Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x04: "Strike Force"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by TJ Scott

Barnes: "You're a warrior, Jim, so am I but you can't carry on the way you've been."

And with Essen being dead, her replacement had to come sooner than later and it came in the shape of Captain Nathaniel Barnes, who took a shine to Gordon and also booted out half the cops at GCPD in order to clean things up. Calling him a drill sergeant would be an apt comparison for this bloke. Aside from the fact that I like Michael Chiklis as an actor, I'm not sure how I feel about Barnes for now.

I guess his determination to actually clean up Gotham is admirable - even down to assembling a strike force with Gordon but is it me or is this the very storyline that could've easily been done with Essen still in charge? It might even work a lot more had she not been killed off but at the same time, Gordon might have met a kindred spirit in Barnes and his determination to uphold the law.

Gordon should also be worried about his debt to Oswald coming out too. Oswald made it clear that he'd use it against Gordon this episode when the latter pestered him at the precise wrong moment this week. I imagine this will come out sooner than later, which should lead to an awkward scene between Gordon and his new boss.

Speaking of Oswald, he found himself in the unfortunate position of having to do Theo and Tabitha's dirty work by bumping off potential mayoral candidates (as well as 'trying' to kill Theo for effect) and all because they're holding his mother hostage. I have to admit, this was actually the strongest plot of the episode.

It was nice to see Oswald under a bit of pressure and it'll mean that he will be a problem for Theo as the season progresses. Not only that but there was a beautiful moment where Butch genuinely sympathised with Oswald's plight as well. I think this was definitely Oswald's best episode so far this season and just further highlighted how nasty Theo can be as a character.

Of course when Theo wasn't holding women prisoner or making plans to run for Mayor, he was also charming Bruce and introducing him to his ward, Silver St. Cloud. I'm going to assume that Silver is also playing a role in Theo's very long and complicated long game but I'm sort of intrigued with the rapport between her and Bruce though.

Keeping with romance plots in this episode though - how creepy, cute and awkward was Nygma and Kristin's date? Every possible note that could've been hit managed to be during their scenes together and it'll be interesting to see if Kristin will end up a casualty of Nygma's dark side the closer she gets to him.

Also in "Strike Force"

Alfred slapping Selina was actually pretty unpleasant to watch, especially considering why he did it too. I like Alfred but that was just a loathsome move on his part.

Oswald: "Who are you?"
Tabitha: "My brother would very much like to talk to you. Alone."
Butch: "Why are you looking at me like that? You don't know me."

I like that this show isn't forgetting what actually happened to Butch. I do wonder though if it'll be reversed. If so, Oswald's screwed.

Theo (re Penguin): "I thought I heard you hated that name."
Oswald: "It grew on me."

Barbara (to Oswald): "You need this more than me. I'll make another."

Was Barbara even needed for this episode? She just mostly pouted, drank and pestered Theo about being bored.

Theo: "I will run for Mayor."

Alfred (to Selina): "That was for Reggie. I know you killed him."

We finally saw Nygma's apartment in this episode, which was pretty nice.

Nygma: "I like to cook. I'm a good cook. Is that okay?"
Kristin: "It is. Perhaps you should call me Kristin."

Gordon: "I'll face whatever's coming to me."
Oswald: "As will I. Goodbye Jim."

Standout music: Louis Prima's "Just A Gigolo" during Nygma preparing for his date.

Barnes: "Time to take down the Penguin."

Chronology: Not long from where The Last Laugh left off.

I was a little worried that after the Maniax trilogy that things might have slowed down a little but with the introduction of Barnes and Theo upping the ante and focusing his attentions on Oswald and Bruce, I guess I didn't need to worry. Strike Force was another excellent episode and it's highlighting that the writers have properly gotten into the groove with the series now.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x04: "Before The Flood"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Daniel O'Hara

The Doctor (to Fisher King): "Here, now. This is where your story ends."

Okay, this certainly took a different turn than expected. Maybe it's really just the power of Steven Moffat but for the second half of his story, Toby Whithouse decided to go completely down the timey wimey route of things as the Doctor, Bennett and O'Donnell all ended up in the 1980s prior to the village getting flooded and the main villain being such a problem.

During this time we briefly got to meet the Tivoli fella, Prentis but for those hoping for some decent scope with the character, you'll be disappointed. Prentis was by and large just there for comic effect and got a subsequent offscreen death when the Fisher King decided to make his presence known. As did O'Donnell.

I'm starting to wonder if a little pattern is emerging in this show. Be a fangirl of the Doctor and wind up dying horribly. We had it with Osgood courtesy of Missy and here, O'Donnell is barely given time to truly throw herself into the adventure with the Doctor and Bennett before she's bumped off a little too swiftly. It's a bloody shame because although I liked Bennett (especially for his moments of calling the Doctor out on things), I actually preferred O'Donnell so her death did sting a little.

However the Fisher King stuff itself turned out to be a disappointment. Playing with the bootstrap paradox (it's even mentioned directly in the episode to the audience), the Doctor already had him bested before he knew it and despite at least one really cool scene between the Fisher King and the Doctor, the character is sadly too underused that his eventual defeat lacks a sufficient punch to it.

As for Clara, Cass and Lunn - they were mainly just trying to stay alive and figure out what Ghosty Doctor was saying (it was their names/order they'll die). I did sort of like the moment where Clara blew up about the Doctor and the moments with Cass and Lunn being stalked by the dead crew and looking for Clara's phone outside the Faraday Cage had some great creepy intense moments.

The problem though is despite the fact that the dead remained dead, it felt a little too easy. The Doctor never felt in danger and I didn't believe for a second that Clara herself was going to be killed in this story at least. I do think though that the show has been hammering home the fact that she won't make it out of the series alive.

Also in "Before The Flood"

I love breaking the fourth wall much as the next person but it actually jarred in this one. I did like the rockier version of the theme tune though.

The Doctor: "Can't say I'm a fan."
Prentis: "We do have a tendency to antagonise."

O'Donnell managed to namecheck Rose, Martha and Amy but not Donna. She also mentioned something about a Minister of War - future plotline perhaps?

Clara (to the Doctor): "I don’t care about your rules or your survivor’s guilt. If you love me in any way, you’ll come back."

The Doctor: "What if Clara calls?"
O'Donnell: "The last bloke that said something like that to me got dangled out of a window."

The Fisher King was played by Neil Fingleton, voiced by Peter Serafinowicz and Corey Taylor (the roar bit) from Slipknot.

The Doctor (to Bennett): "This isn't about saving me. I'm a dead man walking. I'm changing history to save Clara."

Clara (re Cass): "Okay, didn't need anyone to translate that for me."

UNIT took care of the ghosts offscreen. While I didn't mind the love stories with O'Donnell/Bennett and Cass/Lunn, they did seem a little tacked on in this part. Oh and who did compose Beethoven's Fifth?

The Doctor: "This world is protected by me."
Fisher King: "Yes, one man lost in time."

Any chance BBC1 can a) start airing these episodes earlier than 8.25pm and b) go back to the same format for Doctor Who Extra as they did last year?

Clara (to Bennett): "Take it from me, there is a whole galaxy out there."

Chronology: 1980s and 2119 Scotland/the Drum again.

After a promising start with this two parter, I kind of felt that Before The Flood sort of let the side down a bit. The resolution felt a bit too easy for me and while the Fisher King was a fantastic design monster wise, the character itself had too little screen time to really cement itself as a credible threat.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x03: It's Called The Octopus

This one was all about sex, both in terms of the main characters lives and the slightly too easily solved main case of the week to boot.

Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by John Terlesky

What She Doesn't Know: Annalise is clever, this is fact but sooner or later, the people around her, especially the ones most burnt by her were going to get a little more clever too. In some ways, both Wes and Nate are weak spots for Annalise - two people that she seems desperate to make amends towards, so having the pair of them actually working together against Annalise makes a lot of sense. In terms of the flashforwards, it also turned out that Nate actually helped the Keating Four get away from the place at the very end too.

I Know Who You Are: Keeping with the interesting revelations, not only is Levi continuing to sleep with Michaela but Wes soon found out that the bloke is actually Rebecca's foster brother. Oh and Rebecca is/was Eggs too, due to something involving crappy foster parents (parallels to the Caleb/Catherine case?). Despite being threatened by Wes, Levi has decided to stick around, particularly with Michaela and right now, it's hard to decide whether he's going to be friend/foe/future death or knowing this show, more likely all three and in that order. If he's still alive by 2016, it'll be a miracle for him.

Blossoming Frenemies: It was really odd this week to actually see a scene where Laurel and Bonnie were out getting plastered and actually enjoying each other's company. I'm not even sure if I liked it or not either. Similarly odd was both women talking about Asher and Frank as Bonnie got dumped by the former and Laurel is eager to learn more about the latter. Speaking of Asher - while we didn't actually learn what Sinclair had on him, we did see his father once again and whatever the secret is, it's definitely bad enough to get Asher to drop his dude speak and actually look worried for once.

Sweet & Sexy: For an episode that went on about sex a lot, the only really sexy moment for me was Connor and Oliver getting to have sex in this episode and it was a rather lovely scene. Connor and Oliver at this moment in time are not only the best couple on the show, but also the healthiest too. Connor has become a better person because of Oliver but the show has actually done it in a way that hasn't diluted his personality one bit and that in itself is the great accomplishment here. Also the fact that Connor attended a sex party with Michaela (as part of this week's case) and didn't cop off with the hunky bisexual husband of one of the partygoers stirred a brilliant quip from Oliver too. More scenes like this show.

Sexy Times & Death: Breaking away from the killer kids plot this week (though not shockingly, they're actually sleeping together - so a motive for bumping off parents has surfaced), the case this time around revolved around a sex party hostess named Tonya, accused of murdering a man she had been in loved with/who wouldn't leave his wife for her. Surprisingly, it was one of the more straightforward of cases (Tonya actually did it but Annalise cast suspicion on the wife) and a little too quickly solved. On the plus side, it did lead to a rather hilarious scene in the Keating kitchen with the Keating Five all talking about their sex lives with some fun reactions from Connor, Asher and Michaela during those moments.

Next week, we meet Nate's wife and Annalise has a moral dilemma to face.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Checking In

And the show is back with something of a revamp. Hey, we've lived in the Murder House, escaped the Asylum, dabbled with the Coven and were enthralled by the Freak Show and now it's time to check into the Hotel where I might keep the puns to a minimum or not. We'll see.

Written by Ryan Murphy And Brad Falchuk
Directed by Ryan Murphy

Countess & Jawline Boy: Well, the one really unexpected thing about this episode was that Lady Gaga had less screen time than expected but the time she was on the screen, she was neither wasted nor terrible in the role of vampiric Countess Elizabeth (Bathory maybe?). I'm not going to heap praise on Gaga just yet but she made a good first impression with Elizabeth exuding degrees of allure (her relationship with pretty boy, Donovan, charming both Will Drake and that couple) and plenty of danger (killing the couple/drinking their blood, killing one of the Swedish girls) and it does seem like Murphy wrote the character to Gaga's abilities so far. As for Donovan - he's a bit delicious, isn't he? Even the bloody orgy foursome exuded a certain sexiness before it got extremely messy too.

Mad Mother: After playing a more sympathetic character last season, Kathy Bates is back to playing a more brutal one this season, though perhaps not quite as brutal as her first role in this franchise. Iris is the manager of Hotel Cortez (which the Countess or is it Will Drake who owns it?) and she's certainly a cruel bitch and a half. The way she terrorised the Swedish tourists (who should've gotten the hell out of there when they learned it was a wifi dead zone) did indicate to me that she takes a certain pleasure in torturing people whom she considers unworthy. However in flashbacks we did discover that she's Donovan's mother and murdered a junkie named Sally responsible for her son's death. Well, almost death seeing as it's obvious the Countess gave Donovan a new vigour at life. The Countess also seems to be the only person that Iris has shown any fear towards as well.

Say You Love Me: It isn't just Kathy Bates playing a darker character this season. For the first time in five seasons, Sarah Paulson managed to achieve two firsts - a) she's gotten to play a rather nasty junkie named Sally and b) she got killed during a flashback in 1994, which means present day wise, she's a ghost that Iris and others can see or maybe a vampire, going by some of the previews for the upcoming season. Either way, there's a sadism to Sally that none of Paulson's previous characters had and Sarah herself is certainly playing the character with relish. The faux concern she displayed when washed up junkie Gabriel (Max Greenfield looking very different here) was getting raped by a drillbit dildo demon and even the mocking she had with the Swedish girls by trying to get one of them to run to her doom. Sally might be awful in many, many ways but once again, Paulson commands your attention whenever she's on screen.

Straight Man Entering The Chaos: It is me or does it feel like this show is channelling it's first season? Aside from the specific setting, an allusion to a first season character and the return of another, it does actually feel like John and Alex Lowe are the Harmons of this season. They're a couple divided by the loss of their son, Holden (who is actually one of the Countess's creepy vampiric kids in the hotel). The main focus though was on Bentley's detective John who was investigating another murder - the Ten Commandments Killer and when the killer wasn't taunting him Saw style, he ended up checking into the Hotel Cortez where it seems pretty inevitable that he won't be checking out anytime soon either.

Fashionistas Unite: With the threat of a new owner (as well as a brief cameo of realtor Marcy from Murder House) in fashion guy, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson adding to the impressive totty list this season), it was interesting to see how quickly the Countess was able to get the guy on side while Donovan looked like he wanted to tear his throat out in the background. For a first episode, even with an extended run, there was a lot to cover here - the superb use of music (She Wants Revenge more than the obvious Eagles choice here) two killers, the curse of the Hotel, whatever the hell is being kept in Room 33, bodies in the mattresses, creepy children as well as other colourful characters like Denis O'Hare's Liz Taylor and Mare Winningham's Miss Ever the blood cleaning laundress. Not to mention the fact that Evan Peters, Angela Bassett and Finn Wittrock still have to show up but either way, this season has started off intriguingly enough.

Next week, a few more residents check into the Cortez as Elizabeth continues to charm Will.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x03: "Fires Of Heaven"

Written by Attica Locke
Directed by Craig Brewer

Cookie: "You keep forgetting Lucious, you can't keep Cookie down."

And this week the gloves were off as Empire and Lyon Dynasty effectively went to war with each other or more accurately, Lucious and Cookie tried to outdo and sabotage each other at different points. Except that Lucious somewhat gained the upper hand here.

Cookie did put up a good fight though. Thanks to Anika, she was able to sabotage his own 'get out of jail' party at Levitcus by having Hakeem perform a song about the new record company while charming the pants off Pitbull (who sang with Jamal this week) and getting Lyon Dynasty the promotional kick up the backside it desperately needed. Also after Hakeem's dreams of managing a girl band went up in smoke, it's a promotion they really do need.

The subplot with Mirage A Trois did feel somewhat predictable though. The previous episode made a point of pointing out Valentina's diva like behaviour so it wasn't a shock to see her rub up her fellow band mates the wrong way, irritate Cookie and then jump ship to Lucious's team when he bought out Apex Radio for good measure. At least she felt moderately bad for abandoning Hakeem though.

I have to say though it felt a little too easy for Lucious to be on top this week. He was able to get both Andre (whom he keeps rejecting) and Jamal on his side, bested Cookie brilliantly and even provided a decent thorn for Roxanne's side to boot. Not to mention the fact that he managed to get through to aspiring rapper Freda in a way that Jamal clearly couldn't.

Basically, what I'm trying to get at, even if Lucious isn't destined for some prison time, surely he's at least destined for some kind of defeat or something big to backfire on him, right? As for the Lyon Dynasty storyline, it's getting a little more interesting but I still wouldn't be shocked if Cookie, Hakeem, Andre and Anika are all back there before this show gets to it's winter finale though.

As for Jamal - I like that the show are addressing his own frustrations with trying to record decent material and that he was quick to remind Lucious that he's been keeping things ticking over as well. Jamal is better recording than managing Empire though. I want to see more of that now.

Also in "Fires Of Heaven"

Not really sure what the title was supposed to actually allude to in this episode but I liked it though.

Lucious: "That's just a building. I am the Empire."

If the previous episode didn't make it clear, then this one confirmed that Lucious's mother Leah had bipolar. Although she's not getting a lot of screentime, I do think Kelly Rowland is doing well in the role. Lucious and Cookie had different reaction towards being imminent grandparents too.

Cookie (to Lucious): "I'm always gonna eat, just not with you."

Lucious: "They wanted to take Lucious Lyon to the gutter, well I'm a show them what the streets is about."

Roxanne was bluffing about Vernon and Lucious picked up on it quickly. The trailer for next week seems like we're going to see more on Andre/Rhonda burying him.

Cookie (to Lucious): "Oh and welcome to my very own 'Welcome to the World' party. Oh you know this next artist."

Lucious: "Have I broken any laws?"
Roxanne: "Not yet but the night is young."

Michael was a no show in this episode. I really do hope they have an idea of what to actually do with him this season.

Hakeem: "Where did you learn that from?"
Cookie: "Prison."

Standout music: Jamal/Pitbull's "No Doubt About It" and Valentina's "New New".

Lucious: "You don't need one. You're past a Cookie."
Jamal: "Tell me how that is?"

Chronology: Not long from where "Without A Country" left off.

Probably one of the weaker episodes we've had so far. I didn't mind Fires Of Heaven so much but I didn't love it as much as the previous episode. There were some nice moments but the Cookie/Lucious feud would work better if it felt a little more evenly matched though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

My Review of Scream Queens 1x04: "Haunted House"

Written by Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Grace (to Chanel): "You make it hard to believe you're not the killer."

Really? I think it's going to be patently obvious that Chanel will not be the killer or a future victim of the Red Devil(s) but seeing as the baby is meant to be a girl, maybe she's a possible candidate for that - if the killer isn't the baby, which is also a possibility too.

Anyways this episode moved into Halloween territory and when Chanel wasn't doing a bit of PR to people she considers beneath her, Zayday managed to knock the wind out of her sails by announcing that she wanted to run for Kappa president. Even better, she decided to throw a Halloween party at a haunted house and then ended up getting kidnapped by the Red Devil(s) by the end of the episode.

I do like that Chanel's got challenges coming at her from all sides though. Zayday wants to take her presidency from her, her minions aren't that loyal, Grace continues to challenge Chanel's morality and Hester basically wants Chanel's life, including Chad. Honey, that boy's easy as the last few episodes have neatly pointed out a little too well.

I did however found both Hester and Chad the highlight of the episode. Their fascination with dead people is seriously messed up but I laughed my head off when the two of them were confronted with all the killed so far (including one of the sorority sisters from 1995 who was killed this week). The comedy of that moment aside, things at least got pushed forward a little mystery wise too.

We saw in flashbacks that Dean Munsch got the sorority girls to bury the dead girl in the woods and we learned that the baby was female. Grace naturally assumed it was her but I definitely don't believe it is though but the last scene's reveal of Gigi being the strange woman who looked after the baby for a bit was a nice reveal. It was a little predictable but it actually worked though.

- The visual reminder of How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days was something I could've done without. Chanel's Taylor Swift parody (Chanel-O-Ween, anyone?) on the other hand was hilarious.
- A bit of a clumsy feminist commentary from the Chanels however did result in two jocks getting the shit kicked out of them. Hester can really throw a punch.
- Denise seemed a bit more toned down in this episode but her antagonism towards Zayday (though explained here) still grated a bit.
- Music this week included Billy Idol's "Eyes Without A Face" and Belinda Carlisle's "Mad About You".

This episode was genuinely a step up and actually the best one so far. Haunted House toned down some of the worst excessive comedy, forwarded enough of the plot and certainly got the Halloween vibe down extremely well. More like this please.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x03: "The Last Laugh"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Eagle Egilsson

Cicero: "Your legacy will be death and madness."
Jerome: "Ha. Ha. Ha."

Well, I think we all knew it deep down and thanks to the events of this particular episode, there was no denying it. Jerome turned out not to be the Joker but boy, did he certainly go out with a bang as well as managing to inspire the man who would later take up the mantle of the Clown Prince Of Crime at some point in the future.

A part of me did think it was a shame that Jerome couldn't be the Joker but I did love that he really went for the jugular in this episode. He callously bumped off Cicero (who told him what his legacy will bring) before holding the most wealthy of Gothamites hostage along with the just as deranged Barbara as well.

Aside from the deputy mayor meeting a horrible end and both Bruce and Leslie initially as hostages, Jerome's end truly came in this one though. I thought it might have been Gordon to save Bruce/Leslie but it was actually Theo going off script and presenting himself as a hero to the city, something which for now everyone seems to have accepted a little too quickly. Shades of Penguin in Batman Returns anyone?

Jerome might have lasted four episodes but without a trace of doubt, he's easily become one of the biggest success stories of Gotham and I'm going to miss seeing Cameron Monaghan in the role. I think it would be wise to have a great distance before another potential Joker candidate rears his head on the show and when that person does show up, they're going to have a hell of an act to follow with Monaghan cementing himself so well as the Joker that could've been.

As for Barbara - well, she's getting nuttier and nuttier per episode. She's convinced herself that she can rekindle her relationship with Gordon with Leslie out of the way and she's also sexing both Theo and Tabitha. Considering the tension between the siblings, I have a horrible feeling that Barbara will end up regretting getting into bed with those two somewhere down the line.

As for the rest of the episode - I did love Bullock's confrontation with Oswald about Gordon and Fish. Not only was it a nice bit of continuity but it was also a nice way of reminding Oswald that Bullock will be one of many people coming after him now that he's king of the city. I also suspect that Falcone will re-emerge the moment Oswald gets too comfortable in his new role as well.

Also in "The Last Laugh"

There's also an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and a comic series of the same title.

Theo (re Tabitha): "My sister is a very special person. She seems so strong but yet she's quite fragile. Sugar?"
Barbara: "Yeah, sure."

Selina showed up to the magic act to steal from the rich but helped to save Bruce twice instead.

Jerome (to Cicero, re Theo): "There's this guy, he believes in me. He thinks I'm gonna be a star and tonight, all of Gotham will see that too."

Selina (to Bruce): "You wanna steal stuff it helps to go where the rich people are."

Alfred chatting up Leslie was both amusing and embarrassing in equal measures.

Theo (to Barbara): "What Gotham wants is a hero and tonight, I'm going to give them one."

This episode revealed Theo's plans of revenge. Barbara aside, do Theo and Tabitha make a habit out of sharing lovers?

Gordon (re Jerome): "He's just a kid."
Bullock: "Every evil bastard in the world was just a kid once."

Jerome (to audience): "By the way, nobody's getting out of here alive."

Nygma was a no-show in this episode and neither was Lucious. Nate debuts next week and we still have yet to see Dent back in action.

Selina: "I'm not going back."
Bruce: "I don't expect you to."

Jerome (to Theo): "You said I was gonna be ..."

Going by this 'Rise Of The Villains' story and last season's Scarecrow/Ogre plots, this mini-arcs actually work well in the show's favour.

Barbara: "Poor Jerome."
Theo: "Yes, very sad. Such a compelling character with limited knowing he'll never last long."

Chronology: Not long after the events of Knock, Knock.

A superb end to the Rise Of The Villains trilogy, The Last Laugh might have killed the chances for Jerome to actually become one of the most iconic villains of all time but it certainly set up the legacy to perfection while Theo has also emerged as a fairly interesting force to be reckoned with as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10