Saturday, May 23, 2015

Taking Over From The Demon

A look at some of the shows I've caught up on, mostly finales too.

Arrow: Finally, this whole Ras Al Ghul storyline has been put to bed and about bloody time too. I said in a previous blog that I felt the story didn't really work for this show's verse (bar the wonderful Nyssa) but for now, I'm cool with the way it ended and the outcome it had for both Oliver and Malcolm as a result. The finale itself was probably the weakest we've had from the series so far but it was still a solid way of ending a solid if not entirely amazing third season though.

Game Of Thrones: Oh dear. You'd think after that ill-advised scene with Cersei and Jaime from last season, the writers wouldn't have gone there with Sansa and Ramsay on their wedding night, but unfortunately they did and a bit of an internet shit storm ensued as a result. Don't get me wrong - I hated that scene as much as the next person and felt it wasn't needed for the plot but at the same time, the online reaction over it was a bit much though. Other than that, there has been a slow progression with Arya's Braavos storyline, Cersei seems to be digging her own doom but not before taking the Tyrells down with her and the Jaime/Bronn and Tyrion/Jorah scenes have been fun to watch as well.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD: Season 2 has been a solid, fun romp and an overall improvement on the show's predominantly shaking first year and this finale was definitely a good note to end things on. The writers stuck to their guns and made sure there was no way that Ward would ever be a good guy again, it raised the stakes by putting several characters in danger (where the hell has Simmons gone to) and it put to bed some other plots, such as Skye's screwed up family and Raina of course. All in all, count me in for next season.

Once Upon A Time: A finale where most of the characters take on different roles courtesy of a narcissistic Author? Why the hell not? For the most part, it was a blast to see an Evil Snow, bandit Regina, mad Emma and Heroic Rumple at play and I did like that it was Henry who mainly saved things (along with Emma) while the show beautifully set up things for the fifth season with a certain someone becoming the new Dark One and the promise of Camelot too.

Scandal: Am I a really awful person for hoping that this show would be ballsy enough to actually kill off Jake? Even though I knew deep down that he wasn't going to die (despite it being very touch and go), the idea cutting the tedious with him, Olivia and Fitz was so appealing. Other than that, I do like that Olivia quickly worked out that Russell was working for her (shame, he was fit) and at least the show isn't making Mellie's bid for Senator an easy ride either.

The Flash: That finale was just brilliant but the last two episodes in general were just amazing. The show has had an incredible first season and it ended on a wonderful note with the promise of a more expanded universe for it's second run. I really hope that given the breakneck speed in which the way the show operate that it doesn't burn out during it's sophomore season. Oh and getting a peak at Caitlin's future along with various character sacrifices was pretty nifty too.

- The pilot for Supergirl has leaked online. This happened last year with The Flash.
- Speaking of The Flash, the show will introduce other speedsters in it's second season while Arrow's fourth year will go for a lighter tone.
- Matthew Goode won't be returning for the seventh season of The Good Wife.
- Empire's second season will be 18 episodes. Guests confirmed for now include Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Rock.
- Morena Baccarin has been confirmed as a regular for the second season of Gotham.
- Selma Blair, Paul Kim and Bruce Greenwood have joined the cast of American Crime Story.
- Danny Pino has left Law & Order: SVU.
- Dougray Scott has exited upcoming ABC drama, Quantico.
- The Following has been axed after three seasons.
- Harry Shum has been cast as Magnus Bane for the upcoming Shadowhunters series.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The New Batman Adventures - Episodes 5-8 Reviews

Second blog and this time around, we've got some unlikely team ups, a villain coming quids in and the first signs of young love in strange circumstances.

Episode 5: You Scratch My Back

One of my favourite characters returned here and with a strangely Gothic look to boot. I'm always happy to see Selina Kyle/Catwoman on the show and after the events of Catwalk, it did seem like things were more antagonistic between her and Batman than before. Of course for the most part, Selina teamed up with Nightwing (this episode being the first one to properly utilise the character) and while I didn't really dig the flirting with the pair of them, I did like that Nightwing wasn't so easily taken in by Catwoman as the episode initially led us into believing. It's a strong episode, even if Selina's look is a little too severe and different from what we saw with her in The Animated Series. 7/10

Episode 6: Double Talk

Okay, I think I need to admit - I just don't care about the Ventriloquist all that much and to be honest the preceeding series have done slightly better near redemptive episodes (like the Harley Quinn ones) that this one just didn't really do it for me. I did appreciate the use of psychological warfare on Arnold to get him to resume his role with Scarface and having Lucious Fox pop up wasn't a bad thing either but episode wise, this was a rather dull one, 5/10

Episode 7: Joker's Millions

I really loved this one. The last Joker episode we had before this one (excluding his vignette in Holiday Knights) was great but sort of lacking something and this seemed like a return to form for the character. I just love that despite being the most dangerous criminal in Gotham, even the Joker's shitless of the IRS and the fact that a former crime rival managed to dupe him into spending millions of fake money was a delicious twist as well, along with that hilarious auditioning for a replacement for Harley as well. Throw in some cameos for the Penguin and Poison Ivy and this one was a gem. 8/10

Episode 8: Growing Pains

I have to admit that while I like Tim's version of Robin, I didn't really miss his absence in the previous episodes. That being said, I actually think this might have been his strongest episode going as his connection to amnesiac girl 'Annie' actually worked pretty well along with the unexpected reintroduction of Clayface and the connection the latter had to the little girl. It was a great use for the character (even though Batman felt sidelined in this one a little) and seeing Tim's slightly darker side as well even worked within the narrative. 9/10

Next blog will cover Mean Seasons, The Demon Within, Over The Edge and Torch Song.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Recap/Review: Penny Dreadful's 2x03: The Nightcomers

A break from the usual goings on with a flashback episode that detailed some of Vanessa's history with witches. If you loved last season's Closer Than Sisters, chances are you'll love this one a little more. I certainly did.

Written by John Logan
Directed by Brian Kirk

Despised & Needed: Every aspiring powerful person needs a mentor and flashing back to a couple of years ago, a confused and distraught Vanessa went to the moors to seek out the cut wife - a powerful witch (and abortionist) in order to better understand her powers and to try and save Mina. Can I just compliment the show on Patti LuPone's casting here? Having her play the role of this powerful witch who took Vanessa under her wing was an absolute stroke of genius and seeing both LuPone and Eva Green play off each other was just superb. Both women were incredible from start to finish and props to the episode for not going for a completely cliched mentor/student relationship between the Cut Wife and Vanessa too. Also the fact that Vanessa's scorpion got it's own backstory was a nice little twist among a few others.

Adder Sisters: One of the biggest twists in this episode was the reveal that Evelyn Poole and the Cut Wife were actually sisters, both of whom fighting over Vanessa. With Evelyn determined to please her Master and Cut Wife equally determined to train Vanessa not to succumb to the Devil. It turned out to be one hell of a battle of wits between the two of them and a part of me is hoping that a later episode will expand (more likely through flashback) on the relationship between Evelyn and her sister. I also noticed that despite there being at least two moments here, the episode made a point of making sure that Vanessa and Evelyn never actually saw each other as well.

Holding The Cane: While this wasn't exactly a sex heavy episode, we did get one scene where Evelyn and the landowner she was manipulating/sleeping with indulged in a little caning as the former worked her charm into getting the latter to do her bidding and take out her sister. We've seen a lot of Evelyn's ruthless and sadistic streak in the first two episodes this season, so killing a field of cattle and coercing her lover into organising a witch hunt to execute her sister felt perfectly in character for the scheming Devil worshipper.

A Fiery Death: Sadly the downside to this being a flashback episode was that someone had to die in order to slightly further Vanessa's story in the present day and that person of course turned out to be the Cut Wife herself. We did learn prior to her being tarred and burned alive that her name was Joan Clayton and she entrusted Vanessa with a dangerous book that will clearly later be useful in taking down Evelyn. Watching Joan the way she did was horrible (and this hasn't been a comfortable week for cable shows) and LuPone was nothing short of amazing but as a guest actress, she pulled in a performance that clearly warrants an Emmy nomination if ever one was needed.

Telling The Story: With the exception of both Evelyn in flashback and Ethan at the start of the episode in the present day (this episode oddly didn't end with his reaction to Vanessa's story), the rest of the main cast were pretty much absent from this episode. That leads to one thing - with seven episodes left for the season, I do hope that at some point another of the main characters gets an episode than focuses on them. Right now either Ethan, Dorian or Victor for that accolade. However aside from that, this was an amazing piece of television that continued to highlight the complexity of Vanessa Ives but now is definitely the time to see both her and Evelyn finally face off though.

Next week, Vanessa does some shopping with Victor and refuses to accept that she's being hunted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scream Queens - Extended Trailer/Gifs

Last week we got a simple thirty second one from the upfronts for the upcoming horror/comedy series, Scream Queens. Now we've got another one and this time, it's three minutes long. Some highlights from it.

Sorority Hating: Already I love Jamie Lee Curtis's Dean Cathy Munsch and watching her tear apart everything that vacuous Sorority head, Chanel (Emma Roberts) believes in was probably the best part of the trailer. That being said, does Cathy's hatred for sororities extend to her being the Red Devil killer? I'd say quite possibly yeah.

The Devil Themselves: The killer of the piece shows up several times in the trailer, especially to terrorise the new sororities members (in a moment harking back to Heathers) and at least two or three people (aside from the death back in 1995) are clearly going to be gone within the first two episodes. However, despite the above gif, I do not think Chanel will be one of them.

Pretty Scared Boy: Nick Jonas - I guess it's a case of enjoy him while you can because his character Boone definitely looks like one of the first victims of the piece as he's later seen sprawled on a table in the Kappa sorority as well. Oh and there's some wimpy looking frat boys also terrified of the killer too.

Comedy Cops: One of the funniest and cringey things from this trailer was Niecy Nash's Sheriff Denise vowing to catch the killer, even though she reacts quite strangely when her fellow cop Chantelle is killed in their police car.

Showcase Those Lungs Ladies: This show does seem to literally live up to it's title as there's a lot of screaming amongst the corpses as well. On the plus side, at least both Zayday and Grace seem like decent rivals for Chanel (more likeable too) and there's the quirkiness of both Jennifer and Hester to balance out Chanel's vacuous minions as well. As for the Killer and their motive - the trailer threw out various teasers and misdirections, so trying to guess their identity over the 15 episodes as the bodies drop on a weekly basis will be a lot of fun too.

Scream Queens - Extended Trailer:

Scream Queens will premiere Tuesdays 9pm on FOX from September. A UK broadcaster has yet to be confirmed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The New Batman Adventures - Episodes 1-4 Reviews

Last year I tackled Batman: The Animated Series and with Gotham's first season now completed, my attention is now going to be focused on The New Batman Adventures for the next few weeks.

Episode 1: Holiday Knights

Let's get one thing out of the way - this was a continuation of The Animated Series, airing two years later after that show finished up and it mostly had all of the characters going through an overhaul look wise. This opening episode on the other hand, is largely set during the Christmas season with four villains vying to make things difficult for our heroes. Harley and Ivy teamed up to put Bruce under a love spell and get a shopping spree while trying to kill Batman, then Barbara, Bullock and Renee had to deal with Clayface during a mall scene and then Batman and Robin (the Tim Drake version) try and stop the Joker going on a killing spree before the New Year kicks in. It's a wonderfully festive and bonkers opening episode. 9/10

Episode 2: Sins Of The Father

This is a weird one. In the first episode, we saw Tim Drake's Robin fighting alongside Batman against the Joker, but this is the episode that gives him a back story (deadbeat father involved over his head in crime) that ended up being connected to Two Face - one of the few villains (along with Harley) that wasn't radically altered as well. It's a solid episode, even if Tim is a little bit too much of a smart arse in parts. The end scene though where Dick showed up to watch the newly established gang of Batman, Robin and Batgirl was nice though. 7/10

Episode 3: Cold Comfort

He had two episodes on The Animated Series and got a movie but it seems like Mr Freeze turned out to be too good a character to stay away from and here was a solid if not an amazing episode for him. In this one, we learned that Nora was cured, rejected him and remarried and Victor spiralled back into crime by kidnapping scientists and attempting to kill Bruce Wayne's loved ones. It's not exactly a Heart Of Ice in terms of  doing anything innovative but I do like the new dynamic with Batman and Batgirl in this one and Freeze's new abilities are interesting. 7/10

Episode 4: Never Fear

Keeping with the returns, this time around a rather bulked up version of the Scarecrow resurfaced and like with Mr Freeze, it wasn't his best one. However, I do find his new look pretty intimidating and his fear toxin this time around managed to bring out a slightly homicidal version of Batman with Robin being forced to step in to save his friend from crossing the line. Out of the first few episodes, this was probably the best one for Tim's version of the Boy Wonder. 7/10

Next blog will cover You Scratch My Back, Double Talk, Joker's Millions and Growing Pains

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Review of Atlantis's 2x12: "The Queen Must Die"

Written by Howard Overman
Directed by Julian Murphy

Pasiphae (to Jason): "You stupid boy. It'll never be over."

It's been a week for last ever episodes (possibly a year too) and something tells me that one won't be winning any polls. That being said, while this episode didn't exactly end the show on a high and had a lot of the usual meandering that's been a hindrance to the series, there was some good stuff as well.

First off all, while it didn't stick, this episode at least had Pasiphae temporarily pay for her crimes by getting captured by Jason and executed by Hercules with her men then choosing to follow Ariadne once again. However, given that this show clearly enjoys Sarah Parish's OTT antics, it wasn't long before Pasiphae was resurrected and took over the city yet again.

Which means that between getting married and dealing with the issue of Medea, Jason and Ariadne were mostly on the run once again with Pythagoras and Hercules but their numbers were increased when both Icarus and Cassandra joined the team as well. As for that cliffhanger - Colchis is a long way away but the hope of obtaining the Golden Fleece is alluring. Oh wait, that's right - it's something the show won't be able to resolve. Well, boo to that one then.

Other than that, it was kind of the same as usual. The story deserve props for some nice characters and moments but too often, it was also the same repeat of scenes that we've have as well since the first episode. That being said, props to the show for the way it revealed Pythagoras and Icarus's relationship, topped off by a rather appropriate reaction from Hercules as well.

- Along with revealing Pythagoras/Icarus as a couple, we also got to see the latter use his wings as well. Fortunately, this didn't result in death.
- Medea was smart enough to get the hell out of Atlantis during the first half of this episode and wait in Colchis for Jason. Leading to another point ...
- Instead of this being two episodes, it was just a 90 minute episode merged into one.
- We even got a dragon in this episode. Does this count as a Merlin crossover? I'm joking.

It wasn't a bad finale but "The Queen Must Die" still suffered from the one step forward, several ones backwards syndrome that's always been a problem with the show. Atlantis had the potential to be an enjoyable slice of Saturday night telefantasy and maybe if more effort and care had been put into it, it could've been but sadly, it was more a case of wasted potential. I wish the cast well in future projects though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sherlock - Christmas Special/Series 4 News

I've been a bit lax when it comes to the Sherlock news of late, so here's a round up on news for both the Christmas and Series 4.

- The special is set in 1895 with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington and everyone else playing period versions of their characters.
- Steven Moffat wanted to do at one episode with Holmes and Watson in period gear.
- The special itself is written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and will be directed by Douglas Mackinnon, who has directed several episodes of Doctor Who.
- Filming for Series 4 will begin during Spring 2016, so it's more than likely the episodes for that won't air until January 2017.
- It will be darker than the previous series with a lot of emotional upheaval as well.
- There may be also a time jump, not to mention the fact that we also have to have Mary giving birth and whether or not Moriarty is alive.

I have to admit to not really being that shocked that we might have to wait a bit longer for the fourth series, which is probably why this year's Christmas special will be something of a way to bridge the gap. I also get the impression (and considering that both Cumerbatch and Freeman are getting harder to pin down) that Series 4 might actually be the last proper series and that specials (like the upcoming Christmas one) every few years is the way the BBC are going to go with this show. That might not be a bad thing to be honest.

Series 4 Spoilers:

The Christmas special of Sherlock will air in December while Series 4 starts filming in Spring 2016.