Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fringe 5.01: “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11”

“Mostly it amazes me. Music helps you shift perspective, to see things differently if you need to.”

“Fringe” opened its fifth and final season with an episode which, while I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites, largely accomplished what it needed to accomplish. We needed to be resituated in the Observer-controlled world of 2036 first seen in “Letters of Transit,” and we needed to learn a bit about what happened between 2012 and 2036. And we got some of both of those things. There was certainly plenty to process. I think what I’m going to like the most about these final episodes is the worldbuilding aspect. The “Fringe” team did a great job creating the Other Side as a fully realized alternate universe, and I’m hoping they can do the same with 2036. The videos that were posted on YouTube over the summer of a creepy Observer reciting laws and reminding the lowly humans to, “Heed, obey, serve,” strikes just the right dystopian note with me. It’s creepy in a fun to be a little freaked out way. So those videos give me hope that we’ll have an equally rich world to explore in this final season. What can I say, I’m a sucker for dystopian future stories, so bring it!

The episode opens with the moment that the Observers arrive to take over earth. A tranquil moment of Peter an Olivia watching a three-year-old Etta play with dandelions in a color-saturated field is disturbed by the arrival. In the panic that ensues, Peter and Olivia are injured and separated from Etta. They would never see her again until 2036. We learn throughout the episode how this severely damaged their relationship (yeah, spoiler alert, the team rescues Olivia in 2036), although they seem to be finding their way back to each other. Apparently, after mourning Etta for a while, Olivia and Walter decided to really join the fight against the Observers, and this required them to go to New York. Peter refused to leave Boston because he still desperately wanted to find Etta. When Peter made this decision, Walter and Olivia both felt abandoned by him, and it looks like he’s going to have some work to do to repair that damage. Here’s hoping saving Olivia from the amber is a good start.

The story continues in 2036, Peter wakes up and checks on Etta, who is just waking up. His joy at having his daughter back is really quite sweet. Walter’s awake too, so they have a little family (plus Astrid) meeting. Walter says that when Olivia disappeared, she had been on the phone with him. She had been in New York City fetching a device that was supposed to decode a plan to defeat the Observers that September had scrambled into Walter’s brain. So the team heads to Olivia’s last known location, Columbus Square in New York. They notice that amber had been deployed there, which gives everyone hope. Apparently way back when, Walter had given everyone on the team an amber device that they were supposed to set off if they were in trouble. The team is presuming that Olivia set off hers. Their hope is diminished a little when they take a look at the actual amber. Big pieces have been carved out of it. Etta explains that this is most likely the work of “Amber Gypsies,” and the Amber Gypsies most likely have Olivia.

Continuing in the quest to find Olivia, the team makes their way to a black market, which reminds me powerfully of the souks in Morocco. There is even vaguely-Arabic sounding music playing in the background that almost reminds me of what it sounds like during a call to prayer. Anyway, at the market, they bribe an amber merchant to tell them who he sold Olivia to. The trader gives them good information on Olivia’s current location, but he also hits a panic button that alerts the Observer authorities to the team’s presence. The purchaser of Olivia (that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) is none other than the creepy guy who ran the bookstore the Bishops used to frequent. He hasn’t figured out how to de-amber her, so he’s kind of using her as a coffee table. Like I said. Creepy. Just as Olivia is being loaded into the team’s van, Observers and human soldiers attack. Everyone but Walter manages to get away in the van. Walter, however, is captured.

The Observers hold Walter in a suitably creepy small room, and one Observer in particular takes on the task of interrogation. They start with a conversation about music. Music helps Walter focus, but the Observers hate it. I guess they don’t want the humans to be able to think too well? The Observer warns Walter that what he is about to do could basically fry Walter’s brain if Walter doesn’t give up the information the Observers want. As the interrogation progresses, the Observer realizes that Walter’s brain has been partitioned, so he redoubles his efforts, and Walter does not appear to be tolerating it well. The one, maybe two of you who are long time readers of this blog know that torture on TV is one of my pet peeves. It’s just not something I like to see. At all. So this whole episode made me feel kind of squicked. The Observer tells Walter that he has the power to forcibly put the scattered thoughts back together, but it will take more effort than he really cares to expend. The Observer does, however, see an image of Etta as a little girl and figures out that Etta is somehow going to help Walter destroy the Observers. The Observer does not, however, know that Etta is now an adult.

Back at the safe house, Olivia is promptly de-ambered, and while she is a bit disoriented at first, the resulting Bishop family reunion is pretty sweet. Olivia and Peter embrace (before remembering that they’re kind of pissed at each other), and when Olivia sees what Etta has become, she’s just amazed (in a good way). Etta takes her parents (and Astrid) to visit her Resistance friends, hoping that the Resistance can help them rescue Walter. The Resistance is mourning a death of one of their members (who is laid out gruesomely on a table in their safe house), but they’re going to help. The other Resistance members use traffic cameras to track Walter to the building where he is being held. They also identify the device Olivia retrieved. It’s a thought unifier. In other words, it should unscramble the plans that September scrambled in Walter. The team has an idea to use the dead body and some tech that makes living people appear dead to infiltrate the Observer building. There’s a disagreement over the most strategic use of that tech, but they eventually decide to go for it and rescue Walter. Etta uses her position as a Fringe agent to wheel the dead Resistance fighter and a deaded-up Peter into the Observer building.

Etta flirts with a soldier friend of hers who is stationed at the building to make her smuggling job a little easier, and the soldier has some very important news. The Observers have found Agent Foster, Etta’s former partner, encased in amber. What has been done with Foster is above his paygrade, though. I love that the writers opened the door for Foster to return, because Henry Ian Cusick is one of my favorite actors. He’s been let go from “Scandal,” so why not! Anyway, with the team all smuggled into the building, they take out a carbon dioxide producing machine (the Observers don’t like how oxygen-rich our atmosphere is) to provide a distraction, and they get Walter out of the building. It’s quite amazing they got Walter out, considering he’s in bad shape. Watching CCTV, the interrogator Observer figures out that Etta is the little girl. Back at the safe house, the team puts the unifier on Walter, but it doesn’t do the job. Walter gets frustrated and storms out of the room. Etta said that the memories of the plan in Walter’s brain were probably destroyed by the Observer. Walter goes outside to take a walk, and he sees that someone has made a decoration out of some old CDs. He takes the one whole CD and sticks it in the stereo of a nearby abandoned car. The music calms him, and it makes me wonder if music will be the key to defeating the Observers. I think that would be fitting.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Person of Interest 2.01: "The Contingency"

“I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going anywhere until you give me a way to find him. I’m supposed to keep saving people like this idiot? I want something in return. Or I’m done.”
- Reese

I have to say, aside from “Once Upon a Time”, “Person of Interest” ws the show I was most looking forward to having back for a second season. The way season 1 ended, I knew the premiere had to be really good. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. At all. We started with one of the cleverest “previously on” segments I’ve seen in a long time. We start on Day 1 of the Machine’s existence. It recognizes Finch’s face and can identify him as “admin”. Finch is thrilled. It cycles through various points in the Machine’s timeline. We see Finch explaining how it works to Nathan. We catch a glimpse of Alicia and Nathan. We work our way through to the final case where Root kidnaps Finch at gunpoint. We pick up seconds after where we left off. Reese is waiting on the Machine to show him what to do next and then the payphone rings. He picks it up and gets a series of words and what sounds like letters used by the military.

The Machine takes us to Delaware where Root and Finch are in a coffee shop. Finch is understandably silent and looking around for any means of escape. Root puts a damper on any potential plans because she threatens to shoot someone in the cafĂ© if Finch tries to ask for help. She really is a piece of work. And Amy Acker is so good at playing the crazy person. She goes on to explain that she understands why he built the Machine. He calls her a murderer and a theif and she says she does what she’s good at. And when he stopped her in “Root Cause”, she had to know how and why.

Back in New York, Reese is waiting for Carter in her apartment. Yeah, I’m thinking it’s not such a great idea to wait in the dark for an armed woman to come in. Once Carter is over the surprise of him being there, she says she’ll look for Finch as best she can. Reese says they can’t send Finch’s photo around like they normally would because he went underground for a reason. He also alerts to Alicia’s death. Carter’s going to get assigned to the investigation. Reese heads back to the library to try and decipher the message the Machine gave. After trying a bunch of different codes and ciphers, Reese gets a little frustrated and closes the book he’s been using. He notices the title and the author’s initials are on the spine. And then it clicks. He finds the books he needs and has a social security number. I thought that was a really interesting way to explain how the Machine communicates with Finch (and now Reese).

Fusco manages to track down who they belong to, an businessman named Leon Tao (played by “Lost” alum Ken Leung). Reese finds him in a bar run by the Aryan Brotherhood. Not a good place to be. He’s still got Detective Stills’ badge and uses that to get a meeting with Leon. At first Reese thinks Leon is his connection to finding Finch. But he soon realizes the Machine has given him a new number. Reese is the contingency. He’s not exactly thrilled by this realization and he takes out the bar full of Aryan brothers just so he can take Leon with him. We get a rather amusing scene where Reese is arguing with a street surveillance camera and Leon thinks he’s nuts. Reese really doesn’t have time to babysit so he calls Fusco. Fusco is a little peeved that Carter gets to work the murder while he has to watch Leon. I really love the new dynamic we have this season. We also take another quick trip back to 2002 where Finch is playing Hide and Seek with the Machine to see just how much it can see. He’s pretty impressed that it can tap into security feeds and the webcam on a guy’s laptop in a coffee shop. I like that we’re getting more from the Machine’s POV. It’s a creative narrative choice.

Speaking of Alicia’s murder, some of the government guys who know about the Machine are trying to make sure the cops hit a dead end. And they’re going after Reese since he managed to take out the three-man team sent to kill the NSA analyst Alicia tried to bring in. Big scary government can be such a pain sometimes. Reese is back at HQ trying to figure out where Root went and he figures out that the driver’s license she had was legit so someone at DMV more than likely got it for her. So Carter’s going to look into that. She breaks the news that things have hit a snag with Alicia’s case. Meanwhile, Leon fakes a heart attack and bolts from the precinct. But Reese has a feeling he knows where Leon’s rushing off to. So he sends Fusco to clean up the mess. Poor Fusco, he really does get stuck doing the crappy jobs. He catches up with Leon at the impound lot (his car got towed earlier) and unfortunately they both get napped by some more angry Aryan guys after the $8 million Leon stole.

We jump back to 2003 where Finch is taking the Machine for another test drive. He goes to a casino and is playing Black Jack. He lets the Machine alert him via text whether to hit or stay. He’s doing quite well. He gets up to $250 thousand and then just to see if the Machine is fallible, he goes against what it recommends and loses it all. Very creative. We also see him leave and the Machine keeps texting him to “stay” after he’s left the casino. It manages to save him from being hit by a driver whose fallen sleep at the wheel. Finch tells the Machine that it has to protect everyone, not just him.

Back in the present, the Aryan guys are threatening to castrate Leon for not having their money when Reese bursts in to save the day. The bad guys have an attack dog they took from a military guy and Reese is pretty quick to calm the dog. It only responds to Dutch commands. After Reese does some serious ass whopping, he takes the dog with him. Reese with a dog is just priceless. On their road trip, Root has brought Finch to a drug store. She needs some things and cuts Finch’s hand as a distraction so she can steal some meds. They end up at a fancy restaurant where Root drugs a seemingly random woman and steals her phone and sends a text to the woman’s lover. She also expresses some rather creepy fascination in the Machine. She calls it beautiful and a living intelligence. Yeah, she’s not all right.

Back in New York, Carter has a potential link to the DMV worker who gave Root her license. He had a storage unit so Reese heads over, much to Leon’s chagrin. They find the guy dead. Guess Root is cleaning house. Leon attempts to find the money trail from Root to the guy but it turns out she took money from the guy’s own account. Reese marches out and starts yelling at the first security camera he sees. He’s frustrated that the leads he thought he had going nowhere. And if that isn’t bad enough, the Aryan fellows are back on their trail. I love how annoyed Reese gets when the Machine isn’t cooperating. But then, the payphone nearby rings and he gets a new number. Of course, he and Leon have to take off as the baddies close in. Their leader comes along and Carter and Fusco end up helping to take him out. They get back to Leon’s car and the dog has eaten all of the bearer bonds. This of course leads Reese to rename the dog Bear.

The government guy who was sent to take out Reese is on his way to a “personal matter” and we figure out that he was the woman’s lover. Unfortunately, Root is waiting for him and knocks him out. Whatever her plan is, it involves this guy. She says she wants to set the Machine free. With the new number, Reese at least figures out Root’s final destination is in Texas. And thus begins season 2.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Girl 2.02: "Katie"

“I’m not Jenny McCarthy. I know that now. I’m back on the grid, Nick.”
- Jess

So it’s been a week since Jess got laid off and things around the loft are a little crazy. Winston’s mom and sister are coming for a visit and Schmidt is still not so happy about CeCe having a boyfriend. Jess is going a bit insane, cooking and making multi-textured pictures (including one of the guys). Nick tells her she can relax and doesn’t have to go so overboard with stuff. She can do whatever she wants. This rather humorously translates to her ending up at the bar at 11am. She meets an old guy named Nick and then a rather cute guy comes in and delivers some beer. Later that night, Jess meets a guy who thinks she’s someone named Katie, his internet date. And Jess decides to go along with it, in an effort to start fresh. Meanwhile, Schmidt is temporarily over CeCe as he crushes on Winston’s pro basketball playing sister Alicia. Too bad Winston’s mom arrives. She really doesn’t like Schmidt.

In what is probably the weirdest part of the opening act of this episode is that the old guy Jess met at the bar claims to be Nick from the future. I’m kind of flashing back to “Hells Bells” in Buffy season 6 where a demon tricks Xander into thinking he’s met himself from the future and he’s miserable. Nick seems equally freaked out by what old Nick has said (and the fact he abruptly pulls on a matching hoodie and takes off). Jess appears to really be enjoying her date with internet guy (Sam). They end up back at the loft and have rather loud sex. The next morning Nick tells Schmidt about meeting his future self just in time for the guys to meet Sam. Jess likes being “Katie”. Katie is confident and sexy and takes control of what she wants. She even thinks Katie can juggle two guys after she gets a text from the cute guy from the bar delivery. Too bad it turns out to be the heavy-set guy who was helping. Kind of creepy. I do find it interesting that Jess actually went through with perpetuating the lie of being Katie. It’s so unlike her. But I guess being laid off/unemployed has really affected her personality. She doesn’t quite know how to cope. And honestly, I have to say bar delivery guy is much cuter (not the heavy guy, the one she thought was actually texting her).

Schmidt is being his douchebag self around Winston and his sister. He really wants to sleep with Alicia but it’s clear she’s not that interested. Well I wouldn’t be either with all the innuendo he’s throwing around. He can’t just be a normal guy who is interested in a girl. Winston’s mom is even less thrilled that Schmidt is into her daughter. She threatens to stop paying Winston’s cell phone bill if Schmidt does anything with Alicia. That really can’t end well at all. Schmidt tries to get Alicia to have drinks with him but she only dates basketball players.

Back at the loft, Jess is freaking out over the guy who showed up to cook dinner. He’s kind of sweet in a slightly unnerving way and Jess manages to slink off and claim she’s sick. She ends up getting it on with Sam in the bathroom. Which is totally not a Jess thing to do. And it turns out Katie isn’t very good at juggling guys because hot delivery guy and the other guy catch Jess. To make matters far more awkward, Nick walks in to apologize for doing something stupid (his future self tells him to apologize). The heavy set guy and the hot guy are pretty appalled at Jess for what she did. So she heads home. Nick sees his future self off (even though he’s pretty convinced the guy was kind of crazy) and goes home to make Jess a drink as a preventative apology. Just as Jess is about to drink it, Sam shows up and says that he lied to her too. Despite the deception, they’re still going to sleep together. Personally, I would have tried to stay with hot delivery guy. He could have actually turned out to be a decent relationship for Jess (on the path to Jess/Nick romance of course). Finally, we get a little tag of Schmidt and Alicia playing basketball.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Girl 2.01: "Re-launch"

“I panicked and I grabbed the hat. I should have grabbed the yoyo or the slap bracelet, and now all I have is this stupid hat.”

I think of all the returning shows this season, “New Girl” was the one I was most excited for, and it definitely did not disappoint. They keep bringing the quirk and the jokes that feel like they were especially written for me (or any still single ladies born within a couple of years of me), and the characters (with the occasional exception of Winston, but at least they hang a lantern on that) all have really defined, unique viewpoints. We begin the new season with Jess having a major life change thrown in her lap (one I’ve never had to deal with, thank goodness…knock on wood). It looks like we’ll be continuing to follow the roommates on their journeys to truly grow up, and I think that’s always fruitful material for television. Anyway, I think this was a really strong episode for just about everybody but Winston, which is a more than perfectly acceptable way to start things off. Winston will have his day. He always does.

Right from the opening scene, I could see that in its second season, “New Girl” was going to continue to be the show I love. It’s a weekday morning, and Jess wakes up late for a meeting with Tonya, the drug addict assistant principal at her school. She’s thwarted at every turn on her attempt to get to school quickly. First, Nick is already in the shower, (and singing awesome early 90’s hip hop song “Groove is in the Heart”), then Schmidt needs help with his “shower diaper” (his penis is still broken and in a cast). That second part was just plain silly, but as for the first part, I’m always a sucker for 90’s music. Anyway, the big meeting is so Tonya can tell Jess that she’s been laid off. Apparently they needed to lay off 10% of their non-tenured staff, and that 10% is Jess. Jess is kind of stunned, so when Tonya allows her to choose something from the lost and found box as consolation, she picks a little fascinator hat and a pair of tacky plastic sunglasses.

Back at the loft, Schmidt is jubilant because his penis cast has finally come off. He puts the cast right on the kitchen table, which is just plain disgusting. I’m so glad this broken penis storyline is now officially over. “New Girl” is better than that. Anyway, Schmidt wants to celebrate his newfound freedom with a “rebranding” event (always the marketing major). The theme is secret, but the other guys all guess that it will be “danger.” And they would be right. Nick agrees to bartend for the shindig, but he doesn’t want to make the fruity drinks that Winston likes. Reason one is because Winston gets really strange when he drinks them. Reason two is basically because Nick wants to make more manly, grown-up drinks now. He goes into a very “Fancyman” monologue about it. While the details are being discussed, Jess arrives back home and announces the layoff. The guys immediately want to fix the fact that Jess is sad. Jess, however is trying to put on a brave face and repeatedly insists that she wants no pity.

When we next see Jess, she’s slumming it and appearing to enjoy it. She’s in scrubby clothes and spending her days surfing the internet. She keeps assuring the guys that she really is okay. She also has a rather adorable conversation with Nick about how he’s usually grumpy and mean to her, and he needs to stop being so nice. Jess then asks Schmidt if he can offer her some sort of job related to planning the re-launch party, and Schmidt offers to let her be a shot girl. Nick tries to intervene, saying that Jess doesn’t have the “right kind of hotness” to be a shot girl. While it comes from a good place (Nick further explains that Jess has a more wholesome kind of hotness), this really pisses Jess off and makes her more determined to take Schmidt up on his offer.

Jess shows up to the party dressed in an old fashioned (maybe 1950’s era?) swimsuit and the consolation prize fascinator. Nick throws away the fascinator. The other shot girl is on the older end of the spectrum and has a PhD (awesome commentary on the state of our economy). Schmidt is very happy with the party, and he tells Nick that he has something up his sleeve regarding Cece. Nick says that never works, and a flashback to fake vomiting college Schmidt proves it. Winston shows up with the ingredients for fruity drinks (which forces Nick to break his vow not to make fruity drinks), and Cece shows up, too. With her new, super nerdy boyfriend Robbie. I’m cool with Robbie being nerdy, although why is it always the super hot chick with the nerdy guy? Can’t it ever be the other way around? Winston drinks his fruity drink and starts acting weird, just as the guys predicted.

Jess drops a bottle as she’s trying to pour a shot, and Nick tries to help her. Jess tells him he needs to start being mean again, and Nick goes a little too far with a comment about Jess having a flat ass. He does, however, coax Jess up on the bar, where she does a silly tap dance number. Nick then vascilates between grimacing out of embarrassment squick and beaming proudly. I thought the beaming proudly was sweet and bodes well for future Jess/Nick developments, if not later in this season, then maybe next season. Getting up on the bar, however, just made Jess feel bad about herself. It hit her just how far she had fallen from being a teacher.

Meanwhile, Schmidt, still determined to win Cece back, tries to implement his big plan. A big sign that says “Danger” lights on fire and a shirtless Schmidt appears swinging two chain torch things. This is not something Schmidt has ever done before, so the party guests get a little nervous he might burn the place down, and they start to leave. Schmidt manages to not catch the building on fir, though, and he and Cece have a little heart-to-heart. They aren’t going to be getting back together any time soon, but Cece assures Schmidt that in time, he’ll be just fine. Schmidt wants to know why Cece would be with someone like Robbie, and Cece says it’s because he’s a good guy. Jess and Nick also have their own heart-to-heart. Jess finally acknowledges that she doesn’t know what she’s going to do now that her teaching career has stalled. I say she should just look for another school district, but Jess doesn’t seem to think that’s an option. Nick gives her a comforting hug, and we cut to Winston singing “Groove is in the Heart” in all his fruity drink drunk glory. As Bender from “Futurama” would (sort of) say, we’re back baby!

HIMYM 8.01: "Farhampton"

“When you leave someone at the altar, you always leave a note. It’s common courtesy.”

“How I Met Your Mother” kicked off its eighth and likely final season with an episode I can best describe as “interesting.” Not necessarily in a bad way, but not in a spectacular way either. Just interesting in the purest sense of the word. I call it interesting because we were fed some important pieces of Ted’s final journey towards the Mother. In fact, we even see the Mother standing not far from Ted in all her yellow umbrella glory. But the chain still isn’t completely connected just yet. We don’t know why Ted is sitting at the Farhampton train station in the rain looking kind of bumbed after what was (I hope…I really, really hope) Barney and Robin’s wedding. I guess (and hope..again) that all will be revealed through the course of the season. I’m not one of those “we need to meet the mother NOW because that’s the whole point of the show” folks. I actually think that non-Mother related material has been the show’s strongest. But the more the writers tease and use gimmics related to the Mother, the more I just want to meet her and be done with it already. Sorry if I seem cranky. I just watched the first two episodes of “New Girl” season two, which were amazing, and it kind of makes me realize how stale HIMYM has gotten.

The episode itself uses a framing device of Ted sitting at that Farhampton train station I just mentioned. Then we flash back to immediately before Barney and Robin’s wedding, where Ted is trying to talk Robin down from a five alarm freak out. She has decided she doesn’t want to get married, and she feels it so strongly that she wants to crawl out the window. Ted tells her that it’s easier to crawl out the window than it is to crawl back in. This makes Robin laugh and possibly calm down a little, and we flash back yet again to the present day to see the source of this inside joke. It all starts with most of the gang (except for Ted) at what is now Marshall and Lily’s apartment, gushing over Marvin. Marvin’s not doing much (infants generally don’t, as I learned when my best friend/college roommate and her husband had a son earlier this year). Poor Marshall and Lily, though, are exhausted to the point where they can’t remember anything anyone tells them for more than a couple seconds. I thought this bit was overplayed, but it was important for the plot later. When Barney and Marshall go into the living room, Quinn asks Lily and Robin to be bridesmaids at her upcoming wedding to Barney. This is surprising to them, considering, you know, Robin used to date Barney. It turns out that Barney hasn’t told Quinn that important fact.

Ted’s not at the Marvin viewing party because he’s rather stupidly driving off into the sunset with Victoria. Victoria reveals that she didn’t leave a note for Klaus when she left him at the altar, though, and given his experience getting left at the altar himself, this doesn’t fly with Ted. He (rightfully) thinks that the least she can do is leave a meaningful note, since she’s about to destroy the guy’s life. Ted gets annoyingly picky about Victoria’s note, probably because he’s starting to feel the guilt about doing to Klaus what was done to him. Finally, Victoria writes something that Ted finds acceptably meaningful, then she asks Ted to deliver it. She doesn’t know if she could leave the church a second time, which maybe, I don’t know, is a sign that she shouldn’t be calling off her wedding? Stupidly, Ted agrees to deliver the note.

Back at the Eriksen-Aldrin apartment, Barney begs Robin to keep the fact that they used to date a secret from Quinn. Apparently Barney has gone to great lengths to erase any trace of his relationship with Robin (he’s doctored a lot of photos and such) so that Quinn doesn’t find out, and he’d really like to keep it that way. Which seems pretty absolutely horrible, and Robin’s not happy about it, but I don’t think she was as pissed as she should have been. Barney makes the same request of Marshall and Lilly. That, predictably, doesn’t work out well for Barney considering the sleepless state that Marshall and Lily are in. They start babbling about how Robin and Barney used to be together, and of course Quinn hears them. Quinn rushes out of Marvin’s nursery (where the conversation had taken place) to confront Robin.

Robin says that yes, she and Barney dated, but she has a new boyfriend now. His name is Nick, and he’s the guy Robin had a meet cute with a couple seasons ago but was dropped in favor of Kal Penn when the actor wasn’t available. Marshall and Lily can’t corroborate Robin’s story, though, because of their sleep deprived state. Quinn walks out on Barney even after he manages to tell her the storyline of the entire first seven years of the show in one minute (which involved some awesome delivery by Neil Patrick Harris), and Marshall and Lily tell him he should go after her. Quinn believes Robin once she meets Nick and sees his great abs, though. Barney seems kind of bothered by Robin’s new relationship, and they have a little chat. Robin says she could never just throw everything about their relationship away, and Barney hands her keys and gives her an address. They’re for a storage unit where Robin discovers Barney actually has kept all the mementos of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Ted’s running into some trouble fulfilling Victoria’s wish to deliver her goodbye note to Klaus. He can’t climb up the drainpipe into a church window. When he finally gets the courage to walk in the front door, he finds that Klaus’ sister won’t let him into Victoria’s dressing room. Ted gets Barney to distract the sister with a dirty phone call, and he successfully leaves the note in the dressing room, but he accidentally leaves his car keys there, too. Ted is eventually able to successfully rescue the keys, and he runs into Klaus on his way out of the church. Klaus is bailing on the wedding too. This makes Ted realize that if he gets Victoria’s note back, Klaus’ goodbye note will be all that’s left, so Victoria will be absolved of all blame for the impending Klaus/Victoria wedding implosion. So Ted does just that.

Ted has one more conversation with Klaus before the episode ends, this one at the Farhampton train station. He wants to know why Klaus is giving up on Victoria. Using long, probably made up German words, Klaus explains that Victoria is almost, but not quite, exactly what he wants. He wants to keep looking for the woman who right away he knows is exactly the woman for him. Saget!Ted then shows us examples of just such women and their men with a shot of Marshall and Lily with Marvin and Robin opening Barney’s storage unit. We also see Barney looking wistful, which gets a big “aww” from me even if I’m still pissed that he sort of tried to erase his relationship with Robin. We wrap up the episode with another “a little ways down the road,” scene, presumably not long after the Stinson/Scherbatsky wedding. Ted is sitting in his suit, not looking especially happy, at the Farhampton train station, and the Mother is standing nearby with her yellow umbrella. Ted’s expression had better not mean that the wedding was called off, or I am going to be one pissed Barney/Robin fan.

Our First Official Publication!

In an effort to expand the blog and share our recaps and opinions with more than just the one or two of you currently out there, we decided we'd write a post about Once Upon a Time (as they seem to really like the show over there) and submit it to Hypable.  We weren't sure if it would work, or even if they would publish it.  But, yesterday morning, our post went up and made the front page for most of the day!  So if you're interested here's the link:

The Death, The Twist and The Battle:The Development of "Once Upon A Time" Season 1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Pilot Preview: "Last Resort"

Network: ABC
Premieres: Thursday, September 27 at 8:00 pm

“We have 17 more nuclear missiles aboard, and we will not hesitate to unleash fiery hell down upon you. Test us, and we will all burn together.”
-Captain Chaplin

While not associated with Tom Clancy in any way, “Last Resort,” which will officially air on ABC this coming week, very much continues in the tradition of Clancy classics like “The Hunt for Red October” and “Clear and Present Danger.” The show follows the crew of a submarine, captained by Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) who find themselves in deep trouble (as in their own fellow military try to kill them trouble) after questioning an order to fire a nuclear weapon on Pakistan. The submarine crew makes their way to an exotic island to make their stand. While hiding out in their not-so-safe oasis, they must fight large forces like the individuals in government who wanted to start the war with Pakistan and smaller forces like the drug lord who thinks he runs the island. Both seem like they’ll be equally challenging to deal with for different reasons. And I suppose, since this is television, there will be plenty of life and love along the way.

The best thing that “Last Resort” has going for it is the cast. Andre Braugher is a legend. From “Homicide: Life on the Streets” (shout out to my Baltimore!) to “Men of a Certain Age,” he has proven to be an incredibly talented and versatile actor. While this role isn’t really a stretch for him (authoritative Baltimore detective isn’t all that far removed from authoritative Navy captain), he still acquits himself exactly as well as you would expect. A scene at the end of the episode where he broadcasts a warning to any government (including the United States) that would threaten his crew is especially notable. Scott Speedman as XO Sam Kendal and Daisy Betts as Lieutenant Grace Sheppard also gave memorable performances. I think they were especially effective because we got to meet people who cared about those two characters back home- Kendal’s wife and Sheppard’s father (who happens to be an Admiral). Two other actors we like here at MTVP appearing in “Last Resort” are Autumn Reeser and Dichen Lachman. Reeser, as a no nonsense defense contractor lobbyist, is playing a very different character from bubbly, naive scientist Kate on “No Ordinary Family.” Lachman plays a bartender on the island where the submarine crew take refuge. We haven’t seen much from her yet, but her exemplary work on “Dollhouse” suggests that when she gets more material to work with, she’ll be great.

The creative team behind “Last Resort” also has a pedigree which suggests that unless you have my particular hang-ups (more on that later), “Last Resort is probably worth a watch. Veteran writer/producer Shawn Ryan is a co-creator. Shawn Ryan spent some time writing for Joss Whedon’s “Angel,” and he is also the creator of a plethora of shows, including “The Shield,” “The Unit,” “Lie to Me,” and “The Chicago Code.” With his experience on “The Shield” and “The Unit” especially (a police and a military drama respectively), Ryan seems especially well suited to helm “Last Resort.” I have never personally watched any of the shows Ryan has created (police and military stories aren’t generally my thing), but his work has generally been very critically well reviewed.

The pace of the pilot was tight and the tension was maintained throughout the episode. I suppose that when nuclear missiles are in play, it’s not too difficult to create tension. The uncertainty behind just who in the government is behind the mysterious orders that were sent to the sub and what they really want also adds to the tension and intrigue. I found it interesting that even Reeser’s defense contractor lobbyist character had no clue this sequence of events was going to happen. It’s pretty well known that in DC, top talent rotates freely between government and lobbying, so you would think she would have the inside connections to know what was going on. If that were the case, though, I guess we wouldn’t have much of a show. The hook of the show is really wondering who is trying to start a war/kill the sub crew and if they’re going to succeed. I’m a little more skeptical about the on-island drama. I feel like somebody wanting to start a war is enough drama. We don’t need for the crew to have to deal with a self-important drug lord, too. I feel like it might take too much attention away from the bigger picture. On the other hand, the military intrigue alone might not provide enough material to sustain a series. Even with the extra drama of the island drug lord, I do wonder about the longevity potential for this plot. I don’t think the writers could stretch out the answers to the central questions posed in the pilot beyond one season without running into serious difficulties.

All of these positives being said, I don’t think I will be continuing to watch (or blog) “Last Resort.” As I already said, military dramas aren’t really my thing. My dad’s inexplicable love for “JAG” couldn’t even change that. More importantly, though, the subject just hits a little too close to home as far as things that creep me out. While I think (hope) there’s nobody with a lot of power immanently planning something like this, the military/industrial complex is real and pervasive. I’ve lived in Maryland for over six years, one of those years literally across the street from DC. I live right in the heart of what the Washington Post calls “Top Secret America.” I also spent a year driving past the NSA several days a week as part of my regular commute (no, I wasn’t stalking them). So yeah, I’ll stop there because something I’ve written in this post has probably triggered the NSA itself (I’m not paranoid, I promise!). I guess you can see why I might find “Last Resort” a little disconcerting.  That's a "me" thing, though, so if you are a fan of good drama (especially military drama) and don't get freaked out by government consipiracy stuff, by all means tune in.

Revolution 1.02: "Chained Heat"

“Did good? I killed two men today. Maybe that’s not a big deal for you. Maybe it’s another Monday for you, but it’s not for me. We shouldn’t have to do this.”
- Charlie

This week we start off five days after the blackout. The Mathesons are preparing to leave town and head to the country where there is plenty of food and water. Rachel (Charlie’s mom) makes her promise to always look after Danny and to never let go of his hand. As they head out (kids in a wagon pulled by Ben) you get the feeling things have already started to fall apart. Back in the present, Charlie is reminiscing about the past when Maggie snaps her out of it. Before long they find Miles dueling one of Monroe’s bounty hunters. Miles is on the verge of killing the guy when Charlie begs him not to. With a gripe about Charlie being a pain in the ass after only one day, he and Aaron lock the guy in a box car. Unbeknownst to the gang, Nate is following along behind them. Their next stop is Pontiac, Illinois. Miles is looking for a woman named Nora Clayton. He needs her help if they’re going to take on Monroe and survive. Unfortunately, Charlie’s goodwill comes back to bite them all in the ass. The guy she made Miles spare is back and arrests Miles. And Revolution wouldn’t be complete without some sword-fighting baddassery by Mr. Billy Burke. He takes out most of the guys before our group manages to escape again. He does find out that Nora is locked up in a work camp. I don’t know whether to be horrified that forced labor camps have returned in this post-apocalyptic future. 

We briefly visit Captain Neville, his boys and Danny as they continue to make their way to General Monroe. As they’re on the road, they hear gunshots and find a guy who has just killed a deer. Owning guns is illegal in the Monroe Republic (unless you’re militia) and so Captain Neville shoots the guy. He’s none-too-pleased to find out the guy was a rebel (evidenced by him having an American Flag in his house). So he tells his men to burn the whole property. A little while later, they have a funeral for the soldier the guy managed to shoot (Neville gives him some kind of stuff that just lets him drift off quickly) and Danny is kind of appalled at the drastic change in behavior. I have to say I didn’t really appreciate the range of emotion and character Giancarlo Esposito can play until now.

Meanwhile, Miles is rather pissed at getting caught and decides it is in the group’s best interest to split up and he’ll meet them in Lowell, Indiana in two weeks. He’s going to liberate Nora from the work camp. Charlie is upset. I guess she thinks he’s abandoning her or something. So that night, she sneaks off after him, leaving Maggie and Aaron alone and panicked in the morning. We also get a glimpse of how quickly General Monroe himself can vassilate temperament wise. One of his men is interrogating a rebel and at first Monroe is nice to him, promising to return him to his family if he cooperates. The rebel refuses and in the blink of an eye Monroe slits his throat. He does have a look of slight regret in his eyes as he’s doing it.

Charlie is off tromping through the forest after Miles the next morning and she takes a tumble down a ravine sort of thing. It looks like she’s hurt her ankle. Nate’s followed her and when he goes to take a look at it, she fakes him out and slaps cuffs on him, chaining him to a metal post. And in kind of an awesome moment, she leaves him there. Back at camp, Maggie explains why she can’t join in Aaron’s optimism that they’ll see Charlie again. She’s kept an old iPhone in her pack because it contains the only pictures she has of her children. Aaron then reveals that he thinks they should worry about Miles and Charlie after they investigate the pendant Ben gave Aaron before he died. Apparently Ben told him to find a woman named Grace (the woman that briefly gave Danny respite and an inhaler). So they set off in search of her. We get a bit of a fake out near the end of the episode. Grace is working on the computer and hears a knock at the door. We’re led to believe it’s Aaron and Maggie until a man shows up. Clearly Grace is not pleased to see this guy because she locks the door and races back up to the attic to log back on. She manages to get a message sent that says “Randall is here” before he bursts in with a Taser. And he’s got a pendant of his own. So obviously, not everyone who has access to the pendant/power is a good guy.

Charlie finally manages to catch up with Miles and they spot Nora in a chain gang, pulling an old helicopter. Charlie’s pretty appalled when one of the prisoners (most of whom are there for not paying their taxes) falls down and gets shot when he can’t stand up again. Charlie and Miles wait until nightfall and successfully get Nora out. But she’s not happy to see Miles. She purposely got arrested to steal a sniper rifle. And the Mathesons have messed up her plan. So now they need a new one. Unfortunately, the device she puts together (she’s kind of an explosives guru) has to be used within a foot of the target. Miles will be shot on sight simply because of who he is and so will Nora. Charlie volunteers for the job but Miles is skeptical. He doesn’t think she can actually go through with killing someone. We get another flashback where Rachel and the kids are waiting for Ben to retrieve some supplies from his office. A strange shows up and threatens to kill Charlie if they don’t hand over all their food. They seem to acquiesce until someone shoots him. We think it’s Ben (he’s the only initially holding the gun) but it turns out to be Rachel. Charlie remembers this as she’s confronting the warden and I guess it was enough to give her the courage she needs to pull of the plan. In the end, Charlie kills a second guy while Miles and Nora take out the rest. Nora reminds me a little of Ana Luica from Lost. Nora is a little worse for wear at the end of the fighting. While she’s bandaging herself up, Miles sees she has an American Flag tattoo. She’s in the resistance, too.

At the very end, we visit Monroe’s stronghold again and in Lost-esque fashion, we’re treated to an episode ending twist. He’s come to visit one of his other prisoners. Contrary to what the audience (and Charlie) were led to believe, Rachel si not in fact dead. She’s alive and living in confined luxury. Monroe has come to give her the news about Ben and Danny. It seems he’s been holding her hostage for information about Ben and the blackout. Seeing Rachel alive makes me wonder if Ben knew and what all of the implications are. It seriously needs to be next week already.

Monday, September 24, 2012

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2012: The Aftermath

Another year, another Emmy telecast that fails to live up to the standards of 2009’s Neil Patrick Harris helmed effort or even the Jimmy Fallon hosted telecast in 2010. It was a night of mostly predictable wins and one downright nauseating (yet not really predictable because it was so horrible) win. Even ten time winner Jon Stewart complained at how predictable the whole thing has become. There was not one award that made me truly ecstatic to see the winner. On top of that, the telecast itself was nothing special. It was a run-of-the mill awards show. Not terrible, but nothing unique either. I guess that host Jimmy Kimmel must just not be a very original performer in his own right. So yeah, while I love the idea of the Emmys every year, and I kind of desperately want to host an Emmys party as a couple weeks early 30th birthday party next year, this year wasn’t one of the better ones. But I’m nothing if not giving to my (one, maybe two) readers, so on with the Emmy’s commentary!

Jimmy Kimmel’s not a song and dance man like Neil Patrick Harris or a comedic musician like Jimmy Fallon, and he really didn’t have anything else to truly make this telecast his own. What he did was include little video sketches here and there throughout the telecast. One of those sketches, which was mildly funny, opened the show. It involved Kimmel crying in the women’s bathroom and several of the nominees finding him after walking in on several naked Lena Dunhams eating cake. The good part about the opener was that it made fun of the disastrous last time ABC hosted the telecast (all of the co-hosts from that year pop up at one point and offer to host). I think I liked that because it was a joke only a true Emmy nerd who specifically remembers the 2008 telecast would pick up on. I also liked that there was a little dig about people mixing up Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon (the latter of which is pretty clearly more talented). Another great video skit involved some of the cast of the Big Bang Theory. Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny are watching the telecast, and of course Sheldon’s favorite bit is the introduction of the accountants who calculated the votes. It was the cleverest way to shoehorn in the accountant bit that I’ve seen since Dr. Horrible made an appearance in 2009.

Another largely positive aspect of the telecast was that it kept with the organization by genre which first appeared in the 2009 Neil Patrick Harris-hosted telecast. I prefer organization by genre for a reason that the Emmy producers probably don’t like. I can pay less attention during the segments for genres that I don’t care so much about (Reality, I’m looking at you). Of course the really big awards, Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, were saved for the very end, though. ABC put one little twist on the organization that I found just a touch shady and self-serving. Usually the last award of the night is Outstanding Drama Series. This year it was Outstanding Comedy Series. “Modern Family,” which airs on ABC was pretty much a lock to win its third Outstanding Comedy Emmy in a row. It was quite nice for ABC to be able to end the telecast with one of their own shows winning. Not saying that was definitely the case, it just looked shady. I also found it odd that all the comedy and drama awards (you know, the ones people care about) except for the series awards were given out before the Movie/Mini-series awards were given out. I’m guessing here (no proof) that the Powers that Be were hoping that acceptance speeches from the big movie stars who sometimes do TV movies and mini-series would shore up the ratings for the final hour.

The whole thing, as I’ve alluded to before, was really a straight-up awards show with no gimmicks (Ricky Gervais, in his obligatory presenter slot, didn’t even get to serve the audience beer). The only entertainment was really the sketches, and those were all too infrequent. To put it simply, the telecast was just plain boring. There were some presenters that were endearing. Jim Parsons and Zooey Deschanel, both of whom bring the “aww” factor, presented together. And Damon Wayans, Jr. made a crack about the Patriots/Ravens game being 3-0 Patriots (I can forgive him for that since my Ravens would eventually come back to win 31-30…and he was awesome as Coach in the “New Girl” pilot). None of the presenting bits really blew me away, though. But then there was utter dreck like Jimmy Kimmel making fun of the In Memoriam segment by having an In Memoriam all about himself (the idea being that we should honor people while they’re still alive to appreciate it). I got his point but you don’t make a joke out of the In Memoriam segment. Seriously. Oh and then there was Kimmel kicking his parents out of the theatre after he lost his variety show award because they lied when they said he could achieve any dream. That was just plain stupid and predictable.

I wouldn’t have minded the boring telecast so much if any of the winners had excited me. So many of the winners were repeats. We had Modern Family taking both of the Supporting Actor Comedy trophies (I was pissed that Max Greenfield didn’t win for his portrayal of Schmidt on “New Girl,” I’ll admit it…oh and Mayim Bialik lost too…another boo). Julia Louis Dreyfus, who has already won two Emmys, won Outstanding Lead Actress for “Veep,” which I have not seen, although I understand it’s been critically well reviewed. She may have been deserving, but I feel like we were just being transported back to the 1990’s. The one win that excited me was Tom Bergeron winning for Reality Competition Host. That’s always been Jeff Probst’s award, and to see the affable Bergeron, who I always enjoy for his dry wit on “Dancing With the Stars” win the trophy was fun. It was also reasonably nice to see “Homeland” get a lot of recognition. They took the trifecta of big Drama awards, depriving Mad Men of yet another Outstanding Drama Series trophy, which couldn’t make me happier. I do need to watch “Homeland,” at some point, but I haven’t yet. The moment that completely killed the show for me, however, was Jon Cryer winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy. Even Jon Cryer thought it was ridiculous (which actually made it slightly more palatable). His and his wife’s WTF faces when his name was called were kind of priceless. That doesn’t make up for the fact that the rest of the field, which included the likes of Don Cheadle, were deprived of a win.

And so we close the book on yet another Emmy telecast. Frankly, I’m glad this one is over. I can hope for a better telecast next year when CBS has the reigns again. I’m hoping they invite Neil Patrick Harris back again, even if there is no season 9 of HIMYM. Really, the only reason I at all want a season 9 of HIMYM is so that Harris will be a lock to host again. Is that sad? Sure that wouldn’t fix the problem of disappointing wins, but at least I’d be entertained for three hours. And surely “Modern Family” has to end someday. Or at least the absurd Emmy love has to. Right? Right? Anybody?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2012: The Players

Tomorrow’s the big day that I like to call the Super Bowl for TV fans. It’s the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards!  This year’s telecast will be on ABC, and it will be hosted by late night man Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel has his funny moments, and it can’t be as bad as ABC’s last crack at the show, where they thought it would be a good idea to have all five or so nominees for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition Program act as co-hosts. What I’m here to talk about tonight, though, are the people who are going to be honored at tomorrow’s ceremony. As I say every year, if you want real expert analysis on who is actually likely to win at the Nokia Theatre, check out a site like Gold Derby. What I do here is highlight some categories that especially excite me and tell you who, if I had my druthers (which I don’t) would win. Some of my picks are a pipe dream, I know, but as the clichĂ© goes, it’s an honor that some of my favorites were nominated.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)

My Pick: Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel plays Jess Day, loveably quirky teacher and roommate on FOX’s “New Girl” (which has its season premiere next week with two back to back episodes…I’m so excited, you guys!). This category has quite a deep field, and Deschanel didn’t really do herself any favors by choosing the kind of awkward “Bad in Bed” as her submission episode (I suppose “Naked” would have been worse, though). Despite, this, however, Deschanel is my pick because she consistently delivers a performance that modulates well between quirky and twee and just real enough to avoid being really annoying. “New Girl” is my favorite show currently on television (RIP “Pushing Daisies” forever) because of how it expertly combines commentary on that time in life when you realize you need to grow up and sunny optimism. Deschanel is vital in creating that hopeful, often joyful, tone.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Ed O’Neil (Modern Family)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)

My Pick: Max Greenfield

If any category demonstrates the absurdity of the Academy’s “Modern Family” love, it’s this one. Does anybody still even like “Modern Family?” I thought that went out of style a season or two ago. Anyway, Max Greenfield plays Schmidt, loveably douchey roommate on “New Girl.” Greenfield was really the breakout star of the first half of the first season. The evolution of Schmidt from douche joke delivery system to someone more well-rounded and Greenfield’s critical recognition for that performance showed that “New Girl” wasn’t going to be the Zooey Deschanel show. The success of Schmidt as a character really allowed “New Girl” to be an ensemble driven show, which I think is one of its strengths. Jake Johnson, with his super quirky loveable loser character Nick kind of took over as MVP of the second half of the season, but Greenfield really opened the door for Johnson to be able to shine, so I think Greenfield is very deserving of an Emmy.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Nominees:

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Mad Men (AMC)
Homeland (Showtime)
Game of Thrones (HBO)

My Pick: Game of Thrones

I know this is my most pie-in-the-sky pick, since with the exception of the 2004 Academy Awards (yay Lord of the Rings), awards shows aren’t kind to genre. I have to give it up to some honorable mentions here. “Downton Abbey” is wonderfully addictive Edwardian soap opera television, and Sarah loves “Homeland” (and I intend to watch it someday too). “Game of Thrones,” however, is beautifully immersive, complex television. While season two didn’t tell as cohesive a story as season 1, it was still an incredibly high quality production that I greatly enjoyed watching. For the lush visuals alone, I think “Game of Thrones” is deserving of an Emmy.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

The Nominees:

Julianna Marguiles (The Good Wife)
Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Glenn Close (Damages)

My Pick: Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary Crawley, heiress (now that she’s getting married) to the Earl of Grantham’s fortune on “Downton Abbey.” Dockery really had a chance to shine in the second season, which aired this past winter on PBS. The season focused on Mary’s past transgressions and her relationship with Downton heir Matthew. Mary ran the gamut of emotions as Matthew was at war, engaged to someone else, and then eventually proposed to her. Mary also had to confess a past relationship to both her father and to Matthew, and her relief when neither of them disowned her was palpable. For the ease with which this relative newcomer effectively conveyed so much emotion, Michelle Dockery is definitely deserving of an Emmy.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

Game Change (HBO)
American Horror Story (FX)
Hemmingway & Gellhorn (HBO)
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (PBS)
Luther (BBC America) Hatfields & McCoys (History)

My Pick: Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

“A Scandal in Belgravia” was the first of the three episodes of “Sherlock” to air this past winter. “Sherlock” is Steven Moffat’s “other” show, which is a modern day take on Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. “A Scandal in Belgravia” showcases the relationship between Sherlock and “The Woman” Irene Adler. This episode was especially notable for its in-depth exploration of Sherlock’s character as he’s confronted with having feelings for a woman for the first time. “Sherlock” in general is smart, entertaining television that is more than deserving of an Emmy.

Summer DVR Dump: The River 1.08: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"

“There are signs of the impossible everywhere in this place. And now I know they are signs to get out. The Boiuna does not want us here.”

The series finale of “The River” was quite a ride, for sure. We learned more about the way the Boiuna works, and the crew finds themselves in more danger than ever before. We learn more about the characters, and there’s just a whole lot of creepiness going on. And there’s a murder, but that doesn’t really stick for long. It is the Boiuna, after all. In some ways, this was a satisfying finale, and in other ways, it most definitely wasn’t. There was certainly a heck of a cliffhanger, which would be the unsatisfying part. Another unsatisfying part was how Lincoln and Lena’s relationship was left. Things between them basically went from uncomfortable (because of Lincoln saying he had a girl back in Chicago) to much, much worse. The satisfying aspect was that we now know (sort of…that cocoon was still damn strange) what happened to Emmet Cole. And we know what all the crew wanted to do if they escaped the Boiuna. Of course, they don’t actually escape (sorry…spoilers), but I like to think that they extra time they will have to spend there will help resolve all the interpersonal issues.

We’re back to opening the episode with classic Undiscovered Country footage. This particular clip comes from 1988, Lincoln and Lena are trying to sleep in bunk beds in one of the Magus’ cabins. Lena crawls into Lincoln’s bunk, says she can’t sleep, and asks Lincoln to sing to her. He sings “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and it’s kind of adorable and creepy at the same time. Back in the present day, the crew is all in a going home mindset. Clark is doing interviews with all the crew, asking them questions about what they’re going to do next and how they feel about having risked so much to rescue Emmet. Everyone seems kind of pissed off except for Tess and Emmet, who are going at it like rabbits in Tess’ cabin. I think I feel for Lena the most. She’s lost both her father and her childhood sweetheart all in one rather terrifying trip.

Clark’s final personal interview is with Emmet, and after putting on a happy face for a little bit, Emmet suddenly says it was a mistake to come to the Boiuna and abruptly cuts the interview off. Emma and Lena then have a rather earnest chat in the next room. Lena wants to know what the purpose of Emmet’s who expedition was. She basically wants to know that her dad didn’t die in vain. Emmet says that Lena is better off if she doesn’t know, even if that means she hates him. In the other room, Tess and Clark are having a similarly emo conversation. Tess tells Clark that their affair is most definitely completely over and she’s never letting Emmet go again. Clark, predictably, throws a huge tantrum once he’s by himself, destroying some stuff in the editing bay. Meanwhile, Emmet is trying to make amends with Lincoln for basically not being around for much of Lincoln’s life. Lincoln’s really not having it, but I guess actions speak louder than words. Lincoln sees someone trying to shoot Emmet out of one of the Magus’s windows. Lincoln saves Emmet but gets shot himself, and he doesn’t survive.

There’s a bit of a classic “j’accuse” meting among the Magus crew, where they go over the motives everyone would have to kill Emmet. The conclusion is that Kurt probably pulled the trigger, and the suspicion only grows when Clark spills the beans about Kurt’s mysterious phone calls. Kurt insists that if he had been the shooter, he wouldn’t have missed his shot, and he probably has a good point there. It keeps the rest of the crew from locking him up immediately, but there’s still a lot of suspicion. After things calm down, Jahel is back at the helm, and she hears something in the radio static. She rushes to tell Tess and Emmet that she thinks they can bring Lincoln back from the dead. The catch is that Jahel is going to have to channel the Boiuna herself. Emmet (rightfully) thinks this is a really bad idea, because the Boiuna is kind of the ruler of all the nasty spirits they’ve run into so far. Tess, however, wants her son back, so she goes behind Emmet’s back and tells Jahel to perform the ritual anyway. Things start to go really crazy on the Magus as Jahel performs the ritual and channels the Boiuna. The boat shakes and the lights turn on and off. Emmet is really angry and runs below deck to find out what is going on. His anger subsides, however, when he sees that Lincoln is indeed risen again.

Lincoln and Emmet have a bit of a heart to heart, and when Lincoln tells Emmet he loves him, it starts to make Emmet a little suspicious. That suspicion, sad as it is, turns out to be justified, but more on that later. Lincoln and Emmet aren’t the only father/offspring pair having issues on the Magus. Emilio and Jahel have their own major argument over Jahel using her powers. Emilio wants Jahel to go live with a relative in Montana and get out of the Amazon. Jahel wants to stay and embrace her gift. Emilio says he doesn’t want Jahel to end up like her mother, who also heard spirits and ended up disappearing. Jahel didn’t know that her mother shared her gift, and that information (especially the fact that her mom is actually still alive) quiets her down for now. I imagine that if there was a second season, Jahel would have been reunited with her mother, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Lincoln and Jonas have a confrontation in the kitchen where Lincoln tells Jonas he knows Jonas was the gunman. Jonas wonders why Lincoln is letting Kurt take the rap, and Lincoln explains that it’s because he wants to kill Jonas himself. And Lincoln proceeds to do just that by snapping Jonas’ neck. As a big Scott Michael Foster fan, this development did not make me happy. Although it’s not like there are more episodes of “The River” for him to appear in anyway. Emmet sees this confrontation go down from the edit bay, although for some reason the sequence of events looks completely different and doesn’t involve Jonas’ death. What Emmet sees still makes him suspicious, though. Lincoln, meanwhile, continues his reign of terror, going to where Kurt is imprisoned and beating the crap out of him. Lincoln tells Kurt that he (Lincoln) is “guardian enough” of the Boiuna and Kurt needs to back off. Elsewhere in the Magus, Clark is brooding and A.J. tries to goad him into acting out while filming. This doesn’t last long, though, because blood starts dripping on top of them from the ceiling (Jonas’ body, I presume).

Things take an even more sinister turn when Lincoln starts hitting on Lena. Lena appears to be really responding, and they start making out. Things seem like they’re going to go even farther, and Lena hands Lincoln what looks like a beer to drink before joining her in the bedroom. It’s not beer, though. It’s some sort of potion that reveals a demon has entered Lincoln. When Jahel called his soul back, the Boiuna entered Lincoln’s body in addition to his own soul. The crew ties Lincoln down, and Emmet and Jahel start performing what looks like an exorcism. The Boiuna is too powerful, though, so the exorcism doesn’t work. What ends up working is Emmet tryng to talk to Lincoln to give Lincoln the strength to expel the Boiuna himself. Things are quite uncomfortable between Lincoln and Lena after the earlier incident, but none of that really matters since the Magus is close to the exit of the Boiuna (the section of the Amazon, not the demon). There’s a problem, though. The exit isn’t where the GPS said it should be. Clark has A.J. send up the “eye in the sky” camera, and it confirms everyone’s worst fears. The Boiuna itself is changing (the trees are moving), and it’s not going to let the Magus leave any time soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 Pilot Preview "Guys With Kids"

Network: NBC
Premieres: Wednesday September 26 8:30pm

So I don’t normally watch a lot of half hour comedies (or comedies in general). I enjoy New Girl and I watched Community for a while, but my interests lie more with drams and procedurals. But I decided to give Guys with Kids a shot. The basic premise revolves around 3 friends; Chris, Nick and Gary who are all fathers. Chris is dealing with his crazy-control-freak ex-wife Sheila while Gary is a stay-at-home dad. Nick is married with an elementary school aged daughter. Not surprisingly, the show is filmed before a live studio audience.

Essentially, the pilot introduces us to the guys, their wives and kids. Chris is kind of stuck catering to everything Sheila says because their son “came from inside her”. It’s not very funny to me but I’m sure some people found it funny. The kids were definitely cute. In a behind-the-scenes clip I watched, we learn just how many babies they have on set to cover all the infants. Something like nearly 2 dozen babies. It’s crazy.

Anyway, Nick and Gary convince Chris to go on a date with a woman he meets at a bar and there is a lot of drama about who is going to watch the baby. Sheila is strictly against babysitters and she can’t watch the baby because she has a date with Kareem Abdul Jabar (we saw him on New Girl this past season as one of Winston’s co-workers. He gets around the comedies apparently). Chris thinks she’s lying about who she has a date with but we see she was actually telling the truth later on. Chris gets Nick to watch the baby while he goes on his date buut Chris eventually bails and almost gets in trouble with Sheila. In the end, he stands up to her and it looks like she isn’t thrilled that Kareem went along with the guys wanting him to “dunk” the baby.

Gary and Nick had their own spousal issues to deal with. Nick was supposed to go with his wife to a fundraiser at their daughter’s school but since Nick decides to babysit, his wife goes alone (well she ends up going with Gary’s wife). Ultimately, Gary makes Nick see that his wife wanted to spend some adult time with him (have a nice dinner and go dancing and not have to worry about the kids for a little while). So when she gets home, Nick dresses up in a suit they dance as if they were on the sinking Titanic (the theme of the fundraiser). Gary, being a stay-at-home dad with four kids just wants a break but obviously doesn’t get it. He does head over with the kids after the wives leave and play on Nick’s Wii (it is kind of amusing to watch the two guys doing a Wii dance game). I’m assuming that sort of tired out the older two kids. Gary is pretty tired by the time his wife gets home but they have a rushed make out scene in the bathroom at the end (that’s all the time they have with four kids to look after).

Overall I found the show to be somewhat funny. The kids were cute (even though they didn’t have much to really do other than be cute). I found the characters to have interesting character arcs established and I think the writers did a decent job setting it up so the viewer wanted to see more. I think some of the jokes and the humor was a bit obvious but that may just be that I don’t watch a lot of comedies and that is the type of humor that gets the most reaction from the audience. I think some of the improv scenes (there was a scene where the guys were out shopping for new threads for Chris’ date) were pretty entertaining. Though with the kids involved, they have to be careful of what they say. There are of course ways to make things fall into an adult brand of humor while keeping it kid friendly (word choice wise).

If I didn’t already have 5 shows on Wednesday nights I might consider watching it beyond the pilot just to see what happens. If I find myself really craving some laughs I might resort to Hulu when I have some extra time to catch up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.10: "Valar Morghulis"

“Look around you. We’re all liars here. And every one of us is better than you.”

After the successful tension and focus of “Blackwater,” I was a little disappointed to find that “Valar Morghulis” once again returned to the rather disjointed storytelling we’ve been seeing all season on “Game of Thrones.” This episode attempted to wrap up some of the season’s plotlines and leave us with some cliffhangers for next season. That made it even a little more disjointed than usual, because it wasn’t like they could skip any of the ongoing plots for the week just to pick it back up next week. This is it until next spring. I think, in some ways, that people who read the “Song of Ice and Fire” books before watching the television series (I’m choosing to read each one after the season in which it is depicted on television) can get more out of “Game of Thrones.” It probably doesn’t feel so disjointed because they know where each of the stories are going. For me, it’s just being spoon fed the action in tiny little doses. There really isn’t any time to invest in one plot before it’s on to the next. That makes me sad because I really do love spending time in Westeros and really getting immersed in that world. The frantic pace and switching between plots has taken away some of that immersive feel in the second season.

Tyrion wakes up to an incredibly creepy visual. He’s in a rather tiny, sparse room in the Red Keep, and worse than that, Grand Maester Pycelle is looming over him, staring. Rightfully sensing that Pycelle is probably up to no good, Tyrion quickly calls for the guard and asks the guard to inform Bronn or Varys that he’s alive. There is no guard, and Pycelle informs Tyrion that he’s been demoted. We cut to the throne room where Joffrey is taking audiences, and we quickly find out what happened to Tyrion’s status. After achieving victory in the Battle of Blackwater, Tywin has been reinstated as Hand of the King. The victory also came courtesy of an assist from none other than Loras Tyrell, Lord of the Flowers. Guess once Renly was killed his next choice was the Lannisters? I think the biggest reason that the Tyrells are now supporting the Lannisters is that Joffrey is going to marry Margaery now. Margaery said she wanted to be queen more than anything, and her brother wants to grant her wish. Loras asks Joffrey to marry his sister, and Cersey and Pycell assent in an obviously staged performance for the crowd. And poor Sansa is unceremoniously dumped. After all this goes down, Littlefinger finds Sansa and says he’ll help her escape King’s Landing. Littlefinger is such a creeper.

Elsewhere in Westeros, Brienne is still transporting Jaime back to the Lannisters. While they’re traveling, they come upon three strung-up dead tavern girls. Quite a grisly sight. Brienne is determined to give the women a decent burial, but some Stark soldiers crash the party. They start questioning why Jaime Lannister is out and about and why Brienne is with him. Brienne, because she’s badass (and appears to have a death wish) just kills all the Stark soldiers and gives the tavern girls a burial like she wanted to in the first place. In other Stark news, Robb and Cat have a huge argument over Robb’s love life, which must be hella awkward for Robb. This seems like one situation where, no matter what Mel Brooks once said, it isn’t good to be the king. Robb really wants to marry Talisa, which is kind of odd considering he hasn’t really spent all that much time with her. Cat, however, continues to remind Robb that he is honor bound to marry a Frey daughter in exchange for the river passage Lord Frey provided Robb and his bannermen near the end of last season.

Somehow, Stannis and Melisandre are still alive even though they were defeated at the Battle of Blackwater and they’re really kind of boring. They’re arguing over the battle, each blaming each other for the poor outcome. The argument turns into an actual fight, and Stannis starts strangling Melisandre. Just as it looks like Melisandre might not survive, Stannis stops the strangline. Melisandre has Stannis look into a fire, and something he sees there makes him feel more hopeful about winning the Iron Throne. I hate to tell Stannis, but if anybody is going to win Westeros and the Iron Throne through fire, it’s going to be Dany. She’s got dragons after all. In other really unlikely candidates for Iron Throne news, Theon is still hanging around Winterfell. The place is under siege by Stark forces, and Theon is really pissed about it. He throws quite the tantrum to Maester Luwin, and Luwin suggests that Theon run away and take the Black. Theon thinks he’s gone too far down the traitorous road for redemption, so instead of taking the Black, he gives a big, rousing battle speech. And then his first mate promptly shoots him in the back. He shoots Luwin, too.

Back in King’s Landing, Varys and Tyrion are having an important conversation about Tyrion’s future in King’s Landing. Varys informs Tyrion that Cersei has already tried to have him killed once. It’s pretty obvious that she’ll probably try to kill Tyrion again. Shae is at risk too, so Tyrion brings her into the discussion. Shae really wants for the two of them to run away to her homeland of Pyke, but Tyrion wants to stay in King’s Landing and play the game. Playing the game is something he enjoys and is actually good at, and he doesn’t want to lose that. For some reason I don’t quite understand (probably because ten episodes isn’t nearly enough to flesh out these characters properly), Shae says she’ll stay in King’s Landing with Tyrion. Her reasoning is that she is his and he is hers. It’s sort of an informal pledging themselves to each other as we quick cut to a real wedding between Robb and Talisa. The Stark wedding appears to be a New Gods (the Seven) wedding, which is odd since the Starks are supposed to worship the Old Gods. I guess Cat was behind that, considering her family does worship the Seven. I wonder if this could cause some problems for Robb with his bannermen?

Speaking of Northerners, Bran and Rikon and their entourage are still very much alive, of course, even if nobody but they know it. Winterfell is burning, and they go to survey the damage. Outside of the compound, Maester Luwin is propped up in the Godswood, still alive but mortally wounded. He tells Bran and Rikon to start traveling North to the Wall. They need to find Jon. Osha stays behind with the Maester for a minute and mercy kills him (with his approval, of course). Speaking of Jon, he’s not going to be much help to Bran and Rikon right now because he’s still in the custody of the Wildlings. The Halfhand wants to ingratiate himself to their captors, so he starts goading Jon about his rather inglorious heritage (he does have a traitor father and unknown mother, after all). Jon is just pissed in general (when isn’t he), and he kills the Halfhand. Ygritte and the rest of the Wildlings think this is awesome, of course, and they say they are going to take him to Mace, the King Beyond the Wall.

Across the Narrow Sea in Qarth, Dany and her crew go to the House of the Undying to fetch her dragons. Somehow, just by standing in front of the building for a few seconds, Dany is transported inside the tower. Inside the tower, Dany walks through a mysterious door, and on the other side of the door is winter. There’s a tent, and inside it are Khal Drogo and Raego. Kind of random, but it was cool to have Jason Momoa back on the show, even if he didn’t get to do much. The reunited family has a brief moment, then Dany goes back through the door where her dragons are waiting. The head warlock appears, and he says that when Dany is around, the magic of the dragons are increased, this in turn increases the magic of the warlocks. So Dany is going to be their prisoner now, too, and she’s chained up. That doesn’t exactly last long, though. The dragons burn the warlock, and Dany is free. Dany goes back to the house where she was staying and confronts both Xaro and her remaining handmaiden, who just happen to be in bed together. She locks the pair up in Xaro’s empty vault, and she takes everything of value that she can from Xaro’s house to buy herself that one ship she needs to travel to Westeros. The season ends with Dany completely kicking ass. As it should.

Revolution 1.01: "Pilot"

“Monroe thinks your Dad knew something, something important. And he thinks your Dad told me, so I must know it, too. Why the lights went out…maybe how to turn them back on.”
- Miles

I have been waiting for Revolution since we got the very first, if somewhat vague, description that it had been picked up during pilot season. I will be blogging the first half of the season and Jen will be picking up after winter hiatus.

We begin our journey into the latest wacky world of JJ Abrams in Chicago. Everything seems normal with two kids busy watching TV and playing on a tablet while their mom is on the phone. Her husband, Ben Matheson gets home and looks pretty freaked out. He tells her to get the water going and that they don’t have much time. Before they know what’s happening, all the electricity in the entire world just shuts off. We get a glimpse of Miles, Ben’s brother in South Carolina and get an interesting shot of all the cars on the highway going dead. They also do a shot of a plane crashing in the distance which reminded me a little bit of FlashForward.

We jump 15 years into the future to find the world has changed. Society has reverted back to farming and living on small villages and towns. Governments have fallen and militias have risen as the new law and order. We are back with Ben and his two kids, Danny and Charlie. It seems during the time jump a lot of people died, including Charlie’s mom (played by Lost alum Elizabeth Mitchell). Charlie and Danny are supposedly out hunting but they’ve happened upon an old trailer. Charlie has a flashback to emptying out the freezer after the black out and getting to eat tubs of ice cream. Kid’s dream I’m sure. Unfortunately, Danny opens a cupboard and the dust aggravates his asthma.

Charlie takes off after arguing with her dad and misses the big showdown when the militia arrives, looking for Ben. He is going to go with them (they want him and his brother Miles) but Danny and the other townsfolk get involved. It ends with Danny being taken and a lot of people dying. Ben is barely hanging on when Charlie gets back. He has enough left in him to tell Charlie where to find Miles and instructs her that Miles can rescue Danny. So she, Aaron (a friend of Ben’s who has a secret flash drive) and Maggie (Ben’s girlfriend and the town doctor) head off to Chicago in search of their savior.

Things aren’t looking so hot for Danny. The militia leader has sent word back to the General that he had to take Danny instead of Ben. Which means one or both of them could end up with their head on a stick. Danny is cuffed to a pipe in the wagon and that night, manages to get the screw out and escape. Meanwhile, Charlie and company are camped near a waterfall where she meets Nate. He’s kind of cute but Charlie doesn’t really know what to make of him. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust a random cute guy in the woods when there are tons of stories about bandits killing people. The gang camps out in an old airplane when Aaron says it should be safe. He used to own one (he worked for Google). Unfortunately, they are set upon by bandits, including one former Power Ranger. I was quite impressed I managed to recognize him. Maggie manages to take out two of the baddies (poisoning one and strangling the other). Charlie is trying to fight off the third when Nate shows up and saves her. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy to have around. I have to say I think the story is moving just a tad slowly at this point. Then again, stories that involve a lot of traveling through the woods tend to feel that way (Harry Potter 7 anyone?).

Maggie is highly suspicious of Nate. She doesn’t think they can trust him but Charlie isn’t interested in her opinion. They get to Chicago and we learn another fun factoid about Aaron, he was married. I have to say, I kind of like him. They find Miles but he’ll only talk to Charlie. We get some exposition where he explains why Monroe wants him. He’s not sure he’s even going to help because Danny is just bait to lure him in. He doesn’t confirm or deny if he knows why the power shut off or how to turn it back on. But he is sure that if Monroe figures out how to get the power back, things will get very bad. Meanwhile, Danny had yet another asthma attack while escaping and wakes up to find a woman pointing a weapon at him. But she seems okay. She is a little worried that Danny may have led the soldiers to her.

Charlie should have listened to Maggie because it turns out Nate is with the militia. He takes off and Miles gets all cranky that he’ll be back with reinforcements. He tells Charlie and company to get out and leave him to drink himself to death in peace. Things aren’t looking so great for Danny either. The militia leader shows up at the woman’s house and she lets him take Danny away. I was kind of hoping she’d be an ally. As predicted, Nate returns with back up. And thus begins the awesome fight sequence that justifies Miles as “good at killing”. He’s pretty badass with a sword. I have to say, I’ve seen the Twilight movies (for the shirtless hot guys) and I never realized just how attractive Billy Burke actually is. I’m going to enjoy watching him every week. As the fighting continues, Charlie is trying and failing to fight of a soldier when Nate comes to the rescue. He takes off before Aaron and Maggie can see what he’s done though.

As Maggie stitches up Miles’ only wound from the fight, he agrees to go with them. Charlie is pretty excited. We get another flashback as to who General Monroe is. It turns out to be the guy who was in the car with Miles the night the power shut off. Very interesting twist, I must say. It explains the militia mark on Nate’s arm, though. Meanwhile, the woman who let Danny get taken, sneaks up to the attic, activates the same device Ben gave Aaron and it starts up a computer, much like the one in the Hatch on Lost (we had to have some kind of Easter Egg on an Abrams show) and tells someone that the militia was there but they didn’t find “it”. I’ll be very interested going forward to know what “it” is.

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Pilot Preview: "The Mindy Project"

Network: FOX
Premieres: Tuesday, September 25 at 9:30 PM

“Max? I am on a date right now. Do you know how difficult it is for a chubby thirty-one year old woman to go on a legit date with a guy who majored in economics at Duke?”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you’re a TV fan, you probably know that this fall, FOX is debuting a new sitcom called “The Mindy Project.” The show is from the brain of and stars former “The Office” writer and actress Mindy Kalling as a thirty-one-year-old OB/GYN resident who has just realized that her personal life is a freaking mess and not at all like the romantic comedies she loved as a child (and a teenager…and a college student). After a particularly embarrassing incident at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding which results in spending a few hours in jail, Mindy (the character) is bound and determined to make a change in her life. Tomorrow. Maybe. After banging her hot British coworker who is totally bad news. Mindy may be a “bad girl” in some respects, but in other ways, she’s a complete pushover. Even though she knows it’s not in her best interest career-wise, Mindy can’t help but agree to take on patients in bad financial shape, especially if they’re immigrants. I think that little detail makes her really human.

“The Mindy Project” is definitely a show with some bite to it. Mindy grew up loving and quoting romantic comedies, and she eventually gets her own rom com moment when she’s stuck in an elevator with a hot fellow doctor. What I liked even more, though (from a storytelling perspective) is that her perfect rom com happy ending gets horribly twisted, and the destruction of that dream is what leads Mindy to rock bottom. That rock bottom involves giving a pissed off drunk speech at ot elevator doctor’s wedding (to the woman he broke up with her for), running off, falling into a pool, an winding up in jail. Mindy vows to get her life together after that incident, but her plan is really still a work in progress. I think that work in progress aspect helps me identify with Mindy a bit. There are aspects of our personalities that are nothing alike (mostly the drunken debaucherous parts of Mindy’s personality), but I get the work in progress part.

“The Mindy Project” is kind of like “New Girl,” my current favorite show on the air, in the sense that it examines what life is like for late 20’s/early 30’s women today. As I’m less than a month away from the dreaded 29th birthday (insert awesome Schmidt quote from “The Story of the 50” here), I can certainly relate. “Mindy” definitely has a bit more of an edge to it than “New Girl,” though. “New Girl” is inherently sunny and optimistic, while “Mindy” is just down and dirty closer to real life. While I think I’ll still prefer “New Girl” for the escapism and the awesome clothes, but there are moments of “The Mindy Project” that ring embarrassingly true for my own life, too. A bit where Mindy isn’t quite sure whether or not she’s on a date especially had me cracking up. Another aspect of Mindy’s personality that I identify with all too well is her inability to say “no” to hard luck cases.

In some ways, the fact that “Mindy” is more true to life is a bit of a negative too, in that neither of Mindy’s main love interests are really princes among men. The love interests are the two other OB/GYN residents in Mindy’s program. There is hot but kind of trashy British guy Jeremy (Ed Weeks). As a show I can’t recall at the moment (“Suburgatory” maybe?) put it, he’s like a potato chip. Yummy, but not good for you at all. Mindy’s other choice is Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), the most competent of the residents with an ego to match. I get the sense that he does appreciate Mindy for who she is, neuroses and all, but he doesn’t really show it. Instead he criticizes her weight and her clothing. I think we’re supposed to believe that Danny is the guy Mindy is meant to be wth while Jeremy is just a bad news good time, but Danny treats Mindy like crap just as much as Jeremy does. I’m not sure what it says about our culture when a woman can be so desperate to be married that she’ll even consider these two guys. Mindy is a bit Bridget Jones in that she’s a little chunky (so am I, so no judgment here) and she’s desperate to get her life on track. Bridget at least ended up with a fundamentally decent guy, though, even if he wasn’t the most exciting at first glance.

We won’t be blogging “The Mindy Project” on a regular basis here at MTVP (there are only so many hours in the day and we both have day jobs, you know), but I do think I will keep watching it, at least for a few more episodes. I appreciate the effort to speak to women of my generation, even if it is a bit more cynical than I or my usual taste in television. I think the three residents could develop a friendly chemistry that’s worth watching if their assholeishness is toned down just a touch. Most new shows that get a fair amount of time on the air manage to temper their most irksome characteristics while still maintaining the spirit of the premise, so I’m hoping the characters can be toned down a touch while preserving the show’s truthy bite.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Newsroom 1.07: "5/1"

“America thinks bin Laden’s alive. If I can make him dead one minute sooner, my entire life in journalism up until this point will have been worth it.”

Aaron Sorkin does big, emotional moments like nobody else in screenwriting, and “5/1” which tells the story of the News Night team reporting on Osama bin Laden’s death, did not disappoint. I’ll admit, this one didn’t hit me quite as much as the Gabrielle Giffords episode, mostly because I wasn’t glued to the television set for the bin Laden death coverage like I was for the Arizona shooting coverage. Still, I can see how for people who lived in New York and DC on September 11, 2001, the moment could have been extremely cathartic. And News Night folks telling other characters the news of bin Laden’s death still made me teary. And so did the cut to President Obama’s press conference at the end of the episode. So yeah, this episode was definitely emotional. And I think this episode, and the moment I alluded to in “Fix You” demonstrate why choosing to set “The Newsroom” in the recent past, while that choice has been heavily criticized, was very effective. Especially if you’re a news/political junkie like me (I can’t remember a time when we didn’t watch the news during dinner when I was growing up), these events are things you remember very specifically, and that provides an emotional trigger that immediately brings you into a scene like Don telling a pilot that bin Laden is dead or the News Night team announcing the shooting of Giffords as Coldplay’s “Fix You” plays on.

The episode opens witch Charlie getting a phone call from a mysterious person who fancies himself the next Deep Throat. The mysterious caller wants to establish his credibility as a source, and he tells Charlie that the News Night team will get an e-mail from the White House at 9:00 telling them to get to work. Getting to work at 9:00 PM is going to be a challenge for the News Night crew, because they’re all partying it up at Will’s apartment for the one year (and one week) anniversary of “News Night 2.0. To make things even worse, Neal’s girlfriend Kaylee has secured some pot cookies from a friend in LA. Will ate two of them and took some Vicadin too, which means he’s pretty much baked out of his mind. He claims he has a super metabolism and will be able to handle all those chemicals, but Neal and Kaylee are doubtful. As the party craziness builds, News Nighters start getting a strange email from one of their national security experts. The email basically just says “call me, I’m available.” Know that I’m really trying very hard to avoid a Carly Rae Jepson joke here.

In the news of pure stupidity department, Jim is trying to do work while at the party, and he gets a call from Lisa on Face Time. She’s talking to him while walking to the party. Maggie is in the room too (she insisted Jim take Lisa’s call), and she gets a little bent out of shape when Lisa tells Jim “I love you.” She says that Jim has to break up with Lisa immediately because Jim obviously doesn’t feel the same way (and also obviously, Maggie wants Jim for herself, even though she refuses to let go of Don). Maggie’s nagging of Jim doesn’t last too long, though, because News Night staffers get the e-mail Charlie’s contact said was coming. The President of the United States will be making a speech to the nation at 10:30 PM on an issue of national security. Understandably, this breaks up the party pretty quickly. The team dutifully files out of Will’s apartment and heads back to the office in cabs to prepare for the broadcast.

In this episode, Sorkin only showcased his talent for big, emotional moments, he showcased his madcap style of humor as well. Sloan, Don, and Eliot spend the entire episode stuck on a plane that is waiting for a gate at Laguardia. They can tell something is brewing from the messages they are getting on their cell phones, but they can’t all sit together to discuss it without getting yelled at by the flight attendant. This situation escalates throughout the episode, with the passengers getting suspicious of the News Night folks’ behavior and Don even falling in the aisle at one point. Also in the madcap humor department, Will and his bodyguard get stuck in horrible traffic on the way back to the office. Confidence medicinally boosted, Will decides to jump out of the car and run. Lonnie the bodyguard is frustrated and attracts the attention of come nearby cops, who become suspicious of Lonnie for the crime of driving while black. It doesn’t help that Lonnie is carrying a gun, too.

Anyway, the rest of the News Night team makes it back to the office without incident, and they have a big meeting to try to figure out what the President’s upcoming speech could possibly be about. The most likely choice is that we killed bin Laden, so Mackenzie has a team work on that possibility. The next most likely choice is that we killed Gadhafi, so Mackenzie assigns a team to that as well. Neal thinks we might have had contact with extra-terrestrials, and Maggie wonders if the President is going to admit that his birth certificate is fake after all, but Mackenzie doesn’t give credence to either of those theories. Will finally arrives at the office too, and it turns out he’s been extremely productive during his run from Lonnie’s car to the office. He’s spoken with General Wesley Clark (who said it’s not Gadhafi), and he got himself a nice falafel. So now with Gadhafi out of the mix, the team is going under the assumption that the news is most likely about bin Laden. Jane, the anchor at the ACN Washington bureau, really wants to report a tween that says it’s bin Laden, but Mackenzie won’t let her. Jane is played by the wonderful Salli Richardson-Whitfield, most famous for playing Dr. Alison Blake on Syfy’s “Eureka.”

Mackenzie and Will have a conversation where Will reveals just how baked he is, and it’s quite hilarious. Mackenzie is pretty furious at Will for being in that state on such an important night, but she also knows that he needs to report this news. Eventually the team gets two confirmations that it’s bin Laden, but Charlie still says it’s a no go as far as reporting it before the President’s press conference. He doesn’t want to put any lives in danger if the mission isn’t quite finished yet. ACN will report bin Laden’s death when the President says they can. Jane doesn’t make complying with Charlie’s wishes very easy. She tells one of her reporters the news, and Mackenzie has to cut the feed from Washington to keep the news from getting out. Charlie and Will make a big announcement about bin Laden’s death to the News Night crew, and Kaylee is the only one who is upset. She goes out on a balcony so that she doesn’t ruin anyone else’s happiness. Neal talks to her about it, and the reason she’s upset is because her dad died on 9/11, and she thought bin Laden’s death would make her feel better, but obviously her dad’s still gone.

For some reason, instead of doing her work, Maggie starts bugging Jim again to break up with Lisa. Lisa barges in on the conversation and ends up doing the job for Jim. She says she knows she was a set-up that Jim didn’t want and that Jim has been too polite to end things, so she breaks up with him. She can also see how he and Maggie feel about each other, and she doesn’t want to get in the way of Maggie’s happiness. Both Jim and Maggie vehemently deny that they’re interested in each other, but it’s obvious that the reporters doth protest too much. Jim ends up asking Lisa for another date. He says he likes her and wants to ask her on a real first date without any of the set-up pretense. This can’t possibly end well, although I guess I don’t blame the guy for trying to have some happiness considering Maggie seems unwilling to give up Don.

Speaking of Don, he’s still super antsy on the plane, both about the breaking news and about his future with Maggie (he is so much more into her than she is to him…dude should get out before he gets even more hurt). He starts to hear other passengers telling each other the wrong information about what’s going on national security-wise, and he stands up to try to address the plane. The flight attendant gets really pissed off because it looks like Don is trying to “take control of the cabin,” and she calls for the captain. Don looks at the captain and the gravity of what has happened finally sinks in. He gives a really nice bit of oratory about how he wants the captain and his crew to be the first on the plane to know that bin Laden was killed. And this is where I started to get a little teary. Lonnie also gets to deliver the news in similarly moving fashion to the police officers who have been giving him trouble when the officers take him to News Night so they can verify his story.

While the team is still waiting for the official “go” to broadcast the news, Charlie gets another call from his mysterious would-be informant. It turns out that the man works for the NSA, and he is calling to warn Charlie that AWM (ACN’s parent company) has been engaging in News of the World-style phone tapping. Charlie comes to the conclusion that this means TMI must be doing the phone tapping and that is how they have been getting all their dirt on Will and the rest of the News Night staff. Will himself finally fights through the chemical fog long enough to realize he hasn’t checked his Blackberry for a while, and it turns out he has a twenty minute old e-mail from none other than Joe Biden saying that they can go ahead and report that bin Laden is dead. This moment cracked me up, but the mood quickly becomes somber as we see Will report the story and transition into President Obama’s actual speech as the credits roll.