Friday, August 29, 2014

Batman: The Animated Series - Episodes 81-85 Reviews

The fourth and final season of Batman: The Animated Series was the shortest and it certainly had a mixed bag, in terms of episodes.

Episode 81: The Terrible Trio

What does that fox, vulture and shark say? Who cares really as this episode took three idiotic rich guys who decided to embark on a bit of petty crime in order to sate their need for excitement with one of them willing to kill his girlfriend after she accidentally deduced that they robbed her father. It's an okay opening episode, but we've had better ones (The Cat And The Claw, Shadow Of The Bat etc) and as a set of one-off antagonists, this particular trio are not ones that I would be in a hurry to ever see again to be honest. 6/10

Episode 82: Showdown

I honestly thought following the events of Avatar that the series was done with Ras Al Ghul but it seems that the writers had at least one more story for him and interestingly, one that did not feature Talia as well. I guess it's believable for a man who's lived for several centuries that he would've fathered more than one child and this episode has some nice flashbacks to his other child's altercations with the famous Jonah Hex. It's a surprising twist in the episode and while Ras has had better adventures (namely The Demon's Quest two parter), this was a decent final run for his character on the show. 7/10

Episode 83: Catwalk

I am the cat that walks alone - these are words that became apparent for both Catwoman and Selina Kyle in the final appearance for the character in the series and it's an unusual exit episode for the character. I knew realistically that it was unlikely the series would end with her and Bruce Wayne/Batman ever settling down and this episode certainly ended their truce as Selina realised that she couldn't give up her identity as Catwoman any more than Bruce would ever be able to give up his identity as Batman. I'm not sure if the episode needed a double-cross/near kill from Scarface and the Ventriloquist but their appearance in the episode and hostile alliance with Catwoman certainly didn't hurt the episode in any way. It's an interesting exit episode for Catwoman and the best episode from this final season as well if I'm being honest. 9/10

Episode 84: A Bullet For Bullock

With so little episodes left to go, there's time for another team up of unlikely characters and this time around, it's the pairing of Batman and Bullock himself. I've never been the biggest fan of Bullock but this was a truly great episode for him as he had to team up with the Caped Crusader in order to avoid being killed and with the amount of enemies that Bullock's made, it really could've been anyone who could've taken him out. Of course, the actual would be killer is pretty obvious within the first five minutes of the episode but the episode is joy just to see both Bullock and Batman having to work together and trust each other. The fact that it's set during Christmas is interesting too, though probably not as iconic as Christmas With The Joker. Still though, a very enjoyable episode. 8/10

Episode 85: The Lion And The Unicorn

The series finale and one I'm wondering why so low key? I mean it's great to have a tie to the opening episodes with Red Claw's return (though her plot here is no different than before) and I appreciate taking the action to London and giving us some backstory on Alfred but for a final episode, it's a bit too small as a story. I know the series often had tonnes of episodes with various Rogue Gallery members appearing together and what not but perhaps one more of them or even another altercation with the Joker would've been a better series ender. That being said, this is a solid episode, just not a spectacular one for the series though. 7/10

The next and final blog relating to Batman: The Animated Series will cover the TV movies, Mask Of The Phantasm and Sub-Zero.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show - Official Poster/Airdate/Teasers/Spoilers

Following the show's recent Emmy win for the likes of Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates for American Horror Story: Coven, the promotional material for American Horror Story: Freak Show has started to come in thick and fast.

The promotional poster for Freak Show is certainly laced with spoilers. We've got Kathy Bates as the bearded lady, Angela Bassett having three boobs as well as Sarah Paulson as the two headed lady and there seems to be something up with Jessica Lange's arms as well. Michael Chiklis is definitely the strongman of the bunch along with Evan Peters and I'm fairly certain that Emma Roberts is trapped in a particularly sticky position as well. I'm not too sure what exactly is meant to be freaky with Denis O'Hare, Frances Conroy and Finn Wittrock's characters but the WirSindAlleFreaks hashtag translates from German as 'we are all freaks', tying into Lange's character Elsa Mars being a German ex-pat.

Adding to the show's guest list, Matt Bomer, who has previously worked with co-creator Ryan Murphy in other projects such as Glee, The New Normal and The Normal Heart will be appearing in one episode of the upcoming season. Bomer will be playing a role that's 'very warped' according to Murphy. Other guests  and recurring actors in the new season include Jamie Brewer, Gabourey Sidibe, Patti LaBelle, John Carroll-Lynch and Wes Bentley. Also tiny teasers have started to air now - three of them so far titled, Admit One, Lick and Spotlight and like previous season teasers, they're delightfully twisted.


American Horror Story: Freak Show will air Wednesdays 10pm on FX from October 8th and will air for UK viewers on FOX shortly afterwards.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Review of True Blood's 7x10: "Thank You"

Written by Brian Buckner
Directed by Scott Winant

Sookie: “I can’t let go.”
Bill: “It’s time. Thank you.”

After seven seasons, I’m not sure I could let go of this madcap show either and that’s in spite of the fact that this season has largely been polarising in parts. As for a final episode, this felt more like a chipper version of Chosen than a more nihilistic version of Not Fade Away. If you get those references, you’ll know what I mean.

The main point of this finale was of course Sookie and finally putting a nail in the coffin to both her relationship with Bill and Eric. It seemed that last week’s interaction was the last time Sookie and Eric got any onscreen interaction, so it was really up to the episode to end things with Bill once and for all.

I did think it was a tad selfish of Bill to ask Sookie to use her light in order to kill and I’m glad that when it came down to it, she opted to stake him in his coffin in the cemetery instead of giving up the last bit of light she had left inside her. As for the scene itself, I think it hit the right note. Bill was ready to die and the last episode was in need of a major kill and his death had the impact that both Tara and Alcide’s should’ve done earlier in the season.

More to the point, the show took up the flash forward route in order to show us that Sookie married an unidentified man (we literally didn’t see his face) and was pregnant while Jason started a family with Bridget and Hoyt and Jessica tied the knot before Bill met the true death. If Sookie was going to marry someone, maybe it should've been Alcide instead of an unknown stranger though.

Speaking of Jessica and Hoyt – the wedding was rushed, a little cheesy with Andy’s ‘love is love’ speech but it was still a lovely moment in an episode where the latter and Jason managed to patch up their differences and move on but was it one step too sweet in a final episode low on big kills? Minus Bill of course.

However, let’s be reminded of the fact that not everyone got a happy ending here. Mr Gus Jr went up in a ball of flames thanks to Eric’s quickness with a gas canister and a light and the Yakuza themselves never got to pay Sookie that house call they intended to either. Of course, the only person who got a worse fate than them was Sarah Newlin herself.

She only got one single moment of her freedom back before being recaptured by Pam, having her blood synthesised into the internationally popular New Blood while being locked in the basement of Fangtasia going out of her mind, being fed off by rich vampires and haunted by Steve as well for good measure. If she wasn’t such a horrible person, I might actually feel sorry for Sarah but her own bigotry and stupidity sealed her fate in the end.

As for Eric and Pam, their outcome was pretty. I wouldn’t have minded if one of them had perished in this episode (is that controversial, opinion wise?) but I did like them getting rid of Gus and his irritating cronies and becoming billionaires with the New Blood while maintaining their hold on Fangtasia. As fates go, it was a nice one for the mischievous pair.

Also in “Thank You”

Nice cameo from Adele in this episode encouraging a younger Sookie to persevere. We also got to see a younger Tara but not Rutina Wesley though. At least Lafayette and James seem to be happy.

Bill: “You deserve everything. You deserve the world.”
Sookie: “What if I all want right now is to see you live?”

Bill legally left his house to Andy. Andy ended up letting Jessica and Hoyt continue to live there as well.

Pam (re Gus): “I thought you were gonna kill him.”
Eric: “Humans are slow.”

Sarah: “I’m a horrible person, aren’t I?”
Pam: “Yes dear, you are.”

I had to laugh at Sarah’s horrible attempts of seducing Pam, only for the epic knock back she received from the latter.

Tara: “Who do you like?”
Sookie: “I don’t like anybody.”
Tara: “You know my secret, you have to tell me yours.”

Andy (to Jessica/Hoyt): “The love you two share is beautiful and love is love, plain and simple.”

Sookie could read Bill’s thoughts during the ceremony. For a moment, I actually did begin to think the writers were going to turn him human.

Sookie: “You know what I am, right?”
Reverend Daniels: “You’re a telepath.”
Sookie: “I’m a fairy.”
Reverend Daniels: “No kidding.”

Sookie: “I love you, Bill Compton.”
Bill: “I love you too.”

Standout music: Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You”, which was an interesting choice for a final song.

Steve (to Sarah): “Let’s say what we’re thankful for. Personally I’m thankful you’re losing your fucking mind.”

Chronology: With the four year jump, it’s either Thanksgiving 2014 or 2015, isn’t it?

For a series finale, I’m not sure “Thank You” will go down as one of the best but at the same time, I’m not sure it deserves to be a maligned one either. This final season really could’ve been better thought out and executed as a collective whole (something I’ll write about in a later blog) but even though this episode was a little saccharine at times, I actually enjoyed it more than I probably should’ve done. A good ending overall.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Review of Doctor Who's 8x01: "Deep Breath"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Clara: “I don’t think I know who the Doctor is any more.”
Madame Vastra: “It would seem my dear, you are very wrong about that.”

For someone who not so long ago jumped into the Doctor’s time stream and interacted with his previous selves, you would think that Clara Oswald would know the Doctor the best out of everyone but this episode proved to be something of a crash course for the impossible girl as she struggled to at first accept her friend’s new look.

I’ve seen a fair amount of criticism for this particular choice but it seemed that it wasn’t so much that Clara didn’t like not having her Doctor looking like her gentleman friend but more that she didn’t really know who the man was that was standing before her. The same man that now looks older, is a bit ruder and somewhat more prone to leaving Clara to deal with the baddies under some serious stress as well.

It’s not just Clara that had to get used to a new Doctor – the audience did too and there was a certain directed commentary at the younger side of the audience with the discussion of the Doctor older looks and demeanour, explicitly with the barbed comments that Vastra had made to Clara about wearing a veil. It was those comments that provoked a strong reaction from within Clara and despite her trepidation with the new Doctor, she wasn’t exactly ready to throw in the towel just yet, was she?

Last season there were some complaints about Clara not having much of a personality. This episode alone certainly added a fire to the character that she might have been previously lacking but more to the point, it gave Jenna Coleman some meaty material to work as she struggled to hold her breath when surrounded by Clockwork Droids and even had to put her fear to one side when the Half Face Man/control node threatened to kill her. If this is a sign of things to come, then Clara will definitely become a far better character to watch this upcoming series.

Of course Clara wasn’t the only one providing able support for the Doctor. This episode alone had the events set in Victorian London, so the Paternoster Gang were out in force, providing the Doctor somewhere to recuperate and also able assistance when things went to pot with the Clockwork Droids as well for good measure.

While Strax does remain the same comedic character (notably with his interactions with Clara this week), I actually think this episode added a lot more depth to Vastra and Jenny and in particular their relationship. Both women got to explain to Clara and the audience the dynamics of their marriage and the veil they also wear in relation to society’s attitude while at the same time finally sharing a kiss in one of the loveliest moments from the series. I’d even go as far as to say now that this might be my favourite appearance of the gang so far. I also hope contrary to some fan opinion that it is not the final appearance either.

As for the man of the moment, in case anyone was thinking that I had forgotten about Peter Capaldi – do I really need to say he’s brilliant? Okay, then – he is, from start to finish with every single interaction with everyone in this episode. He’s certainly not going to be a fools suffer gladly type of Doctor and his whole ‘I’m not your boyfriend’ speech to Clara (along with a certain phone call) means that the two of them are definitely going to have a very different but interesting dynamic. Already in this episode alone, there was a biting chemistry between Capaldi and Coleman and it’ll be interesting to see where the remaining episodes take it.

Last but not least – the Droids/Half-Face Man, overall, I think they were a great use for a returning monster. They provided some suitable gore (murdering a dinosaur for an optic nerve, a balloon made of human skin, etc), were a nice throw back to a popular Tenth Doctor episode and there was also the hint of the series arc here as well – the promised land. As for whether or not Half Face Man jumped or was pushed, I think it was the latter.

As for the mysterious, Mary Poppins inspired Missy – she’s another of Moffat’s mystery women, played with a creepy charm by Michelle Gomez, who thinks the Doctor is her boyfriend and might let him keep his new accent. I don’t know if Missy will be a friend or foe but I do think it’s obvious that she’s the woman in the shop and that she made sure Clara and the Doctor met at the restaurant. Out of all the theories that are currently circling the internet about her, I really like the idea of her being death personified. It’s the one I’m sticking with for now until something else comes along.

Also in “Deep Breath”

I don’t like the new theme tune or title sequence. I even think they might be the weakest we’ve had so far but on the other hand, I will probably get used to them.

Clara: “That’s him, that’s the Doctor.”
Madame Vastra: “Well then, here we go again.”

Aside from meeting Missy, we also met Courtney (the bratty student who told Clara to ‘do it’), who’ll be recurring this series as well.

Jenny: “Oh, I see, so people are monkeys now, are they?”
Madame Vastra: “No dear, people are apes. Men are monkeys.”

Madame Vastra (re the Doctor): “You thought he was young.”
Clara: “He looked young.”
Madame Vastra: “He looked like your dashing young gentleman friend. Your lover even.”

Brian Miller, the husband of the late Elisabeth Sladen played the homeless man that the Doctor demanded a coat from.

The Doctor (to Barney): “I am Scottish. I can complain about things. I can really complain about things now.”

Jenny (re posing): “I don’t understand why I’m doing this.”
Madame Vastra: “Art?”

Clara made a comment about having a poster of Marcus Aurelius while Strax told us that she was 27, narcissistic and liked ‘men doing sports’. Let’s not forget the egomania as well, shall we?

Clara (to the Droid): “Is there a lot of that on demand?”
The Doctor: “I don’t think that’s on the menu. I think we’re the menu.”

Clara (to Half Face Man): “If the Doctor is still the Doctor, he’ll have my back.”

This episode confirmed that a connection between the Doctor’s current look and the previous appearances of Caecilius and John Frobisher will be made over the course of the series. As for the cameo of the Eleventh Doctor – it wasn’t needed but it added nicely to the episode though.

Half Face Man: “I will not die. I will reach the promised land.”
The Doctor: “There isn’t any promised land.”

The Doctor (to Clara): “I am the Doctor. I have lived for over two thousand years and not all of them were good. I’ve made many mistakes and it’s about time I did something about that.”

With Confidential and Behind The Scenes/Lens proving popular, this series is accompanied by something called Doctor Who Extra, narrated by Matt Botten.

The Doctor (to Clara): “I’m not on the phone, I’m right here, standing in front of you. Please just see me.”

Missy: “Hello, I’m Missy. You’ve made it. I hope my boyfriend wasn’t too mean to you.”
Half Face Man: “Boy-friend?”

Chronology: Mostly 1894 Victorian London, present day Glasgow and wherever ‘Heaven’ is actually set.

For an opening episode, “Deep Breath” was certainly different. I’m not sure it completely needed to be over 70 minutes (cinema screenings be damned, lol), but the extra time did allow for many great character moments, the beginnings of a wonderful new Doctor with Peter Capaldi, a nod to some of Moffat’s familiar tropes while promising for a new dynamic as well. Overall, I’d say the episode was a success.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gotham - UK Broadcaster Announced/Legend Reborn Documentary

With a month to go, it seems that for UK viewers at least for now, Gotham has found itself a home.

Channel 5 announced over a fortnight ago that they will in fact be airing the 16 episode Batman prequel series and on Monday before the launch of Celebrity Big Brother had actor Benjamin McKenzie (James Gordon) introduce a two minute trailer for the series. While there weren't any new clips (from what I could see) that were shown, Five did announce that the would be airing Gotham close enough to US transmission, though a specific date was not confirmed. Given their sketchy history with US shows though, I am hoping that Gotham somewhat fares better than others have done in the past.

Elsewhere several new character shots have been released. Not only are there new ones for our main players but we've finally gotten ones for Victoria Cartagena (Renee Montoya), Andrew Stewart Jones (Crispus Allen) and John Doman (Carmine Falcone) while it's also been revealed that former Dexter actor David Zayas will be taking on the role of other influential mobster, Sal Maroni. More excitingly, FOX have released a 22 minute documentary (streamed in four parts), titled The Legend Reborn, featuring interviews with cast and crew members on the upcoming series and a lot of new clips, including a look of Oswald Cobblepot's (Robin Lord Taylor) mother as played by Carol Kane, the power struggle between Oswald and Fish, the connection between Fish and Bullock as well as a look into Renee and Barbara's past. If that doesn't get you excited for this series, possibly nothing will now.

Cast Pictures/Video Links:

Gotham will air Mondays 8pm on FOX from September 22nd and shortly (I hope) afterwards on Channel 5 for UK viewers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Batman: The Animated Series - Episodes 76-80 Reviews

The third season came rather quickly and it ended as quickly too as the final five episodes see a few more Rogue returns and the start of another interesting alliance as well.

Episode 76: Harley's Holiday

It might have taken the show it's sweet time but we finally got an episode with Harley Quinn that not only didn't feature the Joker but as far as I can remember, it didn't actually mention him either. It's a bonkers episode with Harley's attempts of going straight not lasting and all because of a misunderstanding with a paid/unpaid dress and briefly taking Veronica Vreeland (less annoying in this episode compared to past appearances) hostage. I really felt bad for Harley here. While she did almost give into her crime committing ways a little too quickly, it did feel like she actually wanted to change for the better and even Batman seemed to sympathise with her plight as well. The last scene between Harley and Batman is priceless, especially for the shared reaction of disbelief between Robin and Poison Ivy. 9/10

Episode 77: Make 'Em Laugh

Speaking of the Joker - this was an interesting episode for him. At first it just appeared that a bunch of light entertainment people were unsuccessfully trying their hands at crime, then it looked like the Mad Hatter was controlling them, only for it then to be revealed that it was the Joker involved all along. I found the fact that the reason behind this escapade was something more mundane (a disguised Joker losing a comedy competition, gets revenge on the judges by ruining their reputations) worked pretty well in the episode's favour but the ending did seem to go a little overboard with the Clown Prince getting royally embarrassed as he was being arrested. Still, at least he didn't get royally spanked like Robin did in this one. 8/10

Episode 78: Batgirl Returns

Maybe it was the success of Harley & Ivy, but whoever thought of an episode where Batgirl and Catwoman team up to solve a crime, you have my thanks. As a team, the pair of them work so well, that you don't actually miss the Dynamic Duo (handy considering that Batman's relegated to a dream sequence/Bruce is in Paris on business and Robin's kind of a third wheel here) and while it was a little predictable that Catwoman always intended to steal the Jade cat, my only disappointment is that Batgirl didn't allow her to get revenge on Roland Daggett once and for all. On the plus side, I really liked that this episode implied another future team up between Selina and Barbara. It's just a shame that it never came to pass but at least we'll always have this episode. 9/10

Episode 79: Lock Up

Now this was an interesting one. I was a little curious to see an episode where perhaps the residents of Arkham Asylum (Harley, Scarecrow and Ventriloquist/Scarface) were being mistreated and they were at the hands of the volatile/power mad, Lyle Bolton who then became crazed vigilante named Lock-Up. The same vigilante who then kidnapped Summer, Gordon, some doctor and the Mayor in order to set a crazed example before he ended up being eventually taken out by Batman and Robin and locked up in Arkham himself. Like Baby Doll before it, it's one of those episode I found more interesting than expected. 8/10

Episode 80: Deep Freeze

The third season came to the conclusion of bringing back someone we really hadn't seen for ages. With the likes of Killer Croc, Clayface and even the Riddler, part of Mr Freeze's impact has been down to the fact that he didn't appear a lot in the series. In fact, this was his second and final appearance (of sorts) and while he's not strictly the antagonist of the episode (that would be Walter and his daft plot to freeze Gotham), there was some nice enough continuity to his previous adventure and he seemed initially taken in with Walter's offer before coming to his senses courtesy of the Dynamic Duo. The last image of the story as Freeze found himself relocated to the perfect (for him) environment is certainly striking. 8/10

Next blog I will be focusing on The Terrible Trio, Showdown, Catwalk, A Bullet For Bullock and The Lion And The Unicorn.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Batman: The Animated Series - Episodes 71-75 Reviews

And just like that, I've managed to get to the third season where a new title sequence and name was put in place to highlight that the show was more about Batman & Robin than just one of them. As for the first five episodes, a little bit of a mixed bag.

Episode 71: Bane

I have to admit over the years, I've gone from not liking the character of Bane (my first experience of him was his appearance in 1997's Batman & Robin) to finding the character more interesting thanks to Tom Hardy's take on the character in The Dark Knight Rises. For his only appearance on this show, the character (voiced by Henry Siva), Bane managed to hospitalise Killer Croc, use Robin as bait and nearly did some damage to Batman, mainly at the behest of Rupert Thorne and the overly ambitious Candace. As an episode, it's not bad but not as engaging as I hoped it would be though. 7/10

Episode 72: Second Chance

Following his antics in Shadow Of The Bat, this episode attempted to follow the trope of seeing if Two-Face could be reformed as a character and when he went missing, both Batman and Robin were perhaps a little too hasty to accuse both Rupert Thorne and the Penguin for his disappearance. It's a solid story but not one that particularly does anything too new with Dent's struggles with his duality. Still though, I liked the reminder of Dent's friendship with Bruce, something which the final scene of the episode highlighted rather nicely. 7/10

Episode 73: Riddler's Reform

It's rather a shame that the Riddler didn't have more episodes to his name in the series but on the other hand, perhaps that's also the reason why his three episodes (excluding the cameos in The Worry Men and Trial) have effect that they do then. This episode in particular saw Nygma toying with the idea of going on the straight and narrow or at least making people think he was while he continued to commit more crimes before eventually being outsmarted by Batman. The end scene in particular when Nygma is sent back to Arkham is surprisingly unsettling but as a final story for the character, it's excellent. 9/10

Episode 74: Baby Doll

I have to admit, this wasn't an episode I thought I would particularly enjoy. The premise didn't strictly excite me but the execution of it though was wonderful. A former child star (who still looked like a child) wanting to recapture the fame she had with a cheesy television show by holding her former co-stars hostage shouldn't have worked but there was a genuine sense of pathos to this story with Baby Doll being irritatingly cutesy, surprisingly menacing and even tragic as well during the final moments. A surprising gem really. 8/10

Episode 75: Time Out Of Joint

Out of the five episodes here, this one I found the weakest of the bunch. I liked the Clock King's debut story but for some reason (and despite the playing around with time), this story seemed to lack the same spark that his first story had, even with the continuity of the Clock King wanting to finish off Mayor Hill once and for all. It's not a bad story as such but it's just not that great either. I was expecting something a lot better than what we got here.  6/10

Next blog I'll focus on Harley's Holiday, Make 'Em Laugh, Batgirl Returns, Lock Up and Deep Freeze.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Review of True Blood's 7x09: "Love Is To Die"

Written by Brian Buckner
Directed by Howard Deutch

Bill (to Eric, re Sookie): “In the end, you have to admit it. It’s her light that pulls us in, just as much as she’s pulled towards our darkness.”

It might have taken Bill to the penultimate episode of the series but when it comes to the triangle between himself, Sookie and Eric, perhaps he’s finally right about something. If Bill indeed is no good for Sookie, then perhaps neither is Eric. However at the same time, both of them did in this episode try to demonstrate some genuine selflessness in relation to Sookie at long last.

Bill’s refusal to drink Sarah’s blood and cure himself might be frustrating but despite the fact that he’s about to make Jessica an orphan of sorts, perhaps being dead is the only way that Sookie can be free of him and his influence. I don’t know if either Bill or Eric will make it out of next week’s episode alive or if Sookie will end up with either or neither but at least this episode was something of an honest appraisal of this triangle for the last few seasons.

As for Eric, when he wasn’t having the briefest and funniest of sex scenes with Ginger – I have to admit, my respect for him actually soared in this episode. He gave both Bill and Sookie some rather sound advice while putting his own desires to one side. More to the point, he actually managed to get through to both Bill and Sookie as well. Here’s hoping for his sake, he’ll be able to get through to the Yakuza or better yet, just kill of Gus Jr and his tiresome cronies already.

As villains go, the Yakuza have become clich├ęd and boring and I’m hoping the finale doesn’t spend too much time on them either. This week, Gus Jr chose to torture Pam once again to get Eric to admit that Sookie was aware of Sarah being the cure. For once, I wasn’t that frustrated that Eric ratted out Sookie as I am hoping that it will lead to this New Blood plot being over and done with, once and for all.

Speaking of things being done – Sam and Nicole actually left town and left a few letters to explain the motives behind it. I liked the contrasts in the letters that both Sookie (heartfelt) and Andy (to the point) received. While I don’t think the show has done a great job with developing Sam and Nicole as a couple, I do think that perhaps Sam made the right choice by actually leaving Bon Temps.

Keeping with the relationships – I think it was a great gesture on Jessica’s part to give her own blessings towards James and Lafayette but her and Hoyt getting back together was laid on pretty thick though. I loved them as a couple during the second season but the way Jason explained it to Bridget made Jessica and Hoyt sound like the epic romance of the series instead of the whole Sookie/Bill/Eric thing.

Speaking of Jason – I’m proud that he actually didn’t sleep with Bridget and while their connection did feel a tad rushed, I will admit that after she got over her frustration with Hoyt and Jessica that Bridget was actually pretty enjoyable in this episode. It does though seem a little neatly wrapped up though – Jessica/Hoyt and Jason/Bridget but I guess there are bigger issues to deal with in the finale, so I won’t complain about it too much.

Also in “Love Is To Die”

Willa briefly appeared in this episode during Arlene’s get together at Bellefleur’s Bar & Grill. I also liked the brief telepathic exchange with Sookie and Adylin as well.

Sookie (to Bill, re Sarah): “If you don’t drink her blood, you’re making a choice. A choice you won’t have to live with but we will, Jessica and me.”

Pam showed a fragment of compassion for Sarah by dyeing the latter’s hair back to blonde. Sarah spent most of this episode bound and gagged and being threatened/insulted.

Pam (to Jessica): “Cry on my jacket and you’re paying for it, sweetheart.”

Sookie: “Who would’ve thought – Arlene Fowler dating a vampire?”
Arlene: “You don’t have to tell me how strange it sounds.”

I’ve really enjoyed the ‘advice’ side of Arlene this season. I hope she’s able to get business up and running successfully again.

Pam: “You remind me of Mary.”
Sarah: “Mary of Bethany?”
Pam: “Of the whorehouse I used to run.”

Jason (to Bridget, re Hoyt/Jessica): “You just happened to pick a guy who had already met the girl he was supposed to be with.”

Standout music: Warpaint’s “Love Is To Die”.

Sookie: “I’m scared.”
Eric: “Death is scary. I’ve been avoiding it for a thousand years.”

Eric: “She knows.”
Gus Jr: “Finally, some honesty. Where does Miss Stackhouse live?”

Chronology: From where “Almost Home” left off.

I really enjoyed this one. “Love Is To Die” certainly focused on some serious matters of the heart and while it was nice to see some emotional honesty – Sookie’s dynamics with Bill and Eric, Jason’s sexual prowess etc, I do hope that the last episode will give this show the true death is really deserves as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Revenge - Season 4 New Characters

With the upcoming fourth season due to air on ABC in a month's time, I guess it's time to start discussing Revenge again. Well, no new cast shots have appeared yet but when the show returns you can expect a few new faces added into the mix as well as the expansion of another too.

James Tupper, who has mostly played David Clarke through flashbacks in the first three seasons, until the recent finale Execution revealed that his character was alive after all will become a series regular this season. As to how the rest of the main characters react to David being alive is something we'll have to wait and see as his reveal will take some time.

Brian Hallisay, best known for appearing in The Client List will be recurring this season as an easy going cop named Ben, who is an old friend of Jack and a rumoured love interest for Emily as well. It seems that for the first time since the show has began that Emily herself will be in a good place. Considering the revenge she got on Victoria, how could she not feel a sense of catharsis, right?

Elena Satine has bagged a recurring role on the show too, playing the role of socialite Louise. Described as the “black sheep” daughter of a wealthy Southern family as well as being “slightly unhinged,” though she has only the best of intentions (within the context of her own warped logic). Either way, it's nice to have another female character added into the mix.

Last not but least, along with The Simpsons actress Yeardley Smith guest starring in the opening episode as a fellow patient with Victoria, it seems that Nestor Serrano will be appearing in the series as a recurring character named Edward Alvarez. He's described as a “commanding and perceptive police chief” who’s (surprisingly) in Victoria’s corner. I guarantee anything he'll end up as a love interest long before we get to the winter finale but I guess Victoria does need someone on her side though.

Season 4 Spoilers:

Season 4 of Revenge airs Sundays at 10pm on ABC from September 28th and will premiere on RTE2 and E4 in early 2015.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Doctor Who - Series 8: All Episode Titles Confirmed

With five days to go before the arrival of Peter Capaldi's debut series as the 12th Doctor, the BBC have finally released titles for every episode of Series 8 of Doctor Who. Here they are ...

Episode 1: Deep Breath

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Clara trying to cope with her best friend being someone else. A terrifying monster.

Episode 2: Into The Dalek

Written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Introducing Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink. Gritty Dalek ep that goes into the last place in the universe the Doctor should be.

Episode 3: Robot Of Sherwood

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Paul Murphy

Very funny Robin Hood story all about being a hero and whether the Doctor is a good man.

Episode 4: Listen

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Douglas MacKinnon

The story of a date and the Doctor having what appears to be a mild nervous breakdown. Tiny guest cast, no CGI. A bit of Coupling. Quite scary.

Episode 5: Time Heist

Written by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat
Directed by Douglas MacKinnon

A Doctor Who heist movie with a cracking monster, one of Neill Gorton’s best.

Episode 6: The Caretaker

Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul Murphy

What effect would slipping away with the Doctor have on your life? A hoot with some serious bits. Bit like The Lodger.

Episode 7: Kill The Moon

Written by Peter Harness
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst

Proper drama with monsters and all the Doctor Who stuff that you could want. Also features a callback to a past episode (sort of).

Episode 8: Mummy On The Orient Express

Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst

Moffat playing the long game with a callback to something from Matt’s first series. A brilliant idea of a monster. Foxes singing.

Episode 9: Flatline

Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Douglas MacKinnon

A horror story that starts off with a very cute idea and becomes really quite frightening by the end. One of the best ever sight gags in it.

Episode 10: In The Forest Of The Night

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Directed by Sheree Folkson

Boldly beautiful, lyrical and poetic. A fairytale, but not Moffat fairytale. Quite different with a clever main visual idea.

Episodes 11/12: Dark Water/Death In Heaven

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

High octane action, with Cybermen and some proper UNIT stuff. Strong emotional story about Clara and the Doctor and the fact that the way they interact might not be healthy for everyone around them.

The synopsis for each episode is a brief one from last month's SFX preview but it certainly seems like we've got a bloody fantastic series ahead of us. I should also warn that rough copies of the first three episodes have been leaked online (as though the scripts weren't enough). If you've managed to avoid them before now, only another five days to go now.

Press Release:

Series 8 of Doctor Who airs on BBC1/BBCAmerica from August 23rd.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Wrong Other Woman

A rundown of some of the most recent shows I've caught ...

A Touch Of Cloth: Charlie Brooker's cop spoof trilogy finally came to it's conclusion with the airing of the third installment during the Bank Holiday Weekend. While the first one remains the best of the three, this final chapter was a marked improvement on the second with Karen Gillan's Kerry Newblood being a fun addition to the series. While the reveal of who Gillan's character was managed to be predictable, it still led to a great confrontation between her and John Hannah's always reckless Jack and the ends credits for this one were pretty cheeky - in the literal sense of the word.

Devious Maids: Finale time and the end to this second season managed to set up some interesting plotlines for next season - someone got shot, Rosie/Spencer got married as it was revealed the former's first husband was actually still alive, Zoila ended up pregnant, Marisol realised her husband killed the Powells son, Carmen slept with a married man (is Gilles Marini in every show nowadays?) and er, Valentina did something, didn't she? As a finale, it certainly packed a lot into it and it'll be interesting to see where this soapy show can go in it's third run.

Scandal: I won't lie - I've only gotten into this show more recently but having watched the first three episodes of the third season, courtesy of SkyLiving (and catching with the main points of previous seasons), I really do get why there's so much fuss behind this show. The fallout of Olivia and Fitz's affair took a surprisingly unpredictable (if slightly frustrating) turn of events while the further backstories of both Eli and Huck have been fascinating to watch. I'll definitely be watching the rest of this season and hope that the fourth season also airs pretty sharpish over here as well.

The Vampire Diaries: A hundred episodes later and this show is still here (okay, I know production for the sixth season has begun) but to celebrate it's landmark episode, the show brought back several characters (Klaus, Rebekah, Tyler etc) and had Katherine decide that she didn't want to go quietly into the night by swapping bodies with Elena during her dying moments. It's a good enough way of keeping onto Katherine for a tiny bit longer and for a prominent episode, it was also highly enjoyable too.

Utopia: A good finale but not as great as the previous series. I did like that they bumped off a few more characters and Wilson's increasing dark turn has been more riveting than anything concerning Ian or Becky and Jessica certainly had her moments in the last two episodes. With ratings being low though, it'll be a miracle if the show gets picked up for another run and I don't know how much longer they can sustain the threat of the virus but it would be a shame for Channel 4 not to give it another series too.

- Colin Woodell will be appearing in the second season of The Originals, playing a werewolf named Aiden.
- Outlander has already been renewed for a second season.
- Bex Taylor-Klaus has replaced Amy Forsyth for the upcoming Scream series.
- Mike Birbilglia has joined the cast of Orange Is The New Black.
- Derek Hough will be appearing in multiple episodes of Nashville's upcoming third season.
- Jyoti Amge and Patti LaBelle have both joined the cast of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
- The Leftovers has been renewed for a second season. SkyAtlantic will be airing the first season shortly.
- Mary McCormick and Josh Randall will be playing a power couple in the upcoming season of Scandal.
- Michael C. Hall will be returning to television in a mini-series called God Fearing Man. The project is currently being shopped around to networks at the moment.
- Homeland's fourth season will receive a two hour premiere. The series returns to Showtime from October 5th. Channel 4 will air it shortly afterwards.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Batman: The Animated Series - Episodes 66-70 Reviews

And just when it seemed like the second season was beginning, it also came to something of an end but at least with a slew of interesting episodes, one of which included the most bizarre TV trial since the Sixth Doctor had to endure one for fourteen weeks back in 1986.

Episode 66: House & Garden

I've made no bones about the fact that I've enjoyed any episode that's featured Poison Ivy but I have to admit that while I've always found sympathy for her character, this was without a doubt her darkest episode going. Holding a professor captive and using him to live out an idyllic family life on her own terms was actually the creepiest thing I've seen any of the Rogue Gallery members do in the series and even then, there seemed to be a tiny part of Ivy that actually wanted redemption. As an episode, it's bloody fantastic with a subplot involving Dick being used as leverage and while the plant monster did look a little rubbish, this was still an incredible episode. 10/10.

Episode 67: Sideshow

Like Clayface, I'm oddly impressed (and excluding his appearance of sorts in Almost Got 'Im) that this show took it's time to give audiences another story with Killer Croc. His second one was a little more original than his first but like with Birds Of A Feather and House & Garden, there was a tease of Croc perhaps redeeming himself when a freak show of people befriended and sheltered him before reverting to his usual type. I found the nonchalance of him admitting to being himself at the end rather refreshing and this was one of two episodes in the batch where the action was away from Gotham as well. 7/10

Episode 68: Avatar

Yay, another Ras and Talia episode but not as good as either Off Balance or The Demon's Quest. Mainly because it felt a little too familiar in some respects. We had Ras going on another mad quest to sustain his immortality and Talia being forced to pick between her father and Batman once again. It also didn't help that Ubu still is little more than stereotypically written but the plot involving the Egyptian goddess Thoth Khepera was interesting enough and I liked the setting as well. A good one but previous episodes involving this volatile father/daughter duo have been better. 8/10

Episode 69: Trial

Clearly the show loves putting as many members of the Rogue Gallery together as humanly possible. If they're not appearing briefly in certain episodes like Fear Of Victory, Joker's Wild or Fire From Olympus or more prominently like five of them did in Almost Got 'Im. Then there's Trial, which decided to feature nine of them together for the fun of kidnapping Batman and anti-vigilante lawyer, Janet Van Dorm for a trial in which the former could be blamed and sentenced for creating them. In this episode alone we had the Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, the Riddler, the Mad Hatter, the Ventriloquist/Scarface. It's an absolute madcap episode and while I felt they could've thrown in some cameos from the Penguin and possibly Catwoman and Robin as Batman's other defence (maybe they would've had this been a two parter), there's no denying how much of a joy this episode was to watch. 10/10

Episode 70: Harlequinade

Given how much of an impact Harley Quinn has had in the Batman universe, aside from Harley & Ivy, she hasn't had really an episode that's really been hers. Technically this one isn't totally hers either as she's mostly sprang from Arkham Asylum so that she can help Batman and Robin locate her Puddin'. The grudging alliance between the Dynamic Duo and Harley was a highlight throughout the episode along with the momentary realisation from Harley that perhaps her relationship with the Joker might be unhealthy after all when he revealed his true colours. It seems if there's one thing Harley loves more than her Clown Prince, it's those hyenas of hers and her fellow criminals (Ivy in particular) but of course, the episode did end with her and the Joker settling their differences when he formed a new respect for her. 9/10

Next blog I'll focus on Bane, Second Chance, Riddler's Reform, Baby Doll and Time Out Of Joint.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Batman: The Animated Series - Episodes 61-65 Reviews

It's the start of the second season and with that, there's the arrival of a new ally, a few returns from the Rogue Gallery and the sibling of another baddie showing up as well.

Episodes 61 & 62: Shadow Of The Bat

When Robin debuted in this series, he showed with little fanfare in an episode that wasn't really about him and it took a while before he was given a two-parter to outline his origins but with Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, it was a different kettle of fish. I liked how her origin as Batgirl was almost unintentional but also as a direct result of Two-Face and Gil Mason and her teaming up with both Batman and Robin in order to prove her father's innocence showed that she was a natural and welcomed fit for the show. The fact that she's actually used only sparingly probably helped as well. 8/10

Episode 63: Mudslide

I'm actually surprised we didn't get a reprise from Clayface earlier than this episode but not only was this as great as Feat Of Clay, it was arguably a little better with one of Hagan's famous roles currently mirroring his own predicament (even with a lovelorn doctor as well trying to cure him) but while I did feel a little sympathy for him (he very nearly got cured), the fact that he so easily reverts to crime kind of indicates that even if he did become normal again, he'd still be a nasty piece of work. I did like the fight scenes with him and Batman in this one and the final scene did seem to give him a definite ending. 9/10

Episode 64: The Worry Men

The return of the Mad Hatter in probably one of his least interesting episodes. I mean, the whole with using handmaid dolls, courtesy of Veronica Vreeland to fleece money out of Gotham's elite isn't a bad plot and I did like the use of puppets resembling certain baddies but as an episode, Tetch has had better ones and the only real compelling thing was that his own little scheme ended up being used against him when his scheme was foiled by Batman and the natives whom he had been using as well. Not a bad episode but we've had better from Jervis though. 7/10

Episode 65: Paging The Crime Doctor

In a lot of ways, this episode feels like a reminder of Appointment In Crime Alley. For starters, you've got Leslie Thompkins in a prominent role/kidnapped by the baddies of the piece and also a moment that delved into Bruce's family past, but that's more noticeable at the end of the episode. More interesting you've also got the rivalry between Rupert Thorne and his struck off doctor brother, Matt, which the episode nicely explored. I actually would go as far as to say this was probably the best episode for Rupert Thorne so far in the series as a whole. 8/10

Next blog I'll focus on House And Garden, Sideshow, Avatar, Trial and Harleqinade.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Review of True Blood's 7x08: "Almost Home"

Written by Kate Barnow
Directed by Jesse Warn

Hoyt (re Violet): “Where did that insane woman come from?”
Jason: “My worst fucking nightmare.”

Goodbye Violet – as a character, you lasted much longer than you probably deserved to and while you were basically a female version of Franklin, at least you were killed by the man whose mother you offed a few episodes back. Basically, having two years off screen has done Hoyt a lot of good it seems.

He came to the rescue rather skilfully when it looked like Jason, Jessica, Adylin and Wade were about to suffer from some serious torture porn courtesy of a scorned Violet. I know some people complained about how Hoyt was able to sneak up on Violet and take her out but giving how distracted she was, it doesn’t really matter. All I got out of this episode was a reminder that I actually like Hoyt as a character.

In fact this episode seemed to have a lot of reminders. Not only did it look like an attraction between Jason and Bridget was being set up but Hoyt’s attraction to Jessica reasserted itself and he seemed more interested in getting to know her than discussing having children with Bridget. Even Bridget sensed that there was something between Hoyt and Jessica when she wasn’t talking to Jason herself.

I really found myself enjoy the scenes between Hoyt and Jessica this week. His honesty about his conflicted feelings for his mother’s death were handled nicely and his sympathy for Jessica’s plight with Bill was another reminder of why he was so loved in the early days of this show. I wouldn’t be surprised by next week if Hoyt’s memories are returned to him and he and Jessica end up together. I kind of felt this episode set this up along with closing the door on Jessica and Jason though.

Speaking of closing the door on things – does Bill actually want to die? I’m getting the impression he just might have a death wish after all given that he refused to drink from Sarah/Noomi/Antidote. With Eric now officially cured, I guess perhaps the writers might actually go there with him and Sookie and have Bill die heroically in the next two episodes. Unless Bill actually changes his mind before then.

As for Sarah – her future might not be bright but I have no sympathy for her. Right now (and probably thanks to Pam), Eric is being far more lenient on her than she actually deserves but I wouldn’t be surprised if she managed to get one little victory before being bumped off or shockingly even make it out of the series alive.

Last but not least – the Lettie Mae/Tara plot came to a resolution and it mostly centred around a gun that wasn’t buried too deep, Tara’s abusive father abandoning his family and Lettie Mae learning to forgive herself. Thematically, this wasn’t bad as such but it might have been more effective had Lettie Mae been the one who died in the opening episode of the season and Tara was the one who went on the journey. Either way, poor Rutina Wesley deserved far better than this for an ending.

Also in “Almost Home”

If Violet had this fancy pad all the time, then why didn’t she stay there from the beginning instead of Jason’s place?

Eric: “You want to die?”
Sarah: “No, but I must.”

Gus Jr picked up on Sookie being more than an average fang banger when she arrived at Fangtasia during the middle of the day.

Bill (to Sookie): “We all want what we can’t have and if we are denied it long enough, we lose our way.”

Lettie Mae (to Reverend Daniels): “Sometimes you gotta take a journey, even if it’s a blind one.”

We learned in this episode, courtesy of Bill that Sophie-Anne intended to bring Sookie. I have to admit some Bill/Sophie-Anne flashbacks would’ve been nice. At least we saw younger versions of Sookie, Lafayette and Tara in flashbacks though.

Violet (to Jason): “So you do have the balls to be loyal to at least one woman? Do you realise that I’ve brought some of the most powerful men in history to their knees by casting a single glance?”

Tara: “No more blame, momma. Forgive yourself and let me go.”

Sam, Nicole and Willa were missing from this episode and James only had one scene as did Arlene.

Yakuza Member: “You’re a very brave girl. Brave and stupid.”
Sookie: “I’ve been told.”

Standout music: “Almost Home” by Moby and Damien Jurado.

Sookie (to Sarah): “Even as the cure, you’re still a fucking problem but I’m not letting ruin the life of one more person I love.”

Bill (to everyone): “I don’t want the blood.”

Chronology: From where “May Be The Last Time” left off.

I liked this one a lot. Some plots were finally put to bed and with two episodes left, “Almost Home” set up a fair enough conundrum in relation to Bill’s eventual fate as well as some other plotlines too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Psychobitches - Five Best Scenes

With the arrival of the second series of SkyArts series, Psychobitches coming soon, I thought I'd do a highlight of the five best moments from Jeremy Dyson's series focusing on Rebecca Front's therapist talking to some of the infamous women known to history. And for the best bits ...

1: Bette Davis & Joan Crawford

It says 'blah, blah, blah, shameless showoff. Blah, Blah, blah, her watery bug eyes make me feel physically sick'. Their words, not mine. I think you're an absolutely splendid actress.

Easily the best sketch from the first series with an absolutely wonderfully barbed performance from both Frances Barber as Bette Davis and Mark Gatiss as Joan Crawford. Watching the two of them verbally and physically abuse each other in a series of sketches shouldn't have been as funny as it was but the two of them played off each other beautifully as the rival actresses revelled in using their achievements and personal failings as mothers to try and best the other. I am hoping we get another scene with those two in the second series.

2: Eva Braun

Any negatives?

He might be a tiny bit racist.

I never thought I'd get something of an insight into being the significant half of Adolf Hitler but with Catherine Tate, we found out that Eva Braun was a woman who had been trying to break from her previous relationship patterns when she hooked up with a certain Fuhrer as she tells Front's therapist about her man's love for painting, painting animals and how he commands respect and likes orders. However, she might have undersold his one glaring negative I think.

3: Cleopatra

So you're saying I should hit on him hard?

Oh dear. I know historically that Cleopatra was betrothed to one of her brothers before she ever got involved with Julius Caesar but seeing Sharon Horgan's lusty version of the Egyptian queen trying to get advice from the therapist on how to get her own brother into bed and ignoring her appalled therapist's advice against having a relationship with her sibling nonetheless. Cringey but certainly funny though.

4: The Bronte Sisters

It's her, in't it? She's so sodding uptight, she won't do anything. Won't go anywhere.

I've been to Brussels.

Yeah, but you came straight back, didn't ya?

Another highlight was having the likes of Katy Brand, Selina Griffiths and Sarah Solemani as the Bronte sisters during the most tense family therapy session going. Both Brand and Griffiths took centre stage in this one, while Solemani provided some great support as the more overlooked of the three sisters. I'm not sure if they needed the dolly like bodies for this sketch but it still worked a treat though.

5: Beatrix Potter

You know how pigs are. That earthy vernacular peculiar to their kind.

I know Selina Griffiths has appeared in this twice but her take on children's author Beatrix Potter and the rather acid trippy description of how the animals talk to her was really something to see. I certainly won't be able to look at one of her books in the same way ever again.

Of course, it was hard to pick a top 5 and I do feel bad ignoring the likes of Samantha Spiro and Julia Davis as well as the sketches featuring other historical characters such as Rosa Parks, Nina Simone, Joan Of Arc and Mary of Nazareth but as a series, this was shamelessly entertaining to watch and I can't wait to see who else winds up having to talk to Rebecca Front's therapist in the new series.

The new series of Psychobitches is coming to SkyArts soon. The first series can be seen online on the Sky website.