Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Review of Empire's 3x07: "What We May Be"

Written by Diane Ademu-John & Malcom Spellman
Directed by Kevin Bray

Cookie: "My daddy was my life until I met Lucious."

Ah, more Cookie backstory and yes, that is a good thing. I like that the show hasn't been obvious about the dynamic between Cookie and her father in the flashbacks so far and this episode added another facet to it as we went back to when she was thrown out of her home for getting involved with Lucious.

Okay, maybe that bit is a tad predictable but anyone hoping for a reason as to why Cookie, Candace and Carol all have difficulty getting along with each other for any lengthy period of time will probably be satisfied with this episode as we saw the fallout of Cookie being estranged from her father and the way it managed to tie into some present day stuff too.

Jamal in particular used some old movies from Cookie's childhood for his visual and when the latter freaked out, Jamal went to Carol to get some answers. Meanwhile Cookie herself went to Candace so she could slightly posh herself up in a bid to impress Angelo's mother. The first attempt saw Cookie miss out on a fundraiser. The second attempt was a dinner disaster.

Having Jamal showing up high, Hakeem with a screaming Bella, Andre skipping the whole thing altogether along with Lucious and Anika making themselves at home. However while Diana came across a bit of an ice queen, she was nowhere near as horrible to Cookie as I expected her to be, though there's still time for that I guess.

As for the rest of the episode, it seems that you've got DMajor and Philip as both love interests for Jamal and both of them with opposing attitudes towards Jamal's drug use as well. Right now, I guess Philip would be the better choice for Jamal romantically but the sooner this storyline concludes and Jamal really does get his shit back together.

Meanwhile, the episode seemed to further Andre's attraction with Nessa as he chose her event over Cookie's while at the same time managing to reach out to Freda. The latter I'm glad he did even though it seems like he's falling into Shyne's ongoing machinations against the Lyons though. Other that, I'm more than fine to see Nessa and Freda make more music together.

- Tiana seems to be giving Cookie the cold shoulder this week and Becky/Thirsty's scheming on Xavier took a backseat too.
- It looks like next week's episode has remembered Leah.
- Standout music: Nessa/Freda's Heart Of Stone and Jamal's Mama.
- Chronology: Not long from where Chimes Of Midnight left off.

A strong enough episode. I liked that What We May Be filled in some more gaps with Cookie's past and the music numbers were definitely some of the strongest we've had this season too. I do want Jamal's plot to wrap up though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 03, 2016

My Review of DC TV's Crossover: "Invasion!" (Supergirl/The Flash/Arrow/Legends Of Tomorrow)

Now, this is going to be something of a different kind of review. Usually, I do bigger reviews for one show, but with all four forming a crossover, I think it's only fair to look at each episode of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow for this one.

Written by Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing, Marc Guggenheim, Wendy Mericle, Phil Klemmer, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Dermott Downs, James Bamford and Gregory Smith

Felicity: "Best team ever!"

First of all in National City, things started off on a completely different route as the consequences of Kara having her blood taken from Lillian Luthor resulted in the deadly Medusa virus being used in a bid to wipe out all aliens in the city. This meant for the second week in a row that Mon El found himself in danger while J'onn's White Martian storyline came to a rather abrupt conclusion, following the welcomed return of Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) and Lena turning on her own mother. I was initially surprised to realise that this was actually the mid season finale but it was a good one nonetheless. As well as taking in Thanksgiving and putting a temporary defeat on Lillian (a great antagonist), there were also some lovely character moments, including Alex coming out to her mother and starting a relationship with Maggie and the dynamic between Kara and Lena continues to intrigued. Less successful was the predictable route they went with Kara/Mon El and I'm struggling to care with the Winn and Jimmy/Guardian storyline. As for the crossover, well, Barry and Cisco did appear at the end in need of Kara's help.

Then the action came into Central City where the Dominators have arrived and Barry and Cisco (the latter who can barely tolerate Barry for most of this crossover) work together to rope in, not just Kara but also Oliver, Diggle, Thea and Felicity along with most of Sara's crew (except Nate and Amaya, who sit this part of the story out). Seeing both Cisco and Felicity practically squee with the delight of so many heroes in the same room all at once. This year we've had DC do the big screen team up with Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and next year we've got the Justice League. Here though, you've got several heroes meeting for the first time and Oliver's crew wrapping their heads around the idea of aliens and spaceships. Not only that but we also had the collection of heroes (except Supergirl here) reeling from the revelation of Barry's Flashpoint antics and a little bit of mind control as the Dominators didn't mess about in showing their hand with how powerful they truly can be. There was also moments for ongoing Central City storylines to continue such as Iris's overprotective side to Wally's newfound powers (he did manage to help and get hurt here) along with Caitlin continue to grapple with hers while helping Stein meeting his daughter for the first time. There were also some lighter moments, particularly with Mick's reaction to Kara but the end scene where Oliver, Sara, Thea, Diggle and Ray all got beamed aboard set up some craziness.

Of course in the midst of all this crossover madness, a 100th episode had to be celebrated. Back when Arrow debuted in 2012, I did wonder if the show would ever get to the same accolade that Smallville had managed to (and then surpass with over 200 episodes) but here we are, and this episode had to really walk a tightrope. On one hand, it needed to commemorate everything that the show had accomplished in the last five years along with playing it's part for the big crossover. On both fronts, it succeeded. Oliver, Sara, Thea, Diggle and Ray found themselves in a dream world where Robert/Moira were alive, Laurel was about to become a Queen, Diggle was the Hood and Ray/Felicity were engaged. Of course, Oliver began to realise that it was all false and soon enough, so did everyone else, even if Thea herself was a little unwilling to abandon the false reality. While it's a total cliche plot to run with, it's one that works to great effect as a slew of past faces are seen/heavily alluded and to be honest, it's actually one of the best episode that Arrow has also produced in the longest while as well. I also dug the team up of Felicity and Cisco in the present day as well as Barry and Kara having to work with the recruits (minus Evelyn, who was suspiciously absent here). As for the Dominators, they managed to lose their five captives but their plans were still going to go full steam ahead.

As for the final segment, well it certainly brought everything to a nice conclusion. Connecting the Dominators ongoing scheme with Barry's Flashpoint and also the mercy that Cisco and company had shown their leader in 1951 was certainly something of a shocker and the battle between all of the heroes and the Dominators was pretty epic stuff for the small screen. Over the course of these four episodes, we've had plenty of great moments here and there, but the main thing I can take away from this crossover is that all four shows are more connected than before (Cisco has given Kara a device to cross dimensions) and the sheer joy of seeing all of these different characters interact with each other onscreen. Even if Oliver was a prat towards Kara, he did embrace her towards the end of this crossover and all of the gang have managed to forgive Barry's messing with the timeline while Stein himself has now embraced fatherhood, even if there will undoubtedly be consequences later in the series for it, no doubt.

- Both The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow somewhat altered their title sequences for this crossover. Arrow and Supergirl on the other hand didn't.
- Each of the shows this week had an expected rise in their ratings for this.
- I loved the look of the Dominators in this episode and it seems that Barry/Oliver/Sara's universe may have a female president now the previous one was murdered.
- Chronology: Let's assume it was shortly after Thanksgiving. Two of the main shows will be celebrating Christmas episodes next week.

For a crossover event, Invasion! set up the bar rather impressively. The Dominators made for a great threat, the merging of so many team ups and the fallout of Flashpoint all got the best look into here. There's been a lot of great television moments this year and this glorious crossover event was certainly one of them. I genuinely can't wait to see how they top this next year.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, December 02, 2016

My Review of Class's 1x05: "Brave-ish Heart"

Written by Patrick Ness
Directed by Philippa Langdale

Shadow King: "This is not the end of this."
April: "No, I get the last word."

And here's the conclusion to this two part adventure. Is it me or was that a little too simplistic a temporary defeat for the Shadow Kin? I know this show is influenced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer (something we're reminded of once per episode) but April's scimitar wielding skills seemed to be on a par with older Amy's from The Girl Who Waited? Basically this lot gave up their King a little too easily and allowed April to use them to solve the other alien menace of the week.

I did like the scenes with April and Ram on the Underneath world, which was decently shot for a planet/quarry. I also liked the frank discussion both of them had about knowing the other for a month and even the inclusion of Varun and Huw during the latter half of the episode had it's moments too. As for the scenes with Jackie regaining her mobility, that was a bit of a dicey one for me. The intention behind it seemed well meaning but a little misguided as well.

Of course, April would've been better having the Shadow King annihilated and it's pretty obvious that her leniency will backfire on her in the series finale. Of course, April wasn't the only one having to juggle their morality in this one.

Charlie found his hand being forced by both Quill and Ames (both of whom were working with and against each other at different points here) into using the Cabinet of Souls and both very nearly got what they wanted here had it not been for April's last minute plan with the Shadow Kin. I did find myself more on Quill's side at times than I did Charlie's, which I'm not sure I was supposed to. As for Matteusz, he was mostly the voice of reason between three very morally skewered aliens here.

Keeping with Ames, the show certainly seems to be having fun with her ambiguity. She had no problem pointing a gun at Matteusz in order to get Charlie to play along with her demands but also had some fun in playing Charlie and Quill off each other. We did learn that the Governors aren't strictly bad though and she seems sincere in her promise to help Quill regain her freedom though.

- Tanya was also the voice of reason in this episode by getting through to April and Ram's parents. I liked that about her.
- Even though April has somewhat become their ruler, the Shadow Kin refer to her as a King though.
- Come to think of, the Cabinet seems to have a slightly similar design that the Moment has, doesn't it?
- Chronology: A month since the events of For Tonight We Might Die.

Brave-ish Heart was a decent conclusion to this two-parter. I do think the Shadow Kin were temporarily defeated a little too easily but again, there were some nice enough character moments throughout the episode, so point there and I liked the killer petals.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Star Trek: Discovery - First Three Castmembers Announced

You wait ages for Star Trek: Discovery news and then all of a sudden, a fair chunk of it finally surfaces. First off all, it seems that Bryan Fuller himself will be taking a backseat from things as Akiva Goldsman takes over the show and then there's also the casting news we've gotten in the last few days.

First of all, Michelle Yeoh. The actress whose credits include Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will be playing the role of Captain Georgiou, who will be manning the USS Shenzhou. This isn't the first time that the franchise has had a female captain and following Fuller's previous comments about having a female captain, it's nice to have confirmation and Yeoh is terrific casting.

Meanwhile Doug Jones, whose credits include Batman Returns, Hocus Pocus and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to name a few has been cast in the role of Saru. The press release has confirmed that the character is a Science Officer serving as an lieutenant aboard the Discovery as well as the reveal that Saru is a member of a new alien race for the franchise. Given the actor's history of being behind makeup and prosthetic, it'll be interesting what the series has him look like.

Last for now (as more will be cast, including the mysterious Number One character) is Anthony Rapp. The Rent star will be taking on the role of Lieutenant Stamets, a Science Officer specializing in astromycology (the study of fungi in space) and it's also been confirmed that he will be the TV franchise's first gay character, following Star Trek Beyond revealing that John Cho's Sulu had a husband and daughter during the summer.

The upcoming series, set a decade before the events of the original Star Trek television series will feature a new ship, new characters, and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers. I'll discuss more casting as it's announced.

Press Release: http://deadline.com/2016/11/star-trek-discovery-cast-doub-none-s-1201861221/

Star Trek: Discovery starts filming next month with the series set to premiere on CBS and CBS AllAccess from May 2017.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Review of Gotham's 3x11: "Beware The Green Eyed Monster"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Barbara (to Nygma): "Think about it, Ed. Your brains, their brawn, my me."

Into mid-season finale territory now and this certainly wasn't a dull affair as quite a lot of new things were neatly set up for the second half of the season, including the return of yet another formerly dead character.

First of all though, how much like a future Batman and Catwoman were Bruce and Selina in this episode? Okay, it's hardly the first time they've been like that but this week we saw the both of them along with Alfred and Whisper Guy plan to break into the Court of Owls vault to get the thing they're so bent out of shape about.

It was more of a side plot but actually a lot more interesting even the artifact itself turned out to be an actual glass owl. Then there was Talon bumping off the rest of the Whisper Gang before attempting to kill Alfred, Selina and Bruce. However it seems that this situation was the perfect moment for Selina's mother to be added into the mix with Banshee's Ivana Miličević taking on the role of the mysterious Maria.

Going into the second half of the season, it'll be nice to learn a lot more about Selina's family situation but it also raises the issues as to why Maria would let her teenage daughter live on the streets. I really do hope the series doesn't waste the character and the potential dynamic that's there with Selina and her estranged mother.

Speaking of dynamics, this episode might have torpedoed Nygmobblepot for the time being. Barbara pretty much spelled it out to Edward that Oswald was responsible for Isabella's death and when Nygma realised that the current Mayor was in love with him, it was apparently enough for Edward to indulge Barbara's scheme to become Gotham's underworld supreme. If she succeeds where Fish failed in the first season, I'll be genuinely impressed.

As for the main meat of the story, it was a sort of resolution to Alice Tetch's blood story (or was it?) with Gordon doing his damndest to persuade everyone that Mario was infected with the blood (after Jervis let slip during a brief scene) and everyone else proceeding not to believe, including Leslie who then married him.

Of course, Falcone eventually realised that his son was infected with the blood and let Gordon off to get him with the latter promising not to kill Mario. Of course that promise soon disappeared when Gordon had to save Leslie from being stabbed by her new husband. Leslie wasn't even married a few hours before becoming a widow but either way, Mario might have succeeded in his bid to turn Leslie against Gordon, once and for all.

- The trailer for January episodes have shown that Jerome will be returning or will he?
- Ivy and Barnes sat this episode out. I found Jervis's paper mache hat hilarious. At least we know you can do arts and crafts while at Arkham these days.
- The music for this episode during the Leslie/Mario wedding scenes stood out a bit more than usual. I'm curious as to how many people were there for Leslie though rather than the Falcone family.
- Chronology: From where Time Bomb more or less left off.

Beware The Green Eyed Monster was a solid mid-season finale. Ultimately, there was more set up than pay off with certain plot strands but going into 2017, at least we have plenty of things to look forward to and dissect.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Review of Class's 1x04: "Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart"

Written by Patrick Ness
Directed by Philippa Langdale

April (to Ram): "I'm going to get my heart back."

With the previous three episodes all giving Charlie, Ram and Tanya their moments to shine, it was April's turn to get her moment and with this two parter, things are off to a solid enough start. April may be sweet but with the Shadow Kin, she's also given her chance to unleash hell.

The person in particular who got both barrells of April's wrath happened to be her father, Huw, who chose the wrong time to reach out to the family he nearly killed. It seems with this episode we got a bit more on the car accident that left April's mother, Jackie in a wheelchair and seeing April under the Shadow Kin influence try to kill her father twice was certainly something.

In both incidents, Ram was there to hold April back from doing something she'd truly regret but when the episode ended with the Shadow Kin King finally realising where she was, April made the decision to go to the Underneath in order to get her heart back once and for all. Ram of course naturally decided to follow her while April's parents along with Charlie, Matteusz and Tanya didn't have time to do anything to stop either of them.

I have to admit this was a fairly strong episode for April. She seems to be a bit of a perfectionist, character wise and the episode showed her unravel a little while her connection with Ram (despite that horrible Shadow Kin inclusion) came into it's own this week as well. As for the Shadow Kin, at least something is being done with them now.

As for the rest of the episode, I did like Quill meeting the obviously alien/new principal Dorethea Ames (Pooky Quesnel), who seems wildly unpredictable. She certainly managed to make her presence known in a handful of scenes and her offer to remove the Arn from Quill is clearly something the latter will take up in the next few episodes.

- Both Tanya and Matteusz challenged Charlie on his treatment towards Quill. Charlie also tried to get Quill to pose as his guardian for parents/teachers night.
- Quill goes under the name of Andrea according to Ames. Ames is also part of the Governors.
- The killer petals idea has a nice enough subtletly but we also had that planet like things with the Lan Kin from the previous episode.
- Chronology: Not too long since the events of Nightvisiting.

Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart is a strong enough start to the show's first two part story. I liked the exploration into April's family (though what did she do to her mother?) and getting more information on the Cabinet along with seeing the Shadow Kin world, this was a good one.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Review of Class's 1x03: "Nightvisiting"

Written by Patrick Ness
Directed by Ed Bazalgette

Tanya (to Jasper/Lan Kin): "You don't get to have my closure, so how does that taste?"

I have to admit that out of all the main characters, Tanya is arguably the one I've least been interested in but this episode certainly saw something of an upswing as the series delved a little more into her in a nicely character driven episode.

As the previous episode stated, Tanya's father Jasper died two years ago and coming up to his anniversary, she encounters a ghostly version of him who is a little too desperate to reconnect with his grieving child. Naturally, Tanya finds this all a bit suspect and it soon becomes obvious that her father's convenient return is part of this week's alien invasion story.

The race this time being the Lan Kin, who seem to be playing on the 'Nightvisiting' folk myth that April info dumps Ram about. They seek out people who've lost other and target them. With Tanya seeing her father for the duration of this episode, there's also Ram encountering Rachel for a few scenes as well as Charlie getting a brief look at his parents one more time.

More interestingly though was seeing Quill herself encountering a nicer, humanoid looking version of her sister. I like that along with Tanya that Quill wasn't buying into the Lan Kin's attempts of connection for one moment and waited for Charlie and Matteusz to show up so she could use the former to help get some answers about the creature's true motives.

I have to admit, there was some genuinely nice character moments in this one. We had some lovely conversations with Charlie/Matteusz (including a sex scene), an insight into Tanya's relationship with her family as well as the dynamic that Quill has her with her own kin too. I do think the Lan Kin were a little hastily defeated but other than that, the characters moments made up for it though.

- Matteusz has been kicked out by his parents and is now living with Charlie and Quill. This should be interesting to see unfold.
- April is into folk music because of her father and Tanya's mother enjoys swimming.
- The flashbacks of Tanya's family life reminded me of the same thing Russell T. Davies did last year for the Lance episode of Cucumber. It was pretty effective. I also enjoyed the opening song by Jim Moray for this episode as well.
- Chronology: Not long from where The Coach With The Dragon Tattoo left off.

Nightvisiting might have left Coal Hill out of the mix, but it certainly gave the show a little more breathing space. The character moments made the episode, the music was nice and having it primarily set at night made it a little eerie too.

Rating: 8 out of 10