Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Top 50 Buffy Episodes Part 4

And here's Part 4.

31: Bargaining Part 1 (Season 6, Episode 1)

Okay, this without doubt the darkest opening episode from the show (appropriate given the season in question) but Buffy's resurrection was never going to be easy. Willow had to dabble in magic that would corrupt her throughout the season and a gang of demon bikers certainly didn't help matter. At least Buffybot was a bright spark (pun actually intended).

32: Restless (Season 4, Episode 22)

And the award for the most innovative finale goes to ... this one of course. It served as a wonderful epilogue to a good fourth season, delved into the Scoobies subconscious and thre some neccessary foreshadowing moments to later seasons. And we met the first slayer as well, who was better than Adam.

33: Primeval (Season 4, Episode 21)

In a lot of ways, this was supposed to be the Season 4 finale. It brought the Initiative arc to a much welcomed end, got rid of Adam and finally saw the gang reconnect. It's also one of many episodes from this point onwards that would use similar slow-mo type effects from The Matrix too.

34: Bad Girls (Season 3, Episode 14)

Ever since her arrival in Sunnydale, Faith's hedonism harboured something potentially destructive. Nothing brought that more when she inadvertantly killed Allan Finch and refused to feel remorse for it. On the plus, the episode generated some comedy at the expense of Wesley, who pissed everyone off on contact.

35: Tabula Rasa (Season 6, Episode 8)

Amnesia type episodes are all the range and while Angel would tackle one similarly the year after, this show did it better. A memory wiped gang had some comic moments but this was also the episode Tara had to dump Willow and Giles went back to England, so not all laughs either. It's still a classic though.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x03: "Almost Normal"

Written by Jennifer Levin And Sherri Cooper-Landsman
Directed by Michael Schultz

Nora (re Kitty): “Kevin, aggressive could kill her.”
Robert: “Cancer could kill her.”

Okay because this desperately needs to be asked, but what are some online viewers problems with this season because right now, apart from one particularly boring plot with Ojai, I’m on the verge of thinking this season could be the show’s best since the first year?

If it’s down to Kitty having lymphoma, then shame on everyone. Shame on you all. Clichéd or not, I’m actually finding this plot very absorbing and difficult to watch and a lot of it is down to some family experiences with an unfortunate outcome. The writing and the acting overall so far has been fantastic and it doesn’t stop here.

In fact there are plenty of harrowing scenes in this episode. In particular the first one involved Robert and Nora with Kitty when Dr Avadon told her that there was nothing in Kitty’s bone marrow but that it had spread to other areas. The most harrowing part during those scenes were Kitty’s muted silences as her options were being explained to her.

Chemotherapy was the obvious option but it’s not always a successful one, though Kitty would probably have the best of luck with it due to her age and the fact that she was at Stage 3 with her lymphoma. The other option that was being discussed was the R-Chop, which I’m gonna be honest with was something I had never heard about until watching this episode.

It’s one of those experimental procedures, mixing chemotherapy with drugs aggressively and also the one with the higher risks for Kitty in spite of some of the success it’s generated in other cases. Naturally it was also the option that Robert seemed the keenest on and yes, it would be the one that would lead him and Nora into conflict.

A lot of viewers on TWOP complained about Nora and Robert’s fighting in this episode and while both of them should’ve come to a compromise earlier, this was one of those moments where I got their fighting. It wasn’t over the top and neither of them were technically wrong. Both of them wanted Kitty to get the best treatment but they just went about it the wrong way.

Nora had something of a point when she highlighted Robert hadn’t been the best of husbands to Kitty in the last few months but there was also a degree of truth when he cited the Walkers mob mentality as well. Luckily for us, even after the disaster of the first dinner, it was nice that Nora and Robert were able to put their differences and focus on Kitty.

As for Kitty’s choice in going with the R-Chop treatment, I don’t know what to really say because it still is an experimental treatment and I can understand the opposition it generated from the likes of Nora, Saul and even Scotty during the dinner debacle but if it actually works for Kitty, then it’s worth it. Only time will tell, though it’s safe to assume that Kitty won’t be dying on us anytime soon.

As for Kitty trying to avoid getting into it and making a choice, I think I would have a similar reaction. It’s pretty organic and throwing herself into trying to pick a wedding dress for Rebecca might not have been the wisest thing but could anyone really say that they wouldn’t behave similarly in Kitty’s circumstances?

Kitty having to tell the rest of her family about her lymphoma was heartbreaking, especially given the circumstances in which Kevin found out. I’ve no idea how Travis got a hold of the information but the fact that he promised he wouldn’t use it against Robert’s campaign is definitely the least he can do.

Kevin’s reaction was absolutely gut wrenching and I can relate to it a lot. I’ve found out some pretty horrid stuff myself in relation to family from outsiders like Travis and it’s not the nicest thing in the world. Kevin assumed that Travis was making it up at first but when Kitty admitted it, it was really hard not to feel for the guy.

And then there was telling Scotty, Justin and Rebecca. Justin seemed restrained compared to other people and Rebecca herself felt guilty about the wedding shopping that she and Kitty had been doing during the day. Scotty won me over (not the hardest thing in the world) with his offering to cook for Kitty. Plus it made sense that Justin and Rebecca would postpone their wedding until Kitty had gone through her treatment.

Because of that it also made sense for Kitty to insist that they continued with their wedding plans as well. I’m not shipping Justin and Rebecca but in a lot of ways, this was one of their best episodes both as a couple and as individual characters. Just the way Rebecca was with Kitty as well nicely strengthened their bond.

One thing I also loved about this episode was that after one disastrous dinner, we got one that actually went off well. Even better was the return of Sarah at the end of the episode. With Rachel Griffiths on maternity, I thought it would be another week or two before Sarah reappeared but it was nice seeing her at the end. There are times when no words need to be spoken to convey a lot of feelings. Kitty and Sarah’s hug at the end did that in spades.

Kitty’s illness also caused ripples in other plots. Not only did Robert rightfully make her his number on priority but Kevin and Scotty wisely decided that it would be better to wait a while before having a child. It was this episode that actually made Scotty consider parenthood for him and Kevin. I’m still not totally sure about it but it’s nice to see them on the same page on the issue that I won’t deny.

For Justin it also seemed to get his backside in gear when dealing with a cadaver. It would’ve been so easy for him to freak out over seeing the dead, so it was a relief that it was his child prodigy lab partner who got the jitters instead.

Some people thought that Justin was too harsh with the guy but I actually think under the circumstances that Justin wasn’t. He gave the guy the right push without coming across as a dick. That’s good writing in my book. Plus I like the lab partner. There could be some good storylines there and Justin could use someone to interact with that he isn’t related to.

As for the segment of the episode that didn’t work – Dennis. I couldn’t care less about William screwing you over and I have little interest in whatever little scheme you have to try and tank Ojai. I did however like Saul taking charge of Holly trying to meet up with the guy and telling Dennis to get lost. Too bad with Ryan on the payroll that Dennis won’t do that.

Also in “Almost Normal”

Another opening scene with Justin and Rebecca, so can we have one with Kevin and Scotty even if we did see them in bed in this episode?

Kevin (re computer): “It’s not a baby.”
Travis: “Whatever it is, deal with it. I’m glad we settled this issue.”

Scotty using a computer programme as a dress rehearsal for parenthood? He would’ve been better off getting the doll in my opinion.

Nora: “Honey, you heard the doctor. You have to make a decision now.”
Kitty: “I will but we’re going shopping and I need to help Rebecca find a wedding dress.”

Nora: “Listen to me, Robert, I don’t care if you’re the senator or governor or king of Siam, you’ve not shown me that her life is safe in your hands. You don’t get to call the shots.”

With Sarah’s return, it was odd not to see Tommy, though I don’t doubt we will see him soon enough.

Kitty: “How do you feel about feathers?”
Rebecca: “That they belong on birds.”

Kevin: “Kit, it’s me; it’s your little brother. Please talk to me.”
Kitty: “Yeah, yeah.”
Kevin: “Please tell me, what you have, where is it? How long have you known?”
Kitty: “It’s lymphoma and Kevin, I’m so sorry you had to find out this way.”

Kitty and Rebecca were in the same bridal shop that we saw in “Vows” and “Something New”.

Scotty: “I don’t wanna wait for the right time to have a baby. There is no right time.”
Kevin: “But there is a wrong time. All I can do right now is think about Kitty and that wouldn’t be fair to a baby or to me or to you.”

Nora: “I don’t think we’ll ever be on the same page.”
Robert: “Well we both love Kitty. I don’t think we’d be fighting if we didn’t.”

Ryan was a no show in this episode. It isn’t exactly a bad thing but it does make me wonder why they made Luke Grimes a regular as well.

Robert: “I don’t wanna fight.”
Nora: “Good because I think we’re gonna need each other.”

Justin (to his lab partner): “I was really intimidated by you but right now, you’re in the foetal position.”

Standout music: Gregory Alan Isakov’s “3AM” and Michael Franti’s “Have A Little Faith” which was the last song of the episode.

Robert (to Kitty): “Cancer isn’t some magical reset button and I just wanna make sure we’re still working on our marriage, whether you’re sick or not.”

Chronology: A few days since “Breaking The News”.

Could this be the show’s best season yet? I know we’re nowhere near a fraction of the season yet but apart from the Ojai stuff, I think this show is on top of it’s game. “Almost Normal” was drama at it’s finest. This show can be intelligent and thought provoking and episodes like this one (and undoubtedly following ones) highlight that.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Belle Is Back

I'm not gonna lie - I'm a fan of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. No, I don't advocate prostitution and yes, it can be argued that this show tends to gloss over the subject matter in question but I know good TV when I see it and this is definitely good TV.

I'm not sure who the new guy is apart from the fact that he's supposed be a love interest for Bambi but it does seem that all the regular gang are back tonight. The first two episodes aired on Showtime on Monday and get their premiere on ITV2 tonight.

It seems that Belle is trying out an attempt to be ginger. I reckon she's seen early pics of Karen Gillan for inspiration. Joke. It's a temporary look but it seems that in the first two episodes, Belle's got an agent, is looking for material for her second book, embarks on making farmyard noises and sploshing with some new clients. One of them being played by Torchwood actor Tom Price.

On Monday, Billie Piper sat down and interviewed Brooke Magnati for ITV. The interview is repeated after the first two episodes air on ITV2 for those who missed it. Season 3 begins tonight with a double bill at 10pm, followed by Billie and Brooke's interview at 11pm on the same channel.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x07: "Meet Jane Doe"

Written by Maurissa Tanchereon And Jed Whedon And Andrew Chambliss
Directed by Dwight Little

Topher (to Adelle): “You are the coldest bitch on this planet.”

Coming from Topher, that’s a lot more powerful than you would expect it to be. Adelle turning to the dark side – why is this more alarming than it appeared on screen? It’s not like Adelle isn’t soiled with her association with the Dollhouse anyways but enabling Harding in a big way was a shocking turn of events.

In a lot of ways though, it shouldn’t be. Adelle might have something of a conscience but she’s a survivor through and through and thanks to the events of this episode, it’s easier to see why she would handover Topher’s schematic on a method of imprinting anyone at large. Even without taking in “Epitaph One”, there was an inevitability here.

Adelle was backed into a corner and reduced to nothing more than a servant in her own house, which to her was probably a fate worse than death in many ways. Harding took a lot of pleasure in humiliating her as possible, even to the point where she had Topher as a higher up than her. That’s not very comforting for the old ego, is it?

More to the point, Rossum were fairly advancing their technology, so even if Topher had actually not told Adelle about his little advancement, they would’ve probably figured it out at some point anyways. And Adelle managed to get control of her house back so she stands a chance of fighting Rossum in her usual position than the lesser role she was reduced to.

But it doesn’t justify the stinging level of callousness that she displayed to Topher when he realised that she stole his schematics and gave them to Harding. I don’t even like Topher a goof chunk of the time and I feared for his life. Also with Adelle’s morality taking a hit, the episode did balance things by showing Topher’s more compassionate side.

Especially when Echo was brought back in. Adelle’s gut reaction was to deprive her of any treatment to see if she could withstand it. There was a level of cruelty in Adelle that I would equate with some of the male characters we’ve seen on this show and as a viewer, I did not like it one bit.

One the other hand, she also knows that Echo’s special and a part of me is hoping that she’s going to aid Echo in taking out Rossum. Again leaving the events of “Epitaph One” out of the equation. She also wisely didn’t believe Paul’s claims that he was nursing Echo back to health for a week and even seemed a little suspicious of Boyd as well.

Echo on the run actually made for an interesting story. In blank state I did feel bad for her and Galena both trying to get food and being denied. I felt even worse for Galena, who suffered a lot of cruelty at the hands of some racist cops during this episode. This is why I’m far less critical of this show going all a little Prison Break with the first voluntary mission we’ve ever seen Echo embark on.

The nurse guise was an interesting touch and the whole wanting to bust Galena out of prison made some sense. Echo felt responsible and wanted to do something right. Galena was being victimised and was generally a harmless person. And let’s face it; Echo’s had the misfortune of helping far less deserving cases during her time.

The prison breaks had their moments, especially with Echo bouncing back and forth between different personalities. Ultimately she succeeded in freeing Galena, who was grateful for the help that Echo and Paul (from the money/fake passport side of things) gave her. This was definitely a mission worth caring about.

And then there was Paul and Echo. It’s not gonna happen – I’m never gonna care enough to ship these two but them playing house and training up was something I could get into. We were seeing them being proactive in trying to take down the Dollhouse and helping Galena in some way was supposed to be preparation for that.

But in terms of their relationships, it seemed one sided again. Echo tried to make the moves on Paul and he wouldn’t budge. He was probably trying to be an honourable gentlemen but there was also the chance that Echo’s fears of him thinking of her as a freak or not real were actually justified.

Viewers have been unable to connect to Caroline as a character and it hasn’t helped that we’ve seen anything to really make viewers root for her. The Bennett memory seems to have made Echo more determined that she has a right to live. I can’t believe that there’s a part of me that actually agrees with as well but it still doesn’t morally mean that Caroline should be wiped out of existence either. Damn this show’s moral quandary.

Also in “Meet Jane Doe”

No prizes for guessing that Echo would adopt the name of Jane when posing as a nurse. That’s my mother’s name as well.

Ivy: “So what happened?”
Topher (re Bennett): “I punched her in the kisser.”

I just realised that Topher’s essentially been betrayed by two females that he’s held in high respect in two episodes. I mean Adelle and Bennett.

Echo: “Where’s the tree?”
Store Owner: “Right through that door.”

Echo (to Paul): “Sometimes a girl likes to be chaste. Hungry?”

There was no continuity on what happened to Daniel in this episode. Presumably Rossum have either wiped him or put him in the Attic.

Paul: “Thirty six personalities and not one of them can cook?”
Echo: “Look who’s talking.”

Echo (to Paul, re Caroline): “I’ve been saving this body for her but I’m not her.”

According to Echo, she’s been made gay seven times, which is interesting given that we haven’t seen in on the show. Unless that flashback scene with Claire/Whiskey in “Vows” is supposed to count as one of those times.

Boyd: “We need to take this house back.”
Adelle: “And how am I supposed to do that?”
Boyd: “The Adelle I knew wouldn’t ask that.”

Galena (to Echo): “You are the strongest woman I have ever met. Thank you.”

There are now 23 Dollhouses including one in Dubai. Harding took issue with Victor and Sierra (who were imprinted as doctors) grouping and told Topher that he was sending Sierra to Dubai. The bastard.

Adelle (to Topher/Paul/Boyd): “Come on, we all know Echo’s special, let’s see what she’s capable of. It’s good to have to you back, love.”

Chronology: Three months since the events of “The Left Hand”.

“Meet Jane Doe” had the trappings of being more mundane than I thought it would be but a lot actually did happen and it’s good that things aren’t slowing down. Rossum are getting progressively worse and Echo better think of acting on her plan fast.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Review of Being Human's 2x03: "Long Live The King"

Written by Lucy Catherine
Directed by Colin Teague

Nina (to George): “You need to stop using the curse not to live your life. You’re a wonderful man.”

There comes a point in every TV season where something has to happen to cause a massive shift in things. This season’s hardly been lightweight so far with the darker tone that it’s taken but here, two big things happened and at least one of them was truly welcomed.

For everyone out there who couldn’t warm to Lucy as a character and had little to no interest in her and Mitchell, you probably saw the last moment coming a mile off. I didn’t but in retrospect, it was obvious and certainly explained the way she’s been with him so far this year.

We needed a face to Professor Jaggart and Lucy was the face we got. An absolutely delightful what the fuck moment was that one. Lucy’s the Big Bad of the season and worse, she’s got Nina right where she wants her too. Naturally I’m very worried about Nina’s safety seeing as Jaggart/Lucy is a supernatural-phobe.

Nina only appeared in the last two minutes of the episode but her appearance practically overshadowed everything. She does love George and tried to encourage him to do something better with his life. Can you blame her? Nina’s under the belief that trusting Kemp and Lucy will cure her of her own curse.

For our sakes, let’s actually hope that they’re successful because if not, then Nina’s going to be another supernatural casualty on their hands. Not that Lucy seemed to especially care about that one. Now that we know she’s Jaggart, I assume that we’re not going to have to wait too long to find out what her game plan really is.

There’s no doubt she’s aware of Mitchell’s nature and it certainly explains why one minute she’s kept him at arm’s length and the next, she’s going overboard to actually get him to open. Mitchell adopted the classic male thing of being as evasive as he possibly could when Lucy probed him about his private life.

That really should’ve been the thing to alert viewers that she was more than she was letting on. Plus she did seem to be generally angered when she realised that one of her patients was falsely publicised as to committing suicide when he actually a threat to exposing the vampire world. It’ll probably turn out that something supernatural ruined Lucy’s life in some shape or form. Not that I’m justifying her actions or anything.

The funny part is that I don’t understand why Lucy and Kemp are playing the waiting game with Mitchell, Annie and George. They had the perfect opportunity in the opening episode to snare all three of them instead of bugging the household. What is it that Lucy actually expects them to reveal because there’s certainly something other than their integration into society that intrigues her.

Speaking of intrigue, this was another one of those episodes that spouted off about exposure of the supernatural kind and mass persecution as a result. But once again, we had a supernatural incident on the verge of exposure with an intervention. This time it was from Quinn being forced to co-operate and the Constable fellow making sure that Marcus ended up permanently dead as a result.

Then there’s the issue of Mitchell trying to restore order with the vampires of Bristol. He might have had the balls to smash Cara’s teeth in with a brick and trap her underground but if he thinks that’s going to keep the rest of them in line, then he’s in for a disappointment. Especially when you consider the fact that Daisy and Ivan are around to undermine him at every turn.

It was Daisy’s turn this week and she certainly delighted in reminding Mitchell that vampires can’t help themselves. I know there’s a fair chunk of viewers who don’t seem to connect with her but I actually do like Daisy and her and Ivan might not be Herrick levels of threats but they’re an improvement on Seth at least. Plus that bloodbath that Mitchell is trying to avoid – can’t see him pulling that one off to be honest, especially when the supernatural world become aware of Lucy and Kemp.

It also didn’t help Mitchell that reopening the funeral home sparked disapproval from George. I think George had every right to call Mitchell out on it because let’s face it, Mitchell’s solutions don’t seem like ones that are going to stick anyways and Mitchell’s also been a bit of a bad friend of late.

He barely acknowledged Annie’s ordeal with Seth and he wasn’t overly sympathetic with George and Nina’s split either. There was a supremely funny moment where he lost the rag over a TV scheduling and donned some Marigolds but overall, Mitchell has become a little disconnected from George and Annie in the last two episodes. I appreciate seperate storylines but I do want to see more interaction between the housemates as well.

On the plus side while Mitchell wasn’t a great friend, Annie certainly had her moments. She was genuinely sorry for George losing Nina but she also found a great way of using his pain by getting him to help her reunite Hugh with his former girlfriend, Kirsty. As subplot goes, it was definitely a good mix for the overall dark tone of this episode.

George coming up with various ways to repulse Kirsty so she’d go back to Hugh were hilarious but I did like that his own anguish got him to be honest with her and that alone was what made the girl give Hugh a second chance. But I’m also wondering if that means that Hugh is no longer going to be a factor for the rest of the season. If that’s the case, then Annie’s bad luck with men really has gathered apace then. Seriously, she couldn’t at least have had a bit of a relationship with either Saul or Hugh?

Also in “Long Live The King”

The opening scene was weird – Bristol 1665 flashbacks where a vampire got the same treatment Mitchell doled out to Cara.

Mitchell (re Marcus): “So you don’t think he’s gonna make it then?”
Lucy: “Actually I do.”

Lucy was seen given a religious medal to Marcus in this episode while both her and Kemp used God when talking to Nina at the end of the episode.

George: “I’m glad my misery’s proving useful.”
Annie: “Well, you know; every cloud.”

Daisy (to Mitchell): “You can’t change them into something they’re not. A shark can only be a shark.”

Maybe it’s unlikely but does anyone else think that Lloyd might possibly end up switching teams at some point in the season? I laughed when George cleaned the bug off his glasses down the sink.

Annie (re Hugh’s pub): “I remember this place so well.”
George: “Yeah, you were only here last week.”

Quinn (re Herrick): “I misjudged you. You are scum, like he was.”
Mitchell: “I can’t abandon my kind just to sleep better.”

George and Hugh made me laugh when they were talking about washing up and the use of coasters. And this was before Mitchell going nuts on The Real Hustle being changed from the BBC3 schedules.

Lucy (to Mitchell): “Okay, you’re either the dullest person who’s ever lived or you’re hiding something from me.”

George: “What about us?”
Mitchell: “Us?”
George: “I really could do with my best friend back.”

Standout music: Aqualung’s “Strange And Beautiful” is a goodie from this one.

Mitchell: “That’s what mates are for.”
George: “To be insensitive?”
Mitchell: “No, to tell each other the truth.”

George: “What are you going to do?”
Nina: “Something wonderful. Goodbye George.”

Chronology: Over a week since the end of the previous episode.

Definitely the highlight episode of the season so far. We finally know who Jaggart is, we know that Mitchell’s losing control of the vampire world and poor Nina’s in danger. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes for sure.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

My Top 50 Buffy Episodes Part 3

And we're onto the third part of this.

36: Doppelgangland (Season 3, Episode 16)

The sequel to the much loved The Wish and of course, Vampire Willow would have to make it into our world and wreck some havoc. There's a lot of good comic scenes in this episode and it was the start of Anya becoming a more pernament feature in the Scoobies lives as well.

37: Lessons (Season 7, Episode 1)

I liked this opening episode a lot. While Season 7 doesn't always succeed in trying to recapture everything from the show's earlier days, there was a lot to admire in this episode. Namely Dawnie trying to fight vampires, Willow rehabilitating herself and the First Evil using the guises of previous Big Bads to mess with Spike's head.

38: Buffy Vs. Dracula (Season 5, Episode 1)

The show's never been shy in accentuating the sexuality and allure of vampires and this episode went a little further with Dracula being talked about as rockstar by virtually all of the main characters. The fight scene with the most famous vampire and slayer had it's moment but I guess it's the WTF introduction for Dawn that served as the most memorable thing here.

39: Family (Season 5, Episode 6)

Up until this episode, we knew very little about Tara. There was the mystery of why she previously sabotaged one of Willow's spells and the gang liking her but not connecting with her. This episode was Tara's 20th birthday and a good showcase for bringing her closer to the gang and coming up with a better way of explaining her antics. Plus Amber Benson did bring her A-Game with this one.

40: Grave (Season 6, Episode 22)

Some issues I had with this finale - why didn't see a funeral for Tara and couldn't the writers have been more straightforward with Spike's mission in Africa as well? Other than that, it was another emotionally charged, action packed finale. We've had stronger and more creative ones but it's still good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quite A Collection (Doctor Who Season 5 Spoilers)

Thank goodness. It looks like the Van Gogh episode is filmed and that a new one is on the way. Except I'm not sure if this block is episodes 7 and 11, which are supposed to be an Amy and Doctor lite stories (this season's Midnight and Turn Left but different I presume) or even the finale. Nah, I'll assume the former until further evidence.

Walk Like An Egytian. Okay from what I've read this episode that's being filmed seems to be a museum based one, which funnily enough The Sun did talk about months ago so maybe this is one of those times in which they're right. There's been pictures of plastic polar bears and dinosaurs as well.

I really wish I had put on a bet because the second I knew River Song was appearing in the first two parter of the season, I just had a feeling that Alex Kingston would be contracted for more episode. Maybe this is the Doctor lite episode and Amy and River have to work together to find him.

No offence to the stunt double but he looks very little like Matt Smith, which technically doesn't matter a jot but it's noticeable nonethless when looking at photos like this one.

Gavin And Stacey actress Melanie Walters is another guest star we can add to the list this season. This is getting better and better. She's in modern clothes so she's not a baddie from the past - or is she?

Okay this isn't a spoiler but this picture of Matt Smith and David Tennant from The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter never gets boring to look. It's such a shame that there was never one similar to this with David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston though. Hopefully better photos emerge during the week. Credit to the Willows on LiveJournal, posters on GallifreyBase and astitea17 on Flickr for these.

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x02: "Breaking The News"

Written by David Marshall Grant And Cliff Olin
Directed by Ken Olin

Nora: “She’s a little nervous.”
Doctor: “Yeah.”
Kitty: “I guess anybody sitting in this chair would be.”

Ending on the kind of note that the opening episode did, there was no way that the outcome was going to be good for Kitty. Granted even her doctor said it was bad news but we didn’t get it directly. Instead we had Kitty arranged an appointment and keeping it a secret from Robert who thought that something was up with Evan.

While keeping secrets about her health isn’t a smart thing for Kitty to do, it was a good job that she confided in Nora when paying her visit. This was one of those episodes where Nora’s input was not only needed but completely welcomed in every capacity. She was going on to Saul about worrying in the opening episode and here she did have just reason for it.

She was decidedly calmer than I expected her to be when Kitty told her about being ill but even then you could tell that Nora was just holding back. The moment Kitty found out that she had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was reeling for Nora. Her worst fear did come to life as did Kitty’s in that moment.

I’ve read people online complaining about the show going down the clichéd route of giving one of the main characters cancer but the truth is, clichéd or not, it still made for some uncomfortable. Like many people, I’ve lost someone to cancer in recent years so I was going to try and view this story as objectively as I could anyways.

Kitty having cancer is a serious storyline and one that I don’t doubt the writers will address responsibly as they can. Kitty’s breakdown in the kitchen about losing her hair had the desired emotional effect and Nora’s insistence that Kitty should tell Robert sooner rather than later was a smart thing to do.

Telling Robert was always going to be a difficult task because once again, he’s still obsessed with his political goals and he and Kitty are still at odds with one another. However the way in which Kitty chose to tell him seemed perfect in an odd way. She derailed a meeting with Kevin by chucking her brother out, blurting to Robert that she had cancer and then opting not to discuss it any further.

I think if Robert’s reaction had been anything but support and concern for Kitty it would’ve most definitely pissed off a lot of viewers. Unlike some viewers, I don’t assume that Kitty being ill will automatically make her and Robert’s issues suddenly disappear but I also think that Robert’s main priority right now should be Kitty and not his campaign.

Robert and Kitty had some of the most touching scenes in the entire episode, especially when he told her that he loved her and when he accompanied her during the bone marrow biopsy. Also because he’s aware of his wife’s condition and Nora confided in Saul, it won’t be long before everyone else is privy to it as well.

Calista Flockhart is doing a wonderful job with this story, even though I know I’m only judging on two episodes so far but come on, even if you’re the kind of viewer out there who wouldn’t care if Kitty actually did kick the bucket, you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the actress’s performance so far.

Similarly Sally Field was also on fine form in this episode as well. Nora took her anger out on Saul because he was unaware of what was going on with Kitty and kept discussing business but at least Nora did tell him in the end and he was there for her. Has there ever been a better moment between Nora and Saul than this one?

With Kitty’s storyline being as hard hitting as it is, another one that sticks out for different reasons would be Kevin and Scotty. It’s the second episode and Scotty is still reticent to making a commitment to parenthood and yes, I’m still on his side. I love Kevin but he’s pushing this one way too hard.

First with trying to drag Scotty to see a friend’s baby and then overly commenting on Scotty’s naturalness with Evan. I get it, Scotty’s great with kids but he’s also right in every little doubt he has at the moment and sadly, Kevin doesn’t really get it. He listens to what Scotty is actually saying but he’s not taking it in properly.

Scotty admitted to Nora that one of the reasons why he wasn’t in a rush for children was down to their jobs – specifically Kevin’s. Kevin justified Scotty’s fears by not seeing that his husband raised a good point. There’s nothing wrong with nannies and I believe that Kevin doesn’t want to be an absentee father but why can’t he wait until his life is less chaotic or actually quit working for Robert? There isn’t a single viewer who would hold it against him if he did change vocations right now.

Speaking of Robert, of course Eve would have to resurface to damn his campaign. Is it wrong that I actually hope Eve has damaged it in some capacity? I find it hilarious that Travis leaking (on Eve’s behalf but behind her back of course) Robert’s heart attack to the press could completely destroy him. Politics really can be a buzz kill for the most minor of discrepancies, huh?

I know Robert lied to people about his health and that it would’ve leaked at some point but Eve’s continued affair (or was it a new one?) is a lot more damning than Robert’s omission of his health any day of the week. Also while Robert might have complained about Kevin’s underhanded tactics, I did get the impression that he was protesting a little too much on that one.

Kevin and Travis in scenes together were actually delightful. I loved the grovelling apologies they both forced out of each other and I do actually hope that Travis actually pops again. If not, then I can look forward to seeing Denis O’Hare in True Blood during the summer but was Travis jumping the gun a little when he said that him and Kevin were similar? Well, they did both effectively do the same thing behind their bosses’ backs so maybe there’s some truth in Travis’s claim.

As for the least interesting segments of an otherwise wonderful episode, it would have to be Ojai. They’ve got too much juice that can’t be aged so Holly’s best idea was to pit Ryan and Rebecca against each other to come up with some money saving way. Nepotism clearly raised it’s head when Holly seemingly made sure that Rebecca’s pitch of a second label selling the extra stuff cheap came into fruition.

And then there’s Ryan. Poor Saul is singing the lad’s praises and behind his back the ungrateful brat is giving a rival of Ojai’s financials to try and ruin the business. Given that Ojai seem to be in trouble financially nearly every year, I’m not sure why Ryan is even bothering to sabotage the company. I also think that if revenge is Ryan’s main arc this season, then there’s even less justification in making Luke Grimes a regular this year.

Also for those who wanted an episode with the least amount of Justin and Rebecca, this was it. Apart from Justin being irritated with Rebecca’s distracting him from studying in the beginning and then him in turn distracting her from work towards the end, there was very little with these two in this episode. Plus we didn’t have any scenes with the pair of them arguing, which is another plus point for this episode.

Also in “Breaking The News”

This episode along with the previous one aired as a double bill for UK viewers on More4 this week.

Kitty (to Robert): “Don’t you worry, darling, nobody’s going to be dropping dead around here anytime soon.”

Sarah’s not only in Paris for recreational reasons but she’s also looking at different vineyards as well for contacts, which does make sense.

Scotty: “I know it’s a little over the top but I’m thinking of making steaks and eggs for breakfast. How do you want yours?”
Kevin: “Bloody.”

Kitty: “Mom, you keep saying the word home and I literally wanna kill you.”

Ryan’s cut his hair since the finale and seems to have more colour in his complexion. Too bad he’s still a dick though.

Nora: “I’m taking Evan for a few days.”
Kevin: “Oh, does Kitty know?”

Kevin (to Robert, re Eve): “She is calling you a liar when she’s lying herself. That’s an issue, it’s called hypocrisy.”

I don’t remember what happened that Travis ended up not being on Robert’s staff. This episode didn’t do anything to elaborate on it either.

Kitty: “Did you talk to my mother?”
Robert (re campaign): “She’s the one person I haven’t talked to but it’s everywhere. I just need one person to be straight with me about what the fallout’s gonna be.”

Kevin: “You’re great with kids.”
Scotty: “That’s because I live with one.”

Maybe it’s because of Kitty but it’s intriguing that Nora isn’t as vocal about Kevin and Scotty’s baby plans as you’d expect her to be, though that will probably change later on in the season.

Nora (re Kevin): “Scotty you have to talk to him because believe me, I know Kevin and the moment he sees his child, he will adapt his life to make room.”

Kevin: “This is now turning into my worst nightmare.”
Kitty: “Sister trumps boss, you have to go.”
Robert: “Go.”

I wonder what William did exactly to annoy that guy who Ryan ended up giving Ojai’s financials to.

Ryan: “What did you say you needed those for again?”
Man: “You have your reasons. I have mine.”

Standout music: “Man Inside” by Shirock, which played during the end of the episode.

Kevin: “Oh so does this mean you’re in love with me again?”
Scotty: “I never stopped loving you, Kevin.”

Kitty: “What if you’re only here because I have cancer?”
Robert: “I’m here because I love you.”
Kitty: “Oh god I wanna believe that. I so wanna believe that, I do.”

Chronology: I think it’s a few days, maybe longer since “The Road Ahead”.

I absolutely loved this episode. “Breaking The News” is one of the finest episodes from the series and if this standard can be maintained, then this season may usurp the first one as my favourite. The quality is definitely present so far this year.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x31: "Turbulence"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Kennedy (re seeing Buffy fly): “That’s actually hot.”
Xander: “I ... don’t agree.”
Dawn: “Gape.”

After the deathly dull, “Willow: Goddesses And Monsters”, this one was a bloody improvement. I’m not sure if it’s enough to sate fans moods after the online reveal of Twilight that surfaced this month but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable issues that we’ve had in a while.

First off all, let’s take power into the matter. “Retreat” ended on the clanger of Buffy being able to fly. It’s not much of a shock that she decided to conceal her newfound powers in this issue, in spite of the fact that you get a scene where it appeared to be that she was enjoying being so much more powerful than usual.

Of course with the way things have turned out with the goddesses, Buffy also had to reveal her abilities a lot quicker than she normally would’ve done. Maybe sometimes having dangerous goddesses on the loose can be a good thing if it means that Buffy’s hand is forced into a bout of honesty.

But it wasn’t just Buffy who got her powers back either. Willow was beginning to apologise to Oz when she was suddenly hit back with all her magic and the indication was that once the goddesses were put back in the Earth, everyone else would be restored as well. Except that Willow’s magic was no use against the goddesses but Buffy’s super strength was.

It’s a hilarious moment seeing Buffy using her strength to put the goddesses back into the ground when Willow’s attempts were virtually ineffective. But it also raised a serious question about Buffy as well. Willow was convinced that she was something else. Well, last time I checked slayers don’t usually fly so I’m intrigued as to finding out what exactly Buffy can be.

It was also worth noting that Willow herself was different too – more powerful but without going dark. Maybe this season is finally going to show us the good side of Willow having so much power. It would make a nice change to all the doom and gloom we’ve had to deal with when it comes to her magic but I doubt it.

In terms of their lost battle, I guess things are bad. Twilight didn’t exactly waste time in revealing that he had managed to capture Giles, Faith and Andrew but at the same time, Buffy also had one of his soldiers. That could’ve been a neat chance for her to get some decent intelligence on Twilight if the soldier in question hadn’t kicked the bucket almost too quickly into this issue.

Still at least there was some good news. The goddesses are back into the Earth which means the other slayers powers will hopefully return without any further delay and surprisingly enough, Bayaarma actually managed to survive in this issue as did Riley. What’s that – Joss Whedon managed not to kill off fairly important characters? Who’d thought it!

That being said as much as I’m happy with both of them being alive, Bayaarma doesn’t actually appear in this episode and Riley’s undercover stint with Twilight seems to have been all for nothing. You’d think he would’ve gathered something that Buffy could’ve put into use against Twilight but he didn’t.

On the plus side while this issue doesn’t give Buffy any information on Twilight, it is laced with some absolutely brilliant conversations worthy of the series itself. Willow and Oz’s lovely little moment before she got her powers back set the tone nicely for some of the other significant ones here.

For instance Riley didn’t exactly hold in telling Buffy that he was proud of her, which was sweet. People can hate Riley all they want but you can’t fault him in this issue, though it would be nice in the next arc to get some more back story on how he came to be Buffy’s man on the inside.

The best stuff from this issue (or the stuff guaranteed to be discussed the most on fan forums) was Buffy having it out with Xander over Dawn. I didn’t find her paedophile joke funny and I’m pretty glad that Xander didn’t take it lying down either. Because it definitely needs to be emphasised but Dawn is an adult in this comics and there’s only a five or six year age gap between her and Xander, which isn’t that bad when you think about it.

Also Xander was pretty open in admitting that there was some weirdness with the fact that he’s known Dawn since a young age but what I did love was that he didn’t ask for Buffy’s approval at all. He was also right to a certain degree when he refused to believe that Buffy had feelings for him.

That whole conversation did cover a lot for Xander. If this had happened in an early televised season of the series, then Buffy and Xander probably would’ve been a short lived couple. Xander’s a hell of a guy but I think he and Buffy are better off as mates and I’m not saying that in support of him and Dawn but it is a fair observation.

Also in “Turbulence”

Another gorgeous cover from Jo Chen with Willow trying to use magic against one of the Goddesses.

Buffy (to herself, re flying): “Doing it with Willow was scary. Doing it alone ... weird. And scary.”

This issue got delayed by a week as it came out on the 13th of January instead of the 6th.

Willow (to Oz): “You always know what to say, when you bother to talk. Any thoughts on how to get magic back real fast?”

Dawn: “Andrew has sisters?”
Xander: “Female trio. Destiny’s Child, Shonen Knife ... Dixie Chicks!”
Dawn: “You know, you can just say the thing you mean.”

Willow mentioned a cataclysmic event that hasn’t happened yet. Similarly Twilight also talked about the truth manifesting as well.

Riley: “I’m proud of you.”
Buffy: “Did they give you the most morphine?”
Riley: “Plus a few shots of Jack but I think I’m good to drive.”

Twilight (to himself): “Things will start to happen very quickly. The truth. At long last, the manifest truth. Buffy will finally see ... if she is able to see at all.”

Some of the coven seemed to have gotten their powers back as well given that they were trying to help Willow with the goddesses.

Buffy: “No, it’s fine. Dawn’s a grown woman and you’re a disgusting paedophile.”
Xander: “Whoa!”
Buffy: “Cradle-robber?”

Buffy: “And do I still get to make cradle-robber jokes?”
Xander: “Just used up your last.”

If you really desperate to learn Twilight’s identity, your best bet is to try the Slay Alive forums or Whedonesque, where the story originally broke. Be sure to also try and look for Joss Whedon’s comments on the leak as well.

Xander: “Please don’t tell me this doesn’t involve artillery.”
Buffy: “It does not. It involves something I don’t really understand. That, honestly, freaks me out, and I was hoping not to mention.”
Kennedy: “You’re a dyke.”
Xander: “It’s a nuke.”
Dawn: “You sacrifice a ‘key’.”
Buffy: “Thanks for the vote of no confidence and shut your mouths and look. Up in the sky.”

Buffy: “Xander and Dawn are in love.”
Willow: “Gah! I thought they’d never figure that out.”

The next issue (assuming there are no further delays) is “Twilight Part 1” and it’s released on February 3rd.

“Turbulence” is definitely one of the better issues we’ve had in the last few months but now that we’ve got two arcs left and a reveal that’s angered many a fan, here’s hoping that this can actually end in a way that makes sense.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x01: "The Road Ahead"

Written by Molly Newman And Marjorie David
Directed by Ken Olin

Rebecca: “I’m gonna quiz you lots.”
Justin: “I hope you do. I need all the help I can get.”

It’s always great that when you haven’t watched something in a long while that you’re glad for its return. It would’ve been nice UK wise if More4 had actually promoted the series a little but one episode in and the new season showed a lot of promise of being better than the season that went before it.

To get the main plot out of the way first – Justin and Rebecca. Any engagement party this lot were going to have had to have a hiccup or three. Kitty and Robert’s had a tent falling down and Robert’s family overindulging in the booze. What did Justin and Rebecca get? The misfortune of Nora and Holly having to work together.

Technically it’s Holly who was supposed to be running the show with Nora taking a backseat but there was no way in hell that Nora would ever just do that. From the second her and Holly made their first interaction in this episode, Nora was already going through the million and one things she hated on sight.

The overt use of white as a general theme, Holly renting a piano was not going to sit well with Nora. Even Saul and David had to try and break them up during the first quarter of the episode. It’s only a shame that they couldn’t have tried harder to seperate them for the rest of the episode.

Nora might have gotten her wish when Holly’s place became infested with termites and she had to throw the party at casa del Walker but even then, Holly was getting one up on her. Moving her furniture, pictures, etc was one thing but actually getting along with Ida was another thing altogether. That really had to have made Nora want to boil over in a snap.

Given the key events she’s been missing for the last two and a half years, I was actually surprised that Ida even showed up in this episode. It was oddly comforting to see that her attitude hadn’t really changed since her appearance in the first season as well. Not that I endorse Ida’s insensitivity (though she’s not exactly Blanche from Corrie, is she?) but it led to some reasonably funny moments.

It would take Ida to inadvertently make a racist allusion to Evan’s parentage which Robert did not seem to be impressed with and it also would be Ida to ask Kevin and Scotty which one of them would be sleeping with an egg donor. The subject matter itself isn’t funny but truthfully, I do get the feeling that Ida wasn’t being genuinely mean spirited in what she was trying to say.

The really amusing part however was seeing her and Holly bonding. For some reason, this is one of those few episodes where Holly’s utilised fairly well and isn’t as annoying as she usually is. It was also delightful to see Holly squirm a little when Ida started to blather on about William’s little bit on the side, much to Nora’s humiliation and Holly’s as well.

Nora and Holly actually did decide that not telling the truth about the latter or the circumstances behind Justin and Rebecca meeting each other would be the best course. Then the worst got to Nora and Holly was pretty much forced into revealing herself to Ida as William’s mistress.

Did I feel sorry for Holly in that scene? Not especially but at the same time, both her and Nora did behave rather badly with their children’s affections. Nora gave Justin her great grandmother’s ring. She did not fork out thousands of dollars for it, so therefore Holly’s argument of Nora using a loophole and breaking rules was pointless.

Also Holly herself was breaking the rules anyways with the party, piano and the sports car as a petty revenge. I’m not even sure why Nora and Holly felt the need to implement a rule where they wouldn’t buy Justin and Rebecca any expensive gifts, given that even something as simple as that would still spark an argument between them. I’m beginning to think that the two of them simply enjoy scoring points off one another.

Anyways it was also pointless them squabbling because Justin and Rebecca were too busy at each other’s throats at their own engagement party to really care. This is something with these two that needs to change because it more than got tiresome in the third season and I don’t want to put up with it in this one either.

So, Justin’s struggling with his course? Okay, that makes total sense. It would’ve far less realistic if he was sailing through it, so why didn’t he and Rebecca just decide to postpone their engagement? That’s what any sensible couple would’ve done under the circumstances. It would’ve given Justin enough time to actually concentrate on getting his grades and Rebecca can’t be that desperate to get married so quickly, can she?

Unless it’s supposed to be further fuel to that impulse streak that Holly was sounding all doom and gloom about in the last season finale. She did seem to freak out when Holly and David merely suggested holding off. Hey, Holly even sounded reasonable enough when she came up with that little nugget. Too bad Rebecca decided to ignore Holly the one time when she actually gave out sound advice.

Speaking of ignoring people, I really do hope that Kevin doesn’t plan to ignore Scotty over this whole baby plot of theirs. The fact that Kevin and Scotty’s plot this season centres on them becoming parents is hardly a shocker but I do hope that there are storylines for them too. Kitty and Robert had the baby plot last season as well as other storylines, so let’s not limit Kevin and Scotty to one storyline, okay?

As for the baby plot in question, it doesn’t bother me but so far I side more with Scotty. Maybe it’s because I’m closer to age with Scotty and also because he raised far too many sensible questions not to side with him. He was right about the overcomplicated legal hoops that are entailed to get a child, he was right about Kevin not telling Nora right away and he was also right in pointing out that kids can’t be returned because they don’t fit.

I’m not slamming Kevin’s eagerness for a child but all the factors that Scotty raised in the episode were ones that Kevin either didn’t want to acknowledge or ones he tried to downplay. I just hope that there’s more common ground with the two of them as this storyline progresses because I really do not want a rethread of Kitty and Robert’s plot from last year either.

As for Kitty and Robert, they might not be my favourite couple but at least they’re more realistic than any of the couples on Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy right about now. Robert was still mad with Kitty but seemed to make more of an effort to connect with her during the second half of the episode.

But then there’s the clanger of Kitty being ill. If I wasn’t spoiled for what actually is ailing Kitty, I could’ve easily guessed with the way she was talking about being sick for a long period of time. And the episode ended on an appropriate cliff-hanger note with Kitty receiving some bad news indeed.

It’s interesting that as Saul finally got Nora to stop worrying, the episode seemed to segue towards Kitty’s appointment with Gibson and Justin and Rebecca narrowly avoiding a collision. It’s not particularly subtle but it’s most definitely effective and you can bet that Nora will have plenty to worry about in the next episode.

Sarah on the other hand seemed to be the antithesis of worry. She was delightfully free of angst and decided to head off to Paris after finding herself unlucky with the online dating. Still some of the guys that she had to meet provided the best laughs of the entire episode and even with limited scenes, she had a lot more to do than either Saul or Ryan, despite the latter not actually being in the episode itself.

Also in “The Road Ahead”

Although he’s only recurring this season, Balthazar Getty’s name is still in the opening credits.

Saul: “You don’t have to be Freud to figure out what’s going on. Your youngest son is marrying the daughter of your arch nemesis.”
Nora: “Holly is not my arch nemesis.”
Saul: “What are you talking about? She slept with your husband for years and now you’re gonna have grandchildren together.”

Then why is it that Saul had to defend Holly during her and Nora’s little bust up at the engagement party?

Kitty (to reporter): “Anything he says in his sleep is on the record.”
Robert: “Do you see what I’m up against?”

Kitty: “Come on, mom, admit it, you’re enjoying this a little.”
Nora: “Now why would I enjoy having Holly’s party here?”

Kitty told the journalist that she was back to writing online political blogs while omitting her and Robert’s marital woes.

Rebecca: “So did you notice anything different about me?”
Holly: “No. It’s not your hair, it’s not your shoes. What?”

Kevin: “Why don’t I stop talking for a while?”
Scotty: “That’s a good idea.”

Joe might be right about the Walkers lack of musical talent with Kevin’s shaky singing and Justin’s not so graceful tinkling of the ivories in this episode.

Kitty: “When are you going to stop punishing me? I’m not punishing you for lying to me.”
Robert: “I’m not punishing you.”

Justin: “You should’ve seen my advisor’s face. He practically told me I was too dumb to be in this programme.”
Robert: “Now why would he say that?”

Robert pulling strings for Justin backfired in this episode but Justin should just man up a little more with the BA/MD programme.

Ida: “I don’t smell anything.”
Nora: “Mother, you’re wearing so much perfume all you can do is smell yourself.”

Ida: “What’s that?”
Nora: “It’s a really cute picture frame I got them. It’s engraved.”
Ida: “I’d hide that if I were you.”

Oddly enough for an opening episode, this was the first one not to feature Ojai at all. Who was running the joint during this episode – Ryan?

Guest: “Is the party over?”
Scotty: “Yeah, it’s over.”

Rebecca (re Justin): “What about having faith in me? I’ve always been there for him.”
Holly: “But has he always been there for you?”

Standout music: Jet’s “Start The Show” and Snow Patrol’s “Shut Your Eyes”, which was used during the end of the episode.

Scotty (re parenting): “The more real this gets, the more scared I become. That’s how I’m feeling.”
Kevin: “You’d be crazy not to be a little scared.”

Chronology: None is really specified but I’d wager a few weeks since the events of “Mexico”.

I know this show isn’t generating the same amount of praise that it used to do when it started out but I really enjoyed the opening episode. “The Road Ahead” had some serious moments, a lot of fun and while the series is definitely formulaic at this point, there’s no way that I’m dropping it from my schedule anytime soon.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Brothers And Sisters - Season 4 Finally Airs On More4 Tonight

Finally being the operative word. Next time, More4 some freaking promotion wouldn't go amiss.

And I've discovered some of these pretties from the Brothers And Sisters TV site. Damn, they're good.

Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys).

Justin Walker (Dave Annable).

Scotty Wandall (Luke Macfarlane).

Ryan Lafferty (Luke Grimes).

New Season 4 Cast show. Awesome, huh?

Season 4 starts tonight on More4 with a double of The Road Ahead and Breaking The News at 9pm. All other episodes will air from 10pm from next Thursday onwards.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Review of Dollhouse's 2x06: "The Left Hand"

Written by Tracy Bellomo
Directed by Wendy Stanzler

Daniel: “Why are you telling me this?”
Cindy: “Because it’s funny and because in twenty minutes you won’t remember.”

Well that settles it – Cindy’s a total bitch. I know the last episode confirmed that but this one seemed to go a little further in decimating the slightest twinge of sympathy I might have felt for her. Rossum must have had a field day when they hired. Cindy’s got no conscience at all, not anything.

She showed her true colours when Daniel was strapped down by going into great detail about how Rossum manufactured everything that he believed in. Talk about being vicious. Daniel wanted to believe that he was fighting Rossum organically and Cindy made sure that she shattered the illusion with great detail.

Of course the one thing she hadn’t banked on was Daniel’s newfound friend in Echo. Echo and Daniel working together was great in this episode. They might have had help in escaping but at least they had a similar goal – taking Rossum down. The only thing was that their partnership was hampered thanks to Bennett.

Programming Daniel to go nuts on Echo wasn’t very sporting of Bennett, though consistent with the girl’s overall feelings for Echo. The only problem was that Cindy and her thugs got in the way and it was them who Daniel ended up killing instead of Echo. At least Bennett tried but clearly she’s no Alpha.

I’d like to say that Cindy’s death evoked some emotional punch but it really didn’t. I didn’t care about it one bit but at least her death had a surprise turnaround for Daniel. By pretending that the Dollhouse didn’t exist at his press conference and that was Madeline was insane was a genuine surprise.

I’m not exactly sure how this will aid him in his obvious revenge mission against Rossum but more power to him for refusing to be a pawn in their games. The flipside is that Madeline suffered as a result with Bennett having to wipe her at the DC Dollhouse instead. I guess it’s better than seeing her killed but even still; things aren’t looking good for her, are they?

As for Echo, the first quarter of this episode was dedicated to torturing her. The female equivalent of the beloved whump niche in TV. Bennett certainly had the best reasons in the world to be livid with Echo and I liked that we got to see them instead of having to conjecture what they were.

Caroline left Bennett virtually to die in some kind of a mission and Bennett got a dead arm for being her friend. No wonder Bennett’s pissed off with her. Not that I advocate what Bennett put Echo/Caroline through but at least it’s understandable and there’s an interesting little scene where Bennett points out that everyone seems to choose Echo most of the time.

I don’t know if it’s Meta on Joss Whedon’s part but it’s interesting. We’ve seen enough people on this show who are in love/attached to Echo in some capacity – Paul, Adelle, Boyd, Alpha but is Topher really one of them? Given that he chose Echo’s safety as a priority, Bennett seems to think so and she wasn’t happy with it.

I can’t believe that for a large segment of this episode that I was interested in the banter between Topher and Bennett. Only on a Whedon show do you get geek offs that are actually infectious, even if the two people in question lack a certain moral quandary. Then again, maybe it was also supposed to highlight that Topher does notice certain girls.

He was attracted to Bennett when they first met and certainly bowled over by her genius when he realised who she really was. He even felt bad about having to knock her out in a bid to try and stop Daniel from killing Echo and something tells me that the two of them will interact in the remaining seven episodes of the series.

As for Echo being alone in the street with parts of Caroline resurfacing – well, it was going to happen at some point. Having this whole smack down with Daniel and Rossum was probably the best opportunity for things to go down but something also tells me that Echo won’t be enjoying her freedom for too long. Especially given that a certain someone is back in the next episode and that Rossum are noting her specialness to boot.

Adelle in the DC Dollhouse was an unexpected highlight in this episode for me. I loved seeing her and Stuart going toe to toe with one another, only for her to gain the upper hand. With any luck, she’ll soon be able to achieve that one with Harding as well. Also it was far less odd that seeing Victor imprinted as Topher. Good likeness and physical comedy by Enver Gjokaj but still a little jarring. I guess the world can only handle one Topher at a time.

Also in “The Left Hand”

In regards to the title, is that referring to Bennett’s left hand being the one that’s dead?

Topher (re alcohol): “Mmm, good stuff. Drink?”
Adelle: “No.”
Topher: “Can I have one?”
Adelle: “Absolutely not.”

If Cindy was that repulsed with having to sleep with Daniel, why didn’t she ask her bosses to programme him into not wanting to sleep with her?

Topher: “Is it weird that I asked about your arm?”
Bennett: “Honestly, it’s refreshing.”

Adelle (to Stuart while grabbing his balls): “If you don’t return my Active, I will send someone to cut these off.”

Topher and Bennett worked together to try and get the disrupter to specifically target both Daniel and Echo’s brains. They were also surprised when discovering the other lied to them.

Echo (to Daniel, re Bennett): “She wanted to me to know how it felt. It feels bad.”

Daniel (re Rossum): “They didn’t create me, only parts of me. How can I untangle it?”
Echo: “Does it matter?”

It’s funny that Topher assumed that the real Bennett was dead and had his/her brain imprinted into Summer Glau. Mainly because people assumed that she would play an Active if cast on the show.

Topher: “This isn’t about Caroline, it’s about Echo.”
Bennett: “It’s the same person.”

Echo (re Daniel): “He’s gone. Something else is here.”
Cindy: “Oh God, Doll speak.”

Paul was missing from this episode as was Sierra again and Boyd’s had very little to do in these past two episodes as well.

Topher (to Victor as Topher): “It wouldn’t be a second opinion. It’d be the same opinion twice.”

Victor: “Did I fall asleep?”
Topher: “For a little while.”
Victor: “Shall I go now?”
Topher: “For the love of God, yes.”

Chronology: Takes place directly from where “The Public Eye” left off.

If this was a proper two parter (which it felt like to me), then “The Left Hand” was a good second part. Bennett’s still not a departure for Summer Glau as an actress but she’s interesting enough and Rossum’s overall scheming has now backfired on them thanks to Daniel’s turnaround.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Torchwood US? Please Tell Me Someone's Taking The Piss

From the Hollywood Reporter
Huge news for sci-fi fans: Fox is developing a stateside version of the U.K. hit series "Torchwood."

The project is from BBC Worldwide Prods., with original series creator Russell Davies writing the script.A more straight-faced spinoff of "Doctor Who," "Torchwood" is about a covert group that investigates and fights alien activity.

Two series aired domestically on BBC America as well as last year's well reviewed stand-alone miniseries, "Children of Earth," which broke all ratings records for the network.

Unlike U.S. adaptations that have gone awry, "Torchwood" fans can take comfort that the original producing team is on board. In addition to Davies, exec producers include Davies' producing partner Julie Gardner (former head of drama at BBC Wales for the show's first season) and Jane Tranter (another BBC vet, now exec vp programming and production at BBC Worldwide Prods. in the U.S.).

Also, some of the current cast -- most likely John Barrowman, who plays the immortal Capt. Jack Harkness -- might star if Fox orders "Torchwood" to pilot. As for the new show's plot, the U.S. version will contain a global story line compared to the more localized sensibility of the first two BBC seasons.

Tranter might try to reboot "Doctor Who" for U.S. audiences while departing "Doctor Who" star David Tennant stars in NBC's pilot "Rex Is Not Your Lawyer." "Torchwood" (which is an anagram of "Doctor Who") debuted in 2006 on BBC 3 and set ratings records, then was moved to BBC 1. Russell also reinvented "Doctor Who" in 2003 and was writer-creator of the series "Queer as Folk."

Opinion Piece

This is the part where usually I try to be objective and try to see an upside but seriously, what the fuck? Why the hell does there need to be a US version of the show? What purpose does it actually serve, except to muck around with potential continuity? When are US networks finally going to cop on and realise that they don't need to do their own version of successful British programmes? Surely the growing failure rate of US versions of Brit shows would've been a big enough indicator at this point. And you just know that they'll desexualise Jack (if John Barrowman's even in it) or force RTD's hand into making him straight. Plus they'll probably jack it in after six episodes if the ratings don't get over 4 million. And realistically there are some British franchises that no other country should try to do their own version of - EVER! Let's hope this one doesn't get picked up, eh? And that we get a fourth season of the proper show of course.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Review of Being Human's 2x02: "Serve God, Love Me And Mend"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Colin Teague

Kemp (to Lloyd): “Beasts should be put in cages.”

That’s funny because I think crazed fanatics such as Kemp should be kept as far away from society as humanly possibly but until we actually see Professor Jaggart, he’s the main villain we have to deal and not once has he interacted with the gang – until now.

Last week was a good indicator that Nina couldn’t accept the supernatural world. It should get to a point where you want to scream at her to stop whining but to be fair, it’s still easy to see where all of Nina’s anger is stemming from. She feels that George has stolen her humanity by infecting her and she’s barely able to conceal it.

She even mentioned it during his little breakfast in bed gesture and she wasn’t exactly shy in noting how much of a disappointment being a werewolf was. Also like George, she took issue with Mitchell providing sanctuary for another vampire as well. She even had an exchange of words that vampire in particular.

But the thing that really seemed to send her over the edge was Mitchell and George working together to get Carl out of the country with a little hospital mixing up and the unexpected help of Ivan into the mix. Even she had been fully aware of Carl’s situation, would Nina have been any more sympathetic or even sympathetic at all?

She wrote George a letter telling him that she was leaving him and even when Mitchell castigated her for it, she didn’t back down. Nina’s embarking on the cruel to be kind. Then there’s her comment about Mitchell, George and Annie going native. You don’t have to a pedant to know that Nina’s struggling with her own humanity here but lashing out at their behaviour didn’t help either, even if she had a point.

Then there’s the cliché of Nina leaving what she felt was a dangerous situation and then being placed into another. Kemp needed another Type 3 and Nina unwittingly came into contact with the dangerous old man. George better start looking for her pretty damn soon because Kemp adds another supernatural murder to his CV.

On the topic of murder – Gay Vampire Man? Nowhere near as funny as George’s gay ninja joke from the last series but it was an interesting way to sum up poor Dan. That being said, do hospital staff really give their DOA’s obscure names or has Toby Whithouse been watching too many US hospital shows?

I liked that they didn’t tease out Mitchell’s connection to Dan and I also liked that Carl wasn’t another potentially toxic vampire that Mitchell needed to stay from. The fact that Carl and Dan were responsible for Mitchell going clean was a neat twist. It made me warm to Carl pretty fast.

I don’t advocate what Carl did to Dan – feeding off him because he couldn’t hold on anymore but it’s definitely in this show’s line of grey area with vampires. Carl’s probably the nicest vampire we’ve seen on this show apart from Mitchell and their connection certainly felt real. I didn’t need to be told why Mitchell felt the urge to help him.

What surprised me however was Ivan’s involvement in proceedings. Last week, it seemed like Ivan was setting out to become a potential adversary for the gang and this episode, he was a grudging accomplice in helping to get Carl out of the country. Without Daisy around this week, there were some good moments for Ivan.

Apart from the obvious clap-trap about how humans would persecute supernatural creatures if their existence was made public (how very True Blood), there was also his exchange with George in the room where Herrick died. It’s hard to gauge what Ivan really feels about George. He wasn’t happy when he learnt what exactly it was that made Daisy start to feel again but if Ivan actually does plan to harm George, he’s certainly biding his time, isn’t he?

Then there’s the Annie segment of the story. Saul went from being a little smug to be overly irritating and dangerous in this episode. Having the TV set out instructions wasn’t exactly unseen on British TV before but the fact that he was put in Annie’s proximity wasn’t concealed for very long either.

So far this season, the theme of consequences has been sticking out like a sore thumb – Nina’s curse, Herrick’s death, uprising in the supernatural world and now the fact that Annie evaded crossing over. I loved that we got our little references to the men with sticks and ropes once again and the fact that Saul was a ploy to bring Annie over was a neat idea.

Saul did seem pretty dead set on forcing Annie to go through that door in some pretty hard to watch scene as well might I add. If it had been later in the season, I would’ve been more convinced that Annie would’ve made it into that door but there was no way they could’ve done it this early, right?

Still, Saul might have crossed over instead of her but I don’t doubt that there will be further attempts to get Annie over to the other side. Also it’s rather convenient that as soon as she was making progress with Hugh, he can no longer see her. Even I’ve lasted longer in a job than Annie has. And just when she was nearly solid and all.

All the main relationships in this episode took a major hit this week, except for Mitchell and Lucy. She started the episode by maintaining that she wasn’t ready for anything but even after citing him as weird, she decided to ask him out for a drink. I know I said last week that Lucy was similar to Nina but she’s slightly less snarky in this episode so maybe that comparison was jumping the gun a little. Only let’s leave it for a while before she realises that her weird new fella is a vampire.

Also in “Serve God, Love Me And Mend”

Opening scene was Mitchell tied to a chair while Carl and Dan tried to keep him clean. The setting was Vienna 1999, presumably New Year’s Eve/Day.

Lucy: “That was weird.”
Mitchell: “I don’t know how to talk to you.”

I’ve read that the show’s been renewed for a third season and that producers from Supernatural are going to be working on the American version of the show.

Saul: “Annie?”
Terry Wogan: “She’s a cracker, isn’t she? I think you and her make a great couple.”

Annie: “For years I wanted to talk about it. What on earth made you tell me?”
Saul: “It just felt right. Intuition.”

The talking television moments were definitely a welcomed nod to Life On Mars, even if Saul is no Sam Tyler.

Nina: “Is that my shepherd’s pie?”
Carl: “Mmm, possibly.”

Hugh: “I’ve got my eyes on you.”
Saul (re Annie): “You’re not the only one.”

Hugh didn’t seem to comment on the fact that Annie was cold when they kissed. I assume that he’s also going to start looking for her as well.

Ivan: “Fair enough. I don’t give a shit about Herrick.”
George: “Then tell me what’s this all about?”

Annie (re Saul): “Thank you for not saying I told you so.”
George: “As if I would.”

Lucy’s a fan of The West Wing. I’m more of a Six Feet Under type of guy myself.

Annie (to Hugh): “I wanted to be normal. A normal girl kissing a normal boy.”

Ivan (to Mitchell): “You think this ends tonight? It’s only just the beginning.”

Standout music: Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” (doesn’t Ivan know that most gay men like her?) and Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here, Right Now”.

Mitchell: “What have you said to George?”
Nina: “I’ve written him a letter.”
Mitchell: “Jesus, a letter?”
Nina: “He gets a letter.”

Chronology: It’s been a week since the first episode of the new series.

Things have certainly taken a darker turn in this season and it’s only the second episode. As long as there’s some laughs along the way, I can accept the atmosphere not being as fun filled and I do like Mitchell’s burgeoning relationship with Lucy.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Top 50 Buffy Episodes Part 2

Okay Part 2 of the list is up now.

41: Intervention (Season 5, Episode 18)

Not really an episode that I see bashed a lot or at all. Most people seem to like it and so do I. I guess parts of it are down to the duel roles Sarah Michelle Gellar got with a still grieving Buffy and the more joyful, bouncy Buffybot. There's also the portent warning of death being Buffy's gift and Spike had a surprisingly decent turn when he refused to name Dawn as the key, even when Glory was torturing him a lot.

42: Prophecy Girl (Season 1, Episode 12)

I won't lie, it's not one of my favourite finales and the first season is my least favourite anyways but it's still enjoyable. It's the first episode where Buffy actually died because she fell into the Master's trap and it certainly portrayed a realist response from her when she said she didn't want to die. And the constant admiration about her dress was amusing.

43: Two To Go (Season 6, Episode 21)

Penultimate episodes to seasons have to deliver so much and while there have been better ones, this was another wonderful episode. Excluding the Spike stuff, which I felt dragged proceedings, I did enjoy Willow and Buffy's supernatural smackdown more than I probably should. I think I would've let her kill Andrew and maybe spared Jonathan but that's me.

44: Touched (Season 7, Episode 20)

We had that episode in Season 4 where Buffy and Riley spent most of the time doing it and it turned out to be one of the dullest episodes from the show. So, an episode that heavily focused on rendevous with Willow/Kennedy, Xander/Anya and Faith/Robin shouldn't be that interesting but I think we needed one 'quiet' episode before the action laced final two.

45: Lies My Parents Told Me (Season 7, Episode 17)

One of the biggest problems with the later seasons of the show was the over glorification of Spike. I get that the writers loved James Marstars but I think there was times when it clouded their judgement. Why else would Buffy side with Spike over a justifiably vengeance fuelled Robin and turn her back on Giles? Still, as character episodes go, it was one of the series strongest.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Review of True Blood's 2x07: "Release Me"

Written by Raelle Tucker
Directed by Michael Ruscio

Eric: “Tell me, what is it you find so fulfilling about human companionship?”
Isobel: “They feel much more strongly than we do. Everything is urgent, exciting, maybe because their lives are so temporary.”

There’s certainly a stirring of excitement in this episode. Isobel gave some very interesting reasons behind her relationship with Hugo, reasons that seemed to confirm that most vampires do not consider humans equal.

Then again perhaps underneath Isobel’s facade she might harbour real feelings for Hugo but obviously not enough that would ever see her turn him into a vampire. It’s also part of the reason why Hugo is unsurprisingly the traitor in their midst. He didn’t wait too long to turn on the vampire he loved, did he?

I can understand his frustration and if he felt his relationship with Isobel was that unequal, why not just do the traditional thing and dump her? Going to the Fellowship and feeding them information about Sookie certainly wasn’t going to overly endear him to them. They locked him up along with Sookie and Gabe beat the living daylights out of him as well.

Hugo didn’t seem like a straight up baddie, so it’s hard to be too angry with him. Especially given the amount of people who genuinely deserve an ass kicking of epic proportions. Like Gabe for instance. That guy was creepy in his previous appearances and attempting to rape Sookie at the end really freaked me out.

It’s a good job that Godric actually came to her rescue on that one. I thought for sure it would be Eric but I’m glad they didn’t go there. The timing was perfect as well for Godric’s appearance, so please let Gabe be dead by the start of the next episode? That’s certainly one human life worth snuffing out.

Sookie’s undercover work and hopes for Bill to come for her certainly went down like a lead balloon in this episode. She had the misfortune of Hugo’s treachery and Steve Newlin lording it over her. But even he was surprised when he made the connection to her and Jason and it also led to an interesting turn of events.

Jason feared that Steve was going to kill him because he slept with Sarah but didn’t bank of Steve thinking he was working with vampires all along. I loved the surprised look on Jason’s face when he realised why Steve was so furious with him. More importantly, I loved him defending Sookie’s honour and beating the crap out of Gabe. Fun times.

As for Sarah, no way is that woman remotely girlfriend material. Her nutty ramblings about being honest with Steve were one thing but then it looked like she was about to get all trigger happy on Jason herself. It shows how far Jason has sort of come in this series because if all this was happening to him in the first season, I don’t think I would be as sympathetic towards his plight. I’m going to assume that he somehow still lives.

As for Sookie, it’s got to be terrible not having Bill come to her aid but we can thank Lorena for that one. Bill pretty much spent all of this episode in her captivity because she can’t quite let go of him. Again, it’s like watching Angel/Angelus and Darla all over again with this pair and there were more flashbacks.

In the previous ones, Bill embraced being a vampire and wanted to satisfy Lorena. Here he managed to stop her from chomping on Frances and threatened to stake himself if Lorena didn’t let him go. It was the only plausible way from what we’ve seen as to why Lorena did let him go. She loves him too much.

It also makes her a hypocrite. She castigated Bill because he’s fallen for Sookie and yet she’s so clingy towards him that she blocked him in every way to rescue the barmaid. Lorena certainly does take the bunny boiler act a bit further than before. Even Barry the bellboy couldn’t get near to Bill, which gave Eric a good opportunity.

Eric and Sookie – you’d have to blind not to spot that he’s got a mad one for her. The fact that he drafted in Lorena, has constantly undermined both Bill and Sookie are one thing. Then there’s also both Isobel and Lorena drilling in the fact that Eric has feelings for Sookie as well. You know, subtlety does go a long way.

Just look at Jessica and Hoyt. They’re not even half a season old and already their relationship is far better than the whole Lorena/Bill/Sookie/Eric quadrangle. No wonder so many people keep gushing about it online. Their scenes in this episode were the best freaking thing out of the entire hour.

Both of them admitted that they were virgins in a sweet manner and decided to wait for the right moment. Hoyt then played the perfect boyfriend and decorated the room for Jessica and perhaps they did become each others first. Even if they didn’t, their relationship is still the healthiest one on this show for the time being.

In terms of health, it’s nice to see that Tara’s noticing how off-kilter Maryann is but it would be nicer if she’d just dig a little deeper as well. Every time Tara seems to confront Maryann on her lack of boundaries, Maryann seems to stonewall her. It’s going to take a lot more than Sookie to get rid of Maryann.

Also the Sam situation is brilliant. I love that Maryann’s after him specifically and not Sookie, so big points there but why Sam though? I doubt it has anything to do with his little thieving and the way Daphne was talking, it did seem that Sam was specifically needed for something in particular. Maryann thrives on chaos and clearly has zero desire to leave Bon Temps any time soon.

Her latest little orgy certainly seemed to have consequences. Andy’s aware of something not being right but because everyone is clueless to Maryann’s influence, he’s left looking like an idiot. That must have been how Daphne felt as well when Maryann instructed Eggs to kill her. I know Daphne deserved some kind of fallout after nearly getting Sam killed but did it have to be death?

As for Lafayette, he’s certainly gotten his groove back and I did enjoy some of his scenes with Tara and Eggs in particular but I’m also not seeing how he’s going to benefit all that much from selling V once again. Tara was right to address the fact that he was getting himself into trouble.

Also in “Release Me”

Terry actually broke Andy’s arm while under Maryann’s influence. Arlene also worried that she date raped him.

Lorena (to Bill, re Sookie): “You smell like her. Sweet and cheap.”

Bill and Lorena’s flashback was in 1935 Los Angeles. Frances even looked similar to the wife we saw in the previous episode.

Lorena: “You are such a wet blanket, I don’t know why I keep bothering with you.”
Bill: “Why do you? I can’t stand the sight of you.”

Hoyt: “I ain’t never done it. With a girl I mean.”
Jessica: “What have you done it with?”
Hoyt: “Just myself.”

Lafayette seemed to paraphrase Lettie Mae’s saying about Satan in a Sunday hat when he was talking to Tara and Eggs at Merlotte’s.

Tara: “You’re right. Sometimes you’re Sookie, like you could read my mind or something.”
Eggs: “I just get you, that’s all.”

Sookie: “You’re gonna get yourself killed. That’s not a threat, that’s a fact.”
Steve: “They’ve got you all twisted up, haven’t they with their glamouring and their empty promises and their evil blood?”

Who grabbed Barry the bellboy at the end of the episode? Was it Eric?

Bill (re Sookie): “I may love her but I am not suicidal.”
Lorena: “I know better than anyone what you are capable of.”

Maryann: “I am fantastic. I slept outside last night and communed with my animal nature.”
Eggs: “No shit.”

Maryann with a rabbit in her hand, that was gross but seriously, when will Tara actually do something about her?

Steve (to Jason): “Say a prayer. You’re going to hell and you’re going there today.”

Sam: “If I’m so fucking insignificant, then why is she going through this trouble to try and get me?”
Daphne: “Because you got away from her once. She can’t control you.”

Sam turned into a bird in this episode, Daphne specified that Maryann was a maenad, mentioned Dionysus and the fact that Maryann can’t control supernatural creatures, even if she can wreck havoc with their shifting.

Arlene: “Excuse me, it says ladies on that door.”
Lafayette: “So what you skank ho’s doing in here?”

Lorena: “Without me you would be alone forever.”
Bill: “You are the one who’s afraid of that. You are the saddest, loneliest creature I have ever known.”

Standout music: Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” (interesting choice) and Sia’s “Day Too Soon”.

Barry: “I have a message for Bill Compton. Is he there?”
Lorena: “I’m sorry, he’s tied up right now. I’ll be happy to pass it along.”

Chronology: Straight from where “Hard-Hearted Hannah” left off.

“Release Me” is another in a line of strong episodes, not the show’s best but this season’s been so wonderful that’s hard not to enjoy any of the episodes. It also helps that thing are also moving along nicely as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10.