Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ding Dong, The Witch Ain't Dead

A look at some of the shows I've seen recently.

Arrow: So, I'm keeping this at Sky1 pace and I've seen the latest episode and well, that departure I a) saw coming a mile off and b) still hated but not as much as I thought I would. Maybe instead of overly obsessing with the Ray/Felicity/Oliver triangle, characters like Diggle and Roy could've been more focused on this season. On the plus side, at least Laurel has continued to improve along with Thea and Ras not taking half measures to get his own way has helped to up the ante in Starling City but I'm still gonna miss Roy though. Not cool, show.

Game Of Thrones: It's been a hell of a week for this show's  return. Like Doctor Who last year, it had the misfortune of several episodes leaking online (haven't seen them) but even that didn't stop the opening episode getting 8 million viewers on HBO and 1.5 million on SkyAtlantic alike. The opening episode wasn't the show's best one but it certainly set up so many things - Dany's eventual fleeing for Meereen, a possibly deserved downfall for Cersei, Tyrion and Varys backing another ruler as well as new developments for characters like Sansa and Littlefinger. We've had stronger opening episodes but this one still managed to be an engrossing hour nonetheless though.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD: A good run of episodes. I haven't seen the big May episode yet (that's for tomorrow on RTE2) but I've heard good things about it. While the Real SHIELD thing is a little bogging down, I did like that it seems like both Fitz and Simmons finally got on the same page with each other and Skye ending up in that Inhumans sanctuary and not knowing that her would be mentor is her mother has potential, plot wise.

Once Upon A Time: I have to admit, although I'm enjoying the second half of the fourth season, I'm beginning to think this whole Queens of Darkness plot would've been better had Rumple not been responsible for it's inception in the first place. Despite some horrific plot gaps in logic (after the needless shafting of Marian), I think it would've been better had it been Zelena that reunited the trio and actually have them against Rumple/go after the Author (who we finally met)/try to channel Emma's potential darkness etc. Other than that, a solid bunch of episodes even if Zelena's long con with Robin makes little scene under even the least amount of scrutiny.

Scandal: With the kidnapping Olivia saga now behind the show (boy, did that four episode arc not go down well with certain viewers), I think The Lawn Chair should go down as one of the most poignant if somewhat on the nose episodes the show has ever attempted. It's airing (both in the US and UK) was sadly timely but it didn't detract from being an incredibly strong episode while the following episode gave us some much needed forwarding for Huck as well. Now I'm oddly intriguing by the upcoming episode with Lena Dunham next week on SkyLiving.

The Flash: Sticking with Sky1 pace here, can I just say I absolutely loved the Tricksters episode? I haven't seen the 1990s series where Mark Hamill originally played the role but watching both him and modern version, played by Devon Graye was an absolute blast as the two of them played off each other extremely well. Not to mention the use of an infamous movie quote as well. Seriously, I think this was the most bonkers episode the show has done and also my favourite as well, especially as the shocks about Harrison and Reverse Flash kept a coming and one of the least likeliest characters became privy to Barry's identity. I've said it before but right now this is still slightly surpassing the parent show at the moment.

- Daredevil has become the second most downloaded show this year since it's release on Netflix last Friday. I think I can guess the first one.
- UK viewers can watch the first season of Empire, Tuesdays at 9pm on E4 from April 28th.
- HBO have picked up Sharon Horgan's comedy Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker to a full series.
- Revenge's final episode for Season 4 (or possibly ever) will be titled Two Graves. expect characters such as Mason Treadwell and Charlotte Grayson to appear in the last few episodes.
- True Detective's second season will air on SkyAtlantic from June 22nd, the day after it premieres on HBO.
- A second season for Constantine is "a long shot". I still think "unlikely" is closer to the mark.
- The BBC have renewed Poldark for a second series.
- Once Upon A Time has been renewed for a fifth season.
- The cast of Girls will be appearing in The Simpsons.
- Orange Is The New Black has been picked up for a fourth season.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice - First Trailer Released

“Tell me, do you bleed? You will.”

With the release of a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday, it does seem a little suspect that DC/Warner Bros would then go and release one for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice but either way, we got one and it's an interesting enough one.

In the two minute trailer we had various/government types wittering on about power corrupting and people unwisely supporting those in power. Mainly it feels like a Superman bashing spree with even a mocking statue of the hero with the words 'False God' sprayed across it. Then there's the arrival of Ben Affleck's older and grouchier Batman too.

The trailer then ends with that cringe worthy exchange that I typed above. I hate to admit it but the trailer just didn't grab me and I was so looking forward to it. Perhaps I need to see it a few more times, but the rivalry between Batman and Superman just rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps if it didn't come across as so antagonistic, it wouldn't bother me so much. Then again, I'm sure better trailers over the next few months will get me on board though.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Trailer:

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice will be released in cinemas from March 25th 2016.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x12: "Who I Am"

Written by Danny Strong And Ilene Chaiken
Directed by Debbie Allen

Lucious: "Game time bitches!"

And then the second part of this finale happened. Well, that turned out to be an interesting turn of events. The threat of a hostile takeover, a death, a pregnancy, some excellent duets and Lucious licking his wounds from a prison cell. A part of me feels like shouting "seventeen years, bitch" but I wouldn't be shocked if Lucious is out before seventeen weeks or months.

In a way I'm glad that Lucious is getting punished for killing Bunkie and I didn't even like the character but at the same time, I also found it a little unfortunate that it happened at literally the same time when both him and Jamal were making a genuine breakthrough with each other. In this episode alone, Lucious not only defended his son from a bigoted rapper at a public event but he even told Jamal something that no-one else knew. Okay, Lucious still deserves some jail time but hot damn though.

As for the hostile takeover bit - why can't Hakeem and Andre just work with Jamal instead of trying to take over the company? The only person I can understand doing this is Anika, due to her own strained relationship with Lucious but Andre, Hakeem and Cookie should be working with Jamal, not against him. I don't mind them going against Lucious but I don't want Jamal as collateral damage either.

Keeping with the company stuff - Vernon might have gotten a lame on screen death (Rhonda with the candle stick - really?) but I did like that it was him who sicced Agent Carter onto Lucious over Bunkie's death and he did seem to genuinely want to help an enraged Andre as well. The problem is though that while his death will have interesting consequences for Andre and a now pregnant Rhonda, other than the shock of it, Vernon isn't one of those characters that I'm going to miss a great deal.

As for Cookie - I knew she wouldn't go through with killing Lucious but her anger at him murdering her cousin was more than justified though. I didn't like that she and Jamal somewhat fell out in this episode but hopefully they can mend things early next season though. Those two are way too much fun to watch together as allies than as estranged in my opinion.

Lastly with Jamal getting comfortable in his new position at Empire, it didn't take much for Anika to encourage Hakeem with the hostile takeover stuff, now did it? I'm all for Hakeem being his own man but it might have been better if both him and Andre had reached out to Jamal first rather than allowing Anika to pull their strings to an extent.

Also in "Who I Am"

Lucious and Cookie's real names are Dwight Walker and Loretha Holloway. The latter's real name isn't mentioned in this episode but I thought it was important to note nonetheless though.

Lucious: "The Empire is yours, Jamal."

Lucious's gifts (wrapped in black and gold, fittingly enough) were gold wings for Hakeem, a gold cross of Judea for Andre, a gold lion staff for Jamal and a tiny pillow for Cookie.

Hakeem: "What kind of black girl name is Becky?"
Becky: "My mom's white."

Lucious (to Jamal, re Cookie): "You see son sometimes you gotta be willing to sacrifice your queen in order to win the game."

Keeping with the cameos, we had Rita Ora, Juicy J and Patti LaBelle in this episode.

Anika (to Cookie): "Who's Boo Boo Kitty now, bitch?"

Jamal (to Black Rambo): "Bitch!"

The show got seriously soapy with the Cookie/Anika scrap (flying pearls, people) and the way Jamal destroyed homophobic rapper Black Rambo in that rap off scene was an utter delight.

Cookie: "No matter what's going on between me and your daddy, I got you."
Jamal: "I know you do."

Lucious: "Dwight Walker."
Jamal: "Who's that?"
Lucious: "That's my real name. Cookie don't even know that."

Standout music: Rita Ora's "NY Raining", Jamal/Hakeem's "What The DJ Spins" and Jamal/Patti LaBelle's "Nothing To Lose".

Jamal (to audience): "I am the son of Lucious Lyon."

Chronology: From where "Die But Once" left off.

A brilliant finale for an excellent first season. Empire has had some incredible highs for a show in it's opening year and whether or not it can maintain the quality in future seasons is hard to tell but either way, "Who I Am" was a perfect way to cap off this debut year and ensure that I'll be coming back for seconds.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x11: "Die But Once"

Written by Ilene Chaiken
Directed by Mario Van Peebles

Lucious (to Bunky): "It's my comeback concert, cause I'm about to come back like the Phoenix from the ashes."

Oh dear - the show went there. Of course by the time we'd get to the finale (and the massively popularity of the show became more apparent) that it would turn out that Lucious might not be on the way out after all. They say you can never kill a bad thing and this episode revealed that instead of ALS, Lucious actually has MG, which won't be killing him off anytime soon.

However it wasn't until the end of the episode that Lucious became privy to the fact that he was going to live so when he wasn't having Cookie removed from Empire, thumping a seething Hakeem or grooming Jamal to take over his company, he was also trying to deal with old fashioned writers block.

Much as Lucious can be a vicious bastard at times, I really liked that it was Jamal and a visit to their old home that awoke Lucious's ability to actually write a decent song and it was also rather nice to see the two of them work together on a song. In spite of their differences, this episode also showed some similarities too when Jamal got physical with Beretti over old songs of Lucious's as well. It's not a side of Jamal I want to see often but at the same time, this was still a great episode for Jamal nonetheless.

When he wasn't connecting with his father, both Jamal and Ryan christened Lucious's desk in their own way (thank you show) and I also loved the scene where at a signing for his album, a young lad told Jamal that he encouraged him to come out. I loved that little moment - both for the young lad in question and for the way it clearly affected Jamal as well too. Thank you show.

As for the rest of the Lyon kids - Hakeem really managed to stick it to Lucious twice in this episode. First with the diss rap that earned him a punch from his old man and then by having sex with Anika in front of Lucious too. For a tiny second I might have felt a little glimmer of sympathy for Lucious but it passed though.

As for Andre - he was willing to drop being CFO of Empire Records so he could spend more time with God/Michelle and Lucious ended up putting the skids on that by tempting Michelle with a Gospel album. While I was a little disappointed that Michelle gave in so easily, another part of me couldn't blame her either. However I'm still hoping that Andre doesn't cheat on Rhonda with Michelle.

However the most exciting stuff of this episode once again involved Cookie though. Lucious highlighted his jealousy of her and Malcolm well but it was him confessing in his sleep about killing Bunky that was the gem of the episode. I know Cookie was holding a pillow over his head (and repeatedly wished for his death) but will she really kill him? I'm going to go with a resounding no but either way, Lucious screwed himself royally there.

Also in "Die But Once"

Keeping with the cameos, we had Snoop Dogg in this episode, who thankfully wasn't as annoying as he usually can be at times.

Lucious: "This is my last show."
Becky: "Come on, don't say that."
Lucious: "Well, it is."

Becky wins points for putting Lucious in his place. Porscha loses some for her lack of discretion with Cookie and Malcolm though.

Malcolm (to Cookie): "We'll take it as fast as you want because you're in charge."

Cookie (to Carol): "You want to know why I put my name on the concert? Because hell wants the devil back and Lucious is on his way."

This was the first episode not to feature Rhonda at all and Anika had no lines in this one either.

Lucious (to Andre): "There's no higher purpose than being a maker of music. That's the voice of God."

Jamal (to Lucious): "I used to worship you and even though you hated me for being who I am and tried to beat it out of me, I worshiped the way you used to make music."

I still find the wigs they use in flashbacks for Cookie seriously distracting at times.

Beretti: "You're not going to drop me."
Jamal: "My daddy thinks I will."

Standout music: Jamal/Lucious's "Nothing To Lose", John Legend's "Made To Love" and Michelle's "For My God".

Lucious (to Andre): "Let's see who's more powerful - your God or your daddy."

Chronology: Not long from where "Sins Of The Father" left off.

Now that was a superb penultimate episode. "Die But Once" might have copped out a little by revealing that Lucious had a less threatening illness but other than that, the first season of this show is shaping up to end on quite a number. Looking forward to the second part.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 1x19: "Beasts Of Prey"

Written by Ken Woodruff
Directed by Eagle Egilsson

Jason (to Grace): "I really thought you were the one. Don't worry, sooner or later I'll find her."

After being over a month off the air (allowing both UK and Irish stations to nearly catch up, kind of), Gotham has returned for the first of it's final four episodes and we've got a new villain in the mix. Despite his obscenely good looks, Milo Ventimiglia is the Ogre or Jason Lennon - whatever you want to call him.

Let's get the obvious out of the way - serial killers like Jason aren't nothing new or revolutionary. For all crime dramas, they tend to be the default baddie - that misogynistic scumbag who targets women and subjects them to all kinds of physical and mental cruelties before eventually killing them in a fairly horrible manner.

One of Jason's victims in this episode was a woman named Grace Fairchild, whom he seduced, imprisoned and eventually killed in a room that seemed like a mixture of Dexter Morgan's kill rooms and Christian Grey's Red Room. Of course, this happened four months ago but it became a present day problem when Gordon was duped into investigating the case by a smarting Loeb (clearly that man holds a grudge well) and Bullock had to tell his partner the consequences of looking into Jason's killer activities.

Villain wise, I like that the show is aiming to add their own ones into the roster and while Jason's only USP for now is that he targets the loved ones of those who investigate into his antics, I do think that Ventimiglia was suitably chilling enough in his flashback scenes with the unfortunate Grace. However, given that Jim opened up a massive can of worms, things aren't going to go well for either Barbara or Leslie in the remaining episodes now that Jim is in his sights.

While I hated that Jim had been easily played by Moore appealing to his good side, I did enjoy seeing him threaten Loeb in the end. I don't doubt he'll catch the Ogre but at the same time, I also imagine that there will be consequences and that taking Loeb down won't be as easy as Gordon seems to think it will be either.

Moving away from the Ogre storyline though, at long last Fish managed to escape from that island and the Dulmacher. Granted, she still got shot and it was a bit touch and go but given that we already know that Jada Pinkett Smith won't be making it into the next season, it would've been something of a cop out if she had died at the Dollmaker's hands really. I also liked that she went back for Kelly as well after selling him out in the previous episode. I guess Fish really does have her principles.

As for Bruce and Selina - I really didn't see the latter causing Reggie's death coming. I mean, I know that Selina has killed from time to time in certain adaptations but that was a shocker though and something that did highlight the different moral codes both her and Bruce have. Overall, the fallout of Alfred's stabbing has been interestingly dealt with this week.

Also in "Beasts Of Prey"

Slightly unusual that Jason's scenes were dealt with in flashbacks but it really worked. The broken heart calling card is pretty clever too actually.

The Catcher: "You're outside."
Fish: "You're observant."

I kind of guessed that Fish was setting up half the prisoners to go for the boat while her real intention was to go for the chopper.

Leslie (to Gordon): "What can I say? You had me at homicide."

Bullock: "Ed question - would you rather work more or less?"
Nygma: "Is this a riddle?"

This week Oswald managed to get a woman named Lydia's granddaughter back to her by cutting off the finger of a guitarist. He also wants to kill Maroni in Lydia's place too. Good luck with that, Oswald.

Jason: "Maybe you're right. I've had plenty of relationships but in the end they never seem to work out."
Grace: "Why not?"
Jason: "I think what I'm looking for frightens people."

Selina: "Could've smashed your head in with a brick, y'know."
Bruce: "Why would you do that? Why would you say that?"

Are Selina and Ivy still living with Barbara at the moment? I guess we'll find out next week.

Oswald (to Gabe): "All kinds of things motivate people - lust, ambition, envy."

Reggie: "I'm going to tell on you."
Selina: "No, you're not."

Chronology: Not long from where "Everyone Has A Cobblepot" left off I imagine.

Not the best episode we've had but as a set up for an interesting finale arc with Gordon vs. the Ogre, I think "Beasts Of Prey" laid down the groundwork pretty well actually. Jason might not be the most original type of villain but he's certainly one of the more interesting new ones we've had in a while though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Review of Atlantis's 2x07: "A Fate Worse Than Death"

Written by Howard Overman
Directed by Lawrence Gough

Pasiphae (to the Oracle): “You should be glad that the gods do not allow you to see your own fate”

It's been nearly four months and a cancellation announcement since the show has last aired and the first of the final seven episodes kicked off on Saturday with surprisingly little fanfare. I say surprising but oddly enough, unlike the lifeless two part opening for Series 2, this episode actually did something interesting. It killed off the Oracle.

I'm not going to mourn the character's loss, not because I disliked her but because Juliet Stevenson had been criminally wasted in the series that killing off the Oracle actually seemed like a good thing. One thing I am grateful for though was that we got some lovely bitchy scenes between Stevenson and Sarah Parish as both the Oracle and Pasiphae didn't hold back on what they thought of each other one last time.

Having an unwitting and desperate Medusa be the one to actually kill off the Oracle was a bold move, especially as Pasiphae remained true to her word and actually cured the former as well. In some ways, I don't think Pasiphae should've bothered. With this episode hammering home that killing the Oracle is a massive no-no, I think it's a safe assumption that Medusa's cure will be both short lived and her relationship with Hercules even more doomed than before.

Of course, the episode loses points for me with the ridiculously contrived manner in which Jason was found guilty of the Oracle's death and sentenced to death. It reeked of extremely lazy writing, considering that everyone knew that it was Medusa/Pasiphae responsible and just seemed like a contrived way of halting Jason and Ariadne's inevitable nuptials (which even the gods seemed in favour, hence Pasiphae's desperation to bump off the Oracle). Hopefully the idiotic plot is resolved quickly in the next episode.

- BBC Announcer person - it was December 20th that the last episode aired, not the 22nd.
- Yet again, another episode where Pythagoras had bugger all to do. At least Medea played a part in acquiring Medusa. Not a shocker that both Pasiphae/Medea are immune to Medusa as well.
- Emmett Scanlan popped up her as new advisor/right hand soldier bloke, Delmos. Despite his disapproval of Ariadne/Jason, it might be possible he doesn't turn traitor for the next few episodes.
- Jemima Rooper's name is back in the credits. I assume Juliet Stevenson's will be removed from next week onwards, right?

Not a bad return episode but at times, there were things in "A Fate Worse Than Death" that made me see why the show got cancelled. Aside from the wavering plotting at times for the sake of drama, the show still has a habit of plodding here and there. Pasiphae would be a lot better if she just made a better claim for ruler rather than continuing on her entitled, tyrannical spree.

Rating: 6 out of 10

My Review of Revenge's 4x19: "Exposure"

Written by Wilson Pollick And Andrew Steier
Directed by Jennifer Wilkinson

Emily: "Victoria, if you're watching, it is in your hands to end this."

Now that's how to throw down the gauntlet. Granted, Emily's on air "up yours" towards Victoria might have stemmed after Nolan realised too late that Louise had betrayed information to the demon lady herself but either way, I liked that Emily publicly slighted Victoria in the manner she did.

Victoria might be a great villain but her inability to take responsibility or even partially admit she's done terrible things as much as Emily has been growing more and more annoying over the last few seasons and having Emily allude to Aiden's murder and Victoria's part in it was pretty satisfying to watch.

On a frustrating note, this episode not only gave Victoria one ally for her cause but two of them. Louise foolishly screwed over Nolan because she stupidly bought into Victoria's little sob stories about Daniel and Margaux then returned to the vengeance after briefly having some sense in this episode about Emily. One step forward with Margaux and then several ones backwards.

As for Louise - I don't think she's really in a position to be that annoyed with Nolan. Nolan had no reason to tell her about Emily's real identity and Louise did conveniently ignore the fact that it was him who got her away from her mother's clutches as well as saving her from a trip back to Claremont. Is it too much to hope that Louise gets an epiphany and ends up helping Emily and Nolan in the last run of episodes?

Keeping with Emily - when she wasn't pissed at Nolan for keeping dangerous information about her, she was also feeling the brunt of Ben's annoyance but on the plus side, she did manage to stop a few of her former takedowns from mounting a revenge mission on her for the time being. I liked that Emily was savvy enough to realise that some of them would band together against her and that Victoria would go to the media as well. The fact that Emily got ahead on both fronts was pretty nice.

As for the episode itself - it was primarily a clip show with several clips from various seasons tying into the events of today. While I do think clip shows can be somewhat naff and a cheap way of saving money, it actually worked well enough, highlighting the progression that Emily and her mission has made over the last four years as well as reminding viewers of the people that she's lost along the way too.

Of course this episode was very much building towards things coming to an end - Emily Thorne no longer exists (but I'm sticking with the name for the remaining reviews), her battle with Victoria is close to concluding as is the whole 'will they/won't they' thing with her and Jack. Oh and there's a final enemy in sight too. Let's not kid ourselves - it's either going to be Lydia or Charlotte, right?

Also in "Exposure"

I hope for Louise's sake she isn't stupid enough to tell either Victoria or Margaux that she killed Lymon.

Emily: "Emily Thorne no longer exists."
Nolan: "It's the end of an era."

The fun thing about the flashbacks was noticing how different a lot of the characters (the male ones moreso) look now.

Ben (to Emily): "It's too late. That's why it's called live television. You don't get a do-over."

Emily (to Tom): "So get on the phone and spread the word. Stay away from David and Amanda Clarke."

One of the few decent things that Margaux did in this episode was admit to Victoria that Emily didn't cause her to lose the baby.

Victoria: "She caused you to lose your own child. Why don't you care?"
Margaux: "Because I lied. Emily didn't push me."

Emily (to interviewer): "I didn't make an accusation. It's on Victoria to take responsibility for her own actions. I do have sympathy for her though. She was born with a dark soul.

Standout music: You & Me's "You & Me", played at the end of the episode with David and Emily on the porch.

Victoria: "Amanda Clarke dug a grave for me tonight."
Margaux: "But I won't let her put you in it."

Emily (to David): "For the first time, I have no idea what's coming."

Chronology: From where "Clarity" left off.

As a clip show went, "Exposure" did a solid job of keeping things pretty interesting. The nods to the past (Sammy, real Emily/pretend Amanda, Aiden) were great and the hints of things to come should hopefully give this show a satisfying conclusion. At this point, I really do think it's done for now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Orange Is The New Black - Season 3 Trailer

With Daredevil finally released onto the general population yesterday (will be watching that later), another of Netflix's crowned jewels released a trailer for it's upcoming season.

The trailer for Orange Is The New Black's third season with the neat tagline of No Excuses, No Apologies showed that things were going to continue to be chaotic and fun. Some of the highlights included ....

- No Larry. Yes, this season will be a Jason Biggs free zone. No offence to the bloke but Larry will not be missed as a character.
- Plenty of Piper and Alex stuff as the latter struggles to deal with being locked while the former has seemingly made peace with it.
- Boo getting quite the makeover in one scene as Tiffany plays guide to the new prisoners, one of whom has a thing for Piper.
- Bennett and Daya scenes, which should please people. Also some tension with Gloria and Sophia?
- Red's snappy comment about seeing the world in 'black and white and red'.
- Suzanne embarking on some creative writing. Involving aliens. As you should do.

You can watch the trailer below. It certainly looks like we've got another excellent season ahead of us.

Season 3 Trailer:

Orange Is The New Black's third season will be available on Netflix from June 12th.