Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.03: "Better Angels"

“A soviet spy in an old boy’s club, what have you gotten yourself into, Peg?”
- Howard Stark

The drama picks up to a new gear this week with the return of one Howard Stark. After Peggy and Sousa find some rather incriminating items at Wilkes’ house (Russian gun, passport and lots of money), Peggy decides to pay our inventor extraordinaire a visit to see what he can make of the Zero Matter recording. She’s also got the pin she nabbed off one of the gunmen the night before. Howard explains it signifies membership at the Arena Club (no women or men of color allowed). They’ve been trying to recruit Howard for years. Across town, our would-be Senator’s wife sees that the Zero Matter is starting to affect her in weird ways (especially her blood). She’s bleeding black and honestly, the first thing I thought of again was the Inhuman from SHIELD (yes, I know it isn’t the same thing).

Things back at the office aren’t any better for Peggy and Sousa because Jack has shown up and insists on shutting down their investigation. He even tries to force Peggy to sign a false statement regarding what happened at the lab (complete with calling Wilkes a Communist). He also gets a visit from his FBI buddy who wants Jack to find some “missing material” and turn it over in the name of national security. So of course, Peggy does what she always does and gets creative. She needs to plant listening devices into the club and so she enlists Howard and his “production assistants” to get in. Howard plays his part remarkably well and Peggy is able to slip in amongst the ladies and plant some bugs. She even finds a secret room and promptly gets locked in as one of the guys from the secret society walks in.

Peggy manages to sneak out and Jarvis comes through with an assist to get her out of trouble with one of the head guys at the club. Unfortunately, the newspaper she saw (which seemed to be fixing events) had to be left there and her bugs were disabled so she’s got nothing. This only serves to piss Jack off more (he’s really an unlikable guy even with all we know about his history). He tells Peggy she’s bound back to New York but we all know that won’t happen. For one thing, she’s started to attract objects which she thinks means she’s been exposed to Zero Matter. She and Sousa head back to Howard’s place where he does some science-y stuff and figures out there is a different gravity around her. Lucky for them, Howard is always the eager beaver when it comes to new contraptions and he develops a solution that should make various invisible wavelengths visible. Peggy hasn’t been exposed to the Zero Matter (and she won’t be freezing into a Popsicle either) because it’s really Wilkes that’s been following her around. He’s out of phase with this reality or something and the mixture Howard devises is only temporary. But it’s enough for him to spill the beans on Mrs. Chadwick. So while Jack is handing over the footage of Zero Matter, Peggy goes to confront the woman in person. Jarvis is off making an errand run for all kinds of things, including cheese. Peggy is quite blunt with our frosty actress who denies any knowledge of what happened at the lab. She certainly denies being there but Peggy isn’t going to let it go.

Back at home, Howard has managed to get Wilkes visible again and they are working to try and find a way to make him corporeal. Howard is on a bit of a bender from lack of sleep but that’s not surprising in the least. The man is a genius but a bit of an oddball. Peggy’s clearly a bit frustrated by her day (what with Jack trying to shut down her investigation and Mrs. Chadwick stonewalling her) and so she’s out on the patio hitting the heavy bag quite vigorously. It’s a good thing she’s in such good shape because Mrs. Chadwick plays on her husband’s emotions to get him to send the Council’s paid assassin after her. With a bit of teamwork, Peggy and Jarvis manage to best the attacker and he gets off with a bullet wound to the hand. So naturally, Howard installs some new security measures including a recording of Jarvis’s voice. Jarvis hopes it’s only temporary, lest he spend the rest of his life as a disembodied voice. Oh just you wait Jarvis old boy. Just you wait.

The next day, Peggy begs Wilkes to stay so he’ll be protected and he agrees (Howard is off to Peru to find another big brain that they need) but only because she wanted him to do so. I’m really hoping they manage to get him corporeal again because he’s a sweetheart and perfect for our Peg. Sousa also has done some digging on why Mrs. Chadwick might know all about Zero Matter and he shares the interesting news with Peggy at the office. There was a woman behind the whole research lab back in the war days and it’s none other than our actress and would-be Senator’s wife. It’s quite the clever disguise really…being in the spotlight so everyone’s paying attention to her but not really paying attention. Although people might start paying a little more mind now since she gets upset (understandably so) when her director tries to hit on her after telling her he convinced the studio not to replace her and she turns him into Zero Matter and absorbs him. Definitely not what she’d intended!

And as we close out the episode, Jack gets to meet Mr. Chadwick at the Arena Club thanks to his FBI buddy and sees the headline about the other candidate bowing out of the race. So I have a feeling he’ll slowly come around to Peggy and Sousa’s side. I guess he’s not a bad guy necessarily, just opportunistic and somewhat eager to please his superiors. He doesn’t want to be forgotten in the history books. Not the worst crime in the world but honestly I’d be okay if he didn’t stick around much longer this season. Peggy and Sousa are a much better team (even if they also have some chemistry that needs to be dealt with).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Galavant 2.06: "About Last Knight"

“How would you like an unprovoked war with the Kingdom of Hortensia?”
“Best birthday present ever!”
-Madalena and Gareth

This week’s episode relied quite a bit on coincidences. It was hepful, therefore, that several of the characters found themselves in the Forest of Coincidence. It was a lovely bit of wordplay in the vein of one of my favorite books growing up, “The Phantom Tollbooth.” I also liked that through the aforementioned series of coincidences, the three big plots that have been going on during the first half of the season seem poised to coalesce. I was also quite pleased about Isabella’s fate. She saved herself, just as I hoped she would, although Wormwood is still a threat. She’s going to have lots of help in defending against him, though, I think. We also got to learn a bit more about Galavant’s childhood in this episode. Short version: it wasn’t an especially good one, because his father was pretty narcissistic. Galavant comes to terms with his father in the middle of all the other craziness that’s happening. I liked that, even if I thought it was odd that they cast a different actor as Galavant’s father without hanging a lantern on it (the show isn’t afraid to do meta, after all).

Let’s start with Isabella saving herself, because that’s what I’ve been rooting for since the beginning of the season. Isabella returns to Hortensia and demands to see Wormwood. Isabella kicks Wormwood out of Hortencia, and he alternates between giving her parting wedding advice and threatening her demise. He also briefly mentions that the sword of the one true king is the only thing that can ultimately defeat him. I guess it’s Richard, then, who will be delivering the final blow. Isabella then has to confront her parents, who were just freed from the dungeon. Thankfully, now, her parents are supportive of her taking control of her own life. She’s not going to have to marry Prince Harry. Unfortunately, in a rather humiliating scene, Prince Harry demands one of Isabella’s bras in exchange for waiving the death penalty for breaking the engagement. I wasn’t thrilled that the creative team went there with the humor, but I’m glad Isabella is finally free of the ridiculous engagement. And I’m positive she’s glad about that, too!

Galavant, Richard, and Roberta have been traveling for a while, and they’re quite hungry. Unfortunately, the only place nearby is the estate of Galavant’s father, Sir Arnold Galavant, who is now played by Greg Wise instead of Anthony Head. I can only presume Anthony Head’s schedule was too full to film another episode, although I would have loved to have seen him continue with the role. Galavant does not have a good relationship with his father, so he’d rather go anywhere else. His father was a philanderer, and he left Galavant’s mother. The nearest places to get food, however, are 30 and 50 miles away, so Arnold’s hospitality it is. When the group arrives at the estate, they see a bunch of kids playing. Arnold, who seems happy to see his son, says the kids aren’t his. Since he retired from being a hero, he started a swordfighting school for underprivileged boys. Galavant is not impressed.

After they are kicked out of Hortensia, Wormwood and his assistant Barry find themselves in the Forrest of Coincidence. Like I mentioned, it really reminded me of something out of “The Phantom Tollbooth.” They just happen to run into none other than Sid. Sid says he needs to reunite with Galavant so he can help with the rescue of Isabella, which confuses Wormwood because he thought Galavant insulted Isabella. A peasant helpfully wanders by, gives Sid Galavant’s sword, and says that Galavant is at his father’s place. Sid needs a horse to get there, and a horse salesman helpfully appears. He’ll sell the horse for a pair of shoes, and Sid just happens to have an extra pair. As he departs, Sid warns Wormwood that Gareth and Madalena are crazy warmongerers, and Wormwood thinks he knows exactly where he needs to go next.

In Valencia, it’s Gareth’s birthday, and Madalena really wants to make it a special day for him. She starts by trying to throw a surprise birthday party, but Gareth really isn’t a palace party kind of guy. He says he usually looks forward to an opportunity to collect another scar (aka a bar fight) on his birthday. So Madalena takes him to the dive-yist pub she can find in hopes that she can give Gareth the fight he wants. Unfortunately, though, everyone at said dive-y pub is super intimidated that the King and Queen are there, and they won’t take the bait to fight Gareth. They even all stand up and say their mothers are whores rather than fight him. Later, a disappointed Gareth is cleaning his helmet when Madalena tells him she has one more birthday surprise. Gareth is just happy she thought of him. Wormwood enters the room, and Madalena asks if Gareth would like an unprovoked war with Hortensia for his birthday. Of course he would!

Richard is having fun playing at swordfighting with the kids, but Galavant is sulking. Galavant and the kids do a big musical numbers where the kids talk about all the wonderful things Arnold has done for them and how wonderful he is, and Galavant counters with how horrible a father he was. Galavant is clearly bitter that his father is giving these kids love that he could never give to his own son. Arnold sees this and realizes what he’s done. He shows Galavant a tapestry he made depicting all the big events from Galavant’s life, and he explains that sometimes people can only show love through tapestry (heh). Most importantly, he’s always been there with Galavant, even if Galavant didn’t realize it. He tells Galavant to go rescue Isabella and be the good husband and father that he never was.

In the final scene of an episode, Galavant and Arnold play “Toss the Cabbage” as a show of reconciliation. Arnold goes to get a fresh cabbage, and Galavant is greeted by Sid. They have a touching reunion, and Sid warns Galavant that Isabella is being forced to marry Prince Harry. Galavant reiterates his promise to rescues Isabella, and Sid tries to toss Galavant his sword. Galavant is distracted by Richard continuing to act foolishly with the kids, and he misses the catch. It’s a bad miss, too. The sword goes right into his chest.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

iZombie 2.10: "Method Head"

“My motivation was easy. Team back up with you.”
- Liv

When last we saw our favorite zombie and her zombie-killing ex-fiancĂ©, they’d just broken up. Unfortunately, they are thrust back together when Ravi reveals that the cure is only temporary (thanks to finding out New Hope had reverted). Liv not only has to endure the fact that Major will become a zombie again but she has to drop this particular truth bomb on Blaine as well. So while he’s raking in the money over Christmas and New Year’s, Liv, Ravi and Major are out digging in a field trying to find the remaining tainted Utopium. Good luck with that gang!

It wouldn’t be the show without a case to solve and this one involves a guy dressed as Santa who was raising money maybe for charity, maybe for himself. It was a little hard to tell. Liv is still getting visions but Clive has sidelined her from actively investigating with him. She’s obviously bummed and is resigned to dropping off notes and sending witnesses his way. But hey, at least it helps solve the case (another guy who was at the same men’s shelter beat him up for the money). The real case begins when one of the lead actors on Liv’s favorite show, “Zombie High” dies on set. Oh boy!

As one might expect, Liv is super excited by the current case. To be honest, I’d be super excited too if my work somehow took me to my favorite show and I was able to meet the actors. I have a feeling Jen would as well. Alas there’s not much call for a Maryland budget analyst or a Massachusetts employment law investigator to go to Hollywood. But hey, we can dream! Anyway, after Liv sufficiently geeks out over specific spots on set, she manages to convince Clive to let her help out more on the case—given her extensive knowledge of the show. They watch footage from when the actor (Jordan) was shot and they even talk to the prop master who insists he gave the other actor a prop gun, not a real one. But when they talk to Wyatt, he insists he used the gun he was handed and he didn’t put it down. Clive thinks there might be motive though since he started out as the show’s lead and has since been replaced as lead by Jordan.

Major seems to be working his hardest to find a way to take Vaughn down. This somehow involves giving him a fitness band. I don’t really get it but I’m sure it will all make sense eventually. It turns out that Vaughn is kind of a moron when it comes to people stroking his ego and he’s just blind to people using him. But Major isn’t alone in his hope to take down Max Rager. The head scientist goes to Major in secret and gives him all of his research. He needs Major to share the truth about zombies with the world if the scientist fails and suddenly disappears. It’s sad that it could be a real possibility. But Vaughn is ruthless and kind of an asshole when it comes to protecting what’s his. In a move I wasn’t expecting, Major gives the information to Vaughn and outs the scientist. I’m not sure why he’d do that or how he would benefit to be honest. It turns out it was all a ploy to test Major’s loyalty. If only Vaughn knew that the wrist band has a mini microphone in it and Major is listening to everything he says!

More importantly, back on the case (after Liv and Ravi share the news that Jordon rocketed to fame after a sex tape) Liv and Clive chat up some of the zombies who don’t have particularly nice things to say about Jordan. He didn’t talk to them or act like they existed. Liv says that he was just being method since his character didn’t like zombies. I don’t really buy it. Interestingly, they have a deaf actor on the show who I’m pretty sure is played by the guy who plays Travis on Switched at Birth. His hair is a little different but the way he signs and expresses himself vocally is exactly the same. Liv and Clive ask about the tattoo he has that says “never forget” (Jordan had one he was having removed). Kel explains that a production assistant died the prior year because she fell asleep at the wheel driving home from set (Jordan insisted on keeping production late and doing lots of takes to get things right). Liv gets a taste of being an actor when Wyatt asks her to run lines with him and she gets really into it. I guess we’re seeing only a little of Jordan’s personality here. To be honest I’m kind of surprised we haven’t seen a vision yet. But there’s still time. And Ravi (now binge watching the show—something we here at More TV, Please wholly support) discovers on the dailies from one of the season 2 episodes that Jordan was going to install security cameras after he was repeatedly pranked.

Liv and Clive head to Jordan’s trailer to investigate whether Jordan had security cameras but the find the female lead snooping around on his laptop. She says she was worried he’d made another sex tape and she didn’t want it to get out. This triggers Liv’s first vision of the sex tape and that it was Jordan who leaked it, not a burglar as he’d told the press). Before we can get to the bottom of the mystery about why the sex tape held so much power over the female lead, the head of production’s assistant confesses that Wyatt was the character being cut from the show. I have to laugh really hard that the reason he was considering leaving the show (before he knew he was being cut) was because he was auditioning for the new Power Rangers movie. For those that don’t know, I’m a bit of a Power Rangers fanatic. So you can bet I’ll be seeing that movie. Anyway, nerdgasm aside, we find out the real reason the sex tape held so much sway over the female lead was because she made horrible comments about Kel (the deaf actor).

In fairly short order they learn that it was in fact the prop master who gave Wyatt the loaded gun. He’d been sleeping with the production assistant and he just snapped. I have to admit though, Liv and Clive gave quite the performance to get him to confess. And Liv is back on the team! I knew it wouldn’t last long. Unfortunately, the FBI agent that Clive is sleeping with just paid Blaine a visit and when she sees sketches of him in relation to the Meat Cute murders, she thinks they’ve got their guy. Little to do they know the GPS tracker on Minor is going to lead them to the real killer!

iZombie 2.09: "Cape Town"

“Will you start rappelling down the sides of buildings, or should I expect a personalized spice rack?”

The fall finale (yeah, I know I got way behind on my blogging during the busy season at my day job, but I’m making progress on catching up now!) of “iZombie” was quite the reset button. By the end, both Major and Babineaux had reevaluated their relationships with Liv, and Liv is down a boyfriend and a partner in crime. Even worse, Ravi has made a discovery in his zombie cure research that, once he reveals it to Liv, will be quite devastating for sure. On the case of the week front, Liv eats the brains of a vigilante, and, as my father would say, acquires an overdeveloped sense of injustice. The episode brings up an interesting point of conflict. How much of Liv’s behavior in any given episode is due to the brain she has eaten, versus her true personality. What really is Liv’s “true” personality. I’m not sure if Liv even really knows.

As the episode opens, we see the aforementioned vigilante trying to save a woman from being mugged by two men. He tells the men that he’s “the Fog” and that he’s “thick with justice,” which definitely made me snicker. Unfortunately for the Fog, though, a sanitation worker finds him dead the next morning. Speaking of the next morning, Major and Liv have a huge fight over Liv seeing a text from Major’s ex on his phone. She’s still on paranoid brain, and Major is losing patience. The argument is interrupted, though, when Liv is called in on the Fog’s case. While Ravi and Liv are surveying the crime scene, Babineaux explains that the Fog was a shop teacher by day, vigilante by night. Ravi of course thinks this is the coolest thing ever. Liv is skeptical that being a masked vigilante is actually cool, but she is ready to be off paranoid stalker brain, so she’s glad to have a new case.

Meanwhile, Major is back to work. He goes to a bar and chats up a woman. The hair on his arm stands up, but it’s hard to tell if that is a reaction to the woman or the date she is meeting. Regardless, the interaction between Major and this woman was pretty adorable. Major continues to stalk the woman, however, and we see him watching her at her house. Eventually he goes into her house, and he sees that she’s basically about to blow her brains out. He tries to stop her, and she goes into full-on zombie mode. Once she calms down, the woman explains that she’s a hooker. While she used to have a choice about her clients and she received money, now she gets paid in brains, and she has to hook to survive. She asks Major to just let her die.

Babineaux stops by the morgue just as Liv has eaten some of the Fog’s brains. Babineaux says that the mugging victim was able to ID her assailants, and they both work together. High on vigilante brain, Liv starts giving flowery speeches about great justice. She and Babineaux then go to what appears to be the muggers’ place of business. It’s all decked out for the holidays, with a 20 foot Christmas tree in the process of being installed and none other than Mr. Boss playing Santa. Liv and Babineaux have a quick, unproductive chat with Boss, but when she turns around and sees some kids playing tic tac toe on a car window, she has a flashback. The Fog got into an argument with another vigilante, who we learn is called “Hashtag.” When Liv and Babineaux interview Hashtag, we learn he was upset because the Fog was creating a vigilante supergroup for some big task, and he wasn’t included. Liv asks him who was invited to join the group.

One of Blaine’s minions brings a very severely injured man to the funeral parlor. It appears to be someone Blaine knows, and he’s freaked out about it. At the morgue, Ravi and Liv are contemplating superhero names for Liv when Blaine brings in the injured (really half-dead) man for medical attention. Liv and Ravi don’t think the man will survive, so Blaine asks Liv to scratch him and turn him into a zombie. He says this man is the only person who knows how to make tainted utopium. Ravi reminds Liv of the importance of tainted utopium to his research on the cure, so Liv actually goes ahead and scratches the man. Blaine immediately takes him back to the funeral parlor. When the man wakes up in the funeral parlor, Blaine gives him the “Welcome to Team Z” speech and offers to supply him with brains and other zombie necessities.

Meanwhile, Major and the woman he’s been stalking are now sitting on her couch, and he has told her the real story of what he has been asked to do for Max Rager. He says he does what he does to keep Liv safe, and the woman says Major is a great boyfriend for doing that. Major says that he doesn’t want Liv to know what he is doing because she wouldn’t approve. The woman says that she should be his easiest job, because if he sedates and freezes her like he’s been doing to the other zombies, he wouldn’t be taking her away from any loved ones. Major does indeed sedate and freeze the woman, and she seems at peace about it. She just wants assurances that if the cure doesn’t work out, Major will kill her.

Liv and Babineaux question the remaining members of the vigilante supergroup. They say Fog wanted to get a group together to stop a shipment of guns Mr. Boss was supposed to be receiving. Another detective interrupts to let Babineaux know that the body of one of the muggers has been found. Babineaux and Liv join Ravi at the crime scene. The body is at the top of the 20 foot Christmas tree we saw earlier. There are some suspicious circumstances around this murder, like the mugger having the same address as the victim that leads Babineaux to think it all has something to do with Mr. Boss. Meanwhile, Liv and Ravi visit Blaine and the new zombie, whose name is Drake. Ravi asks for the tainted utopium. Blaine says it’s not ready yet, but he has Drake tell his story. His high school buddy was a drug dealer for Blaine at one point, and he gave Drake a call from the trunk of a car about smuggling utopium. There are two dead bodies filled with tainted utopium buried near a water tower, and Blaine wants to find it before Mr. Boss does.

Some food in the microwave explodes, which gives Liv a flashback to some of the “elves” from Mr. Boss’ holiday display shooting up pumpkins with some serious guns. Liv approaches Babineaux about this, who says he has a lead on the second mugger. He’s diabetic, so he’s going to need supplies soon. Liv, however, is more interested in dealing with the gun shipment. Babineaux wants to follow protocol, but Liv is frustrated. To make matters worse, an officer sent to check on the mugging victim found her door wide open and the place ransacked. Liv, meanwhile, is in full superhero getup, about to try and intercept the big gun shipment.

Babineaux interviews Carlos, the surviving mugger. He tells the real story of what happened. The victim wasn’t actually a victim. She walked into Mr. Boss’ poker game and stole money. Carlos and her colleagues were security, so they had to go after her. After Fogg “rescued” the thief (her name is Mary), she killed him. Mr. Boss later killed Carlos’ colleague, and he probably wants to kill Carlos two, because they both screwed up on the job by allowing the theft to happen. Meanwhile, Liv arrives at Boss’ warehouse and interrupts two goons who are testing out the new guns. Thus begins a rather epic fight scene, where Liv alternates between hiding and attacking. She gets shot, but she’s not down for the count. The goes into full-on zombie mode and keeps fighting, even strangling a man to death. She sees Mary tied up and watching her, so she lets her go. Mary, however, returns the favor by pointing a gun at Liv’s head. Before Mary can attack, though Boss arrives on the scene and shoots her. Liv sees Boss standing over her before losing consciousness.

When Liv comes to, Ravi is standing over her. Boss’ thugs have not been arrested, and all the guns are gone. Mary’s body is still there. Boss phoned the police, and the story he is telling is that he stopped by the warehouse to get his Santa suit, and he came upon Liv being attacked. Liv bursts into the room where Boss is being interviewed, and she demands to know what happened to the guns. Boss immediately leaves and says he won’t press charges. As Boss leaves, we see that Drake is actually one of his top minions. That can’t end well. Babineaux confronts Liv and says she went way over the line. Their partnership is over (for now, at least).

When Liv arrives at home, she sees Major has made her spiced apple cider. He apologizes for that morning’s fight and says he understands what she’s going through. He mentions that there is research being done on synthetic brains, and that might be a way for Liv to get by. Liv doesn’t want to hear that though. What she does gives her purpose, and Major doesn’t get that it’s not just temporary. It’s the new normal. The fight ends in Liv and Major breaking up. At the very end of the episode, we see that things are going to go from bad to worse for Liv. Ravi is observing the rat that is the subject of his cure experiment, and he dictates into his notes that the cured rat regressed after 160 days. What does this mean for Major and Blaine? What does this mean for Liv?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Galavant 2.05: "Giants vs. Dwarves"

“The perfect pair. A dragon that isn’t a dragon, and a king that isn’t a king.”

The first part of week three of the “five week extravaganza” that is “Galavant” season 2 was extra silly, even for “Galavant,” but I was still entertained. The Richard and Galavant storyline in this one was mostly filler, but if the overall plot goes where I think it’s going, I think the filler is by design. One would think the Galavant and Richard plot would be the one to have the most movement each week, since they’re on a big quest to save Isabella, but given how this episode ended for Isabella, and not quite sure she’s really going to need saving. Girl looks to be on her way to saving herself, thank you very much. Speaking of, there’s quite a bit of movement on Isabella’s plot in this episode, even if it doesn’t really get much screen time. In other news, Madalena and Gareth may actually become a thing, although I’ll be interested to see how that fits into anything else that’s going on right now. And when will Sid and Galavant be reunited? Poor Sid!

Galavant and Richard had a plan to trade the Jewel of Valencia for help from the Giants in Operation: Rescue Isabella. There’s just one problem. Richard traded the Jewel of Valencia for a “dragon” (actually just a lizard) that he has named Tad Cooper. Galavant is furious that Richard has so carelessly bargained away their best chance at rescuing Isabella, and he tells Richard he’s done with him. He’s going to continue the quest on his own. When Galavant leaves, Richard sings a song to Tad Cooper called “My Dragon Pal and Me” about how he believes in Tad Cooper’s dragon abilities. He imagines how they will win great battles in the future. At the end of the song, though, Richard is confronted by some threatening men, who I wrongly assumed at the time were the Giants he and Galavant had been talking about.

After striking out on his own, Galavant soon encounters the giants. Or should I say “Giants.” They’re all men of rather average height who are actually, for the most part, slightly shorter than Galavant himself. Galavant is understandably dubious now that he has met the “Giants.” Regardless of their stature, the Giants offer to help Galavant rescue Isabella if he will help them fight their arch enemy – the Dwarves. The head Giant (who just happens to be played by the awesome Nick Frost) tells Galavant a little of the rivalry’s backstory. At one time, the Giants and Dwarves tried to build a bridge to unite their lands, but the Giant side of the bridge was too high and the Dwarf side was too low. They’ve hated each other ever since. As this story is being told, the Dwarves approach. As you’d probably expect by this point, they are of average height, too. And they are led by Richard, of course. Roberta soon arrives on the scene and tries to get the boys to call off the war, but they are upset with each other at the moment and they are determined to fight.

Meanwhile, in Hortencia, the wedding planning continues. Wormwood says he really wants to finalize the guest list, because he intends to paint personalized mirrors for all the guests. Mind-controlled Isabella, of course, thinks this is the most fabulous idea. The last guest who still needs to RSVP is Princess Jubilee. Anyway, Isabella’s mother is finally starting to put her foot down and question why Isabella is acting so differently. All it gets her, though, is thrown in the dungeon. When we next see Isabella, she’s making a personal visit to Princess Jubilee to see if she’ll be attending the wedding. Princess Jubilee is having none of it. She hates that girly stuff, and she thought Isabella did too. She’s quite a tomboy, and she sings a bawdy (and kind of awesome) song about being a “different kind of Princess.” She benches at the end, and the power of it knocks Isabella’s tiara off her head. The tiara breaks, and Isabella finally wakes up from the mind control.

Sid and Gareth are talking about general running the kingdom stuff when Sid picks up on the fact that Gareth has developed a bit of a thing for Madalena. He got her flowers and everything, which can’t possibly end well. Over a meal, Sid tries to warn Gareth to stay away from Madalena, but Gareth doesn’t want to hear it. He really does have feelings for her and wants to pursue her. Near the end of the episode, we find out that Gareth told Madalena all the things Sid said about her (and some extra nasty things Sid didn’t actually say), and understandably, Madalena is pissed. She orders the guards to kill Sid, but Sid manages to run off before they can get to him. Maybe this is the beginning of his road to being reunited with Galavant? Anyway, once the commotion is over, Madalena tells Gareth that she likes him too. That’s an unholy alliance if I ever saw one.

The Giants vs. Dwarves battle kicks off in snapping, dancing “West Side Story” style as both sides sing a song to prepare for battle. When the battle actually starts, both Galavant and Richard accidentally attack people from their own sides. Galavant realizes the foolishness of this and calls a pause in the fight. Just as they’re about to switch to “shirts and skins” so that everyone can tell who is fighting on which side, Roberta interrupts. She reminds Galavant that Richard is the only person Galavant has gotten to join him on his quest so far. Galavant thanks Richard for being loyal, and he says that “he believes Richard believes” Tad is a dragon. They agree to continue on the quest together. The Giants and Dwarves, however, are going to stay behind to fix their bridge. At the very end of the episode, in the middle of a big musical montage, Isabella, now sans tiara, leaves Princess Jubilee’s kingdom. She’s got a sword, and she’s determined to get revenge on Wormwood. As I said before, I like that it appears she is going to rescue herself. Go Isabella!

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.02: "A View in the Dark"

“We have at our fingertips the means to change the world and they just want to throw it away.”
- Mrs. Chadwick

If you thought Peggy’s adventure was going to get dull any time soon, you’d be dead wrong. She’s quite keen to keep working the murder investigation and she’s convinced it has something to do with the lab. But before she can make any headway there, she’s got to get past Mr. Jarvis doing his morning workout (complete with silly looking unitard). It was quite hilarious to be honest and I’m glad we are getting to see more of Mrs. Jarvis, too. At the office, Sousa is worried about how to tell Peggy he’s got a girlfriend but he doesn’t have to worry because the two have already met and hit it off famously.

The SSR aren’t the only ones interested in what’s going on at the lab. A group of men (including a guy who I swear is Gideon Malik from SHIELD) are meeting and have voted to shut down the facility without Chadwick’s input. I have to believe they are the follow-up to Hydra after the war. Chadwick isn’t pleased with this situation but he’s got no choice, really. When Peggy and Sousa head to the lab with a warrant to look around, they find that the facility is under a hazard warning. When Peggy confronts Wilkes, he slips her a note, asking her to meet him at a club that night, alone. Sousa insists he’s going to go with her but Peggy convinces him she can handle it. Besides, he’s got a very important dinner with his girl, Violet (Peggy finds an engagement ring). With a little help from Ana in the wardrobe department and an assist from Jarvis (Stark’s crazy, tricked out evening car), Peggy heads for her interrogation.

It seems we have to be more worried about Mr. Chadwick’s wife, too. Sure she’s kind of creepy and not in the best of moods thanks to her director being kind of a pig about her being an older actress, but she’s not overly thrilled when her husband shares the news that the lab is being shut down and their experiments with “Zero Matter” are going to go away, too. A little more on that in a bit. After Peggy ends up sharing some of her own backstory with Wilkes, he tells her that he has some idea of what’s happening at the lab. He wants to show her what he discovered and so they head to a nearby observatory where he gets to share his own story with Peggy. He explains that he came up from nothing and earned all he has. He also laments that the lab who hired him was the only one willing to take a chance on a Black guy. I appreciate the authenticity of the period but it just kind of irks me the way Wilkes gets treated by other people.

The observatory is rather illuminating. It turns out after the war, the company that runs the lab continued to do tests with atomic power and an experiment went wrong, creating what they call Zero Matter. It’s liquid like but it doesn’t conduct heat (it’s why it’s always the coldest thing in the room). They don’t know how it was created or if it’s even of this planet but it makes sense why Hydra 2.0 would want to experiment with it. It also means it isn’t the monolith because as we see it has much different properties. It acts almost like a black hole. Peggy wants to steal it from the lab but that’s going to prove a bit difficult because guys with guns show up, looking to take them out. After stealing a car (and leaving an SOS for Jarvis thanks to Stark’s creepy ride), getting horribly offended by a racist clerk and stealing another car, they manage to make it to the facility. Along the way Peggy also picks up another lapel pin like the one Dottie stole. Of course whoever Dottie is working for is linked to that. I have a feeling we will soon find ourselves with an East vs. West SSR showdown. Based on Sousa’s reaction to Peggy goes missing (he starts smashing up his office), he’d willingly go against Jack if it came to backing Peggy’s play.

The situation at the lab seems to be going well (Peggy is taking out some bad guys while Wilkes is securing the Zero Matter) but then things go horribly awry. Mrs. Chadwick shows up with a gun and threatens to shoot Wilkes if he doesn’t hand over the Zero Matter. He makes the correct assumption that she won’t shoot him while he’s holding it but then a scuffle ensues and the container breaks, unleashing the Zero Matter. Despite urging her to run, Wilkes doesn’t make it out. Peggy is pretty distraught about this but tries to push through until Sousa orders her to go home and Jarvis happily obliges to drive her there. As Ana points out over a glass of whiskey, sometimes it doesn’t take long to know that you care deeply for someone. It was rather sweet and makes me kind of sad that we won’t get to see Peggy have a shot with him. But at least Violet is a pretty cool girl. She seems to know that her boyfriend stops bad guys and she’s totally okay with that. It still doesn’t stop me from thinking he seriously carries a torch for Peggy that is not yet burned out yet.

In the tag, we see that Mrs. Chadwick survived the Zero Matter but she’s not faring so well. As we know, direct exposure to the substance leads to poisoning and death. I can only assume it will kill her eventually. That or maybe disfigure her and drive her crazy, this is Marvel after all. Either way, the SSR has a lot to deal with and I don’t think any of them quite know just how insane their lives are going to be.

Marvel's Agent Carter 2.01: "The Lady in the Lake"

“Ready for another adventure, Miss Carter?”
- Mr. Jarvis

The Quote of the Episode really says it all. We are back for another rollicking adventure with Peggy and the SSR fellas and I couldn’t be more pleased. In short order, after catching Dottie In a bank heist, Peggy gets sent to LA to assist new West Coast Bureau Chief Sousa with a weird case of his. He gets called in by a cop because a woman was found dead in a frozen lake (in the middle of summer). Clearly something the SSR should be dealing with. Back on the East Coast, Jack is trying to interrogate Dottie but she bests him and then when he gets her to agree to go to jail in exchange for information, the FBI swoops in and whisks her away. The head of the FBI (who is apparently an old family friend) explains over drinks that the SSR is a wartime agency and with the war over (it being 1947 and all), the agency is on its last legs. So of course Jack wants to be in the thick of it and I just can’t imagine that ending well for him!

The bigger mystery lies in LA with the dead woman. I have to admit it was good to see Jarvis again and the insanity that Stark is up to now is just hilarious. He’s going into the film business and he’s collecting exotic animals, including Bernard the Flamingo. Good lord I laughed so hard at that bit. Of course, Jarvis wants in on the action of the case (at least as Peggy’s chauffeur). He’s been dreadfully board since their last shenanigans in New York. I have to say I like the way the glitz and glamor of LA fits in with the story.

Things are a little awkward between Sousa and Peggy when she first arrives. It seems they had tried to make of a go of it but it just never really worked. Which is sad because the two of them are adorable together. Thanks to a disgruntled lab tech, the team learns that what froze the ice was a radioactive isotope that is likely being manufactured at a facility nearby. When the front desk receptionist refuses to let them in for a look around, Peggy and Sousa rather seamlessly use a rouse to get her inside. Peggy quickly meets Dr. Wilkes (a handsome and kind of quirky scientist) who identifies their dead woman as a physicist at the company, Jane Scott, who was sleeping with the company’s owner (who is married). In the hopes of getting some information out of him, Peggy and Jarvis head down to the races but Peggy gets stonewalled. But we do get to meet Mrs. Jarvis and she is adorable. She’s so bubbly and sassy and she even made Peggy a garter that doubles as a holster. I know last season I kind of wanted Peggy and Jarvis to have a thing but Ana is just so great, I’m in love with her already!

The situation gets even more complicated when Sousa and Peggy go to check on the autopsy results and the coroner has been frozen solid, too. He ends up shattering into a million pieces when Sousa touches him. Definitely not a good sign. But the autopsy report reveals something interesting, she was poisoned by the exposure to isotope rather than being stabbed and left in the lake by the killer the LAPD detective assumed. Peggy also points out that the only people who knew a particular signature of the killer were the killer himself and the police. So it becomes rather obvious (especially after we see the detective freeze a water fountain) that he is somehow involved. He ends up kidnapping Wilkes and knocking Jarvis out in a bed to get away. He thinks the good doctor will be able to help cure him but things aren’t looking good. On the run, he explains that he was hired to get rid of Jane and whoever hired him won’t let him get caught. This becomes painfully obvious (for him) when one of the cops shoots and shatters him into a million pieces, too. He was paid off by the owner of the company who’d been having the affair. It turns out his wife knew all about it and they were working together to clean up the mess. But they still don’t know who killed Jane (although we do) so the case for them isn’t closed yet. When Peggy tries to get Sousa to go out for a drink, he declines and we quickly see that he’s got a new lady friend in town. Maybe this means that Peggy will be able to treat Wilkes as not a “person of interest” anymore and maybe take him up on his offer for dinner and dancing. I certainly hope so. After all, from the Captain America movies we know she married and had kids after Steve got lost in the ice. I could see her falling for a smart man with a sense of humor like Wilkes.

In the episode’s final moments we see the head of the company in an underground facility watching a substance that looks a lot like the liquid form of the monolith that’s been plaguing SHIELD of late. There is definitely something more going on than just the isotope and I can’t wait to find out what it is. I had a lot of fun watching this episode and I fully expect to be entertained going forward for the remainder of the season. Even if this is the end of the line for Peggy and the guys, I feel pretty damn lucky to have gotten to spend this much time playing in their world and seeing them kick some serious butt. It makes me happy that they are finally treating Peggy like the badass agent that she is. I also hope we get a tie-in of some sort to SHIELD’s plotline with the Inhumans because as we know, Hydra’s been trying to get that damn Inhuman back from the planet all this time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Doctor Who 9.12: "Hell Bent"

“Every story ever told really happened. Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.” -The Doctor

I’m kind of conflicted about “Hell Bent,” to be honest. There were a lot of great callbacks to “Doctor Who” past that I loved. I’m mostly conflicted, however, on the fate of Clara. Her ending becomes a little more complicated, to say the least. Part of me thinks that how things ultimately (for now) ended for Clara was pretty cool, and part of me thinks Clara’s original ending was simple and beautiful and should have been left standing. I should have known Moffat wouldn’t allow for a simple, beautiful ending for a long-running character, though. He’s always got to reach for one more twist. We also got to see more of Gallifrey in this episode. It wasn’t really all that revealing, but some of the events that took place on Gallifrey were very satisfying, and it’s also nice to know that since the Doctor knows where Gallifrey is now, he may return in the future, and we may learn even more at that point.

This episode picks up roughly where the last one left off. The Doctor has completed his muti-billion year ordeal inside the confession dial, and he is now on Gallifrey. Before we resume the action on Gallifrey, though, we get a little in media res. We see the Doctor driving through the Nevada desert, and he ends up at the diner where he met up with Rory and Amy way back in series six, which feels like several lifetimes ago. The server at the diner is none other than Clara. Clara and the Doctor don’t seem to know each other. It certainly seems like Clara doesn’t know the Doctor. The Doctor, however, plays Clara’s theme on his guitar (one of my favorite themes Murray Gold has written for “Doctor Who”). The Doctor says it’s a song called “Clara.” He also plays the Ninth/Tenth Doctor theme at one point as well, which was awesome.

Going back in time a bit, we see that when the Doctor first escaped the confession dial and arrived on Gallifrey, his first stop was to a well-known barn. The barn where he was first inspired by Clara to take the name Doctor and the barn where he confronted the Moment. The Doctor attracts quite the crowd at the barn, and he also attracts the attention of the Time Lord High Council, especially Rassilon. Rassilon really wants to know the identity of the Hybrid, and he also wouldn’t mind the chance to kill the Doctor. Rassilon manages to draw the Doctor out of the barn, but the Doctor certainly isn’t giving him any information about the Hybrid. Rassilon gets frustrated and orders his soldiers to shoot the Doctor, but the soldiers pretty much all mutiny and side with the Doctor instead, because in their minds, he’s the incredible Time Lord who won the Time War.

Rasillon call on an even bigger army, complete with spaceships, but they all side with the Doctor, too. Extremely frustrated, Rasillon decides he’s going to use his own powers to kill the Doctor, and he starts to charge up is weird, glowy hand while taunting the Doctor about his recently granted extra regenerations. The Doctor's the one with the army, though, so he effectively “impeaches” Rasillon (he has him exiled) and installs himself as Lord President of Gallifrey. I should note that all of this is framed as the Doctor telling this as a story to Nevada diner waitress Clara. He tells her he’s from “Space Glasgow,” which I found hilarious.

Now that he has secured power, the Doctor asks one of his generals for a favor. He needs an extraction chamber. For a friend, of course. The extraction chamber pulls Clara out of her facing the Raven situation in the exact moment between her last two heartbeats. She’s essentially locked in time, so she has no pulse, which really freaks her out once it is pointed out to her. The General reminds the Doctor that this can only be temporary. If they keep Clara around in this frozen state for too long, they risk destroying the timeline. This is especially true since Gallifrey has been parked near the very end of the universe for safekeeping, so there's a whole lot of time for Clara’s reappearance to muck up. The Doctor, however, is determined to keep Clara alive and take her far away from Gallifrey, so he shoots the general. It is rather un-Doctorlike, but he knows the general will regenerate. He does indeed regenerate, into a woman.

The Doctor and Clara start running, and they run to the Cloisters, which basically seems like a big crypt/catacombs for Time Lords. It’s a very creepy place. There are still alive but neutralized versions of major Time Lord enemies like Daleks, Weeping Angels, and Cybermen, there are ghost-like Cloister wraiths, and there’s the matrix, which is a big computer that holds the remains of Time Lords after their final regeneration. The Doctor tries to remove the cover to the Matrix, and while he’s doing that (and trying to fend off the general and her soldiers), Clara gets him to admit that he spent 4.5 billion years in the confession dial. It’s quite frightening, really. We have yet to see what this has done to the Doctor, but so far, it doesn’t look good. Anyway, by opening the cover to the Matrix, the Doctor is able to access the TARDIS, and he and Clara jump in. I guess some things always stay the same!

The Doctor thinks that if he gets far enough away from Gallifrey, Clara’s heart will start beating again. This doesn’t seem to work, though, even when he takes Clara to a point in time just hours before the universe is supposed to end. The only other being still left at that point in time is Me, formerly known as Ashildr. Clara’s heart, however, still won’t beat. Me tells the Doctor that he shouldn’t be surprised to see her, because at the end of all things, one should expect the company of immortals. The Doctor and Me have a chat about the Doctor’s inability to accept endings (which seems astute given the whole 4.5 billion year effort to save Clara and all). The Doctor implies that he thinks the Hybrid is Me, but Me turns the tables on him. She thinks it’s the combination of the Doctor and Clara. They have been awfully reckless, just charging through the universe acting like they can do whatever they please.

The Doctor accepts that he has, indeed gone too far, and he’s going to basically go all Donna on Clara (erase her memory and run away) to prevent further damage. Clara uses the sonic sunglasses to see this conversation with Me all play out, so before the Doctor can come back inside the TARDIS, she has started messing with the device he is planning to use to wipe her memory. Now that Clara has tampered with the device, the Doctor doesn’t know which one of their memories it will wipe. As long as one of them completely forgets the other, though, it’s all good. The Doctor sets off the device, and when we flash forward again to the Nevada diner, we learn that it was the Doctor who lost his memories. He knows he traveled with “Clara,” but he doesn’t remember what she looked like.

Clara’s got one last trick up her sleeve, though. The diner is actually the TARDIS they stole from Gallifrey. Clara and Me take off in it, leaving the Doctor behind with his original TARDIS returned to him. Clara does intend to go back to Gallifrey someday and have the Time Lords put her back in her timeline. Before that, though, she wants to have a little fun gallivanting around the universe with Me. Because that can’t possibly go wrong. As for the Doctor, he’s glad to have his TARDIS back. Fans might be even more glad that he pulls a new, spiffy Sonic Screwdriver out of his jacket pocket. No more sonic sunglasses! Huzzah! As the Doctor takes off in the TARDIS for new adventures, the Clara memorial Rigsy painted on it cracks and falls to the ground.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Galavant 2.04: "Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled"

“Like I’m going to sleep in the thing people use to give birth and die in. Sometimes simultaneously.”

This particular episode of “Galavant” was kind of disjointed, but it did have a common theme of love. Galavant is trying to use love to get Richard out of his hair so he can pursue his own love. Galavant’s love, Isabella, is currently being controlled by the evil Wormwood to marry someone she doesn’t love. Chef gives up the minimal comforts of life in Hortencia for his love for Gwynne. In her lowest moment, Madalena experiences true kindness from Gareth that may turn into love. It’s love (although in some strange forms) all around for all our characters. And, of course, there is plenty of humor along the way. Because it wouldn’t be “Galavant” without a good dose of humor (albeit juvenile humor at times).

The episode opens with Galavant and Richard trying to make a deal with a group of mercenaries. The mercenaries would help invade Hortencia and rescue Isabella in exchange for the Jewel of Valencia. Apparently Richard smuggled the Jewel out of Valencia by eating it. Retrieving it again wasn’t pleasant. The whole encounter goes sideways when Richard complements the mercenaries for considering the deal and not just murdering them and taking the Jewel outright. It quickly becomes apparent that the mercenaries were indeed considering just stealing the Jewel, and Richard, Galavant, and Roberta have to fight their way out of the situation. While they’re trying to run away, Richard realizes that Roberta is actually his childhood friend, Bobbi. Well, to be more precise, she’s someone his parents hired to play with him when they were kids.

Meanwhile, in Hortencia, Isabella is practicing her wedding dance with Harry, who is strapped to the Jester’s back. It’s Harry’s snack time, though, so Gwynne takes the opportunity to ask Isabella if something has changed (since she’s been acting so peppy lately). Wormwood quickly shuts that conversation down, though. Later, Chef is throwing away leftover food, and a very agitated Gwynne starts eating it from the trash can. She’s used to starving, after all. Chef reminds Gwynne that they’re big pimpin’ now, and he thinks that feels fantastic. They share a really cute musical number called “This is as Good as it Gets.” I was impressed with Sophie McShera’s vocal chops in this one.

Back in Valencia, Madalena is fretting over which pair of earrings to wear to the Sunday Roast with the Madalena getting ready for Sunday Roast with the Von Falkenberg Sisters. They are the “most popular Queens in all the seven realms,” so Madalena thinks the invite to the Roast means she has really arrived. We get a flashback to when Madalena encountered the sisters as a young girl. They pretended to offer her a ride in their carriage, but then they kept the carriage moving as she tried to join them, laughing and saying “you’re so poor!” That incident is what inspired Madalena to be a Queen. When Madalena arrives at the roast, however, she finds out that it’s not a food roast, but a comedy roast. And she’s going to be the person roasted by the sisters. They insult her for essentially being a slut, and they say she doesn’t even own a pair of decent earrings. They even pull the moving carriage gag again at the end of the event. Madalena is devastated.

Galavant has gotten tired of Richard constantly messing things up and holding him back from rescuing Isabella, so he tells Richard he thinks he might like to go it alone from here on out. He says he thinks Richard should spend more time with Roberta, since they seem to have some chemistry going on. Richard disagrees, saying that he sees Roberta like a sister. Galavant decides that coming up with a plan to bring Richard and Roberta together would be the perfect way to get Richard out of his hair. Galavant arranges for a nice dinner, then he conveniently has to leave to answer a message that has been sent by crow. When the romantic sparks don’t seem to be flying, he joins some minstrels to sing a song called “Maybe You Won’t Die Alone.” Richard ruins it all, though, when he accidentally sets his beard on fire with a candle.

In Hortencia, Chef visits Isabella to ask for her advice on adjusting to life in Hortencia. He thinks that since she is suddenly so happy, she might be able to help Gwynne, who isn’t used to living in conditions above complete deprivation. Isabella suggests buying something expensive and treating Gwynne like a princess, which of course is the exact opposite of what Chef should do given his situation. Chef notices Isabella’s tiara is crooked and offers to adjust it for her. She growls, and he backs off. Hopefully the seeds have been planted with Chef and Gwynne that something is very wrong. When he arrives back at his chambers, Chef finds Gwynne sleeping in a drawer again. She is distressed that she hasn’t been sick in weeks, and there’s no way she’s going to sleep in a bed. She thinks she and Chef is growing apart, and she’s ready to live. Chef agrees to leave with Gwynne, since he loves her more than the upper lower class life they’ve been living in Hortencia.

After the beard igniting incident, Galavant, Richard, and Roberta head back out on their quest. Nothing has really changed in the dynamic between the trio. Galavant and Roberta are upset about this, Galavant because he’d really like to be rid of Richard and Roberta because she now has feelings for Richard. Richard, of course, is completely oblivious and happy, content for things to continue on as is. In Valencia, Gareth and Sid are playing Celebrity and drinking when Madalena returns from the roast. Gareth can tell something is wrong. Madalena runs into the next room and sings a song about how she might be feeling a feeling for the first time. Gareth sees this and feels bad for Madalena. I will say it’s been interesting to see Madalena act like a human being for once. Gareth presents Madalena a gift. He gives her the earrings the Von Falkonberg sisters were wearing. Still attached to their ears. Madalena likes the gift, and she kisses Gareth on the cheek.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Galavant 2.03: "Aw, Hell, the King"

“I can’t imagine a free people ever voting to send an army into an open-ended armed conflict which profits only the few. That would be madness.”
-Peasant John

For the third episode of this season of “Galavant,” we got some political humor. As a student/practitioner of government, I always enjoy political humor. I really love the scene early in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where one of the peasants teaches a lesson to Arthur about good governance. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, of course! Richard finds that in his absence, his people have tried to form a democracy, and poltically-based hilarity ensues. The episode also continues the other two plots that are currently ongoing, of course. Gareth and Madalena continue to find it difficult to live with each other, and Isabella wallows in sorrow after her unfortunate phone call with Galavant.

The episode opens where the last one left off. Richard and Galavant are standing where Richard’s castle used to be. Richard positively confirms that this is the site of his castle, and he can point out where all the rooms used to be. They venture into town and speak to a peasant named John. Peasant John says that the villagers didn’t think Richard was coming back, so they set up a democracy and used the stones from his castle to build community buildings. This scene in particular had a lot of good Monty Python-style political jokes. There’s also a big musical number called “Build a Better Tomorrow Here Today,” where Peasant John and the villagers sing about what they have created in Richard’s absence. Richard says Galavant needs to forget about using Richard’s army for now, because he lost his castle.

Meanwhile, Gareth keeps having nightmares about his betrayal of Richard. Each dream ends with a knife in Richard’s back. When that happens, Gareth wakes up screaming. Madalena can hear the screams from her own room down the hall, and it is interfering with her beauty sleep. Madalena tells Sid to make Gareth stop screaming, or she’ll slit his (Sid’s) throat. Sid does what he’s told and tries to talk with Gareth, suggesting Gareth may be feeling guilty about betraying Richard. Gareth doesn’t understand the concept of feeling guilty, though, and Madalena is pissed that Sid is making no progress. Gareth again has a nightmare that leaves him screaming, and Sid comes into his room to try and get him to quiet down. At that point, Gareth finally admits that maybe he is feeling guilty after all. Hopefully this will put an end to the nightmares, for Sid’s sake if nothing else!

Richard, as we’ve learned from his ability to wield the sword from the stone, is meant to be a King, but he’s treated with all sorts of disrespect in his former kingdom. People even have started calling him “buddy.” Galavant decides to ask Peasant John if the new democracy has an army he can use to rescue Isabella. Peasant John suggests Galavant make the request at the next town meeting, and the townspeople will put it to a vote. He can’t imagine they’ll actually go for it, though, as you can see from the Quote of the Episode. Galavant works to set up campaign, making posters and coming up with slogans and such. Richard, meanwhile, sings a big musical numbers about all the jobs he could potentially do instead of being King, but probably wouldn’t be good at for various reasons. He really is just meant to be a king.

Meanwhile, in Hortencia, Isabella has been wallowing in her creepy prison bedroom, just watching the Jester continuously act out her breakup with Galavant using puppets. Isabella’s parents really want her to meet with a wedding planner named Wormwood, who seems hella shady. Isabella’s not feeling it, but she doesn’t really have a choice. Wormwood has an evil plan to control Isabella (and through her, Hortencia), through a mind control tiara he has designed. When Isabella arrives for the wedding planning session, she is very unenthusiastic. There’s a big musical number about how the wedding should be the happiest day of her life. Mid-way through the song, Isabella puts on the mind control tiara, and she is suddenly super enthusiastic about the wedding. She gives a very peppy speech to the people of Hortencia inviting them all to the wedding. The Jester wonders what is sup with this sudden change in personality, but Isabella’s mom doesn’t care as long as her daughter is getting married.

Unfortunately for Galavant, the town hall meeting doesn’t go well. Galavant tries to explain his story and make a case for true love, but people keep getting Madalena missed up with Isabella and Valencia mixed up with Hortencia. I suppose Galavant should have seen this coming. This isn’t the first time he has gone on a big quest to rescue a woman he thinks he loves. I should probably go in for a rant here about how the show treats women in general. I hate that Isabella is wallowing in her pretty princess prison until somebody takes control of her mind. But the show is so charming that I can (usually) look past that rather troubling aspect of it. Richard tries to save the day, anyway, by giving a big (and very king-like) speech about true love, and he does get the attention of one woman named Robert who says she will join the request. Everyone else, however, is less than enthusiastic.

By the end of the episode, Galavant has packed up all his things and is ready to leave Richard’s kingdom. He tells Richard he’ll just figure out how to gather an army on the way to Hortencia. Richard says he would like to join him. I don’t think Galavant is too thrilled at the proposition since Richard tends to be a slow traveler, but he agrees. Roberta is going to join them, too, although I’m not sure how much she’ll be able to help. She’ll probably have some unexpected super crazy fighting skills or something. Anyway, she calls Richard “King,” and he likes that, so she’s joining them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 2.10: "The Real Santa"

“I’ve been thinking about what you said about Santa. It totally makes sense. Smart enough to understand the science of flight, yet small enough to fit down a chimney? That dude’s Chinese.”

The first attempt by the “Fresh off the Boat” creative team to do a Christmas episode was definitely original. We see Asian families so little on television that I guess I had never given much thought to the Asian view of Christmas. I still hope we get a Mid Autumn Festival or Chinese New Year episode, too, but this one was pretty entertaining. I thought Jessica’s attempt to create a “Chinese Santa” that was the perfect embodiment of the values she wants to impart to her children was both creative and exactly what I would expect Jessica to do. The whole thing was a bit bizarre (thanks to Sarah for that assessment!), but at the same time, it seemed to be in keeping with the ethos of the show overall.

At the beginning of the episode, we are introduced to “Jessica Town,” an elaborate set-up Jessica has created out of Dickens Village pieces. I bought a few Dickens Village pieces for my grandmother back in the day until she asked me to stop buying them because she didn’t have room for them! Anyway, “Jessica Town” has two bookstores with a hole in between them where the bakery should be. That bakery is Jessica’s white whale of Christmas decorations. While admiring the village, Jessica and Louis also debate the merits of Santa Claus. Jessica is anti-Santa, obviously.

Jessica has an idea that makes her so proud of herself that she tries to imitate Eddie’s pimp walk by doing a “jazz walk.” Louis counters with an even better jazz walk, though. Apparently he took a Fosse class in college. She “improved” Santa by telling Evan all sorts of great things about him. Jessica’s version of Santa studied a lot and became a great physicist. Louis doesn’t love this, especially because the family is supposed to go to a meal with Santa at Cattleman’s Ranch, and Mitch of all people will be playing Santa. He is worried that Evan will ask Mitch a bunch of science and math questions that he won’t be able to answer. Instead, the Huangs enlist their dentist neighbor Marvin (Honey’s husband) to play Santa instead. They give him two whole binders of information to study to prepare for the job.

Meanwhile, Emery frets over making the perfect present for Jessica. He is working on exact replica of the Dickens Village bakery that Jessica is missing. While he’s crafting, Emery and Eddie debate what makes a good gift. Last year, Emery wrote Grandma a novel about her life story, but Grandma doesn’t remember it at first. She has certainly never read it. She does remember Eddie’s present, a Nerf bird, though, and she still loves using it today. To Emery’s chagrin (he burned himself on a hot glue gun for this, damnit!), Honey gives Jessica the actual Dickens bakery. It belonged to Marvin’s first wife. His present for Louis is a chocolate sculpture of him (Louis), by the way. Emery is one weird kid. Eddie is very upset about the bakery/present situation, but Eddie suggests he just “let it ride.”

At the Cattleman’s Ranch breakfast with Santa, Evan is super excited to talk to Santa about science and math (because of course he is). He happily chats with Marvin-as-Santa about the physics behind Santa’s Christmas Eve travels. The whole thing is ruined, however, when a second Santa enters the festivities and Evan sees that it’s really Mitch. It makes him start questioning everything about Santa. Jessica tries to save the situation by saying that the real Santa is Chinese, and all the white Santas are just his helpers. That’s why so many toys say “Made in China” and why Santa wears a red suit. Later back at the house, Louis tries to get Jessica to stop “fixing” Santa. Jessica, for her part, thinks she has created the perfect improved Santa. Evan interrupts this conversation to say he believes the Chinese Santa story, because it makes perfect sense. If you want to know why, just read the Quote of the Episode!

With Emery still fretting over a replacement present for Jessica, Eddie shows Emery the poem he has written for Jessica. Emery doesn’t like it, but he agrees to write it out nicely on a scroll of paper as his contribution to the present. As he’s working on this project, Emery hears a Tupac song (“Mama”) on television that Eddie has pretty much taken the lyrics from verbatim for his “poem.” Emery confronts Eddie about this, but Eddie maintains he just “sampled” the Tupac song. Emery says the present won’t work, so Eddie thinks they should just go back to letting it ride and hoping something will work out.

Jessica and Louis go to see the third grade holiday show at Evan’s school. A new rule called “Kathy’s Rule” has made the show politically correct in the extreme. Instead of Santa, there’s a “panseasonal entity” that dances around on the stage. Evan protests the lack of a Santa, and the rest of the crowd agrees with him until he says Santa is Chinese. Then there’s just silence, followed by a ridiculous commotion, during which Louis and Jessica try their best to stand up for Evan. Back at home, Jessica enlists Honey’s help to transform into Laoban (boss) Santa. Laoban Santa hides all the presents on December 23, then the white Santas put the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. She’s even got a Le Baron parked in the driveway. I’d like to believe that was a reference to Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket,” but this episode takes place at least four years too early for that. Laoban Santa tells Evan to be good, study, and eat his vegetables before she leaves for the next house. Evan runs to his parents room and sees both Louis and Jessica sleeping. He doesn’t see that Jessica is still in full make-up (Louis is freaked out by it, though).

It is finally Christmas morning, and while the family is opening presents, Grandma throws the Nerf bird again and accidentally destroys the Dickens Village bakery. Eddie sees an opportunity, and he rushes off to present Jessica with the bakery Emery created (being careful to give Emery credit). Jessica really loves it and finds the gift very thoughtful. We end the episode with the Huangs opening presents in a happy family montage. Bring on Chinese New Year next!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.09: "Closure"

“Now you know how it feels, Coulson. To watch someone you care about bleed out right in front of you.”

If the battle between Ward and Coulson wasn’t already personal (it almost certainly was), it certainly becomes so in this episode. I think it was definitely already personal for Ward, but now it is for Coulson too. He makes the decision that Ward needs to go down at all costs, and he makes some rather rash decisions to make that happen. There are also some very rash decisions being made on the FitzSimmons front, and that can all be blamed on Ward, too. I’ve been starting to watch “Jane the Virgin” recently, and when, in the episode I watched last night, Jane’s prick (now ex, thank God) fiancĂ©, Michael created an elaborate romantic set-up involving a police boat to try and win Jane back, I told Sarah I thought Michael should go jump in the bay. After watching this episode, I think Ward needs to jump in a bay too, preferably after going through a great deal of pain.

The episode opens with Coulson and Rosalind having a date night. They’re having their favorite take-out burgers by candlelight at Rosalind’s house, which is kind of adorable. They talk about Rosalind’s plans to return to the ATCU despite the revelation that the organization is actually a puppet of Hydra. Rosalind thinks she can do the most good from the inside, and Coulson eventually acquiesces, even though he thinks it’s a bad idea. It’s a moot point, though, because in the middle of this conversation, Rosalind takes a bullet to the neck. Somebody had been set up in sniper position, and that somebody is Ward. He shot her right through her kitchen window, and she immediately falls to the ground. While Coulson is kneeling over Rosalind’s body, still in shock, Ward calls him to taunt him. Coulson barely has time to text S.H.I.E.L.D. that he needs an extraction before Ward’s men arrive and he has to fight his way out of the house. At one point, he even sets off a mini bomb and jumps out a window.

Mack picks Coulson up in a car and drives him back to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, where everyone is in shock over what just happened. Nobody really seems to know what to say. Mack tells Bobbi he has been directed by Coulson to get the interrogation room ready. Meanwhile, Coulson goes into his office and starts destroying things, and everyone else can hear the commotion. Once he has calmed down a bit, Coulson says he wants to interview all the original team members for details about Ward. He starts with May. She doesn’t know much, because as she put it, she and Ward didn’t do much talking. Fitz also makes some interesting comments, considering Ward almost killed him. He says he felt that Ward was using him to replace something missing in his life. Daisy has the most to say, of course. She thinks Ward kills because he feels too much. Cry me a river.

Mack and FitzSimmons ask Banks what he knows about the NASA program that took Will through the portal. They learn that it was called Distant Star Pathfinder, and an independent contractor was involved (Hydra affiliated, no doubt). Meanwhile, Ward returns to Gideon after his rampage. Gideon shows Ward that he has a full set of stones derived from the monolith. The stones were supposed to be divided among the leaders of Hydra, but now Gideon has all of them. They’re close to achieving their goal (bringing the Inhuman back to Earth), and he’s very pissed at Ward for jeopardizing it all for the sake of “closure” with Coulson. Ward has most definitely succeeded in rattling Coulson, though. He attacks Hunter for failing to kill Ward, and Bobbi has to step in and break it up. Coulson is also blaming himself for bringing Ward into the team in the first place. Hunter wants another shot at killing Ward, and Coulson is more than good with that. He wants to join him. They need to go off book to do this, and Bobbi is going to be their pilot. Because he has to go off book, Coulson makes Mack of all people Acting S.H.I.E.L.D. director.

FitzSimmons and Banks take a field trip to a Distant Star facility to see what they can learn. Fitz and Simmons take the opportunity to express their frustration with their current situation. Simmons is starting to think it would be selfish to reopen the portal. She owes Will her life, but not at the expense of the many, many people who could be killed if the monster returns to Earth. Fitz disagrees, and so they continue the mission. Suddenly Banks loses control of himself. His gun starts moving independently, and it shoots him in the head. It’s Mr. Giyera, the Inhuman who has been working for Gideon. Who happens to be played by the same guy who plays the super cheesy Chairman on Iron Chef America. I love it! Anyway, Mr. Giyera says that Gideon is waiting to speak with FitzSimmons. Gideon wants FitzSimmons to tell him out to return from the planet on the other side of the portal. Ward sends in Mr. Giyera to torture Simmons while he talks with Ward. He says Ward always had a puppy dog crush on Simmons and now it’s too late for them. Simmons’ screams can be heard in the background.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Daisy tells Mack what happened. He’s reluctant to mount a rescue mission, but he puts in a call to Coulson. After that phone conversation, Coulson violently throws his phone. He says his plan to defeat Ward had better work. That plan turns out to be a staged bank robbery that is a cover for capturing Ward’s younger brother, Thomas. After the successful capture, Coulson calls Ward and shows him that he has Thomas. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Hunter try to reassure Thomas that they don’t want to hurt him. Thomas warns them that their plan had better succeed, because Ward needs to be stopped. Bobbi puts a trace on Ward’s phone, and Thomas thinks he can keep Ward talking long enough for it to kick in. He tells Ward that their parents didn’t hide him (Thomas), he changed his name and moved so that Ward couldn’t find him. After the trace is successful, Coulson puts a stop to the call and tells Ward that he’s coming to put him down. It’s Ward’s turn to violently throw his phone, and he also threatens Simmons, which Fitz can hear. His job done, Bobbi lets Thomas go.

Mack’s got a potential idea, and he calls May in to talk about it. He wants to know her opinion of Lincoln. They also look at the plans for the building where Ward, Gideon, and FitzSimmons are holed up. Mack is still unsure of what to do, but May thinks he really does know. Mack ends up putting together a team to provide backup, led by Daisy and including Lincoln. Meanwhile, Gideon has Simmons brought to the portal opening. Soon Fitz joins her. Fitz has offered to go through the portal instead in exchange for Hydra no longer torturing Simmons. Simmons begs Fitz not to go and says he should let Hydra kill her instead. Fitz says he can’t lose her again. Ward and a team are also going to be accompanying Fitz. Coulson’s team can see that the Hydra team has started to go through the portal, and Coulson makes that rash decision I’ve been alluding to. He parachutes in after them, and Hunter tries to follow. The aircraft is under fire, though, so Bobbi needs to get moving. In the episode’s tag, we see that Coulson did indeed make it through the portal, too.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Galavant 2.02: "World's Best Kiss"

“You never handed me the f-ing amulet.”

“World’s Best Kiss,” although it is the second episode of the new season, really did a lot to set up what I presume will be this season’s (loose) plot arc. By the end of the episode, we’ve got the classic rom com trope of a terrible misunderstanding between the couple we’re supposed to be rooting for. I do like a good rom com now and then, but this particular plot device has always stressed me out. I always just want to scream at the television for the characters to realize what is actually going on! Anyway, despite using my least favorite rom com trope, this episode had enough humor to keep me from completely spontaneously combusting with frustration. There was a virgin detecting unicorn, and an amulet that is apparently very important even though we’ve never seen it before. And Madalena and Gareth are struggling to make things work as joint rulers of Valencia (because we didn’t see that coming!).

As the episode opens, Richard and Galavant are still traveling. Richard is getting increasingly whiny. He finds all this walking to be tiring, painful, and worst of all, boring. Galavant just wants to forge ahead. He is impatient to drop Richard off at his kingdom and get on with rescuing Isabella. Speaking of Isabella, she tells Chef all about her plan to escape during the changing of the guard. Chef thinks this is a great idea, because the changing of the guard ceremony is very elaborate. Isabella also wants Chef to give the Amulet of Valencia to her father. Isabella claims she’s worn the Amulet every day since her birth, but Chef has never seen it before, even during the time in the dungeon last season. I like how the creative team just decided to hang a lantern on that particular plot hole. Regardless, the Amulet means a lot to Isabella. As they both get ready to sleep, very far from each other, Isabella and Galavant think about their one kiss in a song called “World’s Best Kiss.” As they think more about the kiss, they both realize it wasn’t all that great, but it was still very meaningful to them.

Meanwhile, back in Valencia, Madalena and Gareth are adjusting to being co-rulers. At first, when Gareth suggests they skip the “leeches and bleeding” part of their schedule for the day, Madalena thinks this just might work. She remarks that Gareth thinks outside the box enough that he may be the right person to help her take over all seven realms. Then she looks up at the wall and sees a painting of dogs jousting. Gareth has decided that since he now has the title of King, he should add a few personal touches to the throne room. Madalena doesn’t like this at all. This conflict escalates into Gareth and Madalena throwing each other’s stuff into the castle moat while singing a full-on musical number called “Let’s Agree to Disagree.” The song is about how they have absolutely nothing in common. Sid is determined to fix this problem, though, and he approaches trying to find common ground between Gareth and Madalena in a very Polyanna-like way. By the end of the episode, they do have something in common, though. They both find Sid very annoying, and he is the final item to be tossed into the moat.

Galavant and Richard arrive in a town that pretty much looks like a Renaissance Festival (which is awesome, because I love Renaissance Festivals), and Galavant immediately sets about taking Richard’s broken boots to a cobbler so they can be on their way. Meanwhile, Richard finds a unicorn, but he’s not so happy to find out that unicorns are drawn to virgins. That unicorn keeps following Richard around through the entire episode despite his protests. After dropping off the boots, Galavant talks to Richard about some of his doubts about Isabella. Richard confirms that yes, the kiss was horrible and was the talk of the dungeon. He also suggests they consult a fortune teller. This fortune teller looks like a Galdalf/Dumbledore style wizard, but he uses one of those folded paper fortune tellers that were all the rate when I was in elementary school. I did get a laugh out of that. The fortune teller is interrupted by a call from his wife that comes through his wizard’s staff. Galavant and Richard realize the staff can be used to contact Isabella, too.

Speaking of Isabella, she leaves her room, and she finds the Jester, who has been playing Hide and Seek with Isabella’s pre-pubescent intended, Prince Harry. Hide and Seek had greatly improved the Jester’s knowledge of the castle grounds, so he is going to help Isabella escape. Chef and Gwynne see Isabella’s amulet start to ring, and they decide to answer it. The conversation is a bit garbled, but it’s clear that Chef and Gwynne thought the kiss was pretty horrible, too. Chef also tells Richard that Gareth betrayed him and is now King of Valencia. This news is absolutely devastating to Richard. Galavant demands to speak with Isabella, so Chef and Gwynne bring the amulet to her. The conversation between Galavant and Isabella is even more garbled, and Isabella is left thinking Galavant thinks she’s a cow. And that he doesn’t actually love her. This whole situation just makes me sad.

While waiting for Galavant to finish his conversation, Richard yells at the virgin detecting unicorn and also pulls a sword from a stone. At first he throws the sword away, but then he decides to keep it and give it a name. Richard and Galavant have a nice heart to heart about the betrayals both have experienced before continuing on their journey. Isabella closes out the show with a big reprise of “World’s Best Kiss” with lyrics that are all about how she and Galavant aren’t meant to be. She can’t believe she ever thought he loved her, and she decides to lock herself back up in Prince Harry’s pretty pretty princess prison room. We do get one last surprise with the episode’s last scene. Richard and Galavant arrive in Richard’s kingdom. Richard is looking forward to relaxing, and he offers Galavant whatever he needs to rescue Isabella. There’s just one problem. Richard’s castle is missing. The footprint of it can still be seen in the grass, but the castle itself? It’s gone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 2.09: "We Done Son"

“There is no such thing as a best friend. That’s just something Hello Kitty made up to sell more Hello Kitty.”

Overall I was entertained by “We Done Son,” which as you might expect from the title, has a unifying theme of strained friendships. I did however, find the guest appearance in this episode a little forced. Yes, “Fresh off the Boat” is a comedy, but at the core of all the wacky hijinks that befall the Huangs, it usually feels like there’s a kernel of emotional truth at the center. I was missing that feeling for much of this episode. Every show has it’s off episode now and then, so I’m still expecting great things from “Fresh off the Boat” moving forward. The show so often strikes a great balance between family hijinks and exploring the immigrant experience with a bit of an edge to keep things from being to treacly. They just need to not have special guest stars too often.

The episode begins with Jessica, Honey, and Grandma having a business meeting. Honey has quite a few ideas for growing their business. First she wants to serve mini quiches with bacon instead of cookies at the open house for the investment property. She also wants to go to a teambuilding seminar. Jessica scoffs at both of these ideas for being too expensive. Then Honey asks about someone named Madame Xing on their payroll. She’s costing them $500 a month, and Honey doesn’t know who she is. Jessica says that Madame Xing is her fortune teller, who she always consults before major decisions. Jessica and Honey place a call to Madame Xing, because Jessica is hoping she can get Honey on board with the continued expense. At first, Honey seems to be buying into it, but then Madame Xing says they should push the open house back three months. After the phone call, Honey insults Madame Xing and Jessica’s belief in her, and Jessica says their business partnership and friendship is over.

Shifting over to the plot from this episode that I didn’t really like, Eddie reveals to his buddies that he wants to get his girlfriend, Alison, a $50 necklace for her upcoming birthday. Eddie tells his friends he’s saved up the money, but when he gets home and opens the piggy bank, he only has $5. He asks Louis if he can go back to working at Cattleman’s Ranch for a little while, but Louis says that the investment property has made money tight, so he wouldn’t be able to pay. Louis does have a good alternative suggestion, though. He saw an ad at the country club for a family with a new baby that needs some extra help around the house. Eddie goes to the house, and the person looking for help happens to be none other than DMX (for the nonexistent kids out there who read this blog, DMX was a big time rapper in the 90’s). There’s just one catch. DMX wants Eddie to sign an iron clad NDA, so he isn’t going to be able to tell anyone where he’s working.

When a friend crosses a line, Jessica has a habit of completely cutting that friend out of her life, and when we next see her, that’s what she’s doing with Honey. She’s crossing her face out of pictures, and she sends Emery to deliver a box of all of the things Honey has left at the Huang house over the past few months. Also in the friends arena, Louis’s friend Barry (they were roommates for about two months in New Jersey once) is in town and wants to stay with the Huangs for a few days. Jessica isn’t happy about this because Barry always seems to want money on the rare occasions he shows up. Barry does indeed want money. Over dinner at Cattleman’s Ranch, Barry asks if Louis would be interested in investing in a business that would sell “used goods” that he is trying to get off the ground. There’s one other investor – a Frenchman in New Delhi – and the whole thing sounds super shady.

Work has made Eddie run down, and he’s so tired that he is rude to Alison when she’s trying to talk to him by the lockers at school. Eddie has become irritable at work, too, and at one point, he kind of snaps at DMX. DMX asks what’s wrong, and Eddie explains that he took the job to buy his girlfriend a gift, but now his relationship is strained. DMX has the perfect solution. He takes Eddie to his greenhouse out back for some Zen time among his prize orchids. He tells Eddie that giving Alison his time is more important than giving her an expensive gift. DMX then drives Eddie to Alison’s house, and Alison is thrilled to see DMX and receive the gift of one of DMX’s orchids from Eddie. Who knew Alison was a big rap fan, too? I guess this relationship was meant to be.

Back at the Huang house, Jessica is lonely. She tries to have girl chat with Evan and Emery, but that clearly doesn’t go well. She then approaches Grandma, who is watching Wheel of Fortune by herself. Grandma says she cut all her friends off years ago for various reasons, and she’d rather be lonely than wrong in an argument. Jessica doesn’t want to end up all alone watching Wheel, so she decides to try to make up with Honey. She goes about it the wrong way, though, just waltzing into Honey’s house and pretending nothing happened. Honey is not having it, and she sends Jessica back home. Back at home, Jessica finds Louis hiding from Barry, and each admits their friendship failures to the other. In response to Louis admitting that Barry really did just want money after all, Jessica tells him to cut Barry off for good and just rip off the Band Aid. Louis tells Jessica to apologize to Honey and show Honey that their friendship matters to her.

Louis does indeed rip off the Band Aid and tell Barry to leave. He points out that Barry doesn’t even know his last name. As Barry leaves, though, we learn that the big idea he wanted Louis to invest in was Ebay. Oops! Honey ended up going to that teambuilding workshop, and Jessica decides to go, too, just to show she values Honey’s ideas. They end up having to do a “jobprov” exercise together, and they each apologize to each other and make up. Back at the investment house, the ladies decide to put the house on the market right away after all, despite Madame Xing’s warning. That plain is foiled by the inspector, though, who says there is black mold all through the attic. It is illegal to sell the house before the mold is removed, and the removal will take three months. They have been “Xing-ed.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Galavant 2.01: "A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear"

“He says he’s going to let me keep our first daughter and not just throw them all out.”

In a very unexpected turn of events, ABC’s quirky Medieval musical “Galavant” has returned for a second season. The show, back for a short winter season run, ticks all my boxes. I love musicals, and I love “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (and “Spamalot”), and “Galavant is very much in that vein. It is so quirky (and was so poorly rated) that I never thought it would be back, but back it is! The show’s creative team feels the same way, clearly, as evidenced by the title of the episode, and the musical number, which was called “A New Season” and was extremely meta and wonderful. There are inside baseball references to ratings that will make any television enthusiast laugh. And the laughs just continue from there. Season two of “Galavant” is just as enjoyable as I hoped it would be.

As the cast is singing “A New Season,” we see that Galavant and King Richard are still on the pirate ship sailing back to King Richard’s realm so he can retake the throne. After safely delivering King Richard, Galavant plans to rescue his love Isabella from her creepy dollhouse prison in her tween cousin’s kingdom. Isabella still (understandably) wants to escape said prison, especially before her cousin hits puberty and she has to marry him. King Richard really wants Galavant to sing the show’s theme song from the first season, but the pirates are so sick of it that they threaten to make Galavant walk the plank if he sings it again. And thus “A New Season” is born as this season’s theme. I’ve got to say I do kind of miss the original song. It was quite an earworm. Anyway, Richard thinks he has found the perfect place for he, Galavant, and the pirate crew to go ashore. It turns out to be a pretty terrible place, but Galavant and Richard must continue on their journey anyway. They end up in the “Enchanted Forest,” which worries Richard. Richard’s father told him a story about Richard’s Uncle Keith going to the Enchanted Forest and never coming out. Galavant sees a sign and realizes that the Enchanted Forest is just a pub. He’s feeling much better about things.

Meanwhile, back in Valencia, both Sid and Gareth are wondering about their roles in the new, sure-to-be-brutal regime of Madelena. Since Sid was Galavan’ts right hand man, he’s naturally afraid of what the future will hold. Gareth sits in the throne room next to Madalena, but he feels like he doesn’t have any real power or get any respect. Sid is in a bubble bath, for a reason never explained, when Gareth approaches him with an offer. He wants Sid to be his assistant because, you know, Sid can read. Gareth asks Sid to read the Valencia scrolls and determine if Gareth has any role due to his banishing King Richard. Sid comes to the conclusion that he indeed does. Gareth is, technically, supposed to be King of Valencia. Gareth confronts Madelena with this information. She’s fine with giving Gareth the title of King, but it’s clear she’s not going to give him any real power, and she insists they are introduced as “Queen and King.”

Isabella compalains to her parents about the plan to marry her off to her currently pre-pubescent cousin, but her parents aren’t having it. Her mom says Galavant was hot and all, but he’s just a passing fad. They seriously think marrying the creepy cousin in the best option. Isabella talks to the jester, who has now basically become her cousin’s entertainer. He thinks is the easiest job he’s ever had, but he also seems unfulfilled. She also talks with Chef and Gwynne. Chef has become more cognizant of women’s right since beginning his relationship with Gwynne, so he offers to sneak Isabella the key to her room so she can escape. I like Chef and Gwynne, even if they are a bit ridiculous. It’s nice to see the point of view of people who aren’t nobility. It gives the show some variety.

Finally returning to Galavant and Richard’s adventures, it turns out that the Enchanted Forest is actually a gay bar. The bar is run by a very profit-minded Queen played by Kylie Minogue, who happens to be Joshua Sasse’s (Galavant) real life girlfriend (to which all I can really say is good for her). She sings a musical number in true disco pop diva style called “Off With His Shirt,” which is basically about how hot Galavant is. A shirtless Galavant immediately brings in a fortune in tips. The bar is doing such good business that the Queen isn’t going to allow him to ever leave. Well, she’ll let him leave once his abs start to get a bit flabby, but I have no doubt she doesn’t intend for that to be any time soon.

While hanging around the Enchanted Forest, Richard finds his long lost Uncle Keith. It turns out that Keith came out and went to the Enchanted Forest, not the other way around. It takes Richard an extremely long time to figure this out. If Tim Omundsun wasn’t so charming, I would say it was an annoyingly long time. Only he could really have pulled off that bit and not had me wanting to throw something at the television. Tim Omundsun really is all win. Anyway, Keith doesn’t really think Richard belongs in the Enchanted Forest, so he offers to help him escape. When Richard tells Galavant he has a way to escape, Galavant doesn’t believe him. Richard then decides to knock Galavant out and carry him away. When Galavant comes to, Richard points out that the ladies’ room door just leads to the outside, and that is their escape route. Outside, Galavant meets Uncle Keith. And Uncle Keith’s boyfriend, Destiny. As we wrap up this episode, Galavant and Richard are back on the road, Isabella is ready to escape, and the Queen and King are “ruling” Valencia. It truly is a new season!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Doctor Who 9.11: "Heaven Sent"

“If you think because she’s dead I am weak then you understand very little. If you had any part in killing her and you are not afraid, then you understand nothing at all. So for your own sake understand this: I am the Doctor. I’m coming to find you and I will never, ever stop.”
- The Doctor

Well Whovians, we are in our last two-parter of the season (before the Christmas special which I’ve been waiting for since they announced the guest cast back in the summertime). As you know, Clara died (rather foolishly and unheroically in my opinion) at the end of last episode and the Doctor was whisked away to who knows where thanks to Ashildr being kind of a brat. I will say that I found it very interesting that the opening credits this week only had Peter’s name in them. The Doctor appears in kind of a pod type thing and as soon as he steps out, he starts monologue-ing. He promises that he doesn’t always listen to what people tell him and he’s going to get revenge for Clara’s death.

No sooner as the Doctor assessed the distance he’s travelled (only one light year) and that he’s in the same time zone does he spy something in a corridor across the way. He also discovers he’s in a castle. A big circular castle that seems to move at random. The Doctor starts to get a touch paranoid when he sees a hooded figure moving towards him through a series of monitors. The creature (which seems like it might be from his nightmares) gets almost close enough to touch him when the Doctor blurts out that he’s actually, properly scared of dying. The creature freezes and the Doctor manages to get away briefly. The next time he encounters the creature is in a bedroom where the Doctor is studying a cracked and dusty old painting of Clara. The Doctor’s solution to escape this time is to dive out a broken window. He appears in the TARDIS and we quickly learn that he is in his mental “storage space” and he’s figuring out how much time he has until he hits bottom (at least it’s water) and what his chances of survival are. I guess it was an interesting device to let the viewer in on his thought process although it was rather manic and I thought it took us out of the scariness of the castle. But we return there soon enough (oh we also get a strange plot device of the Doctor talking to Clara and getting answers written back on a chalkboard (it kind of reminded me a little of the episode last series where everyone was having the same nightmare).

The Doctor ends up in a room with a nice fire and a change of clothes (he then hangs his wet clothes on the drying rack just as he found them). It makes me think we may get a repeat visit to this room. He thinks that the place is designed to scare and torture him but he’s fighting back and won’t let it get to him. Or so he thinks. He winds up in a garden and starts digging. He says he’s only going to dig for an hour but it seems like it’s been a lot longer and the creature (which at this point I think is a personification of his own death) is getting closer. The Doctor jumps into his storage closet again and realizes that the creatures stops when he tells the truth. But he insists to a non-existent Clara that there are some truths he cannot tell. I have a feeling this has to do with Confession Dial somehow. Maybe it’s the confessions contained within it or something.

So the Doctor manages to begin timing the creature and narrates to Clara and the audience that if he can lure the creature to one side of the castle and haul butt to the other, he has at most 82 mines to sleep, eat and work. His work consists of finding room 12. It was etched into a stone that he finally dug up in the garden (I swear he was supposed to be digging his own grave). He’s also noted that the castle moves when the creature stops and so he hasn’t given it time to catch up to him (so he would have to waste another truth to keep it at bay). But he does look rather haggard and miserable and he wonders if this will last forever or not.

Finally, after a trip up to the top of one of the turrets, the Doctor figures out how to get past the cement wall to Room 12. He has to escape the creature at least once more and he rants a bit about the stars being all wrong for this time and place. He finally gets through the door to find the TARDIS (the real one not his mental one) secured behind a substance that is harder than diamonds and twenty feet thick. In his mind he whines that he can’t do this anymore and he just wants to give up but Clara tells him to get off his sorry ass and win (I’d been wondering if it was a stand in for most of the episode). He starts punching the barrier (the big secret he has to keep is about the Dalek/Time Lord hybrid that Davros mentioned at the start of the season). The Doctor thinks he can punch his way to victory but the creature gets its hands on him and he passes out and then the creature disappears. It was all a little strange to be honest.

We spend most of the rest of the episode in a repeat loop of the Doctor slowly but surely breaking through the barrier until finally he gets through and steps through not to the TARDIS but to a planet he has not seen in a very long time. He finds a boy and tells him to go to the city and tell them he’s back. He also says that the prophecy about the hybrid was wrong. It was never part Dalek that was going to come and ruin Galifrey. It was always going to be him.

This had to be a tough episode for Peter to shoot since he had 99% of the dialogue and action. And I like that we are finally getting back to Galifrey. I just wish we didn’t have to wait all this time to get to this part. But I hope that the finale will answer a lot of questions and give us some good meaty drama between the Doctor and his people.