Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.17: "The Wedding: Part 2"

“You know what I would do? I would lock up man Francis and lady Frances in a room, blurt out their secrets and then just run.”

The big Harrison vow renewal drama continued with a vengeance in “The Wedding: Part 2.” Getting a look at Pete and Kate’s families, I’m kind of impressed that Pete and Kate themselves turned out so normal. Granted, the whole extended Harrison clan situation isn’t exactly normal, but Pete and Kate actually seem like people I might enjoy hanging out with. Their parents? Not so much. The parents are all caricatures taken to the extreme. Pete’s parents are almost the complete opposite of Kate’s mom (by design, I’m sure), and all three are caricatures. You can’t disagree with the casting of the three parents, though – it’s rather epic. Kate’s mother, Cricket, is played by comedienne Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”). Pete’s parents, Francis and Frances, are played by veteran character actor Bob Gunton and Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson. It’s clear that all three are having fun with the gig, which makes it fun to watch.

This episode begins where the last one left off – the airport. Cricket is in trouble for her flirtatious behavior on the airplane, and Pete uses his lawyering skills to keep the trouble from getting worse. Once Cricket’s rescue is complete, it’s time to retrieve “man Francis” and “lady Frances.” They kind of hate eah other, it seems. They certainly go out of their way not to talk to each other. They use Pete as a go between when talking about something as innocuous as dinner. It’s kind of ridiculous, really. They don’t quite know what to make of Cricket. They also start revealing things to Pete and Kate that the other doesn’t know. For instance, Francis is supposed to be retired, but he has a secret job selling decks. He goes to work in his golf clothes, changes into work clothes, then changes again before going home. Frances has sold the elder Harrisons’ house and has bought them a condo in Florida. Neither know the other’s secret. It’s kind of ridiculous, really.

Meanwhile, the wedding prep is causing some drama among the younger Harrisons. Hillary is stressing because, since she is Diane’s daughter, she wants everything about the wedding to be perfect. I still kind of miss the rebellious version of Hillary in the pilot. Hillary the mini-Diane is much less interesting. Anyway, Hillary has a very long to-do list compared to Meg’s small list scribbled on her hand. Meg is taking forever to do her own small list, though, so Hillary decide to enlist the help of Diane and Jackie. Seeing as Diane and Jackie are Pete’s ex-wives, their participation in his latest wedding is kind of awkward, to say the least, but they go with it, because the extended Harrison clan is just kind of weird like that. Both Diane and Jackie wonder if Kate is just inviting them to wedding events to be polite, but we later do learn that Kate is genuinely happy to have them participate. They’re annoying, but they’re family.

The difference between Pete and Kate’s families really comes to the forefront at the rehearsal dinner. Cricket thought it would be funny to hire some strippers since Kate didn’t get a proper bachelorette party. She didn’t stop to think that there would be kids around. Bert, to his credit, thinks the whole thing is just a hilarious dance party. The elder Harrisons are so taken aback that they immediately decide to go to bed (in separate rooms, of course). Kate has had it with her mother at this point, and she gives her a piece of her mind. Cricket doesn’t take to this well. I think she feels that Kate not being a complete, 100% free spirit with no boundaries or rules is somehow elitist. This issue is solved when Kate and Cricket have a heart to heart while Cricket is sitting on the roof of Pete and Kate’s house. Kate assures her that her living situation is anything but normal. Jackie can pop up in the bathtub in the middle of the night, after all. Cricket doesn’t feel so rejected by Kate after their conversation.

The other problem hanging out there is Pete’s parents who won’t talk to each other. Kate makes an offhand comment about wanting to put both of them in a room, blurt out their secrets, and run. Then Kate decides to actually go through with this plan. She tries a gentler approach at first, putting both the elder Harrisons in one room and instructing them to talk to each other, but when they both escape the room, Kate has finally had it, and she spills their secrets. There is no big argument like Kate expected, though. Francis and Frances just keep walking away from each other as quickly as they can, like two magnets turned to opposite poles. They don’t even hear family news at the same time. Each comes into a room separately to tell Kate and Pete that Pete’s 108-year-old great aunt has died. The funeral is on the same day as the vow renewal, so it looks like plans will have to be changed.

As their plane for Portland boards, Kate notes that there seem to be quite a few quirky characters preparing to board the flight as well. Kate sits with Bert, and when he spills on her, Hillary comes to the rescue with a change of clothes. This doesn’t seem odd because of how hyper-prepared Hillary always is. The change of clothes happens to be a white dress, though, and when Kate steps out of the lavatory, everyone on the plane stands. All the people who had looked funny when boarding remove their costumes to reveal that they are wedding guests. Meg, Diane, and Jackie are all there, and Pete and the kids are waiting at the end of the aisle. Also, Cricket is there to walk Kate down the aisle. Kate is briefly worried that Cricket stowed away on the plane, but it turns out Pete used frequent flyer miles to arrange everything. Kate walks down the aisle to a song from “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” and it’s basically her dream wedding. Just on a plane.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Person of Interest 3.18: "Alligiance"

“We’re a lot like you Ms. Martinez. We help people in less fortunate circumstances. We only require one thing in return for our services. The truth.”
- Finch

We are in the home stretch folks. Only a few more episodes until we finish out season3 of “Person of Interest”. We begin this week with Bear being naughty and finding the doggie treats on a shelf. He is just so damn adorable. I wish we had more Bear on the show. Anyway, Shaw is trailing their latest number, Maria Martinez. She works for a compan6y that installs high power generators in third world countries. Shaw has eyes on her and she spots the POI steal a GPS tracker after getting a mysterious call from a man about a package. The fact that Maria and her phone buddy spoke Arabic, it triggers Reese to give Shaw a little back up in case they are dealing with a terrorist. While they’re off eating shwarma, Root is tracking the head of Decima. But he’s one step ahead of her. He is able to cut the cameras and mess up the audio and dump his phone so that Root finds someone else. I’ll give him this; he’s good at not being found. But I really hope the gang takes him out soon.

Reese and Shaw’s stake out leads them to the brother of the mystery caller. The brother, Omar, was detained by Customs a week ago on suspicions of terrorism. Omar’s brother gives Maria a package that our team thinks may be a bomb. Shaw keeps tabs on Maria and gets Lionel to offer an assist (mainly flashing his badge so they can sit in front of the UN without issue). Maria deftly slips a GPS tracker onto the car of a French diplomat. And quite conveniently this man is the one who can consider the asylum paperwork for Omar. I sense some blackmail in the works here. And it’s kind of amusing to hear Lionel bitch about the UN. Shaw slips into a black tie function where Maria confronts the French diplomat with the package. It turns out to be additional evidence to support Omar’s case for asylum. A Greek diplomat rescues her before she gets booted by security but I don’t trust him. There’s just something fishy about him I think. Reese and Finch pay a visit to the French diplomat, posing as attorneys and get a look at a letter supposedly sent by the Ministry of the Interior over in Iraq claiming Omar has terrorist ties.

Lionel and Shaw follow Maria home and Shaw immediately spots trouble. She gets into the elevator and takes out a French legion soldier who more than likely was going to kill Maria. Or at least drug her. Things get a little dicey when they exit the elevator and are greeted by some more gunmen but between Shaw and Lionel, they get all but two. One flees and the last one, Reese tackles out a window. Literally, they fall several stories onto a parked car and Reese gets up like nothing happened. Dude’s got big giant brass ones if you ask me.

The gang meets up at a safe house and Maria fills them in on some of the story. Omar saved her life in Iraq when they were ambushed by terrorists. So she wants to get him into the country. Finch and Reese decide that it might be best of they visit Omar as his new attorney. After Finch establishes his credentials and that he knows Maria, Omar spills that the generators delivered to Iraq went missing and he translated document about the transport signed by Maria’s boss. Unfortunately, the meeting was cut short by guards coming in and hauling Omar off to be deported. Lionel gets tasked with interrogating Maria’s boss and it doesn’t go very far. I mean he doesn’t really have jurisdiction to question the guy. And he’s got friends in high places and foreign diplomats in his pockets.

Back at the safe house, Shaw shares something very personal about herself when Maria insists that she doesn’t understand that fanatics will kill Omar when he gets back to Iraq. Shaw’s mother was from Iran and was an academic who got smuggled out of the country in 1979. It’s nice to get little nuggets of information that fills out our characters a little bit. And Shaw pegs that Maria and Omar are in love. And after looking at both the letter from the Ministry of the Interior and the supposed recommendation from Maria’s boss, they figure out that he was the one who wrote the damning letter. And not really surprising to anyone, Maria says she needs a drink and ditches Shaw in the room with magnetically sealed doors. Good one Shaw. But hey, at least Reese manages to gain custody of Omar without too much trouble. He only has to punch a guard out. But since Maria is heading straight to the French diplomat’s office to get the original of the fake Ministry letter, the team needs to hurry up and converge. And I kind of hope that Root’s storyline comes back into this at some point. It’s kind of annoying when she’s just sort of hanging off by herself.

I was right not to trust the Greek diplomat. As soon as he gets Maria up to the French diplomat’s office, he starts acting cagey. Then of course, he shoots the French diplomat when he shows up. It seems we were suspecting the wrong alliance. The team is on the way though. The boys borrow a fire truck and pose as firefighters. They manage to take out the rest of the French legion guys and arrest the Greek diplomat. Maria’s boss is in the wind but Root’s little mission (which included borrowing Bear) leads her to discover that Maria’s boss stole the generators to give to the head of Decima. So they have a way to power Samaritan now. Joy. She ends up using Bear to beat Decima’s method of getting lost and he offers her the chance to join forces with him. She’s not interested.

At least Omar and Maria get a happy ending. He’s get asylum and they can start their new life together. And Lionel has done a little digging and learns that it was the Persian New Year and orders some champagne for Shaw to celebrate. It’s nice to see her act a little more human, too. Reflecting on her parents having their first date at the restaurant softens her up a bit for me. But I can tell we are just getting ready to kick things into high gear. Samaritan versus the Machine is going to be a bloodbath.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Once Upon a Time 3.14: "The Tower"

“There’s a difference between fear and strategy. We know she’s got flying monstrosities. Who knows what she’s got down there?”
- Hook

I have to admit I was very confused at first when this episode started. And it seems I’m not the only one. David is wandering around the castle and ends up in Emma’s nursery but it shouldn’t be all clean and put together like it is. And then Emma shows up in a ball gown, saying she needs practice before the ball and she wants him to teach her how to dance. We get a nice scene of daddy and daughter dancing but then things take a turn for the creepy. She accuses him of failing her (there’s a creepy doll head spinning on a shelf) and then she gets sucked through a portal yelling that he can’t fail the next one. David wakes and we realize it was a dream. But maybe more like a premonition since Snow announces she’s pregnant.

In Storybrooke, the Charming/Mills clan plus Hook are trying to figure out how to find the Wicked Witch. They all agree Henry needs to be kept safe and Regina takes protection duty. Elsewhere, Zelena mays Rumple another visit and finds him spinning madly and chanting. He really has lost his mind. She has his dagger so she’s in control and she gives him a shave to keep up appearances and we get a little info on her drunken father. So those positing that Rumple is actually her father would be wrong (if we can trust her). Zelena wants something that Rumple has (or had) and that goes against his very nature. We next find her at the pawn shop which Belle seems to have taken over claiming she wants to buy a baby gift for Mary Margaret. But as Belle heads off, Zelena freezes her and busts into the wall safe to grab a magical plant. This is not a good thing and I get the feeling she wants to steal the Snowing baby.

David, Emma and Hook are checking Regina’s office for non-magical clues and David finds some holly berries on the floor and knows exactly where they grow in the woods. One assumes this will ultimately lead them to Rumple. Or at least where Zelena was keeping him. Unfortunately, David won’t be going on that little trek because Mary Margaret wants him home to meet with Zelena. He’s reluctant to leave but Emma urges him on. It seems there’s something afoot with Zelena and her intentions towards the prince. She puts some of that root she stole from the pawn shop in his tea.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Robin happens upon David taking a secret sip from a flask hidden in the stables. They have a nice bonding moment where David admits that he had no problem believing that putting Emma in the wardrobe and sending her off was the right thing to do. But now he’s terrified of this second baby. Robin tells him of some root that grows in Sherwood Forest that quells fears and David heads off, despite the warning of it being haunted. This just reinforces that there is something special about this baby. David finds the root he’s looking for but before he can do much, he hears a woman calling for help. The calls lead him to a tower which he climbs without much hesitation to find a young woman with really long hair trapped at the top. Yep, we’re getting Rapunzel, folks. And in true Once fashion, she’s not the princess we know. For one thing she’s African American. Thank you for some diversity without them being evil. We get a little history on Rapunzel. Her parents are great rulers and she knew she wasn’t cut out for the task. When her older brother died, she was overcome by fear and sought out the same root as David. It didn’t work and now she’s trapped in the tower by a witch who is on her way up the tower as they’re talking. The effects this week are very jarring which I guess makes sense. Rapunzel insists that there’s nothing David can do but he says he’s going to save her. And then promptly gets his ass kicked by the witch.

David arrives home and Zelena makes them all some tea, slipping something into David’s drink. As they talk, it becomes pretty clear she’s dosed him with the root he was looking for in the Enchanted Forest. He’s now fearless. Not good! And he heads off to the woods to meet up with Emma and Hook (sword in hand) and we see the witch in the side mirror of his truck. Because that’s not creepy. Emma and Hook are getting closer to finding Zelena’s hide out (a farm house…the irony is not lost on Emma) but we get some banter between them that kind of made this Swanthief fan cringe. He thinks he saved Emma from a loveless marriage and is glad that Emma got her heart broken by Walsh because it means her heart still works (aka he’s still got a shot of getting in her pants). David gets to the woods and thinks he’s found the Wicked Witch but he’s wrong. And also gets his ass kicked by the hooded witch.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Regina and Henry have a really touching conversation. Henry thinks that Emma turned Walsh down and she ran away from New York to get away for a while. He’s disappointed because he liked how happy Walsh made her and he was hoping for more than just the two of them at holidays. Regina assures him that one day, he’ll have more family than he’ll know what to do with. And also says that the best part of a small town is that everyone is like a big family. Or you know, in this case, an actual family. Seriously, everyone is related in this town!

Emma and Hook venture to the farm house and snoop around but before they can go into the storm cellar, Hook suggests they get some magical back up. Seeing as Emma’s powers are a bit rusty from non-use the past year, they call Regina for an assist. And the most interesting part of this whole storyline, we figure out that the witch isn’t a witch but the person’s fears personified as themselves. David admits that he is afraid of being a bad father to this new baby and it’s enough to overcome his demons. And in the Enchanted Forest, Rapunzel cuts her hair and gets rid of her fear. She’s reunited with her family and David admits to Snow that he’s scared of not being a good father. In Storybrooke, David explains what happened and Regina warns that since his sword hilt disappeared, it’s a totem of his courage and that can be very dangerous and powerful. Of course it is! So now we have to worry about Zelena stealing people’s brains and heart too! Here’s hoping we can at least get some info on the cellar. Not surprising, Rumple’s gone but they realize he’s back. I cannot wait to see what havoc comes home to Storybrooke now that he’s loose again!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Girl 3.19: "Fired Up"

“What do you call a lunatic who’s only got one case and no hobbies? Your worst nightmare.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say this, but “Fired Up” was one of those episodes of “New Girl” that it feels like the creative team could have downloaded right out of my brain. There’s Jess wanting a promotion at work and getting a little more than she asked for. There’s Nick second guessing his decision not to practice law and trying to get back in the game. It was all good stuff, and most of it had me laughing quite a bit. A lot of what made me laugh involved Nick being just plain stupid, which is something I don’t generally like, but the way Jake Johnson executed it in this episode was pretty much perfection. I also really liked Jess standing up for herself and deciding that she’s going to do the Vice Principal’s job at her school her way, not the traditional way. She has enthusiasm and drive to find a better way of doing things that I hope to bring to my own work.

So, to understand why this episode especially resonated with me, you need to know a bit about me. Most of this you probably could have put together if you’re one of the one, maybe two people who have followed MTVP for some time. In 2009, I was a recently minted lawyer who entered the legal job market at pretty much the worst possible time in recent memory. I needed to feel productive while job searching, so I did two things. I started MTVP, and I took on some volunteer legal work with a nonprofit. That volunteer work turned into paid part time work, and that work would be the only year-ish that I would actually practice law (I’m still licensed, but I don’t practice). I don’t often regret shifting so quickly away from practicing law, but it does happen sometimes. These days, I have a very fulfilling public management-type job in state government. Back in September, there was a big shake-up at the office when a few people left for other opportunities, and the fall-out was tough. Despite that drama, I worked my ass off during our recent busy season, and as of yesterday, I’m officially getting the promotion I wanted back in the fall.

With that context, we can talk about the episode some more. Jess has gotten Coach a job as volley ball coach at her school. Coach isn’t enthusiastic about the idea at first, but once he tries the job, he realizes he loves it. He yells ridiculous things at the kids, but they love him anyway. Coach sees Jess doing ridiculous things to keep the school running (like acting as impromptu IT support or groundskeeper) and gets Jess to admit that she’d really like to be the school’s Vice Principal someday. Jess says she feels like she needs to put in several years of work at this level to be worthy of the promotion. Coach just laughs at her and says she should ask for the promotion already. I had a similar experience. After the drama of the fall, I had no plan to ask for a promotion again until my former supervisor came back to help us out for a few days during our busy season. He told me I should ask for a vacant assignment that was more difficult. When I finally decided that was a good idea, he said I might as well ask for the promotion again, too. And what do you know, this time it worked. It works for Jess, too. The principal is only too happy to have found a willing sucker to take on the often unpleasant job of Vice Principal.

Meanwhile, Schmidt moving back into the loft has caused quite a bit of strife for the rest of the roomies. His stuff is everywhere, and the roomies are tripping over furniture left and right. Schmidt says he can’t afford a storage unit, and Winston suggests that Schmidt move all his stuff into that useless storefront he rented. Schmidt agrees, but of course things don’t go as planned. A stereotypical hipster wanders into the storefront, thinking that Schmidt is setting up an actual store. The hipster trips and breaks his arm, and he threatens to sue. Schmidt can’t afford a lawyer, so Nick (who passed the bar in CA and is technically a lawyer) offers to represent him. Schmidt is skeptical, but Winston offers to back Nick up with his “Law and Order” knowledge. Nick doesn’t really want to be a lawyer, but there’s a part of him that would like to prove to himself that he can still do the job. The pressure of it gets to Nick, and he’s really a terrible, terrible lawyer. His effort to depose the hipster is kind of a joke. And Winston’s just a walking legal drama cliché, unfortunately. Nick is victorious, however, when he makes opposing counsel realize that he’s going to be a perpetual pain in their ass until they drop the case.

There’s also a really minor subplot about Cece that is probably meant to be a setup for future episodes. She befriends a guy at the bar who her coworker is also attracted to. The coworker guesses that said guy is underage. When asked to produce ID, all the patron can provide is a questionable Wyoming license with a bad attempt at an American accent. He turns out to be a twenty-year-old Australian named Buster. Cece kicks him out of the bar and realizes he’s bad news. Cece’s never been one to shy away from bad news, though, so when Buster returns to the bar for one final flirt, it’s pretty clear that Cece is into him.

Anyway, pretty soon after taking on the Vice Principal mantle, Jess has to finalize the school’s budget for the year. It’s not looking good, so the principal say she has to start firing people, last in first out. Unfortunately, one of the employees with the least seniority is Coach. Jess is practically in tears as she fires Coach, although to his credit, Coach is quite understanding about the whole thing. Jess feels terrible because Coach does such a great job, and eventually Jess just can’t take it anymore. She gives Coach his job back and tells the principal that they need to find a different way to balance the budget. Some of her coworkers even chip in to help develop the plan. They’re going to rent out the multipurpose room and use the library for orchestra practice. I like that Jess’ enthusiasm is rubbing off on her coworkers and making the school a better place. It gives me hope.

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Pilot Season: The Changing Landscape of TV

So it’s that time of year again when the networks are starting to consider what new shows will be on their fall/midseason slates for the upcoming season. While we wait for May Upfronts when we’ll know for sure what’s made the list and when it will be hitting the airwaves, we figured we would give you a preview of some of the pilots we think are the most promising and the most intriguing. We will be bringing you a post-Upfronts post as well so keep an eye out for that. You may notice that one of the major five broadcast networks is missing. While Sarah usually is a fan of CBS shows, none of their pilot offerings are all that interesting.

Centered on New York star medical examiner, Dr. Henry Morgan, “Forever” follows him as he works to learn more about humanity through death because he is immortal. Whether he is a vampire or some other sort of supernatural creature is still a mystery. But we hope it will be addressed in the series if it makes the cut. It is also our hope that the creative team leans on the side of other supernatural creature because vampires are getting rather tired right now on TV. And it would give the show a more unique premise. The main draw for this show is the casting of Ioan Gruffudds (you’ll recognize him as rich guy Andrew Martin from “Ringer”). Based on the pure pretty factor alone, he is going to make an awesome immortal. It will probably be more of a sci-fi procedural (a la Grimm) but those seem to be “in” right now.

The Flash
This seems to be the year for spin-offs. Not only do “How I Met Your Mother”, NCIS and CSI have spin-offs in the works on CBS but CW staple “Supernatural” is getting one, too. “The Flash” is spun off from sophomore hit “Arrow”. As you might expect, this show follow Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) as The Flash, tackling crime in Central City. We are intrigued to see what happens in the wider Arrow-verse. The executive producers have said that they are keeping “The Flash” grounded in reality, like “Arrow”. We are led to believe that the explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs is what gives him his super speed. We hope that this series will be able to stand on its own ratings wise and survive past its freshman year. We here at More TV, Please enjoy the Arrow-verse (even if we don’t blog it anymore). Plus, from what we’ve already seen from leading man Gustin, we are hopeful that he’ll be able to anchor the show and show us what kind of acting chops he really has.

The CW is really becoming known for its strong genre fare. And the premise of “iZombie” is no exception. Another sci-fi procedural type, it follows a young med student-turned-zombie who works in the morgue to get brains to keep her going. But she teams up with the local constabulary to solve the murders to get the voices of the dead out of her head. You may have seen this pilot mentioned in the Writers’ Spotlight we did recently on Rob Thomas. This is his latest brain child and we are excited to see where it goes (pending pick up by the network). It could benefit from some expertly placed and drafted voice overs. Plus, Rose McIver (of recent Once Upon a Time fame playing Tinker Bell) is the lead. We also get David Anders (Dr. Whale) as well. This show has the potential to be a quirky new take on the zombie fad.

Backstrom (Ordered to Series)
Of all the series we are previewing, this is the least exciting. It is from Executive Producer Hart Hanson (“Bones”) and it’s a pretty straightforward procedural following an irascible detective in Portland solving cases with his team. Sarah is interested because of the Bones connection but based on what we know so far of the storyline, it sounds like it could be “House” but with cops instead of doctors. Sarah was never a fan of the show and Jen stopped watching after a few seasons. Rainn Wilson has the look to portray the lead character but we are not quite convinced he is leading man material. But perhaps most importantly, this show is one of several shows that demonstrate the changing landscape of television, especially for FOX. The network has decided to forego pilot season in favor of ordering show to series (13 episodes) and trying to program material year-round. While we think shorter seasons can be beneficial for certain types of shows (mostly high concept sci-fi), we aren’t sure whether that model will help or hurt “Backstrom”. Only time will tell.

Gotham (Ordered to Series)
Another trend this pilot seems to be the origin story. Like the CW, Fox is launching into its own superhero origin saga. This time focusing on Gotham City before Bruce Wayne put on his cape and pointy ears and drove his Bat mobile. This show, also ordered to series by the network, follows future Commissioner Gordon as a young detective dealing with the corruption of his city and the birth of some of the mythology’s better known villains. We weren’t originally interested in “Gotham” but as the cast has been announced, it has started to draw our eye. If it’s anything like the gritty feeling of shows like “Almost Human”, we’ll at least give it a shot.

Hieroglyph (Ordered to Series)
Set in Ancient Egypt, “Hieroglyph” follows a notorious thief plucked from prison to serve the Pharaoh. As expected there will be lots of intrigue and craziness afoot. One of the better parts of this show is the casting of British actor John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from Lord of the Rings). We aren’t sure exactly who will be portraying but we’ll take whatever he gives us. This show is poised to fulfill our love of historically set mysteries and magic, in the vein of Atlantis or Merlin. It is certainly unlike any of the other shows currently on broadcast networks today. With the cult success of shows like “Sleepy Hollow”, we are anxious to see if this show can find a foothold in the ratings and bring about some new twists on a heavily sci-fi development slate.

Based on more comic book characters, “Constantine” centers on John Constantine, a supernatural crime fighter. Yes, this is the same character from the movie with Keanu Reeves. We think it’s about time we got some angels and demons on our TV screens. SyFy has a similar concept in “Dominion” in terms of following the angels vs. man idea. We here at More TV, Please love our genre fare as you may have noticed. And it is high time we explore a different facet of the supernatural universe. Werewolves, witches and vampires are old school. This is the time of the supernatural comic book hero (or anti-hero depending on how you look at it). Bring it on NBC!

Emerald City (Ordered to Series)
If you follow TV like we do, back in the fall you would have seen that most of the networks were scrambling to take a bite of the “Wizard of Oz” apple now that it is celebrating 75 years since the release of the film. Most of the pilots sounded dreadful (CBS had a medical drama). But based on the pilot listings we’ve seen so far (excluding cable networks like SyFy), “Emerald City” is the only one of the “Oz”-centric pilots that has made it to order. And like FOX, NBC has given this a series order right out of the gate. While none of the casting has been announced yet, this reminds us of the SyFy Channel miniseries “Tin man”. We are excited to see how they play up the darkness and the danger in Oz.

So there are eight pilots we are hoping make it to series (or beyond a freshman run in the case of those already granted series orders). We will see you back here in mid-May after Upfronts to assess which shows have made the cut. There is a very strong possibility you will see at least one or two of these covered in the rotation during the 2014-2015 season.

Person of Interest 3.17: "/"

“Do you really want to see what it looks like when two gods go to war?”
- Root

This week is a very Root-centric episode (as evidenced by the fact that she and Finch split the narration of the opening credits). We start in Michigan where she breaks a car thief out of police custody so that she can use him to get mail for a German banker. It seems that since last we saw her, she’s been recruiting people to help her with whatever she and the Machine are up to. Not even she knows what she’s really doing. She’s got a lot of faith in the Machine and what it tells her. We get some nice continuity though because she’s deaf in the ear that the head of Northern Lights did to her. After she gets what she needs with the car thief, she’s back to New York for the next phase of the plan which now involves a night janitor named Cyrus.

While taking Cyrus to breakfast, she is stumped that he’s not asking the usual questions. It would seem he is rather laid back about life. Actually, he seems a little OCD when he says he needs to go for a walk in the park before going home to bed. She accompanies him and we get a rather cute scene with Root and Finch. Finch has far more information on Cyrus than she does and it would seem her disregard for his importance comes back to haunt her later. Reese and Shaw keep tabs on Root and Cyrus while Finch goes back to the Library to try and decode an ad Root sent to him. Oh and it seems that Root and the Machine are trying to stop Decima (run by the Brit who recruited Reese’s partner) from building and unleashing Samaritan.

Of course things have to get more complicated when Vigilance (the privacy terrorists) show up to take out Cyrus. Cyrus starts to freak out a little when Root says they have to go and then a sniper starts shooting at him. Shaw takes the sniper out while Reese handles the guys from Vigilance. The reason Cyrus has become a target is because his name was mentioned in a secret communication from Decima. That might explain why he fell off the Wall Street grid back in 2009 despite his millions and his MBA. Team Machine is in for one hell of a fight.

Root gets Cyrus arrested for egging a cop car so that he’ll at least be safe for a little while. After Reese handles the Vigilance guys, the Decima folks disappear for a while. But they’ve lost communication with Shaw. She’s trying to interrogate the sniper when the head of Vigilance, Collier, shows up saying she is their new target. He spouts off a bunch of fairly accurate yet generic factoids about Shaw and offers her the chance for revenge if she gives up all she knows about Decima and Samaritan. She’s not interested. Down at the precinct, Root goes to collect Cyrus before Reese can meet up with Lionel for a hand off. Apparently she joined the FBI and has real credentials and a federal warrant to take custody of Cyrus. Lionel has a rather funny line about the way he refers to Root and Reese. It’s typical Lionel in his sarcasm. Reese is not so sure that Root can protect Cyrus but she says he should be more focused on why both groups want Cyrus in the first place. She takes him back to the diner he likes where he shares the sad story of why he disappeared from the face of the planet. He started a real estate company with his college friends and when they played it safe during the market crash, someone got angry and a shooter came in a killed his friends and injured him and four others. After spending 10 weeks in the ICU, his outlook on life changed. Our heroes may have a lead when Finch finds that the janitorial company Cyrus works for recently ran a background check on him. Very strange!

The pieces start to fall into place. Root unfortunately loses Cyrus to Decima but Reese takes out some more of the guys. Shaw takes out more of Vigilance but Collier gets away after she declines his offer of a job. He really shouldn’t have thought appealing to Shaw’s better nature would actually work seeing as she doesn’t have one. Root pops by the library after she leases Cyrus because she needs Finch’s help. The Machine got disconnected temporarily thanks to Decima and we also learn that Cyrus is on a list of people whose retinal scan opens the door on the 19th floor to the building he worked in as a janitor. Someone recently created a chip powerful enough to run Samaritan. So now the team needs to rush to get to Cyrus before Decima uses Cyrus for what they need and then discard him. We also get a rather uncharacteristically emotional scene with Root when she realizes that the murder of his friends was her fault. She was the one who hired the killer and she doesn’t understand why the Machine keeps telling her to save Cyrus. She blames Finch breaking the Machine but he says that what he did made it better and allows the Machine to care about people and help them. And he wants to help Root if she’ll let him.

Decima gets to the building and uses Cyrus to get in to the chip. Reese and Lionel show up to provide some back up but it only scares Cyrus off. Root makes a trip to an ear doctor and gets a device put in her ear so that she’s got a direct contact to the Machine and she can out of her bum ear again. So the next time Decima tries to pull their signal jam trick, she’s unaffected and takes out the guys on the ground floor. Unfortunately, Decima makes off with the chip so the emergence of Samaritan is a real threat. I have a feeling that the two systems will be battling it out in the finale in May. Cyrus gets a new life (without the knowledge that Root played a role in his past) and the Machine sends Root off to South America on a mission. But she and Finch come to an agreement that they need to work together to face the looming threat of their own demise.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.16: "The Wedding: Part 1"

“Kate, will you marry me? Again? In front of people?”

This was the first of a two-part episode of “Trophy Wife” centering around Pete and Kate renewing their vows. In a way, all of the Harrison women strengthen their respective relationships in this one, and I guess that is what really ties the whole episode together. It’s all about love. Oh, and while we’re at it, the creative team throws in the threat of deportation to make things a little more exciting. I’m pretty sure it’s been mentioned before that Kate is Canadian, but it was a huge plot point in this episode. The vow renewal itself will have to wait until the next episode. This episode was entertaining enough on the whole, but I’m expecting that the vow renewal will be even more hilarious. I mean really, is deportation to Canada really all that bad a thing? I mean, yeah, it’s cold, but it seems like a friendly enough country.

This episode opens with Kate cleaning out the garage with a vengeance. She wants to give a lot of Pete’s old stuff to Goodwill. When Pete gets home from work, he sees his stuff out on the lawn, and having been divorced twice before, he automatically assumes the worst. He’s happy that all that is happening is the trip to Goodwill. He is a little miffed, however, that so much of his stuff is being given away while Kate gets to keep her “Kiss Me, I’m Canadian” t-shirt. Among all the junk in the garage, Kate comes across some VHS tapes. Meg and her odd boyfriend still have a VCR player (I do too, so I guess I shouldn’t judge), so Meg pays them a visit to watch the tapes.

The tapes that Kate watches at Meg’s place are Pete’s wedding videos from his weddings to Diane and Jackie. The wedding to Diane was mid-90’s tastic, with a break so everyone could watch the now iconic O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase. Diane had the most ridiculous sparkly headpiece, and in her vows, she droned on about how Pete was her “perfect imperfection.” Pete and Jackie’s wedding was as crunchy and free spirited as you would expect. All I really need to say about it is that Pete played the bongos. These videos are kind of embarrassing and adorable at the same time. Kate is kind of jealous of all the love that she sees on the videos. She and Pete eloped (with Meg as a witness) and the festivities basically consisted of a courthouse wedding and “big sandwiches” afterwards.

Meanwhile, Jackie is still dating “Sad Steve,” and she’s struggling with when and how to introduce him to Bert (who we know doesn’t love the idea of his mom dating). Pete thinks Jackie should just go ahead and tell Bert the truth. Jackie kind of drags out eventually getting to the truth. First she tries to tell Bert that Sad Steve is a bagel salesman, then she tries to come up with another excuse the next time he comes over. Sad Steve seems a bit frustrated over all of this. Eventually, Bert finds out the truth, and he doesn’t take it well. He won’t even let Sad Steve into the house (although he does give Sad Steve some candy to try and make him less sad). What finally turns Bert around is Sad Steve’s awesome convertible. Bert thinks the car is great, and he likes Sad Steve even more when he lets Bert push the button that controls the convertible top.

Kate tells Pete about her regret over not having a “real” wedding, and Pete responds the best way he can. He asks Kate to marry him again. They’re going to have a “real” wedding vow renewal. Meg and Hillary are going to be the Maids of Honor, and Warren and Bert are going to be the Best Men. All are very enthusiastic about participating (Bert especially), but there’s some drama between Meg and Hillary. Both feel like they should take the lead in the planning. Kate tries to keep the peace by taking both Meg and Hillary with her to apply for her official name change. Kate wants to be an official Harrison. There’s just one small problem. The clerk tells Kate that she’s in the United States illegally. Kate says she applied for permanent residency when she got married, but the clerk says she needs to have an ICE interview right away to assess the validity of the marriage if she doesn’t want to be deported. On the men’s side, Warren and Bert discover that their family doesn’t actually have Scottish heritage as Pete claimed. They’re Flemish. They finally tell Pete, who isn’t all that phased. He still maintains that Harrison men have legs meant for wearing kilts.

Jackie revealing her relationship with Sad Steve makes Diane think that maybe she and Russ Bradley Morrison should go public. They decide to test things out with a park date, and they discover that they are more different than they originally thought. Diane’s idea of a fun park date is target practice. Russ’ idea of a fun park date is a picnic with fancy soft cheeses. They also (gasp! horror!) disagree about where the best seats at the opera are located. Diane worries that such differences are insurmountable, and her worry grows when Russ doesn’t call her for several days. Kate suggests that maybe Diane should call Russ, and what do you know, it works like a charm. Russ even buys them opera tickets in the Mezzanine, a compromise location.

Kate is seriously freaked out about the ICE interview. She and Pete try to act as normal and suburban as possible. When the ICE examiner arrives, they act so stereotypical that it would really be enough to raise suspicion. It doesn’t help that they’re having trouble answering the examiner’s questions. Things get weird when Diane comes over, then Jackie. Pete and Kate are worried that the examiner is going to think that Pete has some weird polygamous harem thing going on, but that isn’t the case. She can see that Pete and Kate’s marriage isn’t a marriage of convenience, because having to deal with two ex-wives and three step children is anything but convenient. Especially when it’s Diane and Jackie. So Kate gets to keep her residency, and the big vow renewal is back on. Pete and Kate go to the airport to pick up Kate’s mom, and we learn that Kate’s mom is pretty much crazy. And she’s played by Megan Mullally. Which is pretty awesome.

Once Upon a Time 3.13: "Witch Hunt"

“This isn’t an end. It’s an eternal middle. This curse can be broken by the only true love in my life and the only reason I would even want to wake. My son.”
- Regina

Emma wastes no time in getting the low down from her parents. They remember seeing her drive out of town, black out and then waking up the next day. Clearly it wasn’t a day. They are quick to blame Regina, but Emma’s not so sure. And really, we need to stop blaming her for everything. Before Hook can finish explaining that he left the realm and got a little birdie message, Leroy and another dwarf bust in to report they are down three brothers. And maybe Neal’s missing, too. The next morning, Emma and Henry meet up with David and Mary Margaret for breakfast (oh and did I mention Ruby’s back). Things get kind of funny when Snow lies about knowing Emma from prison. And things get even more awkward when Regina sees Henry and he looks at her like a stranger. So Emma pulls his other mom aside for a chat to explain why she is back and with her memories intact. Regina professes her innocence again, noting that she isn’t in the habit of casting curses to hurt herself. Out in the woods, Robin and his men are hanging out and Little John tries to shoot a turkey with a high tech bow (likely from Mr. Gold’s shop which has me thinking that our favorite immortal imp is not around at the moment). Unfortunately Little John gets too close to the town line and is swooped up by a flying monkey.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, we see the Wicked Witch getting comfy in Regina’s castle. She tries on her clothes and plays with all the fancy jewels before sending her winged minion to let Regina know who has been sleeping in her bed. Between Regina and Belle, they figure out the identity of their mystery shield caster. Neal and Snow seem surprised at the normalcy of it all. And when the monkey attacks, Regina manages to rescue young Roland and turn the monkey into a stuffed toy, no doubt earning her some cred with Robin. But Regina says there are secret tunnels running under the castle and if they’re lucky, they’ll go under the spell so she can sneak in and bring it down so Snow and Charming can come along with an army.

Emma and David head out to the town line where Robin explains that Little John went missing and describes a flying monkey as the culprit. Lovely. Emma makes the decision to go talk to the whole town to see if she can weed out the curse caster while David and the guys do a search of the woods for the missing dwarves. The rabble is rowdy at the town hall and are again quick to point the finger at Regina. She denies her involvement and then puts on a show. She makes an earthquake and disappears in smoke. Emma goes after her but clearly they’ve planned this. It’s time to find the real culprit. I can’t wait to see more of them working together. I’m liking this new Regina, I must say.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina is getting ready to make her covert entrance when Robin sneaks up on her and says he is going in as back up. She protests his offer but says that he owes her a debt for saving his son, even though the monkey was really after Regina. You can so tell they’re testing out the waters with each other. I can’t wait for her to see his lion tattoo and realize who he is. And to think, if she’d trusted Tink, Roland could be her kid biologically! They make their trek under the castle and end up in the crypt Regina built for Cora. I’m guessing she’s not in there but I could be wrong. But there’s a problem. Regina sealed the entrance to said crypt with blood magic. The Wicked Witch is either eve more powerful than Regina or a blood relative somehow. As they hang out in the crypt, Regina admits she has a son who is lost to her forever. How Robin hasn’t put that together with Neal and Emma, I don’t know.

Speaking of Emma, she gives Regina the bottle that had the memory potion in it. It’s enough to replicate the potion and they can start distributing it to the townsfolk, including Henry. Emma says that she knew Regina was telling the truth when she said she didn’t cast the curse (and that she can’t live without Henry). I’m really liking them working together. Henry’s not all that interested in the people around him. Mary Margaret is reading an outdated baby book and she keeps freaking out about stuff and Henry’s just sitting there playing a game on his phone. When he goes upstairs to get his coat (she convinces him to go get a book out of the library), we meet a new face. Zelena is a newcomer to Storybrooke, claiming she wasn’t swept up in the last curse. And she’s a midwife. This seems to make Mary Margaret really excited but I’m just creeped out. Especially with the belly touching. Mary Margaret needs to be one of the first to get that potion so Zelena doesn’t steal her baby or something. Out in the forest, the guys find Little John and he’s got a nasty shoulder bite so they head off to the hospital where he promptly turns into a flying monkey and tail whips everyone before busting out a window. Yeah, that can’t really bode well for the three missing dwarves.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Robin figures out that Regina is up to something. But it’s not nefarious or harmful to anyone else for a change. She’s making a sleeping curse that can only be broken by Henry’s true love kiss. Which clearly isn’t happening any time soon. But she says she’ll keep her word and lower the spell so Snow and Charming can be victorious. Robin points out sad that is and begs her not to do it. I was honestly surprised by what Regina was ready to do. Obviously something happens to change things but it’s still sad to see her think that’s the only way she can deal with her pain. And the tattoo reveal has to be coming soon.

Regina and Emma’s attempts to make the memory potion fail and Regina has used up all the dregs of the potion Hook had. She’s ready to give up but Emma suggests another tactic. It’s an old bail bondsperson trick. You make the target think you’re closing in on finding them and they reveal themselves. So naturally, they spill the beans to Leroy who goes to Granny’s and blabs the news quite loudly. Zelena is there and she beats a hasty retreat as the rest of the occupants begin to debate over who would take the memory potion to find out who cursed them. This leads Emma and Regina to a stake out in the VW Bug and they share a sweet moment bonding over Henry’s happiness. But they spy someone up in Regina’s office. Regina locked it with blood magic but the perp escapes anyway.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina is getting ready to prick herself and go to sleep when Zelena appears and drops the bomb shell that she is Regina’s sister. Yeah, I shouldn’t be surprised by that but I was kind of disappointed that the writers went there. I do realize that everyone is connected. So that and the Snowing baby fulfill our two new additions to the family tree this season. Apparently Zelena is older than Regina and was cast off by Cora and taught by Rumple. Because why the hell not. But she vows to ruin Regina’s existence before flying off. And of course, now Regina is all revved up to destroy her new enemy.

Back in Storybrooke, Regina takes a tentative step to meet Henry and Hook and David bring the news about people turning into monkeys. Regina makes the Wicked Witch connection (but not the blood related bit). And then we see Zelena traipsing down to a bunker with Rumple is locked up in a cage and he’s bat shit insane. Methinks there’s no Mr. Gold in there at all.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Girl 3.18: "Sister III"

“We have so much left to learn about each other. Stuff you can only learn if you’re crammed together in a small space and you can’t get out.”

“Sister III” was the final in the trilogy of “New Girl” episodes dealing with Jess’ crazy sister, Abby. Abby is living across the hall in Schmidt’s apartment now, and they’re one of those disgustingly affectionate couples. They never seem to want to spend a second apart. Seeing this makes Jess and Nick reevaluate their own relationship, as they struggle to mimic Schmidt and Abby’s standard of togetherness. As is typical in most comedies these days, there are also two secondary plots that are only loosely connected to the main plot. Winston’s trying to train for the police academy, and Cece has gone crazy spying on Abby, because she’s convinced that Abby is up to no good. I think the latter is connected to the main plot more than the former.

The episode opens with brunch at Schmidt and Abby’s place. Like I said, they’re being disgustingly affectionate, and Jess is very unsuccessfully trying to mimic this with Nick. Poor Nick just wants to eat his French toast in peace! At the brunch, we also see an example of Abby’s newest hobby – jewelry making. This is a perfectly normal hobby (I make earrings, myself), but Abby being Abby, her jewelry is anything but normal. It’s made of random stuff (like office supplies), and sometimes it can be dangerous. A tin can pendant gives Schmidt a nasty gash, for instance. Anyway, after brunch, Jess and Nick talk about how Schmidt and Abby can’t seem to get enough of each other. Jess thinks that it’s high time she and Nick “move in” together (meaning have all their stuff in one bedroom). Nick is dubious, but since he thinks it will make Jess happy, he goes with it.

Meanwhile, Winston is anticipating that if he passes the LAPD academy entrance exam, he will be in for a difficult physical exam. This mostly provides an opportunity for Lamorne Morris to do a bunch of funny exercise related gags throughout the episode. We see him climbing up a wall (under Coach’s supervision) at one point. The funniest is when Jess sneaks into her former room to catch a break from Nick. Winston has turned Jess’ old room into an exercise room. As he tells Jess about his remodeling, he keeps on exercising, finishing up with a rather hilarious crab walk.

Cece is really not at all happy about Schmidt and Abby living together. Part of it is concern about Abby being less than above board (since she’s Jess’ best friend, Cece has known Abby for many years), and part of it is probably Cece wanting Schmidt back. That second part would be unfortunate, considering what Schmidt did to her early in the season. She and Coach have taken being “friends” to a rather ridiculous level. Coach, whenever he’s around Cece, seems to channel the stereotypical sassy black woman. Cece convinces Coach to help her break into Schmidt and Abby’s apartment to snoop around and find evidence of Abby’s nefariousness. They find nothing, naturally, and Schmidt’s not thrilled when he discovers the snooping. Eventually, Cece, Coach, and Schmidt end up in a car following Abby to a bad neighborhood. It turns out that she’s just there to buy more random junk for her jewelry.

Abby tells Jess that she and Schmidt booked a hotel room that they aren’t planning to use (they can’t get out of the apartment without wanting to have sex), and this gives Jess an idea. She’s been going nuts living in a tiny, tiny room with Nick, and Nick doesn’t like it any better than she does. Jess think’s Nick’s “long shirt” for sleeping is ridiculous and his feet are gross. Nick is freaked out changing in front of Jess and also doesn’t like her reading light. Jess has gotten so desperate for peace and quiet that she has taken to reading in the elevator. Anyway, Jess decides to use the hotel room as a more luxurious way to take a break from Nick. She tells the guys that she’s taking her class on a trip to Sacramento, and she hightails it to the hotel. At the hotel, Jess is ecstatic at the peace and quiet. She dons a fuzzy robe, orders room service, and runs around the room singing songs from “Meet Me in St. Louis.” She also asks for suggestions for a tasteful adult film, preferably depicting the Byzantine era (the hotel staff can’t meet that particular request).

Winston’s one hang-up workout-wise is the rings. When he and Nick were kids in Chicago, Nick pansted Winston while Winston was on the rings in gym class. Winston has been terrified of the rings ever since. He goes to the beach to continue his workout, and he has a total freak-out when a mean looking little kid starts eyeing him while he’s on the rings. He goes into a nearby hotel to complain about the kid to hotel management, and what do you know, it’s the hotel where Jess is. Winston sees Jess come out of a massage. Jess swears Winston to secrecy, but predictably, that doesn’t last long. Winston tells Nick almost immediately, and Nick’s actually kind of happy about it, because he thinks this is going to be one of the first arguments he’s ever been in where he is in the right (he can’t stand sharing the room, either, but at least he hasn’t lied about anything).

When Jess gets home, Nick confronts her about having been at the hotel. Thankfully, Jess has a conversation with Abby that makes her rethink the need to be in close proximity to a significant other early in a relationship. Abby just gloms on to one guy after another, and she kind of envies Jess’ ability to be happy alone. Jess tells Nick that needing their space once in a while doesn’t mean they “suck” at their relationship. It just means that they aren’t at the place where they should be living together yet. She has no doubt that they’ll get to that place, though. Jess decides to move back to her room, and her relationship with Nick is stronger than ever. There’s just one small hiccup. Schmidt announces that he’s moving back into the loft. Abby decided to go live with her mom for a little while, and Schmidt has blown all his savings on a storefront for Abby’s now defunct jewelry business. He needs to sublet his place, and he’s still on the lease at the loft, so he doesn’t see why this would be a problem since Jess and Nick are living together now and all.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Long Time Ago, We Used to be Friends: A Review of the "Veronica Mars" Movie

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been anticipating the big screen debut of our favorite (not so) teenage PI. And last night, we got to journey back to Neptune, CA with Veronica Mars. In the years since the television show’s finale, Veronica has tried to make a new life for herself, but through the film, we see that the more things change, the more they ultimately stay the same. Veronica is drawn back into the world of Neptune in a big way. This provided an opportunity for the film to recreate much of the feel of the show, but in a more grown-up way. Overall, we enjoyed it very much, and it was quite a lot of fun. Returning to Neptune was something that up until very recently, “Veronica Mars” fans could have only dreamed of. The fact that the dream has become a reality has been kind of surreal. Anyway, read on to find out our take on the film and where all our favorite Neptune denizens are today!

At the start of the film, we see Veronica interviewing for a first year Associate position with a big New York law firm, six weeks away from taking the Bar. She’s been dating Piz for the last year. And then she learns the news that former flame, Logan Echolls, is the prime suspect in yet another murder. This the victim is his pop star girlfriend, Carrie, who was a classmate of Logan and Veronica’s back in the day. Veronica goes back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney. But of course, the more she digs into the dead diva’s life, the more she can’t help but get involved. Against her will, Veronica is dragged to her 10-year high school reunion where it seems not a lot has changed. Madison Sinclair is still snotty, and Logan can’t help but get into a fight over Veronica’s honor. Since Veronica is with Piz these days, he gets into the fight as well, coming out much worse for wear than Logan. And in the long run, Piz and Veronica part ways when it becomes clear she will always choose Logan.

In her attempts to find out who really killed the artist formerly known as Carrie Bishop, Veronica comes up against the increasingly corrupt control of the younger Dan Lamb, who is now Neptune’s Sheriff. Illegal stop and frisks and trumped up charges are par for the course these days. As Veronica digs deeper into Carrie’s past, she learns that there’s a secret floating around out there and someone will do anything to silence those in the know. While Veronica hunts for the truth about Carrie, her dad tries to find out who planted evidence on Weevil (who is married with a family and been an ex-PCH-er for a decade). It’s unclear if Keith’s investigation or Veronica’s leads to the most bloodshed, because Keith ends up in the hospital and Deputy Sacks ends up dead. As Veronica tries to deal with her dad being in the ICU, she and Logan reconnect on a carnal level (finally). From there, Veronica is on the war path, and it leads her right to the real killer. With her typical amount of pluck and creative problem solving, she takes down the killer, unravels the mystery that led to Carrie’s death, and ruins Sheriff Lamb’s career. Now if she can just hold out for the next 180 days until Logan is back from his latest Navy deployment, things will be hunky dory. And while she waits, she decides that her place is in Neptune, solving cases and being with the ones she loves most.

We felt like the film was both a love letter to the fans and an original storyline that was easy enough to follow for the non-viewer (or casual viewer). It wasn’t complete fan service, but it was clear that the creative team was definitely mindful of what the fans would want to see (especially so since fans were responsible for the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that made the film possible). Veronica Mars wouldn’t be complete without the voice-overs we love so much. And we had a good laugh at some of the cameos, like James Franco. Aside from one or two characters mentioned below, none of the returning cast felt like it was extraneous or out of place. Rob Thomas crafted a storyline that made sense to bring everyone back together. The high school reunion was really the perfect plot device to pack in as many cameos from the old cast as possible, and the creative team did not disappoint on that front. The crowning moment of bringing back the old cast had to have been when Veronica got the chance to punch out her old high school nemesis, Madison Sinclair.

While, as you can see, we overall loved the film, we wouldn’t be very good (amateur) critics if we didn’t find something to, you know, critique. There were just three things that really stood out to us. The first was the sideplot involving Weevil. Weevil’s been on the straight and narrow for a decade, with a wife and kid. On his way home one day, he sees some PCH-ers terrorizing a woman in an SUV. That woman happens to be Celeste Kane, mother of Veronica’s long-ago ex-boyfriend, Duncan. Weevil raps on the SUV window to ask if he can help, and Celeste freaks out and shoots him. The Sheriff’s Department plants a gun on Weevil’s unconscious body and tries to say that Celeste shot him in self defense. The whole ordeal leads Weevil to reunite with the PCH-ers, which can’t mean good things for the future. This subplot felt rather extraneous, but to be fair, it was a decent example of showing versus telling when it comes to the extent of the corruption in the Sheriff’s Department.

Additionally, Veronica’s string of bad life choices in the film kind of stressed us out. Maybe it’s personal hang-ups due to the fact that we’re both non-practicing lawyers who still have to deal with mountainous student loan bills every month. Veronica gives up a job offer from a huge law firm that would have paid her quite a lot of money. She moves from a huge city brimming with opportunity to a sleepy, corrupt Southern California town. She gives up a stable relationship with Piz for a return to the drama with Logan (not that we really mind that last part all that much). Some of the editorial choices saddened us a little, too. As Veronica and Piz are heading to grab a cab early on in the film, a busker is playing a version of “We Used to be Friends.” It was painful. And we were a little disappointed that during the reunion scene when they are remembering classmates who didn’t make it to the reunion, they didn’t have a picture of LIly Kane.

One of the biggest plot points fans were hoping for with this film, was some sort of resolution to the unfinished epic love story of Logan and Veronica. And Rob Thomas did not disappoint. Sure, Veronica started out the film in a relationship with Piz. It was a stable, drama-free relationship but as Wallace points out, Veronica is a drama magnet. And how! She’s in Neptune less than a day when she starts swooning over Logan’s chiseled cheeks (and seeing him in his dress whites upon arrival was a shock that got the crowd at the theater shouting and swooning) and wondering if there’s anything there between them. Slowly but surely, Logan shows that he’s matured enough to be a more stable personality in her life. While the inevitable hook-up was not under the best circumstances (Veronica was vulnerable after her dad was attacked), we leave them in a decent place. She just needs to wait out the next 180 days until he comes home.

While a sequel is not an assured thing (although there is a magic number the studio has set that would greenlight a follow-up), there certainly is enough material and plot threads left hanging to bring these two Marshmallows back for more. We won’t be without more new adventures for very long anyway. Rob Thomas is starting a novel series following our favorite Neptune inhabitants. The first book comes out on March 25th.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Veronica Mars Week 2014: For the LoVe of Marshmallows: The Evolution of Logan and Veronica

On the eve of the premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, I wanted look back at one of the most pivotal relationships on the show, one that should be revisited in the movie. Of course, I’m talking about Logan and Veronica. I’ve read some interviews of late about how these two have grown up and matured since last we saw them. I admit, I was a big LoVe shipper when I watched the series and not just because Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell are beautiful, attractive people. I was drawn into their epic dance.

When we first find them, they are at odds. Veronica has fallen out of the popular crowd now that her best friend Lily (Logan’s girlfriend) has died. But even if Logan acts like he doesn’t care about Veronica, he does. Sure at first Veronica is trying to repair her relationship with boyfriend Duncan (Lily’s big brother). But, it becomes obvious in episode 18 of season 1 that Logan has feelings for Veronica. After all, he beats the crap out of a suspect DEA agent to save Veronica’s life. And they share their first kiss. What I wouldn’t give to have kissed that boy.

Sure Logan has some issues but don’t we all? Whatever his other flaws, Logan has a fierce sense of protectiveness when it comes to Veronica. Maybe it was that they were both so touched by the tragedy of Lily’s death (after all it was Logan’s own father who killed her) that drew them together and made Logan see any sleight against Veronica as an offense punishable by a beat down. I’m not saying that taking a swing at people was always the right answer but sometimes it was justified. Namely when he gets himself arrested in season 3 so he can have a personal beat down of the man who tried to rape Veronica. Hell, he would have been justified in pounding the snot out of Beaver for actually raping Veronica in high school but the Beave took his own life before that could happen. Perhaps the one that was the least justified was when Logan heard about a semi-scandalous sex tape of Veronica and Piz got out that spurred him to pummel the radio DJ. Now, I was never a fan of Veronica and Piz as a couple but he didn’t deserve that.

Veronica wasn’t without her flaws in their relationship, either. I think if Veronica had given Logan a chance to mature in their relationship, they might have had a real shot together way back when. But her own trust issues always got in the way. We all understand she was afraid of relationships and being intimate with people because of her past. Plus there were other people in her life who came and went as they pleased (her mother for instance). But I really think she and Logan would have had a shot if she’d learned to be a little more trusting. They weren’t perfect by any means as individuals but they could have made a better effort. I always enjoyed the storylines that were investigated more when they were a couple. Something about their energy just made the show more fun for me.

We left our epic pair at odds with one another and not having spoken for nearly a decade. As much as I rooted for LoVe to succeed during the show’s run, I am excited to know that they will play a large part in the film. As much as Rob Thomas says he wants his own daughter to end up with someone like Piz (which I can see the reason for that), I think he is a LoVe fan at heart. If you’ve followed any news about the storyline for the movie, you know that Veronica gets pulled back into her old life of snooping and detective work when Logan is accused of killing his pop star girlfriend. Fans will note that this wasn’t the first time Logan’s been accused of murder. He also faced charges for the death of a PCH biker. And Veronica was knee-deep in his case back then, too. Supposedly Veronica is only going to help Logan find a reputable attorney but she ends up trying to solve the mystery. That should surprise no one. Oh and attend their ten year high school reunion. Because who doesn’t want to see where all our favorite Neptune residents ended up.

By all accounts both Logan and Veronica have done a bit of growing up when we find them at the beginning of the movie. One hopes that Logan is a little less prove to beating the crap out of people who put Veronica in danger and hopefully she will have learned to be get over her own insecurities. She’s a strong woman for God sake. This LoVe fan is hoping for an ending that is befitting this couple (i.e. they end up together). They had such passion when they were together. It was intense and crazy at times but it honestly reminded me of some of the relationships Buffy had (in case you missed it, Jen did a comparison of Buffy and Veronica Mars yesterday so check it out). To me, Logan and Veronica is very reminiscent of Buffy and Spike while Veronica and Piz were much more in the realm of Buffy and Riley (after he was not a super soldier but before he turned into a completely useless suck bag). Really, I swear that’s not a dig at Chris Lowell because I like him as an actor. And again, if any of you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a huge Spuffy fan. So it really shouldn’t be a shock that LoVe is my favorite ship to sale in this fandom.

We will be seeing the Veronica Mars movie on release day (and as backers are expecting additional copies of the film and the shooting script at some point). We will be reporting back to you on our thoughts on the film probably over the weekend so look for that. I know I speak for both Jen and I when I say that we are proud to have been part of a movement that brought this great character and couple back to life. See you soon Marshmallows!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Veronica Mars Week 2014: Evolution of a TV Heroine: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Veronica Mars"

As I think I’ve chronicled here before, I first got into Veronica Mars a few years ago, during winter break from grad school. I soon discovered that the show is basically television crack. There are many elements that make “Veronica Mars” such compelling television. There were the well-paced mysteries, well-drawn characters, snappy dialogue, and compelling character relationships (especially Veronica and her dad, Keith and sometimes boyfriend Logan). What really makes the show so extremely watchable, though, is the character of Veronica Mars herself and Kristen Bell’s portrayal of her. Many of the elements of Veronica as a character reminded me of another spunky blonde on a WB show, none other than Buffy Summers. In fact, I think it’s possible to see “Veronica Mars” as a natural evolution of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Veronica Mars (which I would hope you know if you’re bothering to read this post) is a private investigator in the Southern California town of Neptune. What’s unique about Veronica is that she’s a high school (or college, in the third season) student. Instead of doing homework when she gets home from school, Veronica goes on stake-outs. Her investigations often revolve around drama going down at school. Veronica, in fact, makes extra money by solving problems for her classmates. She also has her share of personal drama. For instance, we learn that in the year leading up to the first season of the show, Veronica was drugged and raped at a party, and her best friend was murdered. Buffy Summers is a teen (later young adult) who appears to be a typical blonde former cheerleader, but at night, she hunts vampires with the help of her friends. The first three seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” worked to embody the theme “high school is Hell,” with Buffy and pals dealing with school drama when not killing baddies.

While only one of them has supernatural powers, there are many ways in which Veronica and Buffy are similar. First, let’s hit the obvious. They share some distinct similarities in looks. Both are petite and blonde. Both defy the stereotype associated with their petite, blonde looks. In fact, defying the stereotype was Joss Whedon’s specific inspiration in creating Buffy. He wanted the typical horror movie screaming blonde to kick the monster’s ass. Buffy spends her evenings fighting vampires and other assorted supernatural baddies. Her hit list has included an ancient vampire, her vampire ex-boyfriend, a high school principal turned into a huge snake, and at least a couple demons. Buffy handles them all. Veronica spends her evenings solving cases for her friends and working at her dad’s PI practice. She spends a lot of time on stake-outs, and she also has her fair share of run-ins with criminals, including her boyfriend’s dad.

Both Buffy and Veronica come from broken homes. Buffy lives with her mom after her parents’ divorce, and Veronica lives with her dad in a cheap apartment. Due to abandonment by one parent, both Buffy and Veronica have especially close relationships with their custodial parents. Buffy and her mom go through some rocky patches (Buffy runs away for a while after having to send her vampire ex-boyfriend into a Hell dimension), but their bond is ultimately strong, and when Buffy’s mom is diagnosed with brain cancer, Buffy is right there with her. Veronica and her dad are also very close following Veronica’s mom abandoning them. They have especially great banter. Keith stands by Veronica through thick and thin, and vice versa. She’s right there for him when he loses the Sheriff election, and he’s there for her when her investigating gets her into especially dangerous trouble. Also, Buffy and Veronica both have questionable taste in men. Both find themselves in relationships with especially intense guys who tend to hurt them while usually meaning well. For Buffy, it’s vampire Spike, and for Veronica it’s rich bad boy Logan.

That being said, there are also some significant differences between Buffy and Veronica. Buffy is burdened with supernatural vampire-killing powers and prophesies about her death. In fact, throughout the course of the series, Buffy technically dies twice. All Buffy wants is to live a normal life, although deep inside, she knows that can’t really happen. Buffy doesn’t especially excel at academics. She barely gets by, and she drops out of the local state university after just a year and a half or so. Buffy, while sometimes an outcast at Sunnydale High School, eventually becomes begrudging friends with the queen of the popular girls, Cordelia Chase.

Veronica, however, is not burdened with any supernatural powers or ancient prophesies. She also doesn’t die. Veronica undertakes her often dangerous sleuthing by choice, primarily in response to the terrible things that have happened in her past. In the first season, for instance, the season-long mystery arc involves Veronica trying to solve the murder of her best friend. Before that incident, Veronica was fully integrated into the popular clique at school. Her best friend gave her that access even though Veronica wasn’t disgustingly rich like they all were. The rich “0-9ers” (denoting the 90909 ZIP code they lived in) didn’t like how Veronica changed following her friend’s death, though, and she became a complete and total outcast. She had a couple friends (notably Wallace and Mac), and people were decent to her when they wanted help on a case, but most everyone else treated her like crap. She most definitely never became friends with her chief nemesis, Madison Sinclair. Veronica, like Buffy, sometimes has the desire to live a more “normal” life.” Living a normal life is a complete choice for Veronica, though – no supernatural interference.

I think that the particular mix of similarities between Buffy and Veronica show the evolution from one character to the other, and the evolution of their respective shows as well. While Buffy didn’t always fit in at Sunnydale, “Veronica Mars” focused much more on class issues. The “0-9ers” don’t like Veronica because she lives in a low end apartment with her dad and isn’t rich like they are. I think that focus on class is even more relevant today than it was back in 2004 when the show premiered. The 99 and 1 percent are part of our national vocabulary now as we begin to wrestle with growing income inequality. Veronica being her own worst enemy, without any of her burden being imposed by outside, supernatural forces, is another evolution. It foretells the gritty realism we would come to expect in our storytelling. The “Dark Knight Rises” effect, if you will.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is very much in the same spirit as “Veronica Mars,” and you could see the former as a very clear progenitor of the latter. Both feature sassy, petite blondes who take on huge burdens and fight back when life doesn’t seem quite fair. Both live with just one of their parents and have a wonderful bond with that parent. The bond between Veronica and her father, Keith, is especially fun. “Veronica Mars” represents an evolution of some of the core concepts at play in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It’s all gritty realism, and Veronica is her own worst enemy. We also see some serious class warfare going on, as well. It’s a show that could fit in just as well today as it did in 2004. Quite convenient that it makes its comeback in movie form this Friday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Veronica Mars Week 2014: Where are they Now?

One of the things that made “Veronica Mars” great was its ensemble cast. Veronica had many interesting people in her life, and they were all (for the most part) portrayed by very talented actors. As the “Veronica Mars” movie arrives in theaters this Friday, we thought it would be good to take a look at what the actors who portrayed your favorite Neptune High students (and their parents and friends) have been up to since the show’s finale back in 2007.

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell has most definitely not been typecast as snarky teen detective Veronica. She’s had a few romantic comedy film roles (“When in Rome” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” come to mind), and she has also been no stranger to television. Most notably, she had a guest run on another Rob Thomas show, “Party Down,” as uber by the book caterer Uta Bengt. She also was the voice of the unnamed Gossip Girl on (big surprise) “Gossip Girl.” Currently, you can see her starring opposite Don Cheadle on Showtime’s “House of Lies, and she also provided the voice of Anna in the recent smash Disney hit, "Frozen." In addition to “House of Lies,” "Frozen," and the “Veronica Mars” movie, Bell has had a big year in her personal life. In March, 2013, she gave birth to daughter Lincoln, her first child with Dax Shepard, whom she married this past October.

Jason Dohring

Jason Dohring played Veronica’s bad boy sometimes boyfriend Logan. Dohring’s first major television appearance after “Veronica Mars” was as elder vampire Josef on the 2007 vampire detective series “Moonlight.” He also had an extended guest run as a pretty skeevy teacher on the CW’s “Ringer,” better known as the show that was trying to be Sarah Michelle Gellar’s comeback vehicle. Since his “Veronica Mars” days, Dohring has had two children with his wife, Lauren. You could have seen him most recently on television this past October in a guest spot on the CW’s “The Tomorrow People” as Killian McCrane, a dangerous criminal who resurfaces after years in hiding.

Percy Daggs, III

Percy Daggs, III played Wallace, Veronica’s best friend. Daggs has been seen in several television guest spots since his “Veronica Mars” days, including appearances on “In Plain Sight,” “Raising the Bar,” and “Southland.” In 2011, Daggs could also be seen in the horror comedy film “Detention.”

Tina Majorino

Tina played Mac, another of Veronica’s inner circle of friends. Mac was most useful to Veronica’s PI endeavors for her hacking skills. Majorino has had one of the more successful post-“Veronica” careers of the extended cast. She had a long-running recurring role on HBO’s “Big Love” through 2011 as a co-worker of the oldest Hendrickson daughter, Sarah (played by fellow “Veronica Mars” alum Amanda Seyfried). Majorino has made a number of other guest appearances on other well-known television shows in recent years, including “Castle,” “Bones,” “True Blood,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Ken Marino

Ken Marino was another frequent guest star on “Veronica Mars.” He played less-than-ethical rival PI Vinny Van Lowe. Since “Veronica Mars,” he has played cater waiter manager Ron Donald on “Party Down.” Marino has also had long-running roles on the Rob Corddry-created comedy “Children’s Hospital” and HBO’s “Eastbound and Down.” He can currently be seen on “Burning Love,” a Bachelor/Bachelorette parody webseries he created with his wife, Erica Oyama. In the first season, Marino plays firefighter Mark Orlando, the bachelor looking for love. The parody in “Burning Love” is so spot-on, I don’t know if that means Marino and Oyama are really keen observers, or if The Bachelor/The Bachelorette has become a cliché of itself. Seriously, when I watched the latest season of “The Bachelorette” with Desiree Hartsock, I couldn’t stop thinking “Am I watching Burning Love?” “Burning Love” was so successful, believe it or not, that the first season was broadcast on E! this past spring.

Enrico Colantoni

Enrico Colantoni played Keith Mars, Veronica’s dad, who probably ties with Eric Taylor (from “Friday Night Lights”) for best TV dad of the past decade. Colantoni has played several notable roles since his “Veronica Mars” days, both in the United States and Canada. He could be seen from 2008 – 2012 as intelligence gatherer/hostage negotiator Sergeant Greg Parker on “Flashpoint.” “Flashpoint” was a Canadian production which aired sporadically on CBS in the United States. It happens to be one of my mother’s favorite shows. She raved about it pretty regularly during its run. In the realm of American television productions, you may have most recently seen Colantoni on “Person of Interest,” which we cover here on MTVP. Colantoni has the recurring role of Carl Elias, New York crime boss who regularly crosses paths with Finch, Reese and company as they try to help the helpless.

Ryan Hansen

Ryan Hansen played Dick Casablancas, raunchy best friend of Logan and sort-of frenemy of Veronica. Like many “Veronica Mars” actors, one of Hansen’s first post- “Veronica” roles was on “Party Down.” On that show, Hansen played pretty boy cater waiter Kyle Bradway. Hansen has had very steady work since his “Veronica Mars” days. Other than “Party Down,” he has also had significant roles in the short-lived comedy “Friends with Benefits,” “Burning Love,” and “2 Broke Girls.” Also of note, Hansen will be staring in a web-based sort-of spinoff of “Veronica Mars” on CW Seed, where he will be playing Dick, trying to get a show made.

Max Greenfield

Max Greenfield, who one-time Veronica love interest Deputy Leo, has had, arguably, one of the most successful post-“Veronica Mars” careers. You might have seen him as French tutor Michael on ABC Family’s “Greek.” You would have to be living under a rock, however, to not have seen Greenfield as Schmidt on “New Girl.” Schmidt, most recognizable for saying things that require him to pay into a “Douchebag Jar,” was the first breakout character for the FOX sitcom, followed closely by Jake Johnson’s neurotic loser, Nick. Anyway, Greenfield is still riding the Schmidt high, having been nominated for an Emmy in 2012 and a Golden Globe in 2013.

As you can see, the “Veronica Mars” cast have had diverse and largely successful careers since the show went off the air in 2007. It really speaks to the level of talent that Rob Thomas and the rest of the creative team were able to assemble for a show with a rather silly sounding premise (sassy high school private investigator). It’s really been a joy seeing these actors find this success in the past few years, especially knowing that most of them got their start on a show I really love.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.15: "Yes Men"

“Much like your SHIELD, we are bound by our code.”
- Lady Sif

Our agents venture back into the realm of Thor this week (or rather the realm of Thor ventures into Midgard). We find Lorelai and her man servant pulling into a biker stop. She quickly ditches the newlywed for some rough and tumble biker guys, led by Dylan Bruno (of Numb3rs fame). Yeah having a crazy Asgardian chick and a bunch of unruly bikers is not a good mix. It seems Skye is still recovering from her bout with death. Simmons keeps taking blood in the hopes of finding traces of the wonder cure but she can’t find anything in Skye’s or Coulson’s blood. And Coulson has shut her down in uploading the info to HQ. Speaking of, Coulson is taking some personal time, trying to track down Director Fury. It seems he’s a man on a mission and he’s not too happy about being stonewalled. I guess in a way I can understand but I do wish they’d move the storyline along a bit. Back on the Bus, the team gets new orders. There’s been energy readings over the California/Nevada border that signal an arrival of someone from Asgard. They make it out to the desert just in time to see Lady Sif arrive. Thankfully, she’s on their side.

She gives a little history lesson on Lorelai and warns that she has sway over men. We already knew that but I guess the team needs the exposition. We cut to the bikers in a bar and the leader’s wife shows up and starts bitching. Lorelai grows weary of the wife talking and has the leader strangle her. Charming woman, really. Not. After some searching of police reports, they narrow down where Lorelai is hiding out. Sif is concerned that she’s amassing an army too quickly. As she and Coulson are checking information he asks if she’s seen any blue aliens. She rattles off a long list but assures him only the Frost Giants ever made it here and the Asgardians chased them off. Great, so he could have a relative of Loki’s blood coursing through his system. The team, armed with new and improved versions of the Night Night gun head off to try and take out Lorelai. Unfortunately (and not unpredictably), she’s ensnared the local law enforcement to her side.

The team is being fired upon from all sides until Sif literally kicks a trailer to block their path. Coulson orders Ward to go around back but to stay outside to minimize Lorelai’s ability to use her power. Sif gets into the bar but has to deal with all the bikers while Lorelai disappears. And wouldn’t you know, once Ward takes out the lead biker, Lorelai works her mojo on Ward. Honestly, Sif told them that if Lorelai’s voice doesn’t work, then it and her touch does. If I’m Ward I’m running like hell and not letting her lay a finger on me. But they take off on a motorcycle while the rest of the team heads back to the Bus. Sif is pissed not only because her quarry escaped but because the magical collar that curbs her enemy’s power is broken. Coulson tasks Fitz with fixing it but Simmons thinks there are too many variables. And she’ got other things on her mind, too. She still wants someone at HQ to examine Skye’s blood and she actually gets assertive when Coulson shuts her down. She says that keeping it in house is not a good enough reason. He then explains that two men died to keep it secret and until they have answers from Director Fury, they keep it in house. And at least Skye has something to do, as well. She’s tracking Ward through his aliases and other means of travel. I had to shake my head when Ward brought Lorelai to Vegas. I know she wanted somewhere fit for a Queen but come on. Cliché much? Also not a shock to anyone but they hook up. Typical.

Post-coital Lorelai comments how she’s been tortured not having her voice for the last six centuries. Ward promises she won’t go back to her enslavement but she insists that he doesn’t know Sif like she does. He concedes the point but says he knows his own people and how they operate. The team gets to Vegas but have missed Ward and Lorelai. May tasks Fitz with using all the cameras in Vegas to find Ward but they come up empty. They head back to the plane and Fitz announces that he’s fixed the collar. Sif insists on inspecting it which lands her locked in the room by Fitz. I guess Lorelai got to him, too. And he’s locked Skye and Simmons in the basement. So now it’s up to May and Coulson to save the day. Coulson pretends to be under Lorelai’s command and heads down to the Basement to rescue the girls. While May is getting pummeled by Lorelai (seriously that hit she took that sent her across the room looked painful), Ward undoes the ceiling in Sif’s room and she gets sucked out of the plane. Asgardians can fly though right?

Coulson gets downstairs and into the room where Skye and Simmons are locked. He tells Skye to get Sif back on the plane and he needs Simmons to distract Fitz. I have to say that mind-wiped Fitz is kind of adorable. Like I just want to hug him and pat him on the head. Coulson has to punch him and knock him out. Upstairs, Ward and May start duking it out while Lorelai goes to get Sif’s sword. But too bad for her, Sif’s back on board and we get a simultaneous fight sequence that is pretty brutal for both pairs. But in the end, Sif bests Lorelai and frees Ward from his mind wipe. May tells Coulson he needs to unload to Skye about whatever he saw in the bunker and he tells her to go talk to Ward. She doesn’t have much to say to her sometimes paramour but notes that if Lorelai was telling the truth that he was in love with someone else on the plane, then he was more honest with the crazy Asgardian than himself. And we learn that Odin has ordered Lorelai back alive. Coulson is kind of surprised that Sif is willing to follow orders, even when it goes against what she wants. I have to think that Loki and Lorelai could get up to all kinds of shenanigans and (spoiler alert!) he is actually Odin now. Coulson’s heart to heart with Skye basically turns into “we’re going to find answers on our, the system be damned and we’re starting with Fury”. Unfortunately, May has been spying on them and she reports to HQ that Coulson knows what’s going down. Uh oh!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.15: "Happy Bert Day"

“I could have been outside playing and running, but instead I was inside reading and eating. And it was all worth it!”

I wouldn’t exactly call “Happy Bert Day” profound television, but it was an enjoyable half hour, and that’s all I really ask of “Trophy Wife.” It’s Bert’s birthday, and all sorts of Harrison family dynamics are at play. There are several subplots going on, but everything takes place in the context of Bert’s birthday. That focus on the one event helped amplify the humor. All of the Harrison family was in one place, and I think the episode was better for it. I don’t think comedies are well served by fractured storytelling, because there are so few minutes in which to tell the story. I also liked that Kate stood up for Jackie with the mean soccer moms at the end of the episode. It shows that while they may all drive each other crazy most of the time, the Harrisons all have each other’s back when the chips are down.

The episode opens with Pete and Kate playing a mildly naughty game of Scrabble, which is interrupted by Bert running through the room screaming. He has read 100 books, and he says that Pete and Jackie promised to do whatever he wanted for his birthday if he met that goal. Pete doesn’t remember this agreement, but when Bert pulls out a contract, Pete and Kate figure he’s probably telling the truth about what happened. It would be very Pete to draw up a contract for a birthday party agreement with his young son, after all. Bert is absolutely thrilled about all this, but I’m not quite sure why. As we see later, his wishlist for his birthday isn’t really all that out there. It’s probably something the Harrisons would have been willing to do even if he hadn’t read 100 books.

We next move to one of Bert’s soccer games, where Pete is coaching and Kate is watching from the sidelines. Kate sees a group of moms all sitting on the blanket, and she decides to try and join them. These women, however, are the mean girls of the soccer mom crowd. One of them deliberately puts her purse on the open spot on the blanket to keep Kate from sitting there. Kate goes back to sitting on the bench, where she is soon joined by Jackie, who is cheering extra loud to make up for being late to the game. She says she’s been really overwhelmed trying to plan Bert’s party¬, and Kate volunteers to take the task off her hands. She thinks that she might be able to use the event to impress the mean soccer moms.

Kate talks to Bert about what he wants to his party, and his biggest ask is to have both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. When Kate presses him, he says maybe he’d like strawberry ice cream, too. This isn’t going to do for Kate’s big impress the soccer moms plan, so she goes a step further, asking Bert about his favorite movie. Bert’s favorite movie is Aladdin (good choice, Bert!), so that is going to be the theme for his party. Kate dresses up in an outfit that looks like it belonged on “I Dream of Jeannie,” just to make the effect complete. Pete is not enjoying the party at all. All the little kids being messy in his house is just stressing him out.

There’s a bit of a problem with the birthday cake. The photo airbrushed on it looks like it would fit more on a Harlequin cover than a kid’s birthday cake. It’s a mistake by the bakery, obviously. Diane and Pete volunteer to go to the bakery and fix the problem. At the bakery, Diane just barges in and cuts to the front of the line, while Pete mumbles and apologizes about Diane not believing any rules apply to her. Diane is pretty obnoxious, I’ll admit. On the way home, Diane gets impatient at an intersection, and she just blows through it, almost causing several accidents. Pete thinks Diane is finally going to get what she deserves when a cop who saw all this pulls them over. Diane plays the “I’m a doctor” card, though, and she says she’s taking Pete to the hospital with a cardiac emergency. What do you know, the trick works, and Diane gets off without a ticket. Back at the house, however, Diane finally gets hers. She slips trying to walk through the door, and the cake smashes into her chest. All the kids then rush at her, wanting to eat. It’s kind of glorious, really.

In other subplot news, Hillary takes a liking to a dancer boy who is at the party (apparently he surfs, too). Warren offers to be Hillary’s wingman, which is kind of the worst idea ever. Warren instead befriends dancer boy, because they have a lot of goofy things in common. Dancer boy even has a locket with his parents’ pictures in it. Warren is worried that a dancer boy/Hillary relationship could jeopardize his new friendship, so he tries telling all sorts of horrible lies to Hillary about dancer boy. Hillary figures out the true story, however, when she sees dancer boy wearing one of Warren’s vests.

The soccer moms arrive at the party, and Kate overhears them criticizing the party. What really upsets her, though, is when one of the mom calls Kate a stripper. In complaining about this to Jackie, Kate learns that the spreader of the stripper rumor is most likely a soccer mom named Fern. Kate corners Fern in the bathroom and goes all scary Swedish model on her. Fern says that she first heard the rumor from Jackie. Kate then confronts Jackie. It turns out that Jackie started the rumor because she too wanted to get in with the soccer mom mean girls. Kate clears up the rumor, and the soccer moms take her in. Kate soon becomes disenchanted with it though, and all the soccer moms want to do is gossip about Jackie. Kate puts a stop to this and kicks the soccer moms out of her house. The whole thing ends with a big dance number featuring Bert, which is, of course, adorable.

Veronica Mars Week 2014: Writers' Spotlight: Rob Thomas

So it’s been a while since we had a Writers’ Spotlight post. But given the impending release of “Veronica Mars” (the movie), it seemed appropriate to take a look back at the career of its creator, Rob Thomas (no not the front man of Matchbox 20). Both Jen and I are proud supporters of the Kickstarter campaign which allowed the film to finally be made, some seven years after the show went off the air.

Before Thomas made it big with Veronica Mars, he was the mastermind behind the 1998 dramedy “Cupid”, starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. Many of you may not have heard of the short-lived show because it only lasted 15 episodes and was never actually released on DVD. But it followed a man who believed he was Cupid, exiled from Olympus by Zeus until he could make 100 true love matches sans bow and arrow. When we initially meet him, he adopts the name Trevor Hale and begins seeing Dr. Claire Allen. It was a delightful little show with a lot of charm and touching storylines. And Thomas kept you wondering whether Trevor really was Cupid or not. He also populated the world with believable secondary characters. We never will find out if Trevor made his 100 matches and returned to Olympus (or if he made the one match he couldn’t make…finding true love for himself and stayed on Earth). But it was our first foray into Rob Thomas’ quirky brain. I suppose it should be noted that Thomas was involved in the equally short-lived Cupid remake in 2009. I tried to watch but it was just far inferior to the original. Thankfully, he was only tangentially connected to it.

We wouldn’t see Thomas’ brilliance on the small screen again until Veronica Mars debuted in 2004 on UPN (home to the likes of Buffy and Angel before merging with the WB to become The CW). Veronica Mars followed the titular character as she navigated the perils of high school in a high society area all while solving crimes with her PI pop. One of the great things about Veronica as a character was her sense of humor. Some of the lines that came out of her mouth were just priceless. I think the time between “Cupid” and the three-year run of Veronica Mars helped Thomas hone his skills a bit. The storytelling was also really intriguing, at least for the first two seasons. In and amongst Veronica dealing with teenage issues like prepping for colleges and boyfriends, she had season-long arcs to solve which were very personal to her. Season one focused on solving her own sexual assault and the murder of her best friend and season two focused on a bus-full of kids going off the road and the reason behind it. Season three, having moved on to college, split the season into two smaller mysteries which I didn’t think worked quite as well. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a huge fan of the first half of the season storyline that made the final season less exciting than the previous two.

Another of Thomas’ genius moves was building Veronica’s romantic relationships. By season three it was pretty much the LoVe fans (veronica and Logan) against the Veronica and Piz fans (they don’t even have a cool mash-up nickname). Even though we as viewers knew that Logan had issues (let’s just say he doesn’t react well when people threaten Veronica), you still wanted to root for him and Veronica to make it. We’ll be bringing you a deeper look at the LoVe relationship in another post.

Thomas would go on to craft “Party Down” after Veronica Mars ended which featured some of the cast, including Ryan Hansen and Kristen Bell. And he had a hand in The CW’s 90210 remake but his TV career has been pretty quiet since the population of Neptune, CA disappeared from our airwaves in 2007. And then, after a long wait, Rob and Kristen launched a campaign on Kickstarter, asking fans to chip in to make the long-desired Veronica Mars feature film. And we did it. We hit the goal of $2 million in less than a day and broke a slew of other records. And Thomas got the chance to dive back into the world of Veronica Mars one more time.

From what we’ve seen of the trailer and heard through updates, it seems like it will have a closer feel to season 1 or 2 than season 3 (although Veronica is dating Piz again). We know we are looking forward to seeing Veronica don her PI hat again and work the clues, whatever they may be and where they may lead, to solve a murder and reconnect and hopefully reunite with Logan. We expect zippy dialogue, witty voiceovers and some great character development out of this film. After all, the characters have had a long time to grow and mature. Hopefully that maturation period will help Veronica and Logan cure some of their relationship ills. And of course it wouldn’t be a proper Veronica Mars production if she wasn’t aided by her usual band of supporters, including Mac and Wallace. It will be interesting to see where the characters pick up in their relationships as it seemed like the trio was beginning to drift apart a little near the end of season 3.

If you want to see more of Thomas’ work going forward, then keep your fingers crossed because he’s got some new projects on the horizon. A Veronica Mars tie-in novel and web mini-series are in the works. And The CW has recently ordered a pilot for iZombie, a new thriller where a medical student-turned zombie gets a job as an ME and ends up working with local law enforcement to solve cases. If it is anything like his previous body of work, it will definitely be worth checking out. If he includes some voiceovers it could be a nice window into the main character’s mind (hey it worked beautifully for Warm Bodies). Whether Thomas gets this pilot ordered to series or not, we will look forward to whatever he develops in the future.