Sunday, April 30, 2017

iZombie 3.04: “Wag the Tongue Slowly”

“Ravi, it’s a stakeout. We’ll just hunker down in my car, you don’t even have to wear pants.”
- Major

I thought this episode did a lot to move various plot threads forward in an interesting way. And the case of the week was entertaining enough to provide little bright spots of humor throughout. As we saw at the end of last week, Blaine took the serum that could restore his memories. As a very hung-over Ravi checks his vitals the next days, we learn that if anything is going to happen, it will happen by Saturday morning. So, Blaine sets an alarm and drops by to visit Peyton, asking her to keep an eye on him in case he starts to die. That’s where Ravi and Major’s storyline for the week kind of comes in. Ravi is super mopey from what happened with Peyton but Major has a lead on finding Natalie. So, he’s going to drag Ravi along on his quest to save the zombie call girl.

The case of the week, however, is about a dental equipment sales associate who was the office gossip. Two of her co-workers find her in the bathroom, dead. Liv doesn’t realize the victim was such a gossip until she and Clive start talking to the victim’s co-workers. It turns out she was not a nice person. She liked to gab about everyone. It quickly becomes obvious that more than one person may have had motive to kill the victim (who died from a lethal combination of Utopium-laced yogurt and anti-depressants). She outed one co-worker as gay (who was having an affair) and she ruined another co-worker’s chance at promotion. Oh, and then there was the former adult film star (who had 80 movies in 5 months). Kudos to their HR person for keeping such detailed records.

As Clive and Liv continue to work this case, they continue to work the zombie family murder by going through the message board comments (of which there are many). While all this is going on, we get some honest conversations with Blaine and Peyton, especially the longer he doesn’t get his memory back. She wants it to work obviously so that Liv and Major can become human again but Blaine isn’t sure he wants to remember who he used to be. I’m with him. I like this new Blaine. Blaine even calls off sexy times because they both would (in their own ways) regret it in the morning if he reverted. But, lucky for them (for now), Blaine doesn’t remember so they can hook up again.

Elsewhere, Ravi and Major stake out the guy who has Natalie and follow him when he heads out (apparently, he’s in the diamond business and has a family). Major has a tracking device that he manages to slip into the muscle’s jacket after they get pulled over. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of Major and him slowly dying is kind of annoying but I have to admire his commitment to keeping a promise. Because before episode’s end, he finds Natalie. She warns that Seattle isn’t safe for her and so unless Fillmore Graves can relocate her somewhere super obscure, she’s not going anywhere. But it looks like he convinces her to take the dose of the cure (at least to keep it) that Ravi gave him because his condition is getting worse and an inhaler isn’t going to cut it for much longer. Whether we see Natalie again or not, at least Major kept his word as best he could. And we then see him head off for his first mission with the mercenaries.

Thanks to some good police work and combing through lots of phone records, Clive and Liv figure out what happened in the case of their dead office gossip. The three employees she wronged the most teamed up and intended to just prank her with the drug-laced yogurt. They had no idea that it would kill her. They just wanted to bring her down a peg. I don’t condone murder 9or even involuntary manslaughter) but someone needed to bring that woman down a bit. She was over the top obnoxious in getting into everyone’s business.

And lest we forget the larger case being investigated, Liv finds a post by someone who owns a gun range (which is having a zombie apocalypse sale). The guy seems like a racist hothead but he didn’t kill the family. He does have motive to hate zombies though. His brother died at the Max Rager massacre and as Liv and Clive leave, they realize they used his brother’s arm to gain access to the facility that night. Oops!

Overall, I thought this episode moved things forward pretty well. I know it doesn’t provide any real hope for Liv and Major not being zombies but then, what’s the point of a zombie show if the main character isn’t a zombie anymore? Also, I’m liking the Blaine and Peyton relationship that is burgeoning. I find Ravi being all mopey and pathetic, well, pathetic. He needs to move on. He’s better than all this pettiness and jealousy. Yes, he got his heart broken but move on. He does have more important things to worry about, like making sure his former boss doesn’t find out about zombie sand trying to figure out how to reverse the memory loss of the second cure! I suppose finding a way to keep Major from dying is important, too, although I wouldn’t be too broken up if he died. I know Liv and Peyton would be upset but he really doesn’t add all that much to the storyline and I heard we were supposed to get a new love interest for Liv and I can’t imagine Major being overly thrilled to see his ex-fiancée dating someone else. But, we are only a short way into this season so there is still plenty of time to see what happens and whether Major makes it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.17: "The Flush"

“Really, Maryland? You rain for three straight months, but tonight there’s not even a breeze?”

“The Flush” was another episode of “Fresh off the Boat” with two very different plots happening, but overall, I enjoyed both. The main plot of the episode (at least that’s what I’m considering it, since it inspired the title of the episode) was a great pairing of Louis and Eddie that really explored their father/son dynamic and how Louis is going to approach this parenting teenagers thing. The rest of the gang goes on a road trip, which is played more for laughs, but laughs it generates, so I’m okay with that. I might question Jessica’s math that led her to decide the road trip was a good idea, though. I actually wish we could have spent a little more time on the road trip plot. I would have liked to have known more about why Jessica gets grumpy so easily and why the boys wanted to see the “largest peanut” in the first place. It would have been awesome to see how they first learned about it, for instance. Nevertheless, the episode overall was certainly an entertaining enough half hour.

The episode opens with the Huangs and Honey at a furniture store trying to pick out a recliner for Grandma Huang. Jessica is putting up a tough fight with the salesman, accusing him of lying with every sentence he utters. When Grandma picks out the recliner she wants, the salesman says that there will be a $75 fee to transport it from the factory in Georgia. Jessica does some quick math and decides it would be $20 cheaper to drive to Georgia and pick it up herself, so it’s time for a road trip. Honey thinks road trips are fun, so she wants in too. Emery and Evan want a chance to see the World’s Largest Peanut (they saw it in a magazine once, and it spoke to them), so they’re in too. Jessica has everything planned down to the last detail, including buying fruit from roadside fruit stands because it’s cheaper than “city fruit.”

Since they’ll be left at home, Louis and Eddie are going to have a “guy’s weekend.” The younger boys let it slip to Louis that Eddie has kissed Alison, so Louis thinks he needs some bonding time with his oldest son to make sure he still knows what’s going on in his life. The plan is to eat a lot of pizza, watch Police Academy movies, and go to the driving range. When Eddie tells his friends about his plans, they want in too, and Eddie invites them. He has no idea that this could possibly upset Louis. Louis is shocked to see the gaggle of boys when he walks in the house with a pizza and some movies, but he gamely rolls with it for the sake of bonding with Eddie. He goes to order more pizzas as Trent arrives. While Louis is distracted, Trent reveals to the other boys that his sister bought them a bottle of beer. They want to know how quickly they can ditch Louis.

At first, the road trip seems to go well. Everything is perfectly efficient and on schedule, so Jessica is happy. Things start to go south when Honey motions for some truck drivers to honk. Jessica is startled, but the boys distract her by pointing out that the cheap gas station is coming up. While Jessica is washing the car windshield, the boys explain to Honey that Jessica can be a road trip grump if everything doesn’t go exactly according to plan. They missed seeing the World’s Largest Peanut the last time they were traveling through Georgia because Eddie kept asking “Are we there yet?” and they don’t want that to happen again. I do have to say at this point that I question Jessica’s calculations. Sure, she factored in gas, wear-and-tear on the car, and food, but what about the value of her time? How much progress could she have made in selling a house in the time it would take to drive to Georgia and back?

The boys and Louis are all playing poker, but the boys want the game over with ASAP so they can get on with the drinking. They go all in and immediately lose. Louis offers to call it a practice round and try again, but the boys all say they’re too tired. While Louis plays poker with Grandma, the boys all sit around the beer bottle in Eddie’s room. Eddie offers to try it first, but he has a really bad reaction after just a few sips and runs to the bathroom. Marvin stops by to drop off his golf clubs for Eddie to use at the driving range, and when Louis tells him how all the boys “went to bed” really early, he suspects they are probably drinking. Louis doesn’t think this could be possible, but he goes to check, and they are indeed still sitting around the beer bottle. Louis sends all the boys home, telling them he’ll be calling their parents, then it’s time to talk to Eddie. When Eddie finally opens the bathroom door, both Huang men have matching red faces (Louis took a few sips of the beer too). Louis tells Eddie it’s called the “Asian Flush.”

Honey and the boys do their best to keep Jessica placated. As traffic builds up, Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream” is on repeat, and Emery is doing his Jodie Foster impression. In a last minute save, Honey suggests stopping at an ice cream stand while they wait for the traffic to clear. All is well until Honey and the boys discover a parking ticket on the van. A parking ticket is way worse than heavy traffic. Honey makes a snap decision to hide the ticket from Jessica. Later at a farmers’ market, they get another parking ticket. Jessica hears Emery say “another parking ticket?” and Honey is forced to confess to hiding the first one. Honey accuses Jessica of being a “road grump” and says she would have just given Jessica the $20 if she knew it was going to be like this. The boys confirm that Jessica is indeed a road grump. Jessica decides to show her traveling companions that she can change by ripping up the tickets and taking the license plates off the van (so that she can say the plates were stolen and the thief earned the tickets).

What happens after Louis’ discovery of Eddie drinking is Louis being pretty much the best dad ever. He explains that the reaction they experience is an allergic reaction that is genetic. We see a flashback to when it first happened to Louis in college. Eddie wants to know why he has never seen Louis flushed before. Louis said that at first he would fake drink around his white friends, and he could drinks without worrying about it with his Chinese friends. Later, he developed a kit of things to use to lessen the symptoms. It’s full of heartburn and allergy meds, plus gauze pads to mop up the sweat. Eddie thinks it’s ridiculous that Asians (who have the allergy…not everyone does, apparently) have to go through all that to drink something that tastes pretty terrible. They talk about how the drinking wasn’t planned, and all Eddie really wanted was a chill weekend where he didn’t have to brush his teeth. Louis assures Eddie that while he’s going to have some sort of punishment for this, he can always talk to him about anything at any time. They are happily watching a Police Academy movie when Jessica and the boys walk in, all in bad moods. Jessica got yet another ticket for driving without her license plates. The boys never did get to see that peanut.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Once Upon a Time 6.18: “Where Bluebirds Fly”

“Why does it matter so much, Zelena? Why do you have to be better than everyone else?”
– Regina

As you might have guessed from the title of this episode, we are back in Oz and focus quite heavily on Zelena. We even see her in three different periods (as a young girl who hasn’t yet Rumple and succumbed to her jealousy of Regina), the Wicked Witch back in Oz before she ended up in Storybrooke and the present. As a young girl, we see her meet a young wood cutter on the yellow brick road. He defends her against some local cruel boys and it seems like she might have a friend who isn’t scared by her magic, especially since she used it for good. But when we meet her again as the Wicked Witch, things have obviously changed. She’s all alone, having kicked out the Wizard (or more accurately turned him into a monkey) until the wood cutter, now an older man comes back looking for help. The Witch of the North has cursed him and he’s turning into a tin man (nice touch there, writers). He needs Zelena’s help to face a horrible monster in the woods that is protecting the crimson heart (the only thing that can save him). She’s reluctant but goes with him to show that she is better than everyone.

That’s kind of a theme with Zelena throughout the episode. She wants to be better than everyone whether its Cora, Regina, Emma or even the Black Fairy. She thinks since she is so strong, she can go up against the Black Fairy on her own and win. Especially since the Black Fairy came after baby Robin. Seriously, what is this woman’s fascination with stealing other people’s babies? Anyway, Zelena’s intention just ruffles Regina’s feathers when she should be looking into the piece of the magic wand. Instead of helping the Charmings (who were having issues trying to plan Emma’s wedding—namely David thought they were rushing it and ultimately Emma agrees), she’s chasing after her big sister into the mines to confront the Fairy and Gideon.

Much like in the past, things don’t go as planned for Zelena. In Oz, she ends up needing the wood cutter’s help to defeat the giant ass lion guarding the heart. But hey, all we’re missing is a scarecrow! They find the heart but instead of just plunking it into the wood cutter’s chest, the item starts draining Zelena’s magic. She accuses him of tricking her but he swears he didn’t know. And he says that when he said she was special for having magic, it was that she used it for good he found special. She doesn’t buy that at all and leaves him to turn into a statue. In the present, she tries to confront the Black Fairy but again her magic gets used against her. This time, the Black Fairy was growing lots and lots of Fairy crystals and she needed Zelena’s unstable dark magic to turn the crystals to her side. She goes on about how Zelena is so desperate to be loved and wanted. I hate to say it, but it was kind of true. I mean Zelena has always been so hungry for attention and affection that she’s acted out quite horribly to people.

Zelena has also learned that the Blue Fairy is currently being hidden in the back of Rumple’s shop and she’s frozen because she doesn’t have her magic. Rumple is trying to find a way to wake her, especially since Blue knew the Black Fairy before Rumple was born and could shed some much-needed light on her intentions and her past. But, he’s still coming up empty handed. Lucky for him, Zelena doesn’t listen to Regina when the latter suggests the former go back to Oz where she can be on top and the best. As Zelena explains, anyone who cared for her in Oz now hates her. I don’t know, maybe she could have saved the wood cutter but I don’t think she ever felt that way about him or him about her. She does get to do some good yelling at Regina about the fact that she sacrificed the man she loved to save her sister’s life and all Regina’s done since is blame Zelena. They really have a complicated relationship and it’s going to get even more twisty when Zelena proposes a drastic measure to knock the Black Fairy off her game. Since the crystals are powered with Zelena’s magic, they are affected by what happens to said magic. And she used one of the crystals she and Regina took to call up a tornado to get the crimson heart. She’s going to sacrifice her magic to deal a blow to the Black Fairy. Regina and Emma are there for moral support and to promise to protect baby Robin if something should go amiss. Luckily, it works as they had intended and the heart drains all of her magic, turning all the other crystals back to light magic. Emma even uses the crystal they had to restart Blue’s heart. So, they are one step closer to getting her awake and getting answers about the Black Fairy. She’s been spying on the heroes so she knows what they’ve done and she is pissed. You can tell she’s scared, even though she tells Gideon she’s not. But she does admit that Blue can reveal here darkest secret, why she gave up her son all those many centuries ago.

I’m not sure we necessarily needed a Zelena-centric episode at this point in the season but it did serve to move the overall plot forward which was good. And we are one step closer to knowing the origin story of the Black Fairy and why Rumple’s family is so monumentally screwed up. If the preview for the next episode is any indication, we may get quit the mother-son epic showdown between the Black Fairy and Rumple if he indeed ends up siding with the Savior and her family. I mean, he’s got no love lost with his mother although something tells me her story may make her a tad bit more sympathetic. After all, we know evil isn’t born, it’s made and he himself was a sympathetic character once upon a time.

Once Upon a Time 6.17: “Awake”

“Well, even though I can’t be with her, I know she’s fighting for me just as much as I’m fighting for her.”
– David

This week’s episode of “Once Upon a Time” gave us a glimpse into the Charmings past that we haven’t seen before. At some point during the first curse, Mary Margaret finds a tiny flower growing in the sidewalk and she feels compelled to bring it to John Doe (Charming). He wakes up with his memories and shortly thereafter, she gets hers back too. David even manages to wake Rumple with a mention of Emma’s name. But there’s a hitch. They woke up 18 years too early. Emma isn’t ready to come find them and start on her path as the Savior. But the flower that woke the Charmings can reunite those with True Love and so they open a doorway to a 10-year-old Emma sitting in her room reading a book and listening to music. But Snow realizes that they can’t seek out their own happiness if it means condemning their friends to their awful Storybrooke lives (especially after Regina nearly blew up Archie to test Snow). So, they take the potion Rumple gave them to forget with the hopes that Emma would eventually find them.

In the present, things are getting somewhat complicated as well. Emma has been clued in on Henry’s glyph drawings and she’s also started having her hand tremors again. The Final Battle that’s coming is clearly on the horizon and it’s going to be bad. Also, Regina is still trying to find a way to break the sleeping curse. She and Zelena seem to have worked together to try a remedy but it only makes things worse. Instead of waking them up, it will put them both under permanently. Oops! But that flower from the past has been blooming (which according to Zelena happens when there’s a great evil coming). So, Emma and Snow go off to find them. They happen upon a field of them but then encounter the Black Fairy and Gideon (who destroys all but one). It seems the Rumple clan is having all kinds of drama of their own. The Black Fairy pops by the shop and tells her son that he will join her willingly when the time comes. Later, he confronts Mama about the fact she took Gideon’s heart. He’s going to get his son’s ticker back and he still refuses to join his mother’s cause. I have to wonder, if she gave him up (and didn’t name him) why would she want to align with him now, all these centuries later? I mean really, he did not get any luck in the parent department whatsoever. Also, I’d still like them to address whether Rumple had any innate magical ability on his mother’s side before taking up the dagger and if that’s part of what made him so dependent on it.

Speaking of the other half of Rumple’s parentage, Hook is still being chased by angry Lost Boys in Neverland. They aren’t too keen on Hook getting their boss killed. He tries to reason with them and offer them riches and alcohol but is sort of rescued by Tiger Lily who is not the Indian princess we know from the movie. She’s a resourceful, if kind of violent woman. Oh, and she wasn’t really saving Hook. She knocks him out with a dart too. When he wakes up, he wonders if she’s pissed about something that happened on Skull Rock. I know we’re nearing the end of the season (and possibly the series as a whole) but I kind of want to know that backstory. She wants him to deliver a piece of the wand that banished the Black Fairy to Emma. It’s apparently the only way to stop it. Tiger Lily also let slip that she used to be a fairy and when the Black Fairy got banished, Tiger gave up her own wings because she felt she’d failed her fairy friend and went to live in Neverland. I know it’s pretty late in the game to be introducing new characters like this but she seems interesting enough and not out of place in Hook’s past. Perhaps we’ll see more of her in the coming episodes.

Despite having the single flower to break Snow and David’s curse, Snow insists that Emma use it to find Hook. She arrives in Neverland just in time to rescue Hook. She was all freaked when his shadow showed up with the hook and the wand fragment. She kept asking where Hook was but um, it’s kind of obvious isn’t it? Anyway, the lovers are reunited and Hook does a proper proposal this time. But that still leaves the matter of a now-slumbering Charming couple. Regina has a plan but it’s risky. The sleeping curse was meant for one heart. So, if everyone that the Charmings have inspired or helped drinks a little of the potion, maybe it will dilute the spell enough to wake them. And lo and behold, it works! The Charmings and Emma can face whatever’s coming at them, knowing they have a found family at their side the whole way. I don’t know how much good it will do given I get the feeling the Black Fairy isn’t all that’s coming at Emma but hey, we’ll see what happens. Now we have to endure the Captain Swan wedding planning, ugh. Don’t expect a lot of coverage of that particular plotline in the coming recaps because as you should know by now, no matter how much the writers push the ship down my throat, I’m not getting on board. But I did think Regina’s way of saving Snow and David was pretty clever and I liked seeing that bit of the Charming past, even though I was little confused at first about where in the timeline it fell. I still have a lot of questions about the Black Fairy and how she got to be who she is but I believe those answers are coming in a couple weeks (if the spoilers and episode descriptions are to be believed).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

iZombie 3.03: "Eat, Pray, Liv"

“I’m not afraid of dying, Liv. I’m afraid of remembering.”

There was a lot going on in this particular episode of “iZombie.” There was more drama in the Ravi/Peyton/Blaine triangle, which was complicated by the return of Ravi’s kind of heinous old boss from the CDC. Major’s health is declining, as he’s trying to wait as long as possible before taking the second zombie “cure” that has the unfortunate side effect of amnesia. Blaine’s dad is back and has plenty of dastardly plans of his own. On top of all that, there’s a case of the week for Liv and Babineaux to solve, this time involving a meditation/mindfulness guru with an investment banker past. Most shows that go head-on into mythology like “iZombie” has this season abandon their former weekly paradigm. I am intrigued that Rob Thomas and crew have not gone that direction, however it’s becoming increasingly difficult to serve both the very complicated greater mythology and the cases of the week. We’ll see if the show settles into a better balance as the season progresses.

The episode opens with Major not doing especially well at mercenary training. It makes sense considering he used to be a social worker – he’s not exactly the solve problems by violence type when he doesn’t have to be. He’s also not adjusting well to the go-gurt version of pureed brains, and he complains about it when he, Ravi, and Liv hang out later that evening. Major and Ravi are happily playing a first person shooter, but Liv says that since she brought the Chinese food, they’re going to play her dance game instead. Major reveals to Ravi that he’s still looking for Natalie, the zombie hooker he froze who disappeared. Ravi says that, even though he pretty much hates Blaine right now, Blaine is the person Major needs to talk to for a lead. Speaking of Blaine, he’s got a side hustle singing and playing at a piano bar, and Peyton is definitely enjoying watching him. David Anders has a great voice, so I kind of don’t blame her, other than the small fact that Blaine used to zombify and kill people for profit. Blaine says his lawyer called him to set up a meeting about a problem with his father’s will, and Peyton agrees to accompany Blaine to the meeting as his lawyer.

We then meet the victim in this week’s case of the week, a mindfulness guru named Topher. We see him leading meditation, but he’s not long for this world. After class, he is brutally stabbed (is there any other way to be stabbed, really?). At the scene, our team discovers size twelve bloody shoe prints, and they also talk to a homeless man who apparently saw the killer run from the scene. He says he saw a man run to a dumpster and throw a bag in the dumpster. Babineaux, of course, has the honor of climbing in said dumpster, which is next door to a seafood restaurant. He is able to retrieve a bag from among all the lobster shells, and the bag contains the bloody shoes that made the footprint. Back at the lab, Liv takes some of Topher’s brains in chai tea form (and almost gives Ravi the brains version instead of the almond milk version) when Katty, Ravi’s old boss, arrives on the scene. The latest dead person with brains in her digestive system was on a flight from Seattle, so she’s (rightfully) convinced, that Seattle is the center of whatever is going on. Later she tells Ravi a theory that the work party and the boat party (where her latest victim had been) are connected, but Ravi lies and says none of the autopsies he did from the boat party had brains in the digestive system.

Ravi goes to have a chat with Peyton about the whole Blaine situation, and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Ravi makes it all about himself, and he reveals that whenever he’s not distracted, he can’t get the image of Blaine and Peyton having sex out of his head. Peyton is pretty offended by all this, accusing Ravi of wanting an apology from her when she didn’t do anything wrong. I’m kind of torn on this one. It’s not cool that Ravi was being possessive of Peyton when they weren’t even together, and he’s kind of borderline slut shaming her, but on the other hand, I think it’s very human to not enjoy seeing an ex with someone else. Especially when that someone else is Blaine. Speaking of Blaine, he’s got his meeting with the lawyer, and Peyton is running a bit late thanks to the Ravi waylay. Blaine sits down at his desk, and we see that along with the lawyer is none other than Blaine’s father, Angus. When Peyton arrives, she tells Blaine who Angus is. At first, Blaine is excited, thinking his dad will have some stories to tell to fill in the gaps in his memory. Instead, he just tells a story about what a horrible, horrible person Blaine is.

At the precinct, Babineaux shares his latest break in the case with Liv. He has figured out that Topher was a venture capitalist at a firm that engaged in some shady business. In fact, one of the other partners at the firm, Mitch, even did some time in prison. Topher took over Mitch’s accounts and made a ton of money off that situation before finding mindfulness. Also, the homeless guy they were trying to talk to disappeared. Major, meanwhile, continues to try and fail at mercenary training. He bonds with another merc named Jason, who was the DJ at the employee appreciation party where the zombification happened. After training, Major then plays a visit to Blaine. He wants Blaine’s help in finding Natalie. When he finds out who Natalie was (a hooker Blaine zombified so she could service his clients), he agrees to look up the phone number Major has (the number belongs to a former client who may be holding Natalie now). He is able to give Major an address, and he warns Major that the client ordered extra brains and may be out of town. This makes Major start worrying that he’s running out of time, given he’s been having some pretty bad coughing fits lately.

Angus and Don-E, who has become his toady, scope out a potential location for a zombie club. The two definitely have creative differences, to put it mildly, on everything from what should be served at the club (Don-E wants to do hot pepper shooters while Angus just wants to serve custom order brains) to décor (Don-E wants a pinball machine while Angus wants leather banquettes). Don-E is tasked with figuring out how to confirm all guests are zombies. At first he wants to shoot a nail through everyone’s hand, but Angus tells him to keep working on it. He decides to serve potential customers a ghost pepper instead, and Angus approves. The club’s specialty will be “acquisitions,” but for those who can’t afford a bespoke brain, Angus has purchased a hospital in Bangaldesh. He wants Don-E to go to clubs, find big spenders, and turn them into zombies.

Babineaux and Liv talk to Mitch, who mentions that another former investment banker was involved in Topher’s mindfulness studio – his name is Devon. Liv and Babineaux then head back to the studio for another chat. Devon has size twelve feet, and he’s tall with dark hair, matching the description they got from the homeless guy. Liv is skeptical that Devon could have committed such a crime, though (he’s peacefully raking a rock garden), so she and Babineaux decide to do a stakeout to try and find the homeless guy so they can ask him some more questions. The stakeout doesn’t go all that well, since Babineaux can’t stand Liv on guru brain. It gets so bad that a busybody neighbor calls the cops, thinking she saw a pimp berating one of his hookers. Babineaux and Liv go talk to the lady, who insists that no homeless man would sleep in “her” alley. However, she did see the homeless guy run down the alley and throw a bag in the dumpster. That’s when Liv and Babineaux realize for sure that the whole thing was a frame job. They confront Mitch with his DNA on the “homeless guy’s” wine bottle and a letter Topher wrote him while he was in prison. Mitch lawyers up.

Major finally has a successful training where he doesn’t get mock shot in the head. He and Justin celebrate by having some Zumba instructor brain instead of the usual go-gurt rations. Major invites Liv over, and she shows up right away because she thinks it’s an emergency. She is pleasantly surprised to see Major and Justin dancing to her favorite video game. Major makes up some snacks while Liv plays the game with Justin. He smiles to watch his two friends happily dancing, but then he has a coughing fit. When he recovers, the smile becomes wistful. No doubt he’s thinking about how soon he’s going to have to wipe all his memories. I get he impression he organized this Zumba night to give himself one final happy memory with Liv.

Ravi thinks he may have figured out a serum that could restore the memories of anyone who has taken the second cure. It’s never been tried on a human before, and the ideal candidate is Blaine. Using Peyton as a go-between, a meeting is set. At first, Blaine doesn’t want to take the serum because he doesn’t want to remember all the horrible things he’s done. Ravi starts berating Blaine, and Peyton asks him why he’s being such a dick. Ravi says he’s still in love with Peyton, and that prompts Blaine to finally take the serum. Later, Peyton stops by Ravi’s house to talk through what happened. She’s pissed that he hasn’t been there for her if he’s so in love with her. Ravi wants to change, and they kiss. It’s all ruined pretty quickly, though, when Peyton discovers a half-dressed Katty in the kitchen.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.16: "Gabby Goose"

“No way, we’ll just lose at the white people game with white people questions. All the answers are Winston Churchill or the Red Sox.”

This episode of “Fresh off the Boat” had two rather unrelated plots that both had potential. I think they both would have been great if either had been developed a bit more. In the main plot, Louis and Jessica struggle with how much of their private life should be shared with neighbors when Louis complains about Jessica’s poor sportsmanship to Honey. In the B story, just as Eddie is finally coming to terms with Tupac’s death, Biggie Smalls is killed too. This sends Eddie into an understandable tailspin. The main plot explored an interesting dynamic of Louis and Jessica’s relationship, and it would have been ridiculous not to also explore Eddie’s reaction to Biggie’s death since Tupac has been so heavily featured. Putting both of these stories in the same episode, though, underserved them I think.

The episode opens with Louis, Jessica, Honey, and Marvin playing a game of Scrabble. Jessica kicks ass, as you’d expect, even with English being her second language. Next, the group decides to play charades. Jessica really wants to partner with Honey, but Louis insists that the teams be the married couples. Honey and Marvin do really well in the first round, with Honey almost immediately identifying “Tess d’Urbervilles.” Louis and Jessica don’t fare nearly as well. Louis’s attempt to rime the movie “Babe” with “Abe” Lincoln is completely incomprehensible. Jessica is so upset that she goes to the bathroom, puts on her pajamas, and tells Honey and Marvin to leave while she brushes her teeth.

Meanwhile, the boys and Grandma watch The Real World together on MTV. I’m kind of surprised that the boys are watching the show. I’m about a year younger than Eddie, and I didn’t even know what The Real World was until the summer of 2000 when I was sixteen years old and spent a week visiting an out of town friend. I was super into it by then, but I don’t think I would have really known what to make of the show when I was thirteen in March of 1997. I can tell you this was March 1997 because the broadcast is interrupted with breaking news announcing Notorious B.I.G. has died. Eddie had just been talking about how he was finally starting to feel like he had recovered from Tupac’s death. He had designed a memorial tattoo and everything. Needless to say, Biggie’s death sends him into a tailspin. We next see him on the phone gossiping about the funeral with a Delta Air Lines agent. Jessica hangs up the phone on him, but he goes right back into it when the agent calls back. Evan and Emery think they need to do some sort of brotherly intervention.

The day after the game night disaster, a very embarrassed Louis runs into Honey outside. They start dancing around the topic of Jessica’s behavior, and Louis expresses how much it frustrates him when Jessica ruins game night. Honey suggests Louis talk to Jessica about it, but Louis says he has been trained from a young age (with flashback for evidence) to avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations. When Marvin steps outside, Honey demonstrates the right way to lovingly try and correct someone’s behavior by telling Marvin (after a compliment) that he high-fives her too hard. Louis tries the same technique on Jessica, and it goes well until he mentions that he got the technique from Honey. Jessica is upset, first of all, that Louis shared their private issues with someone (and she throws a Trivial Pursuit piece to make a point), and second, she’s concerned that word will spread because Marvin is the biggest gossip in Orlando.

The next time Louis talks to honey, he explains what happened, and Honey is concerned. Jessica has a reputation for being vengeful, and she might try and spread some facts about Louis that he might rather everyone didn’t know. At first, Louis insists he’s an open book, but then he starts thinking about the shoe lifts he wears, and he realizes he could be in danger of an embarrassing reveal after all. He rushes to Marvin’s office, where he learns that Jessica has already been there. Martin keeps making references to height and related words, so Louis is convinced that Jessica spilled the beans. His paranoia grows when he sees Jessica laughing and powerwalking with some neighbors on his way home. He accuses her of talking about the lifts, but it’s very clear that Jessica hadn’t actually mentioned them. It’s awkwardness all around as Louis and Jessica have a very public argument.

Meanwhile, the boys do whatever they can to try and dig Eddie out of his Biggie-related depression. First they have Alison come over with a bottle of Biggie’s favorite soda that made him so “big.” Even his girlfriend can’t get Eddie out of bed. Then it’s time for a “group therapy” circle with the brothers and Eddie’s pals. They all go around the circle and talk about things that have been bothering them (some more superficial than others), and Eddie finally starts opening up. What’s been bothering him is that Biggie was only 24. Less than ten years older than Eddie. His first album was called “Ready to Die” This all has Eddie wondering if he’s ready to die. Later when he’s back in bed again, he talks some more to Evan and Emery about how he hoped to be real friends with Biggie one day and even start a soda business with him. Evan tried slapping the depression out of Eddie (ineffective, of course), but Emery has a better idea. He paints a Biggie memorial mural in Eddie’s bedroom, and Eddie loves it.

Back home, Jessica reveals to Louis that when she told him she was going to “go on the offensive” against any potential gossip Marvin would spread, she meant that she would go on a charm offensive. She wanted to be so nice to everybody that they couldn’t possibly believe she would have a game night meltdown. Louis admits that this was actually a decent idea. They decide to invite their friends over for another game night to demonstrate their best behavior. Jessica successfully doesn’t flip out when Louis once again utterly fails at Charades. The other couples, however, all start arguing and airing their own dirty laundry. Louis and Jessica don’t know what to do, and they spend the rest of the evening staring at a plant in the corner of the room. They resolve to never complain about each other to others again.

Doctor Who 10.01: "The Pilot"

“Scared is good. Scared is rational. She wasn’t human anymore.”
-The Doctor

“The Pilot” was the long-awaited premiere of the tenth season of “Doctor Who,” the last season that will star Peter Capaldi (tear) and be helmed by Stephen Moffat (hooray!). The episode was a mostly satisfying (in that she at least sort of felt like a fully-formed human being) introduction to new companion Bill. The plot however, was your typical Moffat thin but twisty special. I had trouble paying attention to it in the middle, as per usual. It seems complicated on the surface, but when you look deeper, there’s just not much there. When I watch “Doctor Who,” I like to feel connected to the characters and fully immersed in the world, and that’s just not at all what Stephen Moffat brings to the table. I’ll watch the rest of this season because I’m a big fan of Peter Capaldi, and the new companion seems cool, but I’m anxiously awaiting what Chris Chibnall will do with the franchise next season.

The episode starts off by introducing us to Bill Potts, who is escorted by Nardole into the Doctor’s office at the university where he has been teaching. She awkwardly looks around the office until she hears the Doctor playing his guitar. She then coughs to make her presence known, and the Doctor greets her. She’s a lunch lady at the university who serves chips in the canteen, but she always comes to the Doctor’s lectures, and he wants to know why. She tells this long drawn out story of how she served extra chips to a hot student who liked his lectures and accidentally made her fat. The Doctor, not really caring about this story, says he likes that Bill always smiles when she doesn’t understand something instead of frowning, and he offers to be her personal tutor. As we see in some montages of Bill’s day to day life following this meeting, her foster mother is rather skeptical of the arrangement, thinking that the Doctor must want something more for the tutoring. Bill assures her that this isn’t the case, though.

Also in the montage (where the Doctor is giving a pretty sounding lecture that ends in him explaining the acronym TARDIS), we see Bill’s attention turn from the chips eater to another woman named Heather. Heather has a defect in one of her irises that looks like a star. Bill thinks that’s really cool, but Heather hates it and wants to get it fixed. Bill loves the university and has always wanted to go there, even if she can only be there as a lunch lady, but Heather hates it and always feels like she needs to leave and go somewhere else. We never really find out why – Heather isn’t exactly a fully developed character. More of a plot device.

Anyway, after accidentally seeing the Doctor and Nardole working on the TARDIS, getting freaked out, and running away, Bill spots Heather sitting on a bench. Heather also looks a bit freaked out, so Bill asks her what’s going on. Heather shows Bill a puddle, which is unusual because it hasn’t rained in days. She tells Bill to look in the puddle, and Bill sees what at first appears to be a reflection of her face. Upon closer inspection, however, she realizes it doesn’t look quite right. Before she can get any answers, Heather runs away. Within the puddle, a voice says contact has been made with the Pilot.

Around the holidays, we learn a bit more of Bill’s backstory. Her mother died when she was a baby. She hated having her picture taken, so while Bill has been told she looks like her mother, she doesn’t really have any evidence of that. A few days later, her foster mother randomly finds a whole box of photographs of Bill’s mother. Bill looks through them and starts to realize what is going on when, in one of the photographs, she sees a reflection of the Doctor taking the picture. There’s too much drama with Heather going on to worry about that for too long, however. Bill sees her staring at the puddle again, and when Heather seems happier, Bill tries to chat her up, making her promise she won’t disappear on her again. Unfortunately for both of them, however, Heather does disappear. Into the puddle, where she is now officially its pilot.

Bill starts telling the Doctor about the puddle, and he’s concerned enough that he immediately jumps up and runs to investigate. At first, he starts explaining what’s going on. The puddle isn’t showing a reflection. Something inside it is mimicking Bill. Bill realizes this when she sees that in the puddle, the patch on her jacket is on the wrong side. Heather was able to recognize something is up right away because of the star in her eye. Anyway, the Doctor thinks better of drawing Bill too deeply into this world, and he tries to brush it all off as some sort of optical illusion. As he and Bill leave the puddle, the same sinister voice announces that the Passenger has been located and will be pursued.

And so the pursuit begins. Bill goes home to hear someone running water in the bathroom. When a phone call establishes that it’s not her foster mother, she starts investigating. The tub and she floor and the shower are somewhat wet, but nobody is there. Then Bill looks in the shower drain and sees Heather’s eye staring back at her. She immediately goes to the Doctor, although not before having a bit of a staring contest with a wet Heather outside the building. As Bill closes the door to the Doctor’s office, the water starts to seep in under the crack. The Doctor has no choice but to take Bill into the TARDIS. She’s not, to the Doctor’s chagrin, as freaked out by it all as you might think. She compares it to a really posh kitchen, and she wants to know where the toilet is. She starts realizing the stakes when the Doctor moves the TARDIS and they find themselves in another part of the University. The Doctor has a vault there, and he wants to make sure that’s not what the puddle is after. It soon becomes apparent, though, that the puddle is actually after Bill.

To test the puddle, the Doctor moves the TARDIS several times. First to Sydney, Australia (I was a bit jealous of that since it’s one of my favorite cities), then the opposite end of the universe 23 million years into the future. That jump gives the Doctor just enough time to theorize about what is going on. He thinks the puddle is a bit of liquid from a spaceship that can change into whatever is needed. Heather needed to get away, so the ship basically “ate” her and made her its pilot. She made a promise not to leave Bill, so now it’s after Bill. After everyone is safe back in the TARDIS, the Doctor decides that they need to try and decontaminate the puddle by taking it through a Dalek attack. So that introduces Bill to Daleks. And Heather briefly takes the form of a Dalek (even Daleks can’t disable her now). Bill asks Heather to let her go, and Heather seems to understand, but then she reaches out her hand and Bill grabs it. Bill can briefly see all over the universe, but she can also hear the Doctor’s voice saying it’s a trap. She and Heather say goodbye, and Bill lets go.

Back at the university, the Doctor wants to wipe Bill’s memory, because he had promised not to go Time Lording about anymore. He’s at the university on the down-low and nobody can know he’s there. Bill protests, saying this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to her, and she wants to be able to remember it for at least one night before the Doctor does what he has to do. She asks the Doctor to think about how it would feel if someone tried to wipe his mind. This has happened to the Doctor before (Clara’s fault, if I recall correctly), so he lets her keep her memories, but she needs to leave immediately. Bill goes outside, happily remembering her brief tour around the universe. All of a sudden, the TARDIS materializes and the Doctor is standing behind her. He has changed his mind, and he’s ready for more adventures after all.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.15: "Living While Eddie"

“Eddie, there is something called a white lie. And that is a lie that protects you from all the things that make white people soft.”

I found this episode to be especially fun, although it did tackle some serious discussion of Asians as the “model minority” as the real Eddie Huang would say and the fictional Eddie’s place in that paradigm. It’s another episode that I think the real Eddie might appreciate somewhat if he were to watch it. Yes, there are some light-hearted TV comedy hijinks, but Eddie also has some serious issues to wrestle with of the sort that the real Eddie has written about extensively. What’s more fun about this episode is a plot that takes place at Cattleman’s Ranch. An infomercial is being shot there, and Louis and Emery compete for the illustrious role of salad eater. Louis ends up having to be the adult in the situation, but Emery doubts the sincerity of Louis’ gesture. It’s all good stuff, really.

It’s breakfast time at the Huang house, and Louis has big news to announce. An infomercial is going to be filmed at Cattleman’s Ranch. Emery is a bit infomercial aficionado, so he is especially excited about this. Jessica is happy because she thinks someone paying them to not serve food is an especially ingenious scam. Louis agrees to let Emery watch the filming, since he seems really interested in it. Meanwhile, Jessica notices that her morning papaya (one of the few luxuries she allows herself) is missing. She immediately suspects Eddie, and he owns up to the crime. In retaliation (she’s a big believer in an eye for an eye), she takes Eddie’s breakfast cereal and eats it.

Later, Evan comes to Eddie with big news. At a “white friend’s” house, he has discovered a rather ingenious invention – the dishwasher. Jessica always makes the boys wash the dishes by hand, and they were taught that the dishwasher was just a drying rack. Eddie and Evan go to the kitchen, where they discover that their “drying rack” looks just like a dishwasher, just without buttons. Jessica tells the boys that they are under no circumstances allowed to use the dishwasher. It makes you soft and is bad for the dishes. And Chinese people care very much about their dishes (hence why they’re called “China”). Jessica arrives home to hear the dishwasher running, though, and when she checks it out, it’s warm. One of her children has been disobedient.

The first morning of the infomercial shoot seems to go swimmingly. Louis and Emery get to meet Tony Wonder, a famous infomercial host of whom Emery is a big fan. He even gives them both (rather ridiculous) signed bobbleheads. The product that is going to be sold is the “On-gun,” although Louis thinks “Gunion” would be a better name. One of the PA’s rushes in to tell Tony Wonder there’s a problem, though. Their “salad eater” is a no-show. The problem is quickly solved, however, when Louis agrees to be the salad eater. Emery seems a bit peeved by this. Before Louis starts filming, Louis seems confident, Emery kind of psychs him out, though, by reminding him how many people will be watching. We are treated to a montage of Louis flubbing his take (all he is supposed to say is “Onions, shallots, scallions, it does them all!") over and over. Filming is pushed to a second day because of it.

Jessica immediately accuses Eddie of using the dishwasher. Eddie doesn’t want to own up to it, but he can’t show pruned fingers to Jessica to prove that he washed the dishes by hand. Jessica suspends his allowance for three weeks, which disappoints Eddie, because he was going to use the money to buy an N-64. He wanted to play the new Goldeneye game. I do love the little historical pop culture references in this show. Jessica asks Louis if he thinks they’re raising a bad kid in Eddie. Louis thinks Eddie has a good heart and was probably just really excited to try the dishwasher. The next day, Jessica has the dishwasher disabled. Just as the plumber is finishing his work, Jessica gets a call from the record store at the mall, where the manager is accusing Eddie of shoplifting. Jessica at first shows up at the wrong location of the record store, but eventually she is in the right place, and she tells Eddie he’s in big trouble.

Meanwhile, at day two of the infomercial shoot, Louis is getting ready when Emery stops by to chat. Louis is happy because he has his line memorized and he thinks he’s all ready to go. Emery says that he’s been recast. Emery himself is now going to be the salad eater. Louis watches the filming. Emery says the line properly, but he can’t stop blinking when the camera is rolling. Louis, because he’s a good dad, looks past the whole recasting thing and tries to give Emery a legit pep talk. Emery, however, just accuses Louis of trying to psych him out. At the end of the episode, the whole family sits down to watch the infomercial. The creative team has incorporated outtakes of both Louis and Emery that make them both look foolish. To make matters worse, they stole Louis’ idea, and the product is now called the Gunion. Emery, however, is still convinced that his father doesn’t support him, which I found to be a little ridiculous. Grandma loves using her Gunion to shoot popcorn into a bowl, though.

At the record store, Jessica takes pause when the manager says Eddie could face jail time, because the store prosecutes shoplifting to the fullest extent of the law. He has to leave the room for a minute to deal with a rush on the latest Spice Girls CD, so Eddie and Jessica are able to have a little heart to heart. Eddie is very upset at being “profiled” by his mother, but Jessica says that after the papaya and dishwasher incidents, she can’t trust him anymore. Eddie owns up to using the dishwasher, but he admits that he didn’t actually eat the papaya. Evan has a weakness for tropical fruit, and since he has a “clean record” Eddie decided to take the fall. Jessica is impressed by this, so when the manager comes back, she starts standing up for Eddie. Eddie has a way to prove that he brought the CD in question (the Streetfighter soundtrack) into the store to sell and didn’t shoplift it. There’s one particular track that skips eighteen seconds in. Jessica prompts the manager to play the CD on the boom box (or “boom boom box” as Jessica puts it), and it does indeed skip exactly when Eddie says it will. Eddie is free to go, and his relationship with Jessica is better for it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

iZombie 3.02: “Zombie Knows Best”

“I know what’s happening with the brains right now but it still weirds me out.”
– Clive

I thought this was a pretty solid episode of “iZombie”. It had action and it moved the plot forward for the characters in a meaningful way. It felt like it was getting back to form after last week’s exposition-heavy premiere. I will admit their attempt to sort of use and intersperse in media res was a little confusing so I’m just going to address it up front. The lead detective on the case of the murdered family of zombies questions Clive about his relationship to the family. He was marked as the emergency contact for Wally on a form. So, we get to see how Clive first met Wally and Anna and how over time, after Anna’s husband got locked up for beating on his family and Clive kind of found himself in their family unit. We even learned how Clive got into Game of Thrones. Clive and Liv also chat with some of the Fillmore Graves people to see who might have wanted to hurt the family. It isn’t until Ravi is tasked with listening to one of the radio call-in shows that they realize things are moving a lot faster than anyone realized. Their neighbor called in because he saw brains in the trash and he posted about it on a message board. Someone there posted the address. Well, it seems the zombie community is about to be outed!

While all of this is going on, the gang has a new case to solve as well. At 4am, a father and daughter get massively t-boned by a big truck. As Liv and Ravi get to the scene, Clive gets to experience his first case with the full knowledge of Liv’s methods. I have to admit he’s pretty funny about the whole thing. She points out that she hadn’t eaten since the mercenary soldier guy and she’s getting a little rumbly in her tummy. Because there are two victims, they think Major can help out on the case, too. He’s a little worried about being on teenage girl brains (Liv had already dined on Dad before he arrived) because he’s starting mercenary training and he’s closer to finding Natalie (the zombie call girl). He’s got a phone number that Clive is going to chase down but he’s still fretting about it with Ravi as the brains kick in. I laughed as Liv and Major ate the brains and Clive and Ravi watched, Ravi with chip bag in hand. Gotta love it!

Thanks to teenage girl brain, Major gets to sing along (badly) to some angst-ridden female artists (it sounded like it could have been Taylor Swift but I’m unsure) when Clive and Liv come back with a dead end at the father’s work. Major then storms off to mercenary training where he’s ogling the other guys and commenting on their abs. They mention that they don’t get the personality and vision side effects of being on normal brains because Fillmore Graves gives them some mashed up brain combo thing in a tube (think Go-gurt). But as Major is showing off his selfies (which he thinks look awful), he gets a helpful vision about the teenage girl showing her dad something on her phone and her dad saying they need to go to the authorities.

Thanks to some digging by the super creepy IT guy, they learn that the girl in question used to be an ice skater and she used to be friends with our victim. The girl unfriended our victim on Facebook but she claims they had a fight about the victim being too judgmental of the other girl. Liv gets a vision at this point of the photo on the phone of the girl in bed with an older man. That man also happens to be the girl’s stepfather. Oh lord! And hey, he runs a plant nursery and has the type of truck that would be involved in the hit and run.

The next day, the girl and her mother show up, claiming that the stepfather has run off because he’s guilty of killing the father/daughter combo. The story they spin is fairly plausible at first. He broke off the relationship with his stepdaughter and she confided in her friend. Her friend told her father and he wanted to go to the police. But the girl never told her stepfather that last part so how could he have known? Cue the creepy IT guy again coming in with the texts between the girls. It seems that the girl might be our guilty party (she threatened our teenage victim and had been arrested for driving without a license a short time earlier). But then the real kicker comes. Someone put an app on the girl’s phone to track everything, texts included. And that person was the girl’s super rich mother (who left her stock broker husband for the landscaper …. yeah, they’re all real winners in this family). She was disgusted by her daughter’s actions and so she took it on herself to keep things quiet. Except, you know, now the media will find out anyway! Oh, and Clive manages to nab the stepfather for sexual assault (and statutory rape I’m assuming).

I really liked how this episode brought us back to the formula of the show and allowed Major to get into it a little, too. He was a lot of fun to watch on girl brains. Liv was more like her usual self with just a little more order (I mean she was always fixing things or sharpening tools). But hey, she did convince Ravi to talk to Peyton and see what could be salvaged there. I mean yeah she slept with Blaine but it wasn’t to hurt Ravi and it wasn’t like she intended it to happen in the first place. Although, I am a bit torn between the two pairings. If Blaine really isn’t faking the memory loss then I’d like to see him give it a real go with Peyton. But I also wouldn’t mind Ravi and Peyton being back together, too, especially now that they all know the whole truth and it would make him less sad.

Monday, April 10, 2017

MTVP Binges Out: Santa Clarita Diet: Season One

Who knew you could have a comedy about zombies? Well, I guess “Warm Bodies” is kind of comedic, but I wasn’t sure if that sort of tone could hold for a whole series on Netflix. “Santa Clarita Diet,” which tells the story of a realtor who turns into a zombie and her family, attempts to do just that, and I think it does it fairly well. The characters are well developed, as is the world building, especially for a comedy. You have to have a strong stomach to get through a few of the episodes, though. Becoming a zombie involves quite a lot of vomit, and zombie feeding can be . . . bloody. If you can get past those moments, though, “Santa Clarita Diet” is an entertaining five hours. Many of the episodes have fun cliffhanger twists. The creative team also digs a little deeper and looks at the emotional toll that becoming a zombie takes on the whole family. There really are a lot of layers to this show if you can look past the initial gore.

The show centers around the Hammond family. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) are a husband and wife realtor team, and their daughter Abby (Aussie newcomer Liv Hewson) is kind of a typical high school student with a chip on her shoulder. One day Sheila vomits a whole lot (seriously, it covers an entire bathroom and I may never recover), including coughing up a small organ of some sort. That’s when she starts craving raw meat, then human flesh. Well, she develops the taste for human flesh after feeding off of a smarmy character played by Nathan Fillion, but I digress. The show’s mythology deepens as the season progresses. We learn that this has happened before, and in Serbia someone may have once come up with a cure, but the knowledge of that cure seems to have been lost. This isn’t good, as Sheila definitely starts to disintegrate.

I’ll admit, I almost noped right out of this show after the pilot. There was just so much vomit. And then in the next episode, the first feeding was really, really bloody. If it wasn’t for the interesting story twists and the well-drawn characters, I don’t think I would have stuck with it. In fact, I had to look past more vomit and blood in later episodes, especially as more zombies materialize. Nothing was quite as bad as the pilot, though. While the creation of a second zombie was plenty vomit-y, the camera didn’t seem to hold on the scene for quite so long. The significance of a room covered in yellow vomit was already burned into our brains in the pilot, so it wasn’t necessary to show it happening again for very long before we viewers could easily tell what had taken place.

There were a lot of really memorable performances throughout the first season. This is the first time I had seen Drew Barrymore work (she’s had plenty of work over the years, just not much that I have found myself watching), and I was impressed with her comedic chops. Timothy Olyphant also had fantastic comedic timing. I had only heard of him in connection to antihero dramas of the Golden Age like “Deadwood,” so his comedic sense was surprising. The newcomers who played the teens, Abby and Eric, were also quite impressive. Liv Hewson mostly plays Abby as a rebel, but she does have moments of clarity, too, where she realizes that what happened to her mother is a big deal, and it’s okay to not quite know how to react to it. I enjoy Eric for his game-ness to get involved in whatever paranormal hijinks the Hammonds get into.

I think what m¬akes the show more than a gore fest is that it genuinely tries to explore how Sheila’s transformation affects the rest of her family. Sheila is going through some pretty significant changes. Not only is she craving human flesh, her inhibitions in general have been significantly introduced. She used to be a very uptight, regimented person, but now she’s constantly horny and considering telling her daughter to find herself instead of go to college. This causes problems for the rest of the family, because the Sheila they knew is no longer, and she was the one who kept everything running. Joel feels out of control, and he feels like he should be doing more to protect Sheila, even if she doesn’t really need protecting considering she’s a zombie and all. He’s determined to stand by Sheila and help her figure out life as a zombie, even if she doesn’t think she needs help. The transformation also affects their daughter Abby, who was always a bit of a rebel, but she starts acting out even more after Sheila’s transformation. She starts skipping school and stealing motorcycles. There’s a really touching episode that I’ll get to in a minute where Sheila tries to have some mom/daughter time to right the ship.

Speaking of that mother/daughter time, my favorite episode of the season was the penultimate episode, “The Book!” It’s the episode where Sheila and Abby have that mother daughter time trying to involve a situation involving a stolen motorcycle and a storage unit chop shop that Abby finds herself in. I appreciated Sheila realizing she needed to slow down a bit and make sure her family would be okay through the coming changes, and I also realized Abby stepping back and giving some consideration to why she had been acting out. At the same time, Joel and teenage neighbor Eric (who is smitten with Abby, naturally) go to a paranormal convention to seek out someone who may be able to help cure Sheila. Eric is at home in this sort of environment, but Joel is immediately pegged as not belonging. I wish I could say that the defensiveness of the convention regulars was overblown, but I’ve spent enough time in fandom to know that isn’t the case. It was amusing to watch Joel eventually get what he thinks he needs, though.

Once Upon a Time 6.16: “Mother’s Little Helper”

“I’m sorry, I was weak.”
- Gideon

Well, this episode was a hell of a lot better than the week before. It moved the plot forward, filled in gaps in the story and gave us the final season-ending arc we’ve been waiting for. It also really feels like this could be the end of the show (and with the ratings it’s been getting, I suspect it may be the end for sure). We pick up where Gideon and Emma left off. She’s pissed at him (as he insists any efforts on Hook or Emma’s part will not bring him back). She even slugs him in the mouth. But as we will learn by the end of the episode, things are not what they appear.

In the past, we see Gideon growing up in the Black Fairy’s realm. She steals kids to work in her fairy dust mines (so she doesn’t have dwarves) and she thinks Gideon is special and that he’s going to be a gift to her. Seriously, this woman kidnaps other people’s children and fawns over this one but she couldn’t give two shits about her own kid? Did she ever think maybe if she hadn’t had Rumple she would never have Gideon? Also, it’s super creepy and cult-ish that she makes them all call her mother. We see the boy that Gideon told Gold about a few weeks back. He thought the boy died but when we find Gideon on his 28th birthday (he doesn’t know what those are) we find the boy (Roderick I believe) wasn’t dead after all. He’s alive and working in the mines and trying to steal stuff from the Black Fairy to stop her. The boys team up (is it wrong I was kind of hoping for like a little romance there?) and break in the Black Fairy’s vault to steal and orb to communicate with the Savior. But Mother is hip to their plan and she turns Roderick into a bug and steps on him, leaving poor Gideon to scream in heartbreak. And then she takes his heart and insists that he find the Savior and kill her so the sword can open a portal to let the Black Fairy out of her realm.

In the present, Emma and Snow pay Rumple and Belle a visit about Gideon and they get the low down on what she did to Gideon and also that she’s Rumple’s mom. Seriously, they are a really messed up family. Emma finally agrees to help Gideon when she recognizes the same look Henry had when he found her all those years ago: the need for hope. He agrees to bring Hook back and give her the sword but they need to bring him back at the Sorcerer’s mansion because it’s a super strong nexus of magic. Unfortunately for Emma, Gideon has been playing her this whole time (as we know it was mostly the Black Fairy controlling him through having his heart). He summons a giant spider (like in the book Belle sent off with him as a baby) to kill Emma and it works, much to Gideon’s surprise. He’s able to free the Black Fairy, even though Gold saves Emma at the last minute and they are able to defeat the spiders. This, however, leads to quite the family confrontation. Emma is convinced Gideon is evil and Belle now thinks she may be right. But Rumple is insistent that his son can be saved and he’ll take whatever measures are necessary to protect his boy. I will give him props for being a better parent than either of his. He is fierce when it comes to his boys.

But the Swan contingent of the family isn’t the only one having issues this week. It seems Regina can’t manage to break the sleeping curse put on Snow and David, even though she’s managed to break everything else that the Evil Queen did (including locking Dr. Doolittle in a cage which I found kind of funny). She thinks Emma may have some ingredients she hasn’t tried and when she asks Henry to write them down and fetch them, he goes into a weird trance and starts drawing bizarre symbols before passing out. When he wakes up, he’s got no memory of what he’s done. So, Regina decides they should go talk to the one person who would know what’s happening: Isaac. He’s not in a mood to be helpful unless she gives him a few things: namely a fancy sports car, Hamilton tickets and his freedom so he can go back to New York. In the end, he gets a crappy beat up station wagon and the ability to leave town. But as he departs, he does drop some knowledge on the Mills clan. The Author powers are taking over and soon Henry won’t be able to control them. And then, Isaac suggests they take a look at the story book. They are in the final chapter, the last to be written. Isaac warns that the final battle is coming between the Savior and a great evil and no one wants to be around for that.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like the writers came into this seasons like it was their last. This would be a great way to end the series. Let Emma be victorious over the Black Fairy and get everyone their happy endings. Let them ride off into the sunset (even if it’s with the pirate I detest). Oh, and speaking of pirates, Hook tries to get a magic bean from Blackbeard in exchange for the Jolly Roger and when they portal out of the Enchanted Forest, they end up in Neverland which is currently overrun by the worst of the Lost Boys and now Hook is stranded there. I suspect we are going to get more Hook backstory in the coming weeks as he’s trapped there. I wonder if perhaps Pan may make a reappearance.

Once Upon a Time 6.15: “A Wondrous Place”

“I guess what they about wishes is true, there’s always a price, always a cost to pay.”
– Aladdin

Boy is this a jam-packed episode. At the top of the hour Emma drops the news on David that Hook killed his father and has now left town. Meanwhile, Hook, Captain Nemo and Liam are on the Nautilus and have gone through a portal to who knows where and Jasmine and Aladdin are in the Enchanted Forest trying to find their home. In a flashback to many years ago, we see the Sultan trying to marry off Jasmine to a prince with an army to face off against Jafar. Jasmine insists on finding a hero (aka Aladdin) but Jafar pops by to say that savior is no more and Jasmine’s only recourse is to marry him or else the city will be destroyed. On the bright side, I do appreciate the writers keeping in that Jafar was the bastard son of a King who always wondered about being a prince. Jasmine is still determined to find a hero, even if it isn’t Aladdin and latches on to Ariel who is in search of Prince Eric. I guess they needed to sort of wrap up Eric and Ariel too. I have to admit for a minute when Ariel said that Eric had a navy fleet I was worried Jasmine was going to try and marry him! But it doesn’t happen. Instead, Jafar impersonates Eric and when jasmine agrees to marry him, Jafar makes the city disappear. He taunts her about her choice and calls her a failure.

In the Enchanted Forest, Jasmine finds the ring that was supposed to be her dowry and decides she’s going to chuck it and the lamp into the ocean. Unfortunately, before they can do so, they are attacked by a kraken (which I guess is good in a way since Hook and the crew need the blood to create another portal). As they try to find Jafar (given what he did to the city way back when), Hook sort of gets roped into giving love advice to both Jasmine and Aladdin. He’s none too happy about playing match maker either. Oh, and then as they are on their way to find Jafar, they end up starting to sink thanks to kraken damage. Jasmine uses one of her wishes to get them to the frozen island. Nemo and Liam (who got transported with the other three) head back to the ship to go down with it. As much as I am not a fan of Hook in general, I would have liked to see more of him and Liam bonding and just getting to know each other while they were both in Storybrooke. I mean, would Liam have been involved in the wedding party if the wedding were still on (I suppose it probably will be back on at some point this season).

The gang end up at what looks like a tiki bar and are very confused at first. Then Jasmine realizes the trap that gets sprung on them (full of forks) could only belong to one person. Apparently, this is where Ariel and Eric have ended up. And they’ve somehow ended up with Jafar’s genie lamp (thank you for keeping that continuity again, too). But he’s found a way to break the genie curse. He knocks out Ariel, Aladdin and Hook and reveals to Jasmine that her city is in the crown jewel that ended up in her pocket. He demands the ring back but she turns him into a creepy wooden staff with some of his own magic and then with a kiss to Aladdin, she restores her city.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma tries to distract herself with digitizing files at the sheriff’s station when Regina stops by with a half price drink special coupon for a new bar in town. Regina even convinces David to go back to sleep so they can have a proper girls’ night out (without Zelena). Emma isn’t interested and only ends up going when she gets tricked into responding to a bar fight. She’s not really into the whole bonding time (although she’s highly amused by Snow semi-drunkenly challenging some Vikings to a game of darts to see who pays for their tabs). Ultimately, Emma opens up to the bar tender. But that’s not such a great thing because just as she gets in touch with Hook (thanks to a device from Ariel), the bartender shows up and it’s really Gideon. He’s being kind of a dick but at least he’s asking Emma for her help in taking out the Black Fairy. The boy has finally taken the advice I’ve been yelling at my TV screen for weeks. If he had just asked for help in the first place, none of this drama would be happening and they could have established a stronger front against the Black Fairy sooner.

Overall, I was not impressed with this episode. I felt like they could have done a lot more with the girls’ night out. We need to see some fun Emma, Regina and Snow interactions and the bar setting was perfect for that. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they shouldn’t have concluded the Aladdin and Jasmine storyline but in all honesty, I didn’t really care about them that much. If we are going to wrap up storylines, I’d rather they finally reveal who Lily’s father is! I mean that’s a piece of Emma’s history they haven’t fully explored yet and I think they should have. I hope that they will move things forward towards some kind of resolution. I did like that they are finally having Gideon ask Emma for help. If he can stop being so creepy and a tool then maybe things can work out for the heroes and our reformed villains (I’m counting Rumple among them for now because he is trying to less of a dick right now). I also hope they give Henry some more to do, other than sitting on the couch listening to music like they did in the two scenes he was in this week.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

iZombie 3.01: “Heaven Just Got a Little Bit Smoother”

“You really should tan and dye. We’re trying to keep a secret here.”

We’re back! It’s been a long time since Liv, Clive and the gang were on our screens but they are back in action and it’s going to be glorious! When last we saw Team Z, Peyton was stuck in an awkward Ravi/Blaine love triangle, Clive was hip to the zombie truth and Liv had kind of started a mini zombie apocalypse at Max Rager! Things take a fiery turn when Vivian, the head of Fillmore Graves (oh so funny … or not), has the Max Rager building blown up to cover up the zombie feast that had gone on there. She also is going to get all the Chaos Killer victims to a safe house and get their stories straight. Basically they are going to try and pin everything on Vaughn.

Later that night, Liv and the gang decide not to keep any more secrets from each other (which includes the fact that Peyton had slept with Blaine at one point and again she’s stuck in this weird sort of triangle with him and Ravi). Liv is grateful to still be on soldier brain because otherwise she’d be falling to pieces over having to kill Drake. Girl has really bad luck with boyfriends! Major is also having some issues with acclimating back to the world now that he’s been cleared as the Chaos Killer. He gets a coffee cup with Chaos Killer written on it and someone has seriously defaced his house. He’s also still trying to find Natalie (the zombie hooker) to wake her up but he’s not having much luck with that.

Blaine is also not exactly having the best of times. Don E keeps insisting he’s faking the memory loss and then quits (and decides to go into business with Blaine’s unfrozen dad to compete with Blaine’s business). I honestly can’t tell if Blaine is faking it or not. I like this version of him a lot more than the dickhead. He even offers to be an ear for Peyton if she ever needs him. By the end of the episode, she even calls him for moral support when someone is online trolling her and it is freaking her out (and Liv and Major and Ravi don’t answer her calls).

I have to admit I did find a lot of this episode very exposition heavy. Liv, Major and Clive go back to see Vivian to get her to explain about the whole “With us or against us” bit and the “zombie homeland”. She’s more than happy to oblige. She bought out Max Rager so no one else could have the formula for Super Max and it’s making the zombies faster and stronger so they can beat the humans who will inevitably want to take them out when the general populace becomes aware of zombie kind. Major seems pretty damn pessimistic about the whole thing but Liv wants to believe better of humanity. Given the world we currently live in, I’m inclined to agree with Major on this one. Humanity can be pretty awful to one another for little differences. But Fillmore Graves has a plan. In addition to training up their military forces, they’re setting up a sanctuary island for all zombies to relocate so they can be safe, including the children. Yes there are undead kids going to school, including a little boy that Clive used to leave nearby. It was a sweet little reunion and it is going to be some interesting motivation for Clive moving forward. I have to admit, I like that they are expanding the scope of the zombie population. We also learn that Vivian’s husband was turned first and then he got extorted for $25,000 per brain (oh, hi there Blaine) and when he stopped paying, he disappeared. Before he did, she scratched herself with his hand in the middle of the night so she could still be with him. Sort of a reverse of Major and Liv: Vivian at least wanted to be scratched. I did find it kind of amusing that everyone kept telling Liv that she needs to tan and dye her hair to fit in but I think if she did that, it would be too weird and would ruin the “look” of the show.

When Liv finally comes off soldier brains, she has quite the breakdown and so Clive decides to just get her really drunk and drop her on Ravi’s work couch before heading out. Interestingly, Ravi has new vials of cure #2 (the one that gives memory loss). So he has decided to try and find a way to reverse the memory loss so that maybe the cure can still work. Of course, you only have 17 vials (15 if you count giving one to Liv and Major) and so who decides who gets it? All very interesting questions for the season going forward.

What is not so interesting is the crime scene Liv and Ravi get called to (after his former boss at the CDC shows up with one of the bodies from the Max Rager massacre and finds brains in the stomach … oops). The little boy who Clive used to know has been murdered along with his parents. They all had shots to the back of the head with very little blood. The father’s nails were pulled off and had cans of Super Max shoved in the pockets. Someone specifically targeted this family of zombies because they were zombies. At this point, Liv realizes that humanity isn’t ready to know the truth. And Major has decided to join up with Fillmore Graves as one of their soldiers so that he doesn’t have to worry about people caring that he was basically a serial killer. Clive obviously can’t be on the case but he, Ravi and Liv agree to investigate the case on their own time because someone needs to pay for the crime and the officer assigned can’t find out about zombies.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.14: "The Gloves are Off"

“I get that. March 24th was my steak birthday.”

Overall, I enjoyed this episode of “Fresh off the Boat” because it delved into something the show hasn’t explored much yet: Honey and Marvin’s family. We meet Marvin’s ex-wife, Sarah, and the episode explores the dynamics of the blended family. Jessica, naturally, tries to mix in when she starts learning about the full situation, which results in wacky hijinks. And everyone involved comes to some important realizations. Except maybe Marvin, who is a freaking coward. I am both Team Honey and Team Sarah in this whole situation, although Honey still comes to Marvin’s defense because he must have some redeeming qualities if she married him and all. He’s pretty clueless to what’s going on with Honey, Sarah, and Nicole, though, which doesn’t really speak well of him.

The episode opens with Jessica preparing for a day of yard sale shopping. She wears Louis’ fishing vest and puts a different denomination of money in each pocket (it helps with her bargaining). Eddie really wants Jessica to find him a used gold grill, but that seems unlikely. Meanwhile, Evan is at Honey and Marvin’s house, trying to sort out Jessica’s Tupperware from the pile on the table (they switch Tupperware back and forth so often they have trouble keeping track of what belongs to whom), when Nicole shows up. She didn’t work on her science project when she was spending time with Sarah, so now Honey is going to help her. And to make things worse, Sarah shows up too, acting like she still owns the place. She insults Honey, then she goes to use the bathroom, which she says she was retiling while Honey was sleeping with her husband. Sarah is played by Heather Locklear, by the way, which seems appropriate. Marvin clearly has a type.

Jessica is at the yard sale trying to haggle over a blender with a child (who is smartly skeptical of Jessica’s bargaining tactics) when she spots a woman who seems to have the haggling thing down. She’s telling a tall tale about the death of her aunt, hoping to earn sympathy. This earns mad respect from Jessica, naturally. Later, Jessica wants to have a post-yard sale cider at her favorite bar, the Denim Turtle. Honey joins her, and she quickly wonders why the bartender is serving them three ciders. The third member of their party is none other than Sarah, who is the woman Jessica met at the yard sale. Sarah and Honey are obviously not thrilled to see each other, and they start sniping at each other right away. Honey wants to leave, but Jessica has requested a Sarah McLachlan song, and nobody is allowed to leave while Sarah is playing. As soon as the song is over, she leaves.

Meanwhile, the boys and Louis are watching television with Grandma when they see her look wistfully at a Jazzy electric wheelchair commercial. Emery thinks they should get one for her, and if they can prove she’s over 65-years-old, it’s free. The problem is that nobody knows how old Grandma is. She doesn’t even know. When prompted, she says that the day she celebrates as her birthday is actually just the first day she ever ate steak. The boys start asking Grandma questions to try and figure out her age, and when Grandma asks why, Evan says that Emery is writing a report on her. Emery decides he’s going to legit write the report, and this leads to him using a quirk in a photograph to prove that Grandma is over sixty-five. When the family presents Grandma with the data, she’s thrilled to find out that she might still be in her 60s – she thought she was older. They all go to the store, and Emery is prepared to present his case to the salesman. The salesman, however, says that Grandma is obviously older than sixty-five, and he just needs to send a photo of her face to the insurance company. Grandma swears that the salesman has made a new enemy that day, and at the end of the episode, she rolls up to his car in her new Jazzy and keys it.

The day after the bar skirmish, Jessica shows up at Honey’s house (with more Tupperware) to apologize. She sees Honey struggling to get Nicole to work on her science experiment. She’s supposed to be investigating the effect of different corrosive acids on teeth (using Marvin’s tooth collection, which may be a mistake). Nicole doesn’t pay attention to the timer at all, and the experiment is a disaster. Nicole reminds Honey that her mother didn’t finish high school, and she’s doing fine as head of the gloves department at the local department store. Honey tells Jessica she wishes Nicole didn’t think her mom could just get her a job at the department store, because maybe then she’d put some effort into school. Jessica goes to the department store and is talking to Sarah when Sarah is really rude to a customer. Next thing we know, Jessica is asking Honey to thank her because she got Sarah fired. This leads to a heart-to-heart between Honey and Jessica, where Honey explains that sometimes she just needs to vent. And she also has to explain to Jessica want venting is. It’s a word Jessica didn’t understand before. Like “closure” or “Clinique.”

Sarah is packing up her things at the departments store when her manager tells her she’s not fired after all. The customer who complained recanted. Sarah sees Honey and Jessica and immediately assumes Honey tried to get her fired. Jessica admits what she did and apologizes. Honey swears she didn’t want Sarah to lose her job. Sarah eventually admits that her issue with Honey isn’t Marvin. She’s over Marvin. She doesn’t want Nicole to think that Honey is the “fun one” and like her better. Honey assures Sarah that Nicole needs her mom and she would never try to get in the way of that. The two ladies reach an accord. The next time Sarah drops off Nicole, she has already done her math homework and wants to watch a movie with Honey (who is in the dog house with Marvin for ruining some of his famous tooth collection in the failed science experiment attempt).