and befriending Phil Collins. To keep him from becoming really lame, Barney locks Ted out of his apartment. Ted says he’s going to use the MacLaren’s phone to call his super to let him back in.

The night Barney proposes bungee jumping is also the night that Lily and Marshall are supposed to go out for a super fancy dinner. Marshall even hired a limo for the occasion. Ranjit shows up at the door, ready to drive the Eriksens to their dinner, and Lily suddenly turns vermillion. And we now know who she was fanaticizing about in her dream. Lily and Marshall argue about this on the limo ride to the restaurant, and Ranjit keeps being creepy and rolling the divider down so he can hear what is being said about him. Lily eventually gets fed up and leaves the limo. She ends up at the Lusty Leopard to vent to Quinn, and they talk about how expectant dads generally go crazy. I wonder why she didn’t call Robin instead at this point. It would have been hilarious, considering Robin was on a rather precarious helicopter at the time (more on that in a minute). Marshall and Ranjit end up eating at the fancy restaurant together, and Ranjit tells Marshall that now that he’s going to be a father, he doesn’t get to be crazy ever again.

Robin is still having trouble getting past the security guard to get to her office. Now there’s a vending machine in front of her picture in the lobby. Sandy ends up meeting her at the security desk, and he implies that he has a big, important story for her to cover. He even asks what she thinks of helicopters. This of course leads her to become WWN’s traffic reporter. How can a cable news network do traffic anyway? The whole country has a whole lot of highway to cover! Anyway, while Robin’s up in the helicopter, the pilot has a stroke. Robin is going to have to land the bird herself. Which can’t possibly end well, but it will at least make her famous.

Barney and Ted are at MacLaren’s, and Barney claims that he’s beating Ted in the “game of life.” Barney’s game has points and everything. The two debate points for a while, and once Barney awards Ted 9,000 points for having sex with Robin before he did, they’re almost tied. There’s just one difference. Several years ago, Barney succeeded in getting a woman’s phone number while wearing a dress. Barney says that’s worth 500 points, and until Ted manages the same feat, they won’t be tied. Fed up, Ted is about to go home when Barney tells him to look at the television. It’s a news report about Robin trying to land the chopper. The whole city watches and waits together as Robin is eventually able to land safely, and after she lands, Robin gets tons of phone calls and texts, including one from Ted saying he’s glad she’s okay. Ted wants to go home from the bar, but Barney says that when he goes home in the evening, he can’t stop thinking about how Quinn is at work stripping for other men. The next night, realizing that Barney needs a distraction and a pick-me-up, Ted puts on the green dress we saw in last season’s “The Mermaid Theory” and gets a woman’s phone number.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.03: "What is Dead May Never Die"

“Maybe magic was once a mighty force in the world, but not anymore.”
-Maester Luwin

I love just spending time in the world of Westeros that George R.R. Martin created for his Song of Ice and Fire books, but I have to say that this wasn’t one of the stronger episodes of “Game of Thrones.” We’re still in the gear-turning, set up the plot part of the season, and that can sometimes get a little frustrating. And there was hardly any Jon Snow and no Robb (although, like the previous episode, his presence was still very much felt because so many characters are reacting to his actions). There wasn’t any sexpostion in this episode, at least. I’ll give it that much credit! And a focus on Tyrion scheming to try to protect himself led to some fun scenes as well. So it certainly wasn’t a complete loss. I think in general the show is just spread a little thin at the moment. When the season really kicks into gear, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more thoroughly. Plenty of future craziness and drama was certainly set up in this episode.

This episode opens where the last one left off, north of the Wall at Craster’s compound. Craster tosses a rather battered and bruised Jon Snow into the building where the rest of the Night’s Watch is bunking, and he tells them that they all need to leave. He’s extremely upset that Jon saw him sacrificing the baby. Lord Commander Mormont has a rather hostile talk with Jon about all this. Jon tries to explain about the sacrificing, but Mormont already knew. He explains that the boy babies were sacrifices to the gods Craster worships. He also says that the Night’s Watch relies on the help of people like Craster, even if people like Craster are monsters. The next day, as the Night’s Watch is packing up to leave Craster’s compound, Sam gives a thimble to the pregnant daughter/wife. That can’t possibly end well. In other Stark news, Bran is still having dreams from the perspective of a direwolf, and he talks to Maester Luwin about it. Maester Luwin doesn’t really take it seriously, explaining that magic is pretty much gone from the world.

We next see some gladiator-style fighting, reminiscent of Joffrey’s name day in the season premiere. This time, however, it’s Renly’s court. I guess this scene was meant to show us that Renly isn’t as different from Joffrey as we might think. At least in Renly’s court, though, it’s not a fight to the death. This particular fight features a woman named Brienne of Tarth and Loras Tyrell, Knight of the Flowers and Renly’s lover on the down-low. Brienne wins the fight, surprisingly enough, and as a reward, she asks to be made a member of Renly’s Kingsguar. Renly agrees, to Loras’ chagrin. Oh and did I mention that Renly is now married to Margaery Tyrell, Loras’ sister? Talk about awkward. Cat arrives at the tournament to ask Renly if he’s interested in an alliance with Robb. Renly’s advisors try to shoot down the idea, but Renly agrees to talk. Cat insults him one too many ties, though, and he dismisses her for now. Renly and Loras later have a bit of an argument over Brienne being named to the Kingsguard, and Loras ends up sending his sister into Renly’s chambers. She wants to have his baby, she’s well aware of his relationship with her brother, and she doesn’t care. She’s even open to Loras getting Renly aroused first as long as she gets the baby.

Theon isn’t faring any better in his get an ally for Robb mission. Theon continues to try to push the idea of an alliance with his father, but Balon wants to use the war as an opportunity to go back to pirating. He thinks Theon and Yara can take the entirety of the North while Robb isn’t paying attention, starting with the coastal communities, of course. Balon keeps insulting Theon for being too friendly with the Starks. Theon tries to argue that since Balon gave him away, he really has no right to be bitter about his Stark loyalties, but nobody listens to him. I think Ned and his bannermen should have wiped the Greyjoys out completely back during the original rebellion. Balon is a real piece of work. Next thing we know, Theon is writing a letter to Robb when he suddenly stops and burns it. He then participates in a sort of baptism for the “Drowned God,” which is presumably pledging his loyalty to House Greyjoy.

Farther south in King’s Landing, Tyrion and Shae are having an argument. Shae doesn’t want to be in hiding anymore, and she really doesn’t like Tyrion’s suggestion of becoming a scullery maid. That is totally understandable for sure. We also see the most uncomfortable Lannister family dinner with just the ladies and the kids. The kids are going on about how great Sansa and Joffrey’s wedding is going to be, and that just makes Sansa uncomfortable. She tries to say all the right things so she won’t be tortured, but it’s certainly not easy, considering Joffrey killed her father and all. After dinner, Sansa meets her new handmaiden, who is surprisingly inexperienced for a King’s Landing servant. It’s Shae, of course!

Meanwhile, Tyrion is busy scheming. He fits right into King’s Landing, of course. He sets up a sort of test for Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger. He tells each of them that he plans to marry off his niece to form a political alliance. He tells each person a different prospective match. Pycelle is told that the niece will be married to someone in Dorn, Varys is told that she will be married to Theon, and Littlefinger is asked to arrange a marriage with Robyn Arryn. He warns each of his test subjects not to tell the Queen what is going on. I guess he wants to see who is going to spill. Soon enough, Tyrion and Cersei are having a huge fight because Cersei heard that Tyrion was planning to marry her daughter to someone in Dorn. Things aren’t looking good for the Grand Maester.

Littlefinger confronts Tyrion, angry that all his work to arrange the marriage to Robyn Arryn was for naught since Tyrion’s niece is getting married to that Dornish fellow and all. Tyrion says he has another job for Littlefinger. He wants Littlefinger’s help in freeing Jaime from captivity. Littlefinger eventually agrees because it would give him an excuse to see Cat. Then Tyrion goes really badass and confronts Grand Master Pycelle about being a no-good snitch. He catches Pycelle in flagrante and has him taken to the Black Cells, after cutting of his beard, of course. Tyrion has a chat with Varys, too, but Varys just keeps speaking in riddles about power. I like that Tyrion just does what needs to be done here. Pycelle really had it coming. He’s been a bit of a slimeball for a while, and Tyrion really, really doesn’t want to be the next Ned Stark.

We end the episode with Arya and the rest of the rag tag group making its way towards the Wall. Arya and Yoren have a lovely conversation that reveals quite a lot about Yoren. They talk about how Arya’s having trouble sleeping because of the terrible things she has seen, and we learn about how Yoren avenging his brother’s murder led him to take the Black. The Goldcloaks soon break up the party, though, and this time they have extra Lannister soldiers as backup. Yoren is killed in the ensuing fray (which is typical, since we just got to really know him), but he takes many of the enemy with him. Arya and Gendry are captured, but the Lannister troops don’t know who they are, and a quick-thinking Arya makes them think that a boy who died is Gendry.

“Gimme Just A Little More Time”: Cancelled Shows That Deserved A Short Second Season

By now we’ve gotten the final word on which shows have survived to the 2012-2013 season and which have joined such seminal works as "Moonlight" and "Firefly" in the realm of post-first season cancellation. However, many showrunners don’t plan on this happening. They (understandably) want to believe that their show will make the cut and get a second chance. Some end with the ever-annoying cliffhanger. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good cliffhanger as much as the next girl, but not when said cliffhanger remains unanswered. As such, two of the pilots we watched here on the blog, ended with at least partial cliffhangers and were not renewed by their respective networks. In my dream world, I would have given them abbreviated second runs to tie up the loose ends. SPOILERS ahead.

Network: FOX
Dream Second Season: 13 episodes

Alcatraz had a lot of places it could have gone in a second season. As such, I would have given it an additional 13 episodes. That said I would have likely aired it during mid-season (not holding it off until like March) so it wouldn’t have had as much competition. Then again, if people were going to follow it going into a second season, they’d likely watch it so long as the network properly advertised it.

I would like to see more of the experiments going on at Alcatraz in the 1960s and why exactly the Warden wanted to alter the inmates’ blood. Obviously, he succeeded with Tommy and convinced him to do his dirty work. But we never did figure out why the inmates and guards were showing up in the present (only the how in the last few minutes of the episode) or what real purpose it served. I would like to see Rebecca not recover and actually have Hauser and Dr. Soto have to find and stop the rest of the ‘63s. Now I’m not saying I didn’t like Rebecca. I didn’t really feel all that connected to her. We spent so much time focusing on the inmates and guards back in the 1960s that I felt like I cared more about them. And it would be too convenient for them to revive Rebecca. They did it with Lucy already. No need for a repeat performance. Ultimately, I would have liked to have seen the show end with the mystery solved and the threat of Alcatraz stopped.

Network: CW
Dream Second Season: 10 episodes

Of the these two shows, Ringer had the most satisfying conclusion. That’s not to say it didn’t leave avenues open to explore, though. Bridget knows Siobhan is alive and wanted her dead. Siobhan wants her old life back and Andrew and Juliet know about Bridget’s secret and are off coping (or not). And finally, the threat against Bridget (aka Bodaway) is neutralized. I would have given Ringer a 10 episode second run and aired it in the fall just straight through.

Ten episodes would have been enough if they tweaked the format a little to resolve the twins’ issues from the past (namely the fact that Siobhan blamed Bridget for her son Sean’s death). Ideally, the twins would at least find each other and come face to face in the present in the first episode and through the final nine would each make their peace with Juliet and Andrew. Henry can move off to Chicago with his kids for all I care. He spent so much time being a wuss and bending to Siobhan’s idiotic vengeance that he deserved to be duped and called a moron most of the first season (yes I’m aware he manned up in the finale). I would like to see Siobhan admit that her marriage to Andrew was over and see them divorced. I know she got nothing because of the prenuptial agreement but that’s her own fault. I suppose Andrew might be convinced to pa child support for his twins (following a paternity test of course). And ultimately, I would like to see Bridget remain sober and end up back with Andrew and Juliet. I have to say I think she really made the Martins more bearable (especially Juliet) and they really were good for each other. As Andrew said in the finale, he really is in love with Bridget. It would have slightly less drama and twists than the first season but it would provide a more complete ending (and would give me an excuse to have Ioan Gruffudd on my screen for a little longer).

Even though I know I won’t get to see these second seasons come to pass, it’s always fun to dream about what could have been. But with every end is a new beginning and I have to say this has opened doors for my viewing come the new season. Maybe some of the new fare will survive its first outing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the Shadow of the Statue: Favorite Lost Moments Two Years Later

It’s officially been two years since “Lost” left our television screens (for new episodes, at least) for good, and since the television blogosphere is all reminiscing, I thought I would too. “Lost” is a favorite show of mine, and I have many happy memories of watching episodes live from seasons 4-6 (I was a late convert who was looking for something to watch during the infamous 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike). I also have fond memories of spending hours devouring “Lost” fan sites, especially Lostpedia and Ryan McGee’s excellent analysis at Zap2It’s Guide to Lost. The fact that one television show could be both so chock full of mythology goodness and character-based emotion amazes me. Nothing since has really come close, except maybe “Once Upon a Time,” but that show was created and run by two writers who really came up in the business on “Lost.” I think the lesson about combining mythology and strong characters (emphasis on the characters) is a lesson that creators of and networks airing shows that try to be the next “Lost” would do well to remember. To commemorate the end of a truly unique show, here’s a rundown of eight of my favorite moments. I had to use one of the Numbers, of course!

8.) Sawyer and Kate play “I Never”

In the first season episode “Outlaws,” Sawyer and Kate find themselves spending a night together in the woods as they track a boar who has been terrorizing Sawyer and rooting through his beloved stash. To pass the time, they play a game of “I Never” by the campfire. We learn a great deal about the characters from this game (for instance, Kate was married once), and more importantly, the characters learn a great deal about each other, bond, and begin to develop some mutual respect.

7.) Kate gives Aaron to his grandmother

Kate leaving Aaron with Claire’s mother in season five’s “Whatever Happened, Happened” was a memorable moment because it is one of the few moments in the series I can recall where Kate was completely selfless. She even admits in this scene that she had been caring for Aaron all those years more for her own benefit than his. It made me dislike Kate just a touch less.

6.) Hurley drives his VW Bus

When Hurley and his friends successfully get the VW Bus running in season three’s “Tricia Tanaka is Dead,” it’s a moment of pure joy. It’s one of the last joyous moments these characters really have the opportunity to experience before the show really kicks into high gear and it’s all drama right up through the series finale. This scene came at a time when the characters, and the viewers, for that matter, really needed to take a breath, and it delivered.

5.) Illeana forgives Ben

The moment in season six’s “Dr. Linus” where Ben expresses his remorse for killing Jacob and Illeana accepts him will always be one of my very favorite Ben moments in the series. It features some typically superb monologuing by Michael Emerson, and it’s nice to see Ben, who is such a complex character, finally earn a little redemption and acceptance.

4.) Ben asks for milk

Yet another example of Michael Emerson’s superb monologuing skills, this scene from season two’s “The Whole Truth” hints and what the Losties will have to put up with from Ben for the next several seasons. This scene, where Ben hints to Jack and Locke that he might be a threat before innocently asking for milk to go with his cereal really highlights Emerson’s talent to make even the simplest phrase sound extremely creepy when he wants it to. “You guys got any milk?”

3.) Hurley’s a hero and Sayid kills a guy with his feet

There were two awesome Rousseau-related scenes from season three (Rousseau searching for dynamite in “The Brig” and Rousseau’s reunion with Alex that involves tying up Ben from “Through the Looking Glass”), but nobody seemed to agree with me enough to put either scenes up on Youtube, so you get this one instead, also from “Through the Looking Glass”. Hurley saves Sayid, Bernard, and Jin from some especially murderous Others by running over some of them with his VW Bus, then Sayid proves he is always badass by killing one of the remaining Others with nothing but his feet. Crazy, right?

2.) Losties leave on the raft

The number two moment comes from the season one finale, “Exodus.” Some of the Losties leave the Island on a big raft, and it’s quite the emotional moment. The perfect Michael Giacchino soundtrack really makes this scene. It’s beautiful and emotionally affecting. I think that watching this scene for the first time was the first time I ever got teary watching “Lost.” There’s a dog running after his boy, people! How can you not get teary watching that.

1.) Desmond calls and Penny answers

How could the climactic moment from season four’s “The Constant” not take the number one slot on this list? It’s a master class in both acting and editing. Henry Ian Cusick and Sonya Walger both give beautiful performances as Desmond and Penny are able to have their first conversation in several years, and the editing, especially towards the end of the conversation, just heightens the urgency. After speaking with Penny, Desmond assures Sayid that he’s “perfect,” and that’s exactly how I would describe this scene.

Fringe 4.18: "The Consultant"

“In the case of a mole, nobody should be above suspicion. Frankly, I’m still upset about Nixon.”

“The Consultant” was another intriguing Other Side-based episode. I liked the episode, even though I didn’t feel that the plot was quite as strong as “Everything in its Right Place.” I appreciated that we finally got the big reveal that Colonel Broyles is the Other Side mole. It’s something we viewers have known for kind of a while now, and it was nice to finally get the characters on the same page. It was also fun to see Walter adapting to spending some time on the Other Side, and I wish the show had actually devoted a bit more time to that. We’re dealing with a version of Walter who until recently refused to even leave the lab, and now he’s in a parallel universe. I would have liked to have seen a little more of Walter marveling at how different life is on the Other Side. His bonding with Alt-livia was sweet, but I wanted more. I thought it was interesting how the case in this episode really brought together the two universes and showed how interconnected they could be. The events David Robert Jones set in motion in this episode were only dress rehearsals, and that makes me quite nervous to find out what he has planned for the main event. Well, I suppose part of what he had planned was the task he asked Colonel Broyles to complete, but since there was always a chance that Colonel Broyles would stop giving into the blackmail, he must have a backup even more nefarious plan.

The episode opens with Alt-Lincoln’s funeral, where it’s raining, of course. Gotta have the right atmosphere. Lincoln and Alt-Astrid are watching the proceedings from a nearby car. Over by the grave, Alt-livia talks with Alt-Lincoln’s parents. She tells his parents that Fringe Division will get justice for Alt-Lincoln. Colonel Broyles looks on uncomfortably as this conversation is happening. Which makes sense, considering he’s kind of responsible for Alt-Lincoln’s death and all. Trying to make good on her vow, Alt-livia pays a visit to Evil!Nina. She offers Evil!Nina a reduced prison sentence in exchange for information on the Fringe Division mole. Evil!Nina refuses, saying that Alt-livia should be concerned for the whole world, not just Alt-Lincoln’s family. And also, Evil!Nina doesn’t think she’ll be in jail much longer. I guess she thinks David Robert Jones or Broyles will rescue her. Like either of them could really care less.

Over on our side, we see a rather contentious business meeting. A guy named Delman is getting yelled at by his boss in front of all his coworkers for messing up a presentation and losing an account. The boss doing the yelling and another coworker were supposed to be on a flight to Baltimore, presumably or another business meeting, but they had to cancel because of the screw-up. As he’s yelling, the boss suddenly flies up to the ceiling, crashes to the floor, and dies. Because this is really strange, of course our Fringe team investigates. Both the boss and the other guy who was supposed to be on the Baltimore flight died, and when the team examines their bodies, it looks like they were in a car crash or something. Then the team gets word of a third, similar death. This victim was a pilot. Plane crash, anyone?

The Fringe team on the Other Side confirms that there was indeed a plane crash involving the same victims on their side. After Colonel Broyles mentions this to Alt-livia, Alt-livia tries to request permission to investigate the mole. Colonel Broyles brushes her of and assigns her to the plane crash case instead. Our Olivia brings Walter to the bridge because he’s going to consult for the Other Side on this particular case. He needs to get samples from the Other Side victims’ bodies in order to figure out what happened. Walter hooks up one of the bodies to tuning forks, and it vibrates at a different frequency than it’s supposed to. In fact, the body part vibrates at the same frequency at which it’s supposed to operate on our side. The team hypothesizes that this process of “tuning” one side to be on the same frequency as the other is responsible for the plane crash and the double victims. We quickly cut to David Robert Jones meeting with a minion, and he confirms that he’s behind what has been going on, and he’s planning another similar attack.

Colonel Broyles arrives home after work to the unfortunate circumstance of finding his son in the living room chatting with David Robert Jones. Colonel Broyles sends his son out of the room and has a rather hostile conversation with David Robert Jones. Jones gives Colonel Broyles an injection kit and implies that the injections have been saving Broyles’ son’s life. The kid has some sort of mysterious illness, which reminds me of what happened to Peter when he was a kid. Colonel Broyles is getting the injection kits in exchange for helping Jones with his nefarious plans. I’m glad we’ve finally gotten some motivation for Broyles, because he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would betray his team for anything less. Jones threatens that Colonel Broyles is going to have to do more unpleasant things before his debt for the injections is paid.

We next see some other mayhem Jones has planned. The minion he was talking to earlier gets out of a cab, and a woman gets in. We start flipping back and forth between her life in both worlds (she’s in a store in the world where she isn’t in a cab), and a light on a device in the cab is blinking. All of a sudden, the cab crashes, and much like the scene in the beginning of the episode, the woman flies across the store in the other universe and dies. This one was especially gross, because the car crashed into water, so the doppelganger in the store starts vomiting up water as she dies. Both Fringe teams investigate, with the Astrids communicating each team’s findings to each other at the bridge. The crashed cab is on our side, and the store is on the Other Side. Peter’s looking through the cab for the tuning device, and he finally finds it. It is powered by amphylacite, David Robert Jones’ signature.

Walter is going to stay at Alt-livia’s for the night, since the investigation is still ongoing, and while she’s gathering her things at the end of the day, Walter has a chat with Colonel Broyles. They both have in common their history of doing something morally questionable to save their sons, so this is interesting. Colonel Broyles asks Walter if he would have made a different choice about crossing over and kidnapping Peter all those years ago if he could do it all again. Walter says that now he’s met adult Peter, the answer is no. He absolutely would have rescued Peter again, despite the dire consequences. While Alt-livia’s gathering her things, Alt-Astrid tells her that she’s investigated everyone on their list of possible moles, and nobody really stood out.

Colonel Broyles meets up with David Robert Jones again, and Jones gives Broyles a device. Colonel Broyles is supposed to affix the device to the machine in the Bridge. The device is supposed to destroy the bridge, and quite possibly destroy both universes. Colonel Broyles goes home and gives his son his meds, and he’s really happy to hear about his son’s good day. His son was picked first for a kickball game, and he found out a girl likes him. This is obviously designed to make us think that Colonel Broyles is going to go through with destroying the bridge. Across town at Alt-livia’s apartment, Walter finds a drunk Alt-livia looking at evidence from Alt-Lincoln’s murder. She’s really upset because she still can’t solve the case or identify the mole, and she has to deliver Alt-Lincoln’s belongings to his parents. Walter makes eggs as a hangover cure, and they talk about the mole issue. Walter suggests Colonel Broyles as the potential mole, and Alt-livia pays a visit to Evil!Nina to try and confirm it. She manages to get Evil!Nina to say that Colonel Broyles is indeed the mole. Alt-livia tells Lincoln what she learned, and Alt-Astrid tells them that nobody can find Colonel Broyles.

Meanwhile, we see Colonel Broyles pull up to Liberty Island in his car. Colonel Broyles swiping his Show Me at the entrance alerts Fringe HQ to his location, and Alt-livia and Lincoln take off running. They get to the bridge just as Colonel Broyles is meeting up with our Broyles. It turns out Colonel Broyles was turning himself in. The bridge won’t be destroyed, today at least. Walter goes home to our side, and Lincoln still doesn’t. He wants to solve the David Robert Jones case once and for all, and he thinks he needs to stay on the Other Side to do that. Back at our side’s lab, Walter calls Olivia and Peter, and they arrive right away. He’s been running some tests on the device from the cab, and not only was it supposed to destroy the bridge. It was supposed to completely collapse both universes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New Girl 1.20: "Normal"

“It’s actually 90 percent drinking, and it’s got a loose, Candy Land-like structure to it.”

“Normal” wasn’t really a stand-out episode of “New Girl,” but it had it’s fun moments, and it once again proved that the writers are somehow directly plugged into my brain. It was the debut of the drinking game “True American,” which is one of the things the show has really become known for in the weeks since it aired. If I drank more than just the very, very occasional glass of wine (I can’t for medical reasons), True American is definitely the nerdy kind of drinking game I would play. I’m too much of an American history nerd not to be intrigued by a game that involves shouting out the names of Presidents an Presidential quotes. Oh and the 80’s kid in me loved the “loose, Candy Land-like structure.” This episode also highlighted the central premise and character arc of this show that I particularly identify with. These are 30 and almost-30 year olds who need to take those final steps to truly “grow up.” I know there are critics out there who can’t believe that people would actually be happy in this lifestyle (pushing 30, took a few wrong turns, hanging out with friends in a broke-ass apartment while you’re figuring it out), but as someone who’s pretty much living it (my roommate’s and my fights with the garbage disposal and dishwasher prove it), it’s really not so bad! Yes, the characters need to grow up, but that’s why there’s a story to tell. If they were perfectly well adjusted, had the life they wanted, and had no growing left to do, it would be quite boring.

The episode opens with Jess still trying to be a bit more grown up. She’s with Russell at a political fundraiser for a senator. They end up having a little bit of an argument when Russell says he wants Jess to stay at his place for the weekend. Jess wants Russell to try staying at the loft instead, because she’s worried that she has left the guys to fend for themselves for too long while spending time with Russell. It turns out she was sort of worried for good reason. We quick cut to the loft, where the guys appear to be climbing on the furniture and pelting beer cans at each other. We later learn that this craziness is actually True American, the wonderfully nerdy drinking game I mentioned in the introduction.

We then fast forward to what I presume is the next morning (or at least later in the afternoon) at the loft, where Winston is prepping for a job interview with Joe Napoli. According to Winston, Napoli is pretty much a sports radio God, and he needs a new research assistant. Jess finally arrives home from her time with Russell, and she’s rather sad to find out that the guys played True American without her. Cece is at the loft (still wearing a sheet from her latest tryst with Scmidt), and they have a talk about Jess feeling torn between the loft and Russell. Jess decides to invite Russell over for the weekend, and she begs the guys to be on their best behavior. Nick wants to share his file of invention ideas with Russell, especially something called “Real Apps,” but Jess says no. There’s a really hilarious argument between Nick and Schmidt over who should get the credit for “Real Apps.” Nick came up with the idea, but Schmidt came up with the name, and according to Schmidt, “the name is the game.”

Winston has a talk with Elvin, the kid he nannies, about how he needs a grown-up job. Elvin understands immediately, because he’s one of those stereotypical humorously overly-wise little kids, and he tells Winston he needs to work on his resume. Because in 2012, typing is not a special skill! The interview goes well. Napoli knows Winston’s college and Latvia basketball career forwards and backwards, and he wants to hire him anyway. Winston hesitates for a few seconds, but when he sees that Kareem Abdul Jabar also works for Napoli’s radio show, he accepts. Right after he accepts, Kareem passes Winston a note warning him to run. It turns out that Kareem had really good advice. Napoli is obnoxious and wants a certain number of perfectly-made shakes stocked in the fridge at all times. And he spills the shake on Winston’s desk when it’s not perfect.

Russell spends the weekend at the loft as Jess asked, and he’s quickly overwhelmed by loft life. He doesn’t really like the super cheap “ethnic noodles” Jess makes for dinner or Schmidt criticizing his taste in sushi restaurants. Winston barges in complaining about the new job, and then there’s a typical big battle with the garbage disposal. Jess can see the tension building, and she tries to clear the air by suggesting a game of True American. Like I mentioned in the introduction, this sounds like the greatest, nerdiest drinking game ever. If I drank, this would totally be my game. It has a “loose Candy Land-like structure,” and it involves jumping on the furniture because the floor is lava and shouting out names of Presidents. Various other folks out there in the ether of the internet have tried to piece together the rules of the game into a coherent whole (Google it), but it looks like just a lot of nerdy silliness. Which is fine by me. Russell gets pretty into the game, and he starts getting along better with the guys as he gets more drunk. When Winston complains about Napoli, Russell suggests Winston contaminate Napoli’s shakes by dipping his nuts in them. Jess is getting a little irked by Russell’s behavior.

Despite being irked, Jess doesn’t come right out and confront Russell. She explains to Cece that after Russell’s tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, she thinks he likes that not fighting is kind of their thing. Cece (rightfully) doesn’t think that arrangement will work long-term. Meanwhile, at the radio station, Winston gets really pissed at Napoli for embarrassing him on the radio show (he impersonates Winston). When he’s completely had it, Winston starts eyeing the shakes. We can see, thanks to Lamorne Morris’ acting choices here, that he’s seriously contemplating Russell’s advice. Back at the loft, Russell himself is hung over and very grumpy. Nick and Schmidt choose that moment to try to pitch Real Apps. In the middle of their presentation, they start sniping at one another, and it only gets worse when Russell points out that the invention’s name sounds like “Relapse.” The final straw is when Nick accidentally cuts Russell’s hand with one of the “apps” glued on to the cell phone, and when Jess tries to dress the wound with a napkin and Scotch tape, Russell gets upset enough to storm out of the loft.

When we next see Winston, he’s back to chatting with Elvin about how he’s going to quit his new job. Elvin’s not having that, so he takes away Winston’s nannying safety net by telling his mom that Winston smokes pot. The plan works, of course. Back at the radio station, Winston confesses to contaminating Napoli’s shakes. Instead of being angry, Napoli thinks it’s hilarious and shows Winston has spunk. He wants to do the same prank to Kareem. Over at Russell’s house, Jess is waiting for him when he gets home. It turns out that he needed a stitch in his hand, and he and Jess have their first real fight. Jess ends up quoting the Spice Girls to make her point about how Russell needs to be accepting of her friends. They decide on a compromise of sorts. They’re going to hang out at Russell’s house for a little while, then go over to the loft. At the very end of the episode, we’re back at the radio station, where Napoli and Kareem are on the air. Napoli keeps trying to push a shake towards Kareem, and Kareem wisely refuses.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Upfronts Round-Up: What Survived, What Died and What’s New

Well folks, as you may have guessed, upfront season is a big deal here at More TV, Please! Since we cover popular TV shows, it’s important for us to be “in the know” about what will be on your (and our) screens come fall. All of the networks have finished unveiling their line-ups for the 2012-2013 season, including what shows have made it to another season, which ones have said their last goodbye and which new pilots have been ordered to series. All new shows are followed by an asterisk.

We thought it interesting to note that Gilded Lilys is missing from ABC’s fall line-up as well as the midseason programming. Guess we really have some pull with the network after all! Anyway, popular freshman show Revenge has moved to Sundays and Body of Proof has been benched until midseason along with three pilots. In total, the network is bowing eleven pilots between fall and midseason. Here’s a look at the fall offerings.
The Schedule:
Mondays: 8pm – Dancing With the Stars/The Bachelor (in January)
10pm - Castle

Tuesdays: 8pm – Dancing With the Stars Results/How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life * (in January)
8:30pm – Family Tools* (in January)
9pm – Happy Endings
9:30pm – Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23
10pm – Private Practice

Wednesdays: 8pm – The Middle
8:30pm – Suburgatory
9pm – Modern Family
9:30 – The Neighbors*
10pm – Nashville*

Thursdays: 8pm – Last Resort*
9pm – Grey’s Anatomy
10pm - Scandal

Fridays: 8pm – Shark Tank/Last Man Standing (in November)
8:30pm – Malibu Country* (in November)
9pm – Primetime: What Would You Do?/Shark Tank (in November)
10pm – 20/20/Primetime: What Would You Do? (in November)

Saturdays: 8pm - Saturday Night College Football

Sundays: 7pm – America’s Funniest Home Videos
8pm – Once Upon A Time
9pm – Revenge
10pm – 666 Park Avenue*
What didn’t make it: Not that Sarah ever watched it for long but ABC cancelled Desperate Housewives. Jen watched for like 4-5 seasons so she was a bit more invested. Sarah watched like one episode because John Barrowman was in it and then promptly lost interest. Short-lived jungle thriller The River also sunk into the cancellation quicksand.

The Eye network has kept the majority of its 2011 line-up. Though, let’s be honest. It’s not that surprising. It has a lot of monster shows that still bring in fantastic numbers and it intends to keep it that way as long as possible. However, it was not without its casualties. And the network did a bit of shuffling around, including moving Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls, CSI: NY and The Mentalist. Reality show Undercover Boss bows at midseason along with three new pilots; Friend Me, Golden Boy and The Job. Here’s the fall line-up.
The Schedule:
Mondays: 8pm – How I Met Your Mother
8:30pm – Partners*
9pm – 2 Broke Girls
9:30pm – Mike & Molly
10pm – Hawaii Five-0

Tuesdays: 8pm - NCIS
9pm – NCIS: LA
10pm – Vegas*

Wednesdays: 8pm – Survivor
9pm – Criminal Minds
10pm - CSI

Thursdays: 8pm – The Big Bang Theory
8:30pm – Two and a Half Men
9pm – Person of Interest
10pm – Elementary*

Fridays: 8pm – CSI: NY
9pm – Made in Jersey*
10pm – Blue Bloods

Saturdays: 8pm – Crimetime Saturday

Sundays: 7pm – 60 Minutes
8pm – The Amazing Race
9pm – The Good Wife
10pm – The Mentalist
What didn’t make it: Not that we watched a lot of the shows that met the axe this fall but the Eye network finally cast off CSI: Miami. Freshman medical drama A Gifted Man also bit the dust. Sarah wasn’t surprised by A Gifted Man getting the axe but she was saddened. She enjoyed the show.

It’s worth pointing out that Joey Dakota is among the pilots missing from the series pick-up list for the CW. I guess we have enough pull that our panning it earlier this month convinced the network it was a stupid idea (yeah, we know that’s not true but it makes us feel important). Freshman charmer Hart of Dixie made the cut, though. However, given that the CW only has original programing from 8pm-10pm Monday through Friday it cut half of its programming. So it will be bowing five new shows come fall. It did make some changes to the line-up, including pulling Supernatural from its Friday spot and putting it on Wednesdays. Interestingly, the entire line-up won’t be premiering until October. It looks like only two of its five pilots will bow in the fall. Here’s a look at how things are laid out for fall.
The Schedule:
Mondays: 8pm – 90210
9pm – Gossip Girl/The Carrie Diaries* (in January)

Tuesdays: 8pm – Hart of Dixie
9pm – Emily Owens, MD* (formerly First Cut)

Wednesdays: 8pm – Arrow*
9pm - Supernatural

Thursdays: 8pm – Vampire Diaries
9pm – Beauty and the Beast*

Fridays: 8pm – America’s Next Top Model
9pm - Nikita
What didn’t make it: Of the biggest note to the blog, Ringer will not be returning in the fall. Apparently the network wanted to try out some more new fare and had to clear some of its schedule. The Secret Circle also suffered on the chopping block this season.

Fox took a bit of a bite out of its 2011-2012 programming, cancelling eight shows from its line-up. Despite the large cut to the schedule, the network is only bowing three new shows in the fall and two at midseason. See below for the fall line-up.
The Schedule:
Mondays: 8pm – Bones
9pm – The Mob Doctor*

Tuesdays: 8pm – Raising Hope
8:30pm – Ben and Kate*
9pm – New Girl
9:30pm – The Mindy Project*

Wednesdays: 8pm – The X Factor

Thursdays: 8pm – The X Factor Results Show
9pm - Glee

Fridays: 8pm – Touch
9pm – Fringe

Saturdays: 8pm – Fox Sports Saturday

Sundays: 7pm – NFL OT
8pm – The Simpsons
8:30pm – Bob’s Burgers
9pm – Family Guy
9:30pm – American Dad
What didn’t make it: Not surprisingly, Alcatraz ended up in the cancel pile. We figured that would happen after the finale and its numbers continued to sink. The Bones spin-off The Finder joins it in cancellation land.

NBC has changed up a lot of its schedule for the upcoming season. In total, it added six new shows to its mid-season lineup (along with alums Smash, The Biggest Loser, and Celebrity Apprentice) and six shows during its fall/spring lineup. Interestingly, 75% of its 8-11 block on Wednesdays are new fare. Here’s the breakdown for the fall.
The Schedule:
Mondays: 8-10pm – The Voice
10pm – Revolution*

Tuesdays: 8pm – The Voice
9pm – Go On*
9:30pm – The New Normal*
10pm – Parenthood

Wednesdays: 8pm – Animal Practice*
8:30pm – Guys with Kids*
9pm – Law & Order: SVU
10pm – Chicago Fire*

Thursdays: 8pm – 30 Rock
8:30pm – Up All Night
9pm - The Office
9:30 – Parks and Recreation
10pm – Rock Center with Brian Williams

Fridays: 8pm – Whitney
8:30pm – Community
9pm – Grimm
10pm – Dateline NBC

Saturdays: Encore programming

Sundays: 7pm – Football Night in America/Dateline NBC (post-football)
8:15pm – NBC Sunday Night Football/8pm – Fashion Star (post-football)
9pm – The Celebrity Apprentice (post-football)
10pm – Do No Harm* (post-football)
What didn’t make it: Of particular note for the blog, the Jason Isaacs-helmed Awake did not survive its freshman outing. Other causalities joining it in the cancellation wasteland include (but are not limited to) Tony Head’s Free Agents, David Krumholtz’s Playboy Club and the Zachary Levi-helmed Chuck.

You’ll all just have to wait and see what the schedule for the blog is come fall. I know we’re getting excited for it and we hope you will be, too.