Friday, November 28, 2014

Downton Abbey - Season 5 Review

A slightly better year than the previous one but not one without it's faults as things were in full 1920s during this series.

Episode 1: The fire episode, well the one with the least dramatic fire going. This was also the episode that revealed that Edith's daughter, Marigold was staying with the Drewe family while a former employer of Jimmy's cost him his job at Downton. February 1924.

Episode 2: Focusing on Daisy's study as well as Robert's dislike of Bunting, this episode also introduced Richard E Grant's Simon Brucker as well. There was also the plot of Mary getting Anna to obtain a diaphragm so she could sleep with Gillingham. April 1924.

Episode 3: A good episode for delving a little into Violet's past but another hostile moment between both Robert and Bunting did seem a little unnecessary though. Also some good moments between Carson and Mrs Patmore over a past matter as well. 1924.

Episode 4: Despite Thomas being pretty horrible to Baxter during this series, she is the one who comes to his aid when he needed it the most here. There were also some great Violet/Isobel moments and Rose's father arrived at Downton as well. Mary also ditched Gillingham in this one. 1924.

Episode 5: Rose meets Atticus while Robert and Brucker slug it out over Cora. I have to admit I sort of enjoyed Violet's scheming as well when it came to Isobel's love life and the Carson/Patmore scenes were pretty good as well. 1924

Episode 6: Edith finally got her daughter back and we met Violet's new ladies maid, Denker, whom Spratt took a great dislike towards. There was also a plot including a horse and some great scenes with Baxter and Thomas as the latter's conversion storyline was resolved. 1924.

Episode 7: Isis died. Probably the best character on the show at this point while Cora and Edith came up with a nonsensical way for Marigold to stay at Downton as well. Then there's also the fact that Lord Merton's sons are still annoying and Mary and Blake drove Gillingham and Mabel into each other's arms. Plus Rose and Atticus got engaged. 1924.

Episode 8: Rose and Atticus got married, Anna got arrested, Robert figured out that Marigold was actually his granddaughter while Thomas saved Andy from Denker's gambling talons and Branson made a decision about his future at Downton as well. 1924.

Something of a better series than the previous one but at the same time, I hated the convoluted manner in which they dealt with Edith and Marigold and the whole 'Who Killed Green?' and Mary's suitors plots have been horribly dragged out as well. I'm hoping the upcoming Christmas special and the first half of the sixth series puts these storylines to bed, once and for all as well as Thomas finally getting some action as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x06: Freakin' Whack-A-Mole

I'm getting through the first half of this season nicely and last night's episode (from Universal's POV, not ABC's) finally gave Asher a bit more to do.

Written by Michael Foley
Directed by Bill D'Elia

Dude: In which out of all the male characters, Asher seems to have written as a stereotypical frat boy dude throughout. Even in the first few minutes of this episode, flashforward time, he's virtually amping up the perception of his character before realising the trophy he acquired not so ethically has been nicked. There's also the fact that he was nearly run over by the other members of the Keating Five and the ending where it was revealed that he slept with Bonnie as well while his classmates were disposing of a corpse. Asher's not a particularly deep character and could be arguably the weakest of the Keating Five but this episode did raise some good moments with the character though.

Daddy Issues: While Michaela seemed to take a pop at Connot perhaps having father issues (due to the implication he didn't know who his father was), this episode raised the possibility that Asher's respected judge father might have been responsible for an innocent man serving over two decades in prison. Of course Asher didn't want to assume the worst of his father and confronted him (which didn't end well) on the issue. I did like that Asher did use his smarts however to figure out something vital in the case and I even don't mind that he resorted to some tiny blackmail in order to get the trophy as well, given that Wes handed it back to Annalise. However, I'm not sure if this episode will make audiences care more or less about Asher than they already do but it was still a decent insight into the character's backstory nonetheless.

Change The Paper, Plant The Phone: While I still maintain that Sam did not kill Lila (mainly because for dramatic/narrative purposes, Lila's killer has to be someone currently alive for the second half of the season), it is amazing to see the lengths that Annalise will go to protect her husband, even if it does seem like she might have some doubts about Sam's innocence herself. Planting the phone on the boyfriend to get Rebecca out of hiding and Wes off his high horse (I like the guy but he got on my nerves this week) and changing the wallpaper to help keep Sam out of prison - it was almost a perfect plan. Except for the bit where Nate caught Frank planting the phone. Still, points for a near perfect plan there, Annalise.

This Lot Are Bitchy: Okay, not the snappiest title I could come up but six episodes in and this lot are super bitchy towards each other. I suppose you could chalk it up to them wanting to impress/work full time for Annalise but when Connor and Michaela weren't taking cheap shots at each other, they were grilling Wes over his relationship with Rebecca and pretty much slagging off Asher's father without knowing the full facts. In fact the only one who seemed to be levelheaded was Laurel, even if it took Bonnie (who I think was projecting a lot here) to convince her to dump Frank. This would be the same Bonnie who may or may not have feelings for Sam and five weeks later would end up sleeping with Asher too.

21 Years: So this is the third episode in a row where I've found the case interesting. Perhaps I was too hasty in assuming that I wouldn't care about most of them after all. I liked that it was death row case and with recent reports in America, it felt oddly timely too when the issue of Dave Allen's race was brought into Annalise's defence of him too in court. While I did see the outcome coming a mile away, I still enjoyed the turn of events and case wise, this was probably the most gripping one so far.

Next week, we delve into Rebecca's past with Lila, while Michaela gets an unpleasant surprise.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Review of Gotham's 1x10: "LoveCraft"

Written by Rebecca Demaron
Directed by Guy Ferland

Bruce: “No offence but you don’t strike me as a nice person.”
Selina: “What do you mean? I’m nice.”

She might be a pickpocket who would put Fagin’s crew to shame but essentially, yes, this version of Selina Kyle is pretty nice. Especially to Bruce and especially in this episode as being on the run from overzealous assassins meant that the two of them had to rely on the other for their own very survival.

Without getting into shipper territory here, the scenes with Selina and Bruce are without a doubt, the highlight of the episode. Even in this incarnation, the two of them work superbly together and their hi-jinks in the street are a joy to watch as even assassins and greedy fence people are no match for the pair of them.

The assassin plot was actually better handled than Victor Zsasz from a few episodes ago too. I didn’t catch the name of the lady that was gunning for Selina but she was one of the most charismatic and interesting guest villains we’ve had on the series and I’m hoping that she’ll appear again in the second half of the season too.

However the only reason that Selina had her life in danger (along with Bruce) was because of Harvey Dent being a blabbermouth and leaking information that got into the wrong hands. I liked that Gordon called him out for it. I didn’t like that Dent cowered when the Mayor got involved and that Gordon got a demotion to Arkham as a security guard though.

The Lovecraft stuff though took an interesting turn. I wasn’t expecting that the assassins sent after Selina were also gunning for him but his death being used to demote Gordon, I did see coming. Then again, having Gordon at Arkham could also mean that he ends up causing more hassle for the Mayor and that can’t be a bad thing really.

Another highlight from this episode was the pairing of Bullock and Alfred. Can I just say that was an inspired choice? The two of them work brilliantly together, even to the point where Bullock ended up looking like good cop by comparison. As for Fish extending her kindness to Alfred – I’m fairly certain that’s going to be something she’ll cash in on during the second half of the season as well.

If the episode had a weak moment, it was probably the mob related story of the week. Not because it was bad but just because the Bruce/Selina and Alfred/Bullock/Fish scenes were more interesting to watch. However it was nice to see Falcone exert some authority and he even managed to put the frighteners on Fish with that awkward dinner scene as well. As for Oswald, I don’t think this episode actually needed him to be honest.

Also in “LoveCraft”

Despite the episode being presumably named after him, Lovecraft himself barely appeared in it.

Selina: “You wanna kiss me?”
Bruce: “No, thank you.”

Alfred showed a lot of bad ass moments in this episode. He’s also a better detective than both Bullock and Gordon too.

Bullock: “You’re pretty handy for a valet.”
Alfred: “Butler, mate. I’m a butler.”

Oswald (to Falcone, re Fish): “With respect, I don’t understand why you still tolerate her existence. She has proved her disloyalty a hundred times. She wants your head.”

Oswald possibly pinned the mole on the shot Bannon. Liza is more useful to him alive than dead.

Selina (to Bruce): “You’re right about me. I’m not nice, not like you. You got a nice way about you.”

Selina: “You’re crazy.”
Bruce: “Please don’t run off again. I’m out of breath.”

This episode might have been appealing to Bat/Cat shippers with the rooftop chase scene and the kiss between Bruce and Selina at the end. Barbara, Renee, Crispus and Essen didn’t appear in this episode.

Ivy: “I’m doing great. How do I look?”
Bruce: “You look good.”

Bullock: “Am I the only one in this damn town who waits for back up?”

I thought Ivy was going to kill Bruce at one point. She seems a bit unhinged since the opening episode. I also loved seeing Nygma hugging Gordon as well in this episode.

Alfred (re Selina): “This old house seems very quiet without her, don’t it?”
Bruce: “Yes, it does.”

Chronology: Not long from “Harvey Dent” left off.

As a mid season finale, “LoveCraft” was easily one of the best episodes we’ve had with the series and it did seem to set up an interesting second half with Gordon at Arkham, Fish continuing her machinations against Falcone, Oswald keeping his head above water and an even bigger league of baddies if those assassins were anything to go by.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Doctor Who - Christmas 2014 Title Revealed/Series 9 News & Rumours

With the eighth series currently finished up and Christmas only a month away (exactly), some news about Doctor Who has surfaced.

First of all, the title for the Christmas episode has been confirmed as Last Christmas. A synopsis from the BBC has been released ...

It’s Christmas in the North Pole when the Doctor and Clara return to BBC AMERICA in an all-new Christmas special. Last year’s special featured the emotional regeneration that marked the start of Peter Capaldi’s run as the Twelfth Doctor. This year the Time Lord and his companion are in for an all-new adventure as stars Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are joined by Nick Frost (The Worlds End, Shaun of the Dead) as Santa Claus! Previously announced guest stars include Michael Troughton (Breathless, The New Statesman), son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing), Faye Marsay (Pride, The White Queen), and Nathan McMullen (Misfits, Casualty). Written by Emmy® Award winner Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Coupling) and directed by Paul Wilmshurst (Strike Back, Combat Kids), the 2014 Christmas Special will air on BBC1 and BBC America.

Now whether or not this mean a final Christmas for the Doctor and Clara remains to be seen, but it's certainly a possibility, isn't it? A brief scene between the Doctor, Clara and Frost's Santa was released during the recent Children In Need on BBC1.

Also, did you recently enjoy Michelle Gomez's version of the Master in the two part finale, Dark Water/Death In Heaven? Well, it seems that according to the actress's recent interview with DWM that she might be reprising the role for Series 9. When asked if her character would return, Gomez answered,  “‘Yes’ is my answer. I’ll be back. Can I say that? Am I allowed? If not… well, I guess we’ll have to see how she’s received…". It's also been confirmed (though it was never in any doubt) that Peter Capaldi will be back for the ninth series but Jenna Coleman has yet to sign up. Which certainly adds some credence that Clara could be leaving properly at Christmas then, right?

Meanwhile with the ninth series set to enter production, one writer seemingly confirmed (other than Steven Moffat naturally) has been Catherine Tregenna, thanks to a recent update to her online TV. Tregenna, whose credits include The Fixer and Law & Order: UK, also penned the Torchwood episodes Out Of Time, Captain Jack Harkness, Meat and Adam. With so much discussion as to the lack of female writers under Moffat's era, it's nice that the upcoming series will at least feature one and Tregenna's previous work definitely proves that she's a great fit for the show as well.

Christmas 2014/Series 9 News:

Doctor Who's eighth series is currently available on DVD. Last Christmas will air on BBC1 and BBCAmerica on Christmas Day. Series 9 begins filming in January 2015.

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Review of Atlantis's 2x02: "A New Dawn Part 2"

Written by Howard Overman
Directed by Justin Molotnikov

Pythagoras (to Jason/Hercules): "Mathematically ... the odds suggest we will all be slaughtered."

The second part of the least bloodiest or gripping siege ever (so much for the darker tone, show) continued in an episode that managed to be even more plodding than it's first one. Sure, there was some nice surprises but not nearly enough to make overall but for the sake of balance, let's talk about the things that did actually work.

Sarpedon's sudden change of heart, whilst a bit rushed was a nice enough twist, especially as I fear that this series will probably have too many 'traitors in court' moments. Unfortunately his renewed loyalty towards Ariadne resulted in a botched murder attempt on Pasiphae, who ended up bumping the guy off with little fanfare.

Speaking of Pasiphae, while I do think Sarah Parish can be somewhat hammy at times, this episode actually tried to give the warlady some layers. For instance, she seemed genuinely bothered that Jason almost died and actually killed one of her own men in order to save his life later during the final hours of the siege. Something which both Medea and Hercules took notice of.

Leading into Hercules, I really liked him in this episode. Especially in the last scene where he confronted the Oracle and managed to discover that Pasiphae is Jason's mother. Of course, Hercules can't exactly relay this information to his friend but at least it's something to help make the character a bit more interesting compared to last series.

As for Ariadne, the scene where she decided that she would be willing to kill Pasiphae was probably the best thing to emerge from this two parter overall. Yes, she showed bravery and determination to protect her city and people and she rightly punished Sarpedon for his treachery before letting him redeem himself but there's still work to be done with the character.

In particular, the love story with her and Jason is as frustrating as ever with this episode having Ariadne decide that she couldn't marry him, although I'm sure fans might have been pleased with the snogging before though. Overall, it's hard to care and the longer we get these sort of angsty scenes with the two, it'll end up becoming impossible to care at all.

- Medea doesn't seem to be in control of her magic when she lashed out at Sarpedon. Though she did save her auntie from being killed.
- They didn't really do much with the Cyclops in this episode. Did this two parter even need the monster?
- I'm hoping at some point this series, the Oracle actually gets to step out of that temple.
- The ratings for this series aren't looking good. This episode alone just scraped about 3 million. I would be surprised if this is picked up for a third series, despite the producers recent discussion of a five year plan for it.

Marginally better than the first part, I still don't think this series needed a two parter to open it up. Perhaps one episode would've done the job but despite the talks of improvement and some signs of it here and there, I just don't think Atlantis realistically is ever going to engage or capture audiences like Merlin managed to do (and even that show had choppy writing at times). I hope the rest of the series is made of better stuff but honestly, I would be surprised if this does go beyond the thirteen episodes this current run has.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 1x05: We're Not Friends

While I'm a month away (Universal pace here) from the mid-season finale, it's nice to see that this episode gave a little more insight on one of the lesser focused on students so far.

Written by Tracey A. Bellomo
Directed by Mike Listo

Saw This Coming: Frank and Laurel - hooking up. This was pretty much hinted since episode 1 when Michaela realised that Frank was calling Laurel and here the latter was forced to admit that she was sleeping with him as they continued to use the bonfire as an alibi while getting rid of Sam's body. This episode in general certainly gave Laurel more to do and between her hot boyfriend and Frank, the girl isn't short of admirers. While I do think Annalise and Michaela are stronger characters, Laurel is on a par with Bonnie for me and far more likeable than Rebecca has been so far. This was a solid centre piece episode for her really.

Patterns: Like most people, Sam seems to have a type when it comes to sexual partners and Annalise realised that there was something of a similarity between herself and Lila. Sam's got a thing for fixing vulnerable women and we learned in this episode that Annalise was originally his mistress, which also has to mean that at some point Wife 1 will appear on the show. Still, we didn't get any answers as to whether or not Sam really killed Lila (though Nate was somewhat cruel in taunting Annalise about his possible guilt), though things took an interesting turn when Rebecca and Sam met onscreen for the first time.

The Wallpaper: Five episodes in and I still don't like Rebecca and being aware of what's in store in the next four episodes, don't expect my opinion of her to soften anytime soon. She's surly, unpleasant and generally brings out the worst in Wes. On the other hand, at least her remembering a certain wallpaper at least made Wes privy to the fact that Sam was Lila's 'Mr Darcy' (anyone else find that moniker a little cringey?) and that led to a brilliant final scene between Wes and Annalise. If there's one thing this show has mastered well, it's the art of a great cliffhanger.

HumpR: In the lighter moments of the episode, can I just say that I love Asher's curiosity about Connor's ability to juggle six guys on the go with a sex app (by the way, Asher, the straight version is called Tinder). I know there's some fans who want something to actually happen between Connor and Asher but personally, I think a solid friendship between the two of them would be better served, seeing as Connor doesn't really interact that much with Wes and Laurel and takes an overzealous glee in winding up Michaela (as does she now it seems with him too). Also Asher's crying moment after the case makes me suspect he would be a blubbering wreck if he watched any Disney movie ever.

A Case I Like: Well, yeah, I enjoyed this case but more to the point - Ryan killing his abusive cop father was apparently the first time Laurel liked one of her clients. Laurel liked and felt sorry for Ryan so much that when she wasn't going through his blog during the trial, she was also tampering with the jury and ended up causing a mistrial. I'm not shocked that Frank covered for her but I'm almost a tiny bit surprised that Annalise didn't figure out it was her though. That being said with the exception of Asher, pretty much four out of the Keating Five have done things (excluding killing/disposing of Sam etc) to jeopardise any future career in law they want and will probably continue to do so for however long this series lasts.

Next week it's time for Asher to get his moment while Wes and Annalise clash.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Freak Show - Test Of Strength

Holy shit, this episode really should've come with a warning, especially for that last scene. I really wasn't prepared for that.

Written by Crystal Liu
Directed by Anthony Hemingway

Evil Gays: Okay, I have to admit it - I absolutely despise both Stanley and Dell as characters and no matter how great both Denis O'Hare and Michael Chiklis are in their respective roles, I'm at the point now where I literally want both characters to die horrible, painful deaths and I really don't want to watch until the finale for this to happen. I can almost forgive them if they were interesting or entertaining villains but they're both spineless and irritating to watch and even though there was the satisfying moment of seeing Amazon Eve beat the holy shit out of Dell, the fact that he murdered Ma Petite because Stanley blackmailed him pretty much killed any interest I had in either character. Now I just want them gone. Why is it hard for Ryan Murphy to write at least one likeable gay character on this show? He did it with Lana Winters. It's starting to actually bother me and Ma Petite did not deserve the horrible fate that she got in this one.

Father & Son: This episode was certainly a mixed bag for Jimmy. While I liked that he wanted to try and reason with Dell and figured out that the latter was his father, I hated that by not listening to Ethel and Eve that Dell is still breathing. Jimmy got to work out some issues here but while he was able to rescue Bette and Dot from Dandy and Gloria (thankfully relegated to one scene this week), he was still outfoxed by them and Elsa and I wish he'd get a clue about Maggie's continued insistence on the pair of them leaving the show. As for his version of Nirvana's Come As You Are, it was okay. Truth be told, I was just grateful that we didn't get another number from Elsa this week.

Ever So Helpful: I liked Jimmy standing up to Elsa. I even like the fact that there's hints the rest of the troupe are seeing her for what she truly is. I even liked Bette and Dot negotiating with Elsa for some spotlight and a surgeon but I still don't like Elsa as a character but given how abominably three of the male characters behaved in this episode, Elsa was the lesser of two evils, though I get the feeling she might be tempted by Stanley's suggestion of bumping off the twins. As for the split-screen/black and white exchange of letters between Elsa and Dot - that was a genius scene. Also the girls makeover scene and Bette's aspirations to be a comedian was amusing in an otherwise depressing episode.

Daddy Most Despicable: As if Stanley and Dell weren't total monsters in this episode, Penny's father managed to go that extra mile by hiring a guy to tattoo her face, fork her tongue and shave her hair. With the exceptions of Jimmy and Paul, why are all the men on this show psychopaths, misogynists and generally a shower of bastards. I did like that Paul didn't reject Penny and thankfully by the look of the trailer for the next episode, at least Penny is going to get her own back on Daddy Dearest. If she can kill Dell and Stanley while she's at it and then Dandy by finale time, that would be great.

United: While the men on this show (minus Jimmy and Paul) are awful, the women (minus Elsa and Gloria, still not sure on Maggie) are thankfully wonderful. Earlier this season, it looked like we could've gotten a petty rivalry between Ethel and Desiree over Dell but instead, both of them realising that he's a scumbag has united them as friends along with the genuine concern they each have for each other. I like that dynamic, especially the antagonist one both Bates and Bassett had to have in Coven. Also the scene where the two ladies realised the doctor was dead and also along with Eve and Suzy told Jimmy about the shit they had to deal with - more scenes like that please.

The show will be back in two weeks where Dandy and Gloria have to deal with Dora's daughter and Penny decides to get even with her horrible father.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Review of Revenge's 4x08: "Contact"

Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by Paul Holahan

Nolan (re Louise): “Can’t I just have a normal friend?”

Actually, you kind of have a normal friend in Jack, Nolan but seeing as he’s deathly dull and sometimes a jerk, you may have a point. Is it wrong that in spite of her crazy obsession with Victoria and general shit stirring with Daniel and Margaux that I’m actually starting to like Louise a bit?

Maybe it’s just having her combine forces with Nolan but either way, at least Louise has injected some fun in something of a fun free season so far. I still would like the Victoria fixation to be nipped in the bud but as mates, there’s some great potential with Louise and Nolan. Or there would’ve been had Nolan decided not to join forces with Margaux after all.

Nolan spent half of this episode away from the main plot and it actually did him the world of good, character wise. Sure his new business venture had one guy quit (shame, he was rather hot) and most of what he said to Emily had no effect but it’s been nice that the last few episodes have at least given him something to do, so I’m grateful for that.

However, there are some things in this episode that I am less grateful for though. Namely Ben upping his annoying factor by acting like Jack’s usurped him in the cop hierarchy and Jack in general just being a fun sponge with most of his scenes. The jury’s out on FBI lady Kate but that’s mainly because she seems more like another obstacle for David though.

Speaking of whom, this was not a great episode for David. Not only did he not take kindly to Emily revealing how much of a cow Victoria has been to her but he also took Victoria’s side even after she admitted to know about Emily’s true identity but the fact that there’s another villain on the horizon might help to even out this largely unfocused season so far. That and the fact that Emily’s also holding one of David’s would be kidnappers hostage and has a hot poker handy too.

As for Daniel, this was kind of a decent episode for him. He tried (though failed) to make amends with Margaux, called Louise out of her craziness, wasn’t too much of a jerk to Emily and gave Victoria some home truth, though not particularly new ones. Surprisingly enough, this episode managed to make him a bit likeable, which hasn’t been the case in a long while.

Also in “Contact”

The fact that Victoria would even fake a Flatline to get David’s attention just shows how desperate she’s become. The sooner Louise is set on her, the better.

Nolan: “How did you find me?”
Jack: “You tweeted a photo of this view with the hashtag ‘never leaving’.”

What exactly was that barman’s problem with Nolan? Did he even specify as to why he quit working at the beach club?

David: “Don’t feel bad about not helping, you were scared.”
Emily (re Victoria): “I wasn’t scared. She didn’t deserve my help.”

Nolan (re Louise): “She’s a sweetheart.”
Margaux: “She’s a violent psychopath who needs to be locked up.”

Assuming that Louise’s mother isn’t actually dead (though I’m suspecting she might be), are we actually going to see her properly on the show? Or even that politician brother of hers?

Emily (to David): “I did it all for you. To punish the people that hurt you.”

Daniel (re Victoria): “Are you crying because she survived? You always did try to save me from her.”
Emily: “And you just kept crawling back.”

Standout music: Lykke Li’s “No Rest For The Wicked”.

David: “I’m so proud of you, Amanda but I can’t be your father.”

Chronology: From where “Ambush” left off.

Well, I did enjoy the episode and the fact that that’s two episodes in a row I enjoyed, perhaps this is a sign of the show getting it’s shit together again, perhaps? That being said, “Contact” wasn’t devoid of it’s frustrating moments (David being an idiot, Jack/Ben etc) but still it was enjoyable enough.

Rating: 7 out of 10