Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Review of Revenge's 4x18: "Clarity"

Written by Karin Gist
Directed by Allison Liddi-Brown

Emily (to the media): "There is only one explanation. There's one secret that I kept and it has cost the ones I love more than I ever wanted. I am David Clarke's daughter. I am Amanda Clarke."

Well, that was interesting but when you think about it, rather expected. With an upcoming series from one of this show's writers having a similar premise (The Kingmakers which I'll discuss in a later blog) and the likelihood that the remaining five episodes will see the end of this show for good, Emily's rather public confession to clear Daniel's name felt signposted throughout the episode.

That doesn't mean that the reveal in the final moments lacked impact. In fact they packed a genuine punch as Jack and David looked delighted with Emily outing herself to counter the likes of Nolan, Victoria and Margaux being completely shocked by the whole thing as well. The fact that Ben wasn't there during Emily's pivotal moment should be taken as a sign of those two breaking up as well.

I'm glad that Emily's secret is out. We might have a few more episodes left but every main cast member has known who she is since the second half of this season and aside from some inevitable legal ramifications for Emily's double life, it does feel like the beginning of the end for the series in a proper way.

More to the point - Emily gave both Victoria and Margaux what they wanted. Daniel's name is no longer tainted and while Victoria doesn't look particularly satisfied in the previews, Margaux has slowly realised that going after Emily wasn't her brightest of ideas. She told Victoria to let it go in this one and even got her right hand man and that assassin lady not to go after Emily too. As annoying as Margaux has been in the last few episodes, I did feel bad for her here.

As for the Emily, Ben and Jack triangle - well, any day now Emily and Ben will break up. The divide is already there between them and while Stevie was able to persuade Jack to go along with Emily's original plan, he was still there during the crucial moment of her public announcement too. I think Jack/Emily fans are going to very much get their happy ending by the time we get to the finale.

In less happy news, it looks like things are going to turn ugly between Nolan and Louise as well in the last few episodes. Louise overheard him talking to Jack about being married to her out of pity and when he did tell her he wanted a divorce, she played it off like it was nothing. Not to mention her sudden fixation on getting pregnant, the whole flashdrive issue and to a lesser extent, both Tony (who bailed on Nolan sadly) and Lymon's death of course. Yeah, this isn't going to end well at all, is it?

Also in "Clarity"

I'm surprised we didn't get to see Louise's awful mother one more time during this episode. I really hope Louise doesn't properly go crazy on Nolan.

Margaux: "How can I miss someone I never met?"
Victoria: "You're a mother and Emily should be behind bars for taking that away from you."

The assassin was called White Gold and she was played by Courtney Love. First Empire and now this show. Where will she appear next?

Nolan: "I have to make sure I'm free."
Tony: "My advice, be free."

Emily: "You asked me to leave revenge behind. This is what it looks like, Dad."

We met Ben's older brother Kevin in the episode as the former made detective (something which Victoria briefly threatened to scupper as well). Even he picked up on the Emily/Jack vibe.

Louise: "Nolan and I have no secrets."
Victoria: "Did he tell you what happened the night Daniel died?"

Tony: "This isn't how I work Nolan. I won't be the other man in someone's marriage."

Tony looked pretty damn hot without his glasses on. I hope he comes back in the remaining episodes.

Margaux: "I wasn't myself when I asked him to hire you."
White: "You were the darkest part of yourself. Don't be ashamed, own it."

Louise: "I'm a big girl, Nolan. I can swim in the deep end."

Standout music: Calvin Harris/Haim's "Pray To God".

Emily: "I've lived between two worlds. You can't possibly understand."
Ben: "Yeah, but I want to. Come on, don't do this. Don't shut me out."

Chronology: More or less from where "Loss" left off.

Now this was excellent. Another one of those with a tiny bit of tweaking, it could've been a series finale but either way, "Clarity" was a triumph. I don't know where the remaining episodes are going to go but it does look like this show could go out in style.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, March 30, 2015

Doctor Who - Series 9 Guest Stars For Block 3

You wait for some more information on Doctor Who's upcoming ninth series and then all of a sudden, loads of information comes all at once.

First of all - Game Of Thrones's Arya Stark herself Maisie Williams will be appearing in the upcoming series fifth episode. The episode written by Jamie Mathieson (Mummy On The Orient Express and Flatline) and Steven Moffat has the title of The Girl Who Died. Executive producer Steven Moffat had this to say about Maisie's casting ....

"We’re thrilled to have Maisie Williams joining us on Doctor Who. It’s not possible to say too much about who or what she’s playing, but she is going to challenge the Doctor in very unexpected ways. This time he might just be out of his depth, and we know Maisie is going to give him exactly the right sort of hell.”

Now who exactly could Maisie be playing? Oh, does it matter? The fact that she's appearing in an episode alone is exciting news.

As for the sixth episode, it's got the equally fetching title of The Woman Who Lived and will be written by Torchwood writer Catherine Tregenna. Both episodes according to the press release will be period episodes, though it's not specified which time and both episodes will be directed by Ed Bazalgette (Poldark). Other guest stars confirmed for the third block are Rufus Hound (Cucumber) along with Tom Stourton, Ariyon Bakare, Simon Lipkin, Ian Conningham, Murray McArthur, Barnaby Kay, John Voce, and Struan Rodger. Now this does sound rather exciting, doesn't it?

Press Release: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/dw-maisie-williams?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_press_office&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=corporate

Series 9 of Doctor Who continues to film and will air on BBC1 and BBCAmerica in August 2015.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Looking - Cancelled

Yeah, it's been an interesting week. The X-Files coming back for six episodes, Downton Abbey ending during Christmas and of course, another ending in sight with HBO confirming that the end is nigh for gay drama Looking.

The series, which finished up it's second season (thoughts on that finale in a TV jumble blog next week) on Sunday (or Thursday for SkyAtlantic viewers) will not be returning for a third season, but in a bit of good-ish news, loose ends for the show will be tied up in a movie instead. Details as to when the movie will be made and aired have yet to be confirmed though.

I have to admit that while Looking wasn't exactly event television, it was a great show and one that certainly seemed to be improving for the better. Granted the second season did drag out the Patrick/Kevin drama and Richie was kind of just there at times but it was also a great season for both Dom and Doris's friendship and the Agustin/Eddie relationship was easily the best romantic pairing the show came up. It also helped that as a character, Agustin came leaps and bounds too. With ratings for the show not being particularly impressive, it was somewhat inevitable that HBO would pull the plug on the show. On the plus side, at least there's a movie to look forward to though.

Press Release: http://www.thebacklot.com/hbo-cancelling-looking/03/2015/

The first two seasons of Looking have finished airing on both HBO and SkyAtlantic. I'll post more details on the movie when they become available.

American Crime Story: More Cast Members Announced

For the last few weeks I've been distracted with the final season of Glee and Ryan Murphy's other two projects, American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens but it seems that more cast members have been revealed for the upcoming American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson.

With Cuba Gooding Jr (who recently guest starred on Empire) playing the title role and Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark, other cast members include ....

Former Friends star himself David Scwhimmer will play Robert Kardashian. Yup, the father of Kim Kardashian herself, who was also an instrumental during the OJ Simpson trial. The miniseries will also look at the trial from the perspective of the lawyers themselves with Schwimmer's Kardashian being a confidant for Simpson.

John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction etc) will take on the role of  Attorney Robert Shapiro, a key member of O.J. Simpson’s Defense Dream Team. Travolta will also serve as a producer on the upcoming 10 part miniseries. For some reason, I was convinced it was going to be 13 episodes, but it's actually ten instead. That is probably a good thing.

Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) will play the role of Johnnie Cochran, the defence attorney who famously said during the closing arguments of the trial "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," Vance's wife, Angela Bassett has previously worked with Ryan Murphy and company in the last two seasons of American Horror Story.

Finally (well at least for the time being until other cast announcements are made), Nashville actress, Connie Britton will take on the role of Faye Resnick. Britton who has previously worked with Murphy and company during the first season of American Horror Story was announced earlier in the week and it seems that her role in the miniseries will have no bearing on Nashville either.

So there's your cast for American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson for now. While I'm looking forward to Murphy's other two shows a lot more, I do admit that the casting for this miniseries is impressive though.

Press Releases: http://www.spoilertv.com/search/label/American%20Crime%20Story

American Crime Story: The People V. OJ Simpson will film later in the year and air in 2016 on FX for US viewers.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The X-Files - Returning For 6 Episodes

It's not all about major television shows ending. This week also saw the announcement of one of the most iconic shows coming back - The X Files.

Early this week, Chris Carter announced that his popular show which ran for nine seasons between 1993 to 2002 as well as two movies in both 1998 and 2008 with I Want To Believe was to return to FOX with both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their roles as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully respectively.

The slight snag is that the series is coming back for only six episodes, which is kind of surprising considering that when FOX commissioned 24: Live Another Day, it ran for twelve episodes while NBC's Heroes: Reborn is running for 13 episodes and Showtime's third season of Twin Peaks has at least nine episodes. Now it could be to accommodate both David and Gillian's busy schedules (the latter who also has to film the third and final series of RTE1/BBC2 drama, The Fall), but it does seem a little short though.

On the plus side, while the return of this show is hardly a shocker (I'd say it's been pretty imminent for a while now) and the fact that I was more of a casual viewer than an obsessive, I am delighted that we're going to get some more episodes from the show. Even if you didn't religiously watch the show, it's influence on some many shows over the last decade has been felt. It'll be interesting to see where Carter can take his iconic creations this time.

Press Release: http://www.spoilertv.com/2015/03/x-files-ordered-to-series-by-fox.html

Filming for The X Files begins in the summer. An airdate for the episodes has yet to be confirmed by FOX.

Downton Abbey - Series 6/Christmas 2015 To End Series

They do say that all good things come to an end and after weeks of rumours and speculation, yesterday afternoon, ITV finally confirmed that the upcoming sixth series and Christmas special will see the end of Downton Abbey. Personally, I think it's for the best but before it ends, here are a few things I'd like to see happen during the final run of episodes for the popular period drama.

Resolve Mary's Love Arc: Seriously, while a part of me is glad Mary hasn't rushed into a new relationship/marriage following Matthew's death, the final series really does need to give her someone now. We know that Tony Gillingham is out of the running, so it's probably down to either Charles Blake or Henry Talbot, who was introduced during the Christmas special. Either way, just resolve it already. Pair her up with Branson if needs be. On seconds thoughts, maybe not.

Who Killed Green: A thousand times does this story need a resolution. The one thing that Fellowes clearly did not learn from the whole 'Who Killed Vera Bates' storyline was not to drag out murder plots longer than necessary. Series 5 should've cleared this up within it's first half but chose not to, so I'm hoping the opening episode of Series 6 finally put us out of our misery and answers this one.

More Violet & Isobel: Let's face it, any scene with those two has been pure gold over the last five years, so I want another healthy quotient of Violet and Isobel firing off one liners at each other during the last series. Then again, who doesn't, right?

A Wedding: Carson and Mrs Hughes anyone? As well as whoever ends up with Mary. One as an opening episode event and the other during Christmas 2015. This show does love a good old wedding after all.

Thomas's Love Life: Or disturbing lack of one would be more apt. In five series, he's had one closeted relationship which ended in the first episode, tried it on with Jimmy with near disastrous consequences and of course, there was that conversion story line in the last series when he hasn't been scheming and pissing people off. All in all, it's time for the show to actually give the bloke a healthy relationship with someone but at the same time without diluting his personality, but also at the same time show that he's evolved as a character. In other words, pair him up with Andy please, who is coming back for the sixth series.

Edith's A Mother: Well, she has been since Christmas 2013, so can we cut out the rubbish and have everyone else become privy to the fact that Marigold is her daughter and not her ward because if even the usually not perceptive Robert can figure it out, I can't see how everyone else hasn't worked it out by now.

The Last Episode: Like Christmas 2011 and 2014, the 2015 Christmas special actually should incorporate Christmas in some capacity (beginning or end of the episode) as well as a little bit of a flashforward/update on what has or will happen to the main characters in the future (aside from death of course).

Now those are some of the things I think should happen during the last series of Downton Abbey. What do you think should happen?

Press Release: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a638150/downton-abbey-to-end-after-sixth-series-itv-confirms.html

Series 6 of Downton Abbey is currently being filmed and will air on ITV from September.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x06: "Out, Damned Spot"

Written by Eric Haywood
Directed by Michael Engler

Cookie: "I am fighting for a comeback too, Elle. It's do or die for me too. Okay, now let's do this together but we gotta do this right. I'm all you got."

And the surprising celeb attached to Empire records turned to be Courtney Love or should I say Elle Dallas? As an appearance, it wasn't one I was expecting but it was one that worked well for the episode even if Cookie's fangirling over the somewhat fading Elle was a little OTT in places. That being said, Cookie is continuing to prove her stripes as a manager.

When she wasn't boosting things for Jamal (more on that in a bit), she was doing her best to get Elle to remain clean and use her pain to actually make a good recording session, along with getting rid of all the tacky eyelashes and stuff on her as well. I love this side to Cookie and I have to admit that Elle seemed like a slightly neutered version of Love's own wild child reputation of yesteryear as well. Character wise, I want some more scenes with Cookie and Elle.

As for Jamal - well, this was a massive episode for him, wasn't it? On one hand we had Cookie getting him tweeted by a sports star, setting up live interviews and also having the world hear two of his songs. It was actually going pretty well for Jamal, except for the fact that he closeted himself by admitting there was no special lady in his life, which did not go down well with Michael.

I've mentioned in previous episodes that I didn't feel we were getting a lot on Michael and this episode we did. As in the imminent death knell of his relationship with Jamal. We had Cookie basically forecasting their doom by going on about Jamal's rising fame and Jamal's schedule putting Fire Island on hold along with concealing his sexuality. One step forward Jamal, several ones backwards - not good mate.

Of course if all that wasn't enough to spell the near end for Jamal and Michael, then the arrival of Olivia and Lola certainly will. It looks like Jamal is Lola's daddy with Jussie Smollett's real life BFF Raven Symone playing the role of Olivia as well. This isn't a plotline I was hoping for and I'm not sure of Olivia's motives either. She didn't exactly come across pretty well in the last scene but I'll see how this one plays out before judging too harshly.

As for the rest of the episode - what exactly are Vernon and Andre in cahoots over? Taking Empire from Lucious probably. I'm actually surprised that Vernon figured out that Lucious killed Bunky and even more surprised that he went to the lengths he did to cover for Lucious as well but it does give him a hold over things now. Assuming Andre doesn't live up to his threat that is.

As for Hakeem - he got a new song, but mainly because he spent most of his time projecting his anger onto both Cookie and Tiana into his new hit. It's great that they inspired a song for him but Hakeem seriously needs to get over himself as well though. I'm glad Jamal called him out on a few choice things this week as well.

Also in "Out, Damned Spot"

Ah, the Shakespearean quotes for episodes title are great, aren't they?

Cookie: "Oh and Anika, this is an ass."

Cookie didn't take Lucious/Anika's engagement well but she should be more worried about the latter trying to turn Porscha against her.

Cookie: "You should start preparing yourself. Fame changes people."
Michael: "What should I do?"

Jamal: "You come first, you know that."
Michael: "First and second if we're keeping score."

Maybe it's because Ilene Chaiken is an executive producer/writer for this show, but I can't be the only one to see some parallels/shades of Dana/Lara from The L Word's first season with Jamal/Michael's current story line.

Anika (re Jamal's song): "I assumed it was a demo."
Cookie: "You would cos you're a hater."

Cookie: "Ex-wife."
Elle: "Darling, don't be shy. We're all someone's ex-wife."

Elle really does seem like an odd signing for Empire Records but perhaps that's a good thing as well.

Vince Boy (to Cookie/Porscha): "I'm only doing this because you two are hilarious. What's the name of the song?"

Lucious got Anika's father to give him an experimental cocktail from Russia in order to combat his ALS as well in this episode. Not to mention that Vernon is aware of Andre's bipolar and Cookie seemed attracted to new security head, Malcolm.

Michael: "What happened to not caring about fame and money? Weren't you all about the music?"
Jamal: "You really don't get it, do you? This is about the music."

Standout music: Jamal's "I Wanna Love You", Hakeem's "Can't Trust 'Em" and Elle's "Take Me To The River", even if the latter song was intentionally ropey.

Andre (to Vernon): "One more thing. You put your hands on me and I will slit your throat."

Chronology: Not long from where "Dangerous Bonds" left off. I love that Anika made a point of mentioning that Lucious proposed to her on a Wednesday too.

My favourite episode so far. While I don't know about the Jamal having a kid plot or the imminent split with him and Michael, I do think "Out, Damned Spot" had so many great moments for the character and it was nice to see other characters like Vernon showing their hand as well in the scheme of things too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x05: "Dangerous Bonds"

Written by Malcolm Spellman
Directed by John Singleton

Jamal (to Hakeem): "Don't underestimate me!"

Damn you, Andre! I really want to like you but you and Rhonda played extremely dirty this week and thanks to the both of you, both Jamal and Hakeem are at loggerheads with each other. It was bad enough the pair of you decided to out Tiana and India (which also outed both Lucious and Hakeem's not surprising double standards) but putting Jamal in danger by getting Hakeem's idiot crew to attack his recording session was a new low though.

I liked that Jamal managed to hold his ground against Hakeem's crew, even if one of people did get shot during the short lived robbery but while Jamal's anger was justified, a part of me was a little disappointed that he didn't give Hakeem the benefit of the doubt though. I actually felt bad for the latter when Jamal punched him in the stomach and stormed off. I hope we don't have to wait too long before things are resolved though.

I know both Andre and Rhonda are desperate for the former to be Lucious's successor but their actions in this episode were just reckless. They nearly could've gotten Jamal killed and their outing of Tiana (via that fucking site whose name I will not mention) was just pure sleazy. I did love that Tiana held her own and that Cookie encouraged her to use being outed as an advantage as did Lucious when it came to continuing to work with Hakeem for the video as well.

I don't even know why Hakeem was so mad as well. It's not like he was being faithful to Tiana in the first place. He had absolutely no right to be annoyed that she has a girlfriend and I was beyond delighted that Tiana didn't stand for his bullshit either and told him off in front of his crew. That being said, musically they still are a great team. Hakeem just needs to get over himself though.

Moving away from the music plots, it wasn't just Andre being all reckless in this episode. Cookie got tricked into testifying against a shooter who murdered an FBI agent and spent most of the episode mistaking a present from Lucious as a sign that she was about to be killed, which then resulted in her getting an innocent bloke shot instead. Bad move there, Cookie.

When this episode wasn't focusing on Lucious and Cookie's anniversary, Lucious was then planning to marry Anika and get her father to give him a clean bill of health before Empire went public. I liked that we got to meet Anika's parents and to be fair, this hasn't been the worst thing that Lucious has done so far on the show.

Also in "Dangerous Bonds"

Cookie's blonde hair in flashbacks is something to be seen to be believed. It was also nice that we got to see Carol again.

Cookie (to Agent Carter, re Frank): "I just snitched on him in court. Dead bitch walking that's me."

Only one Cookie/Lucious scene in this episode and no Cookie/Anika interaction either. Boo Boo Kitty got rested for an episode.

Hakeem: "We're supposed to be a team. Whatever you do reflects off me. What the hell is you doing?"
Tiana: "Stop yelling at me."

When are we going to see Jamal film a video? Hakeem's already gotten ahead of him there.

Jamal (to thug): "Tell Hakeem his sissy ass brother ain't stupid and he ain't scared."

Dr Calhoun (re Anika): "I don't want her to ever know."
Lucious: "You have my word."

Both Michael and Becky were missing in this episode. I'm surprised we didn't see either of them during the last moments of Jamal's recording session.

Lucious: "Let's look at it from a mathematical perspective. Your girlfriend has a girlfriend, add that up."
Hakeem: "Two."
Lucious: "Two girlfriends. It's a mathematician's dream."

Standout music: Jamal's new and improved version of "Keep Your Money", Hakeem/Tiana's "Drip Drop" (file under guilty pleasure) and Anthony Hamilton's "The Point Of It All".

Cookie: "It's almost morning and even vampires got manners."
Lucious: "Did I wake you up from your coffin?"

Chronology: Not long from where "False Imposition" left off.

Now this was a brilliant episode. While "Dangerous Bonds" wasn't either Cookie or Andre at their best, they did cause some great moments and the back and forth between Jamal and Hakeem's musical moments was the highlight of course.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Review of Revenge's 4x17: "Loss"

Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by Helen Hunt

Margaux (to Victoria): "Emily cornered me on the street. She said she wanted peace, she gave me her word but then she pushed me."

I was hoping this episode was going to be the last of Emily and Margaux's battle. For a slight moment, it almost looked like that was going to happen when Emily actually handed her real birth certificate over to Margaux. Then that moment happened and suddenly things became ten times worse.

Much as I've hated where Margaux has been taken as a character these last few episodes, she has my sympathy for losing her baby - Victoria too for that matter. However, grief stricken as she may be, blaming Emily (who also is blaming herself) was a pretty callous thing for her to do and it's obviously going to escalate things now.

Victoria was keeping to her side of the bargain by not going after Emily and even spent the last few episodes dissuading Margaux's revenge mission but now we've got this whole new rivalry between Victoria and Emily where the latter is genuinely innocent as well. That's going to be trying in the next few episodes.

Overall, this wasn't the greatest of episodes for Margaux, even without her tragic loss. Her attempts of going after Jack became foiled after Emily and company realised it was the judge who was in her pockets and Ben played his role nicely in the latter being forced to go in favour of Jack. On another plus side - how great was it that Stevie returned in this episode?

Even if it meant some of the usual Jack angst (though he showed some awareness during one scene), having Stevie both in the mix and privy to the Emily/Amanda thing actually made her even that bit more fantastic to watch. Can we keep Stevie for the remainder of the season? She even livened David up in some of his scenes, though to be honest, he was actually likeable and useful throughout the whole episode. I loved that he was able to comfort Emily at the end of the episode and give her sensible advice too. I just wish we had seen that David earlier in the season.

Also in the Jack related plots this week - we got the introduction of social worker, Tony who seemed a little put out by Jack's working/living/family stuff but as soon as Nolan championed Jack, he was a little won over - by Nolan. We've had a few teases this season of Nolan may be getting a male love interest and despite his sham marriage, it looks like he might be in there with Tony after all.

Speaking of Louise - am I glad the Lymon stuff got dealt with quickly. His body was found, Louise lied to Ben about what happened but then told Nolan the truth later in the episode. I don't know where else they can go with this Louise/Nolan sham marriage storyline but I really don't want Louise turning on Nolan though. Can the show avoid going down that road, pretty please?

Also in "Loss"

Emily having nightmares of the night she was taken away from her father was a nice tie into the Jack/Carl plot.

Emily: "This is between you and me. You leave Jack out of it."
Margaux: "Emily, you started this. Whatever happens to Jack is on your hands."

Margaux being the one to go against the Wing in Daniel's name instead of Emily was a better plot twist. Her motives were sympathetic too.

Emily: "I'm holding to our truce, Victoria. I don't want any more loss."
Victoria: "Neither do I."

Emily (re Margaux): "Take care of her or I will."
Victoria: "Spoken like a true pacifist."

The horrible thing is that Margaux's miscarriage was so heavily telegraphed in this episode in nearly every scene she appeared in.

Margaux (to Victoria): "I just want to keep my baby safe."

Emily: "I propose a truce to protect the people we have left."
Margaux: "Do you think I'm a fool?"
Emily: "Just the opposite. I believe you're a good person, Margaux who got caught up in this. We can clear Daniel's name together. You have my word."

Standout music: Ben Howard's "She Treats Me Well"

Emily (re Margaux): "It was an accident."
Victoria: "Around you, there are no accidents."

Chronology: From where "Retaliation" left off.

I loved this episode. "Loss" might have not been subtle within the slightest at hinting at what was going to happen with Margaux but between Nolan potentially getting a new love interest, Emily wanting to end the cycle of vengeance and Stevie's return, this was a brilliant episode.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 23, 2015

American Horror Story: Hotel - Further Cast Regulars Announced EDITED

I know this news is nearly over a week old and I should've posted it earlier but I got distracted by other things. So, American Horror Story: Hotel - thanks to Paleyfest, we know that Lady Gaga won't be the only one checking in this upcoming season.

Matt Bomer was announced as the second cast member during the event. Having already appeared as the ill fated Andy in Freak Show, Bomer will be a regular for the fifth season and while the actor didn't disclose his role or whether or not his character will have a romance with Lady Gaga, I am beyond delighted we'll be seeing him as a regular on the show.

Keeping with the returns, Wes Bentley has also been cast as a regular for Hotel. The actor who played Edward Mordrake in Freak Show also has his character for the upcoming season under wraps but given how superb he was during his guest appearance last season, I'm really glad that Ryan Murphy and company have decided to get Bentley back as a regular.

Of course, a new face to the whole franchise and cast as a regular too is Cheyenne Jackson. The actor who previously had a recurring role on the second season of Glee will be checking into the series and while we don't know who he'll be playing, it does seem to round off a list of gorgeous guys being added into the mix. Is it too much to hope that out of the three new leading men that one of them will be playing a gay character every bit as charismatic, likeable and heroic as the one Sarah Paulson played during Asylum? The last thing we need is another Dell or Stanley, right?

Editing this blog entry because it's now been revealed that Chloe Sevigny is also going to be in Hotel as a regular. Last seen as the tragic Shelley in Asylum, Sevigny who previously voiced her dissatisfaction is now the second female regular for the upcoming season, after Lady Gaga of course. Welcome back, Chloe. Here's hoping your character lasts longer than six episodes this time.

However in some less great but expected news, Jessica Lange has confirmed that she will not be a part of the upcoming season at all. Though given that Hotel is being mooted as a reboot for the franchise, she might not be the only old face not returning but maybe that's not a bad thing. I do hope that we might get Lily Rabe or Kathy Bates/Angela Bassett back but an entire new cast could be a great way of pushing the franchise forward.

What do you think of the casting so far? Who would you like to see check in Hotel this year?

AHS: Hotel Spoilers: http://www.spoilertv.com/search/label/American%20Horror%20Story

American Horror Story: Hotel will begin filming later in the year and air in October on FX for US viewers.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Glee - 2009/Dreams Come True (Series Finale Review)

See the world not as it is but as it should be.

The day has finally come and Glee is officially done and dusted and it's final two episodes - the flashback of 2009 and the flash forwarding of Dreams Come True merited their own blog. Here we go.

Six Years Ago: Pulling off a flashback episode that would hark back to and fill in the gaps of the Pilot episode was never going to be a simple task. Aside from the absence of Cory Monteith and the fact our cast have grown a lot since 2009, there's also the thing of not being able to recapture the magic of former days but the penultimate episode certainly took a joyous stab at it as Finn was poignantly alluded to at the right moments and we got to see how Rachel, Kurt, Artie, Mercedes and Tina all came to join Will's Glee club once again with a reprise of their audition music (as well as an unseen duet with Rachel/Kurt with Popular) and of course, another showing of Don't Stop Believing with Finn from the actual pilot episode. That was one of several moments in this two-parter that made me want to cry.

Hey Sugar: Of course re-exploring the opening episode did have some other mixed results. I had forgotten how condescending Rachel was towards Mercedes's talents, how manipulative Terri had been during her marriage to Will or that Burt wasn't always the most open minded during some of his early scenes with Kurt, not to mention how horrible both Karofsky and Puck were to Kurt at times too (as well as their horrid mocking of Tina's fake stuttering). However what I did find a little humorous was that Mercedes actually met Blaine and neither character actually remembered the encounter (granted how many times do you remember someone asking you for sugar?). It was a nice way of sliding Blaine into the events of the show's very beginning too.

Enemies/Friends/Enemies/Friends: The ongoing love/hate story between Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester came to it's natural conclusion in both episodes. I laughed when it was revealed that they were basketball buddies originally before they embarked on a six year love/hate campaign with each other. Watching both of them grow through the final two episodes was perfect. I'm not surprised that Will became principal of McKinley and had several different glee clubs and Sam as his second in command while Sue and Becky's reunion and the former becoming Vice President was the very thing I bought the show doing. Also, the more said about Will and Sue's duet of The Winner Takes It All, the absolute better. Oh and poor Brad.

Having It All: At it's heart, this show has always been feel good so learning that by 2020, most of our gang are successes is more than fine with me. Kurt and Blaine as influences on the future LGBTQ youth was wonderful as was Rachel carrying their future offspring, bagging a Tony Award and marrying Jesse while Artie and Tina made a movie together and got back together while Mercedes had a successful career. Speaking of Rachel - I really liked hearing This Time as well as Mercedes's Someday We'll Be Together and Will's Teach Your Children. Musically, both parts certainly hit it out of the ballpark for me.

They Lived: However the best part of this episode was the final five minutes. Literally seeing every character (except Marley but she's Supergirl nowadays) who has ever been in New Directions/Troubletones etc singing out One Republic's I Lived was a fist to the air moment of triumph following Sue's beautiful speech about the Glee club (see top quote) and spotting the various characters past and present was a joy to watch as well (though Terri being there was a little strange). I also love that the show dedicated the Auditorium to Finn as a parting shot to the series. Six seasons, over 700 musical numbers and 121 episodes, the show has finally come to an end. It hasn't always been the easiest of rides but it's hard to deny the impact the show has had on television (can you imagine both Nashville and Empire being on television without this show getting there first?) but as Rachel put it herself “Being a part of something special does not make you special, something is special because you are a part of it.” This show has definitely gone down in television for the iconic piece it was and these final two episodes gave the series the send off it deserved and that we as viewers deserved as well.

Don't Stop Believing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYi5aISmXN8
I Lived: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaqVwlkTENc

It's been an interesting six years, Glee but you went out in style. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Game Of Thrones - Season 4 Review

US Airdate: April 6th - June 15th 2014

Some Men (And Women) Do Die: Has a show ever continued to scale impressive heights? Well, plenty actually but the fourth season of George RR Martin's legacy continued to be the watercooler television of last year (and of course this year as well when the fifth season airs next month) and while it opened with a reasonably low key episode, things certainly shifted dramatically from the second one onwards.

For once, the baddies took a massive hit when Joffrey succumbed to poisoning at his own wedding to Margaery and while this largely meant that Tyrion was falsely imprisoned, abandoned by his family (except Jaime) and betrayed by those who mattered to him (Shae, Bronn), it was also the very season that saw Peter Dinklage truly excel with the material he was given as a grief stricken Cersei and calculating Tywin were determined to see him perish for Joffrey's death.

If you read the books, you'll know exactly how things panned out for Tyrion by the time we got to the end of the season and there isn't too much deviation from that with the actual episodes themselves. The finale though was a satisfying culmination of a lot of things for the character too but while it was a season for Tyrion to shine, it was also one that debuted one of the show's sexiest and charismatic characters.

Enter Oberyn Martell, played with delightful charm by Pedro Pascal. He might have only lasted in seven out of the ten episodes for this season but he made a massive impact, with his final moment being one of the most gruesome send offs for a character and considering the nature of this show, that is some feat to be honest. Either way, he's a character you'll enjoy watching on screen and mourn when he's gone.

Of course not all the exciting stuff happened in King's Landing. Sansa finally got the hell out of there with Littlefinger's help, went to the Eyrie and gained a backbone and a new purpose (as well as a darker costume change) while Daenerys stayed put in Meereen, showed leniency to the more deserving but on the downside, she also parted company with Jorah and had to lock up her own increasingly volatile dragons.

As for Arya - both her and the Hound continued to make for an engaging double act as did surprisingly the pairing of Brienne and Pod and the battle between Brienne and the Hound was a great moment in the finale as well before Arya took off for the other important chapter in her overall journey.

As for the spectacle of the season - the attack of the Wall was beautifully realised. One of the best moments from the show, it gave the Wall something interesting to be involved with and put an end to the ongoing saga between Jon Snow and the fiery Ygritte while we got another cameo appearance of the White Walkers once again.

There was a few weak bits of the season - that misjudged scene between Jaime and Cersei in the crypt as well as the fact that nothing really happened to advance Stannis's ongoing mission for the Iron Throne. Then we had Theon still a prisoner of Ramsay's and the Bran stuff was a little too background at times but overall, this was another impressive season for a show's whose increasing popularity and cultural impact is more than justified.


There are commentaries for every single episode (except the third one) by various cast and crew members as well as features looking at the politics of power on the show, the Bastards of Westeros, new character profiles, the deaths of the fourth season as well as bloopers, deleted scenes and a look at making the battle at the Wall as well. I also noticed that this season's DVD case is slimmer compared to previous releases as well.


4x01: Two Swords = 7/10, 4x02: The Lion And The Rose = 9/10,
4x03: Breaker Of Chains = 8/10, 4x04: Oathkeeper = 9/10,
4x05: First Of His Name = 8/10, 4x06: The Laws Of Gods And Men = 10/10,
4x07: Mockingbird = 9/10, 4x08: The Mountain And The Viper = 9/10,
4x09: The Watchers On The Wall = 9/10, 4x10: The Children = 10/10

Season 4 is currently available on DVD.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x04: "False Imposition"

Written by Wendy Calhoun
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez

Cookie: "I can't get back the last seventeen years but I'm here now."
Hakeem: "Too late."

Okay, yeah, this episode wasn't my favourite of the bunch. I do like Hakeem but his bratty entitlement when largely focused on doesn't make for a very strong episode. This week when he wasn't impatient to further certain things with his music, he was resistant to Cookie's input in a duet he was planning with Tiana and then he was caught by the latter in a compromising position with Camilla.

To be honest, a part of me was relieved that Tiana was less bothered about Hakeem being unfaithful to her and was more concerned that he might mess up her career. It's been fairly obvious now that we're supposed to be seeing both Hakeem and Tiana (or Takeem) as a showmance and this episode definitely drove that point home.

That being said, aside from Jamal, Tiana is a great musical partner for Hakeem and I did like that both her and Cookie seemed to have connected as well. Despite Anika's opposition, Tiana wanted Cookie to manage her and Cookie's instincts with Tiana were pretty great this week. It was also nice to see Cookie focused on another artist besides Jamal as well.

As for Cookie and Hakeem - the latter still hates her but there was a few moments in this episode where it seemed like he was beginning to thaw a little. Whether Hakeem likes her or not, Cookie did give him some good advice, especially about his duet with Tiana this week at the Teen Choice Awards Nominations at Leviticus, something which even Hakeem had to agree with at the end.

Speaking of Cookie - while she does continue to be somewhat dismissive of Anika, all of her scenes with Lucious are pure gold and Lucious did seem a lot more respectful and apologetic towards her this week. I also liked that Cookie somewhat paved the way for Lucious to bag the controversial Titan as well by visiting his mother.

The story with trying to get Titan (who actually spent most of the episode behind bars) was decent enough. I liked that it tied into the dynamic with Lucious and Hakeem as well as Cookie and Fatima connecting over their children and even that it gave Becky a bit more to do as well. Not only that but we also got an onscreen confrontation between Lucious and record rival Bill Beretti as well, which fared better than expected too.

The only lagging bits were surprisingly the Jamal stuff. I like that he's determined to make it on his own but he should've taken the money he earned from working with Hakeem. I think he was being a bit too stubborn when Lucious pointed that out and that new place he's living with Michael in has to go as well, right? On the plus side, at least his dry spell/songwriter's block seemed to resolve itself as the episode progressed.

Also in "False Imposition"

Andre provided a false alibi for Lucious on the night that Bunky was shot. We also got a flashback of Lucious and Andre in this episode.

Hakeem: "That's cold, dad, that's foul."
Lucious: "It's a race between you and Jamal. It's yours to lose."

With the Teen Choice Awards, I wonder how long we'll have to wait for the Grammys to appear on the show, right?

Cookie: "So what you got?"
Jamal: "My songs ain't ready yet. They just ain't."

Fatima: "You must be happy to be back home."
Cookie: "I'm back but I ain't home."

Anika found out about Lucious's ALS in this episode. I'm guessing it won't be long before Cookie does too, given that she's aware of something being up with Lucious.

Lucious (re Islam): "Nothing but racist views."
Cookie: "Yeah and so is America. Every day I worry about my sons."

Lucious: "Hakeem, I can't make you love your mother but you will respect her because she's lived through hell."

No Rhonda in this episode. I think she was the only regular/recurring character not in this one, though again, Michael hasn't had anything to really do either.

Lucious (to Vernon): "I've changed my mind. I'm gonna visit Titan in prison tomorrow. I'm about to decimate Beretti's ass."

Standout music: Hakeem/Tiana's duet of "Keep It Movin'" and Jamal's "Keep Your Money".

Tiana (re Hakeem): "I got this."
Cookie: "You get him cos I'll kill him."

Chronology: Not long from where "The Devil Quotes Scripture" left off.

The weakest episode so far but not without it's merits. "False Imposition" wasn't the show at it's most exciting but at the same time, it was enjoyable enough as an episode. I do like that we're seeing a layered side to Lucious as well, which certainly helps things.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x03: "The Devil Quotes Scripture"

Written by Ilene Chaiken And Joshua Allen
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Cookie (to Lucious): "You are going straight to hell."

While that's probably true, I imagine it's going to be at least another three years/seasons before such a thing even happens. Lucious will probably continue to be polarising character, especially when it comes to any scene he shares with Jamal but he still maintains a certain level of interest throughout the show though.

I hated how he tore Jamal to pieces over the song at dinner but I absolutely loved Jamal ripping his homophobic father a new one by first moving out of the apartment with Michael and then vowing to take his father's empire. I get that this episode was trying to show that it's Jamal's sexuality that Lucious hates more than Jamal himself but that's no excuse either.

Jamal's struggles with proving that he's just as much of a man to his father as both Hakeem and Andre was nicely dealt with in this episode and I have to admit that I really found it satisfying that he realised he had more talent than his father had back in the day. Of course Cookie didn't help matters by giving Jamal a song from a man that fancied her who Lucious disliked as well, even if it was a great song.

On the plus side, the songwriter in question - Puma/Dwayne Johnson was played by Cuba Gooding Jr and he had some nice scenes in this episode with Cookie. Scenes that were so good I actually do hope that we get Cuba for another episode or two. Given the mutual dislike that Puma and Lucious seem to have for each other, I can't imagine the writers not wanting to explore that a little further.

Of course, Cuba wasn't the only special guest star in this episode. We briefly got Naomi Campbell in two scenes as Camilla - an older woman that Hakeem has been sleeping with for over a year. Campbell's acting wasn't the most impressive but it wasn't too bad either. I can see why Hakeem though isn't so keen to out his relationship with Camilla considering that he also fancies Tiana as well, something which Lucious wanted to capitalise on as well during the episode with the family gathering.

The good thing about this episode was a lot of the subplots coming together. Cookie working with the Feds was something discovered quickly, so it resulted in Agent Carter (not Peggy) coming up with a perfect cover story to even fool Lucious while Andre used his own sexual prowess to get information on a witness to Bunky's shooting for his father as well.

It did look like the detectives in question were suspicious of Lucious even before they started to talk to Old Salty. I can't see Lucious getting caught or even sent down for Bunky's death, especially not this early in the series. I imagine we'll have a series of red herrings throughout the season before the storyline is either dropped or delayed for another time too. On the other hand, at least we got see Bunky's funeral and meet another member of Cookie's family - younger sister Carol this week.

Also in "The Devil Quotes Scripture"

What is it with the Lyons and instruments? Lucious beat Veronika's 'ex' manager offscreen in a manner probably similar to how Cookie did it with Hakeem in the first episode.

Lucious: "Mel had a little accident. You might need to clean that up."

Having Andre reenact his sexual encounter with the deputy mayor with Rhonda was bizarre to watch. I'm guessing she tolerates his straying up to a point.

Cookie (to Andre): "Back in the day they were songwriters who actually knew how to write songs."

Vernon (re Lucious): "He ain't cheating on you."
Anika: "I hired him to follow Cookie, fool. I don't trust her."

I'm really loving Anika as a character. The reason why her rivalry with Cookie works is because they're both intelligent women and evenly matched in wits.

Agent Carter: "Thanks for this. My kid will cherish it."
Lucious (re Cookie): "And I will cherish you locking her back up."

Michael: "I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me."
Lucious (re Cookie): "I didn't invite you, thank her."

Michael needs more to do other than being dismissed by both Cookie and Lucious. I feel I know more about Anika, Rhonda and even Tiana than I do him.

Lucious (re Puma): "Does he still like you?"
Cookie: "That's none of your business."

Anika: "Do you even know what a debutante is?"
Cookie: "A bourgeois hoe with a lot of money."
Anika: "A hoe who could slice your throat without even disturbing her pearls."

Standout music: Jamal's "Up All Night" as well as Tiana and Veronika's "Bad Girl".

Jamal (to Michael, re Lucious): "I'm going after his Empire and I'm gonna take it."

Chronology: From where "The Outspoken King" more or less left off.

Yeah, still hooked to this show. I think "The Devil Quotes Scripture" was a fave of mine too - definitely over the first two episodes, even if they had better music though. The show is moving a great pace and the back and forth with certain characters is also working rather nicely too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 16, 2015

HBO's The Devil You Know - Cast Announced

I actually had no idea this was even a thing until Saturday when it was revealed that HBO had confirmed the cast for an upcoming supernatural historical drama, The Devil You Know. The drama will focus on the infamous Salem Witch trials.

Karen Gillan, best known for her roles on Doctor Who and the short lived, Selfie has been cast in the upcoming series by Orange Is The New Black creator, Jenji Kohan. Gillan will play a character named Jane Porter, the youngest daughter of Israel Porter (Ewen Bremner) while Ever Carradine will play the role of Ann Putnam Sr, the wife of Thomas (to be played by Eddie Izzard). Their son, Robert will be played a familiar face to genre fans.

Damien Molony (Being Human) will take on the role of Robert of Putnam and rounding off the cast we've got Hannah Nordberg as Betty Parris, Samuel Parris (Julian Rhind-Tutt) daughter. Naian Gonzalez Norvind, as Samuel Parris’ niece while Zawe Ashton has been cast as the Parris’ slave brought from Barbados. She truly loves Betty, whom she’s cared for since birth. Will Pullen will recur in the series as Moses Cooper while Kate Nash has been cast as Bridget Bishop, Other cast members include Mary Mouser as Earth Fenn and Beanie Feldstein as Lydia Harris.

While there's a similar show currently on the airwaves titled, Salem, I have to admit the casting alone for this show is truly exciting stuff. A co-production between HBO and Lionsgate TV, the pilot for this series has now begun filming in Boston. Another show I can see myself getting massively into.

Press Release: http://deadline.com/2015/03/ever-carradine-damien-molony-cast-hbo-pilot-the-devil-you-know-1201392183/

The pilot for The Devil You Know is being filmed now. The series will air later in the year or early 2016 on HBO. 

My Review of Revenge's 4x16: "Retaliation"

Written by Jesse Lasky
Directed by Alrick Riley

Victoria (to David): "I guess there's a silver lining to not killing me after all."

Um, yeah, I guess there might be. I'm not sure how I feel about Natalie being disposed of as quickly as Malcolm Black was. Is there now going to be a three episode limit on antagonists for the remainder of the season? On the plus side, at least Natalie was a bit more fun to watch than Malcolm but messing with Victoria was never going to end well with her.

I did love that Victoria seemed more miffed about Natalie taking over hosting the July 4th party than sinking her claws into David but at the same time, Natalie trying to finish what Conrad started with David also sealed her downfall as well. Having her revealed as one of Conrad's mistresses (seriously how many did he have?) was a little bit of a cop out but I did like that her own stupidity in admitting to starving Edward to death gave Victoria the upper hand though.

I really enjoyed the take down in this episode and it was sort of nice seeing Victoria and David kind of working together. Victoria will never be a selfless person but at least she's being consistent in wanting to use any wealth to clear Daniel's name through a foundation and David while still dull hasn't been as insufferably dull as he was at the start of the season. Make of that what you will.

Keeping with the take downs, Margaux had a mixed bag this week. On one hand, she actually managed to achieve some success by getting Jack arrested for drunk driving because apparently we need more of Jack's 'woe is me' act for the final six episodes of the season but on the other hand, her other two attempts to thwart Emily spectacularly failed though.

Using Ben's ex-wife April and siccing the poor woman's violent ex-boyfriend (a bloke named Wes) to go after her was pretty low by Margaux's standards and it's also continuing my irritation with her whole revenge plot. Even Victoria seemed bored by it during her brief scene with Margaux this week but at least the result ended up with Wes arrested and April getting to have her life back again.

As a plot, it was hardly compelling but far less tedious than I expected to be. More to the point, if I didn't think that Emily and Ben didn't stand a chance in hell of lasting as a couple, then this episode certainly proved that they won't make it as a couple. Which should please Emily/Jack shippers no doubt.

As for Margaux's other plot - her getting Lymon to worm his way into Louise's affection to get information from Nolan's computer - yeah, that was obvious. That being said, I didn't actually expect Louise to inadvertently cause her brother to meet his maker in this one. I really hope the writers don't use this as a means of having Louise turning on Nolan, which I fear they might do.

Also in "Retaliation"

Lydia got a mention in this episode. I wouldn't be surprised if she resurfaced. I'm actually surprised she hasn't.

Natalie: "Victoria, look, you gave it your best shot in court. It's over."
Victoria: "You clearly don't know me."

Both Victoria and Louise seemed to have interesting looks in this episode with their hair. I can't believe I just typed that too.

Nolan (to Ben): "Betrayal. You always have to give yourself an extra fifteen minutes."

Margaux: "I thought common sense would prevail. What is it about that girl that makes people go against their best interests?"

Lymon doesn't strike me as a computer expert, yet he was able to hack one of Nolan's secret laptops with such ease.

Ben: "How do you come back from something like that?"
Emily: "I don't think you ever do."

Lymon (to Louise): "It's your call but I say don't let your old family sink your new one."

Standout music: Years & Years "Desire".

Ben: "A person's first love is their weak spot."
Emily (re Margaux): "Just like Daniel proved to be hers."
Ben: "So who's yours?"

Chronology: July 4th of course.

I really enjoyed this episode. Okay, so "Retaliation" could've done without the super overt Jack/Emily shipping pandering but the episode was hugely engaging from start to finish and I liked the take downs we got as well. Provided Louise doesn't turn on Nolan, this was a winner.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Swinging From The Chandelier

You don't have to be a genius to work out that title, right?

Arrow: I've noticed a lot of criticism for this season and I have to admit that aside from Roy having bugger all to do and Laurel's Canary being arguably a little too quickly done, I've still enjoyed it a lot. Especially the last two episodes with Thea finally in the know about everything (nearly) and Laurel FINALLY telling Quentin about Sara's death. I'll admit there have been some moment where I've found both Oliver and Felicity a tad annoying and the less Vinnie Jones on this show, the better but other than that, it's still be good though.

Girls: Hannah as a teacher is not the daftest plot this show has ever done (see I can compliment the show) but one who encourages her students to get their tongues pierced just proves that she's not someone who should be taken seriously. Keeping with this show's uneven tone, Marnie accepted a proposal from Desi (who is an even duller character than Ray), Hannah's father was revealed as gay (did I miss something there?), Shoshanna's dating some bloke whose name I haven't bothered to remember and Jessa is still just there for some reason.

Glee: Sue's downfall having no actual consequences just proves that Ryan Murphy likes having his baddies unpunished for the most but her and Will's continuous feud is just tedious and has been for a long time. On the plus side - I absolutely loved the return of Jesse (the more Jonathan Groff on TV, the absolute better) and the Sectionals stuff was brilliant. Any episode that gives me songs like We Built This City, Hey Mickey, Take Me To Church and of course, Chandelier is going to be a winner for me. Expect a recap blog for the last two episodes in the next week.

Looking: If Girls can bag a fifth season, then Looking absolutely deserves a third one. It might not be event television in any way shape or form but the writing for this current season has been such a step up. The Halloween episode was hilarious, the episode focusing on Doris attending her father's funeral a season highlight and the Gamer episode also rather fun too. While I'm not as enamoured with Patrick and Kevin as I was in the first season, their scenes are still solid but for me, it's been all about Agustin and Eddie. I hate the whole shipper craze but I'm rooting for those two right about now. As for Dom, he might need a little more to do than open up a restaurant in the final episodes.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD: With Agent Carter filling up a void and both Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones on the way, this show is powering full steam ahead with the Inhumans storyline with Skye and the division it's clearly going to have among the team members as well. This show has improved so much since it's shaky debut and the first two episodes it's aired this year have continued that as well, even if I'm slightly worried about Bobbi and Mac possibly scheming behind Coulson's back though.

Once Upon A Time: Another returning show (good news, UK fans - Netflix UK have all of Seasons 3 and 4 for you to watch now), the Queens of Darkness are a delightful force to be reckoned with and now with Maleficent being revived, I'm hoping for some serious chaos in the next few episodes and for the three of them to screw over Rumple as well (before he does with them). Other than that, I'm liking the Charmings having a dark secret, Regina and Henry continuing their quest for the Author, Belle getting on with things and the potential for Emma to become dark is interesting as well.

Scandal: Finally, SkyLiving are on to those episodes. I've read with interest about the whole Save Olivia Pope storyline and catching up with Run, even I think it's one of the best things that Shonda Rhimes has ever written for her television shows. I'd rather see Olivia save herself than have either Jake or Fitz rescue her but at the same time, it's likely both of them will have a hand in getting her out of her current predicament. This season has been seriously gripping and the next few episodes certainly look like they could be some of the show's best going.

The Flash: I still prefer it to the parent show and it's still one of four of my favourite new US shows in the last six months (you can guess the other three) and the last two episodes have done wonders in advancing the Firestorm plot (nice to see both Ronnie and Martin Stein), given Barry a love interest, Iris an actual journalism job while Joe and Cisco investigated Harrison, Caitlin was her general wonderful self and we had a teleporting villain as well as a brief glimpse of Grood as well. It's certainly been a busy bunch of episodes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu - Episode 8 Recap/Review

It's the final countdown for all three shows and I've really not wanted any of these to end but the way all of them concluded worked for me. So here's a final (probably) look at ....

Cucumber: Well, this was a good way of ending things. The first third of this episode had the perfect ideal of Henry, Freddie, Dean and nearly every guest character in the show and it's spin-off living in Lance's house for a few weeks/month as The Collective. It seemed totally idyllic but as Cleo rightfully pointed out, it wasn't going to last and slowly we began to see it break apart until there was only Henry, Freddie and Cliff left and that's when things went to shit.

I can't really say I blame Freddie for bolting out of there, though I'm not entirely sure if he was right about Henry grooming him into the next Lance. However his absence then resulted in time moving forward quite a bit. Seriously, we went from two weeks to six months (where Daniel finally got sent down for Lance's murder for 13 years) to six years when out of nowhere, Henry and Freddie ended up bumping into each other.

The reunion between Freddie and Henry was the highlight of the episode. I love that this show went from Freddie being barely able to tolerate Henry to actually having the both of them develop an understanding and respect for each other without either of them becoming a couple. The scene in the cafe was RTD at his best, in terms of writing and characterisation.

I like that we got a bit of an update on each of the supporting characters (Adam and Cleo getting partners, Scotty getting help with her mum, Dean hanging around with gangsters and Tomasz becoming something of a right wing nut) along with learning what Henry and Freddie got up to in the last six years. The last scene where Henry asked a certain question was a great note to end the whole series on as well.

Banana: Keeping with the endings this week, the spin-off put the focus on Sian's mother and her cleaning empire, which a raised of question in relation to the people that assisted her as well, in particular a Nigerian girl named Zara.

While Vanessa was portrayed as a sympathetic and likeable character, it did take her a while to fully realise that JonJo was a bad man who needed to be stopped and given that Vanessa has previously killed, I liked that this episode ended with the strong implication that JonJo would only enjoy one more cup of tea as Zara's escape attempts didn't exactly pan out.

As a final episode, it was a strong one. It was insightful too when Vanessa started talking about the things she had seen in her job (they were cleaning out the loft Henry, Freddie and Dean lived in), her relationship with Claire and being a part of that silent army of people - something which struck a bit of chord. Oh and that little musical moment was just a lovely touch to boot.

Tofu: Now this was a very, very filthy episode he says with a chuckle. It was also an apt one to end on given the usual contributors discussing their own first discoveries of sex. Julie Hesmondhalgh rightfully pointed out that younger people are only taught the negative sides of sex while Lucy and Tanya discussed some of their more kinkier clients while Michael mentioned having a threesome with a mother and daughter. As with the main two shows, this was an excellent way of ending this delightful webseries.

Also can I just say that for the last eight weeks that we have all been fortunate to have these three series? I want to seriously thank both Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook as well as the extremely talented cast and crew and various contributors throughout all three shows. All of them should be extremely proud of these amazing programs as should Channel 4, E4 and 4OD.

Cucumber and Banana will be released on DVD from March 16th.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x02: "The Outspoken King"

Written by Danny Strong And Ilene Chaiken
Directed by Lee Daniels

Lucious (to Kelly McGann): "My music expresses my world."

I might still be way behind with the current US schedule but the second episode of this show certainly my interest going as controversies seemed to be the theme of the episode in the midst of an important performance at Leviticus.

First of all - I mentioned liking Hakeem in my review for the first episode and that still stands but Cookie pointing out that the kid is an entitled fool is something that Lucious shouldn't be ignoring. In this episode we saw a lot of that entitlement with Hakeem's attempts of impressing fellow singer Tiana (which later succeeded) and his public antics that went viral.

As soon as Hakeem started pissing in a restaurant, insulting the white folk and mentioning that Obama was a sellout, it would've been an extreme cop out had his antics not gone viral. Of course, it's not too shocking that while Lucious sort of had to grovel on a conservative talk show on his son's behalf, it also generated some bad boy cred for Hakeem as well.

The thing is, I don't think Hakeem is a bad person - the way he interacts with Jamal is great but he is a spoiled child and I get the impression this will be the tip of the iceberg of stupid things he'll end up doing as the show goes on. Musically though, this show is onto a winning formula every time Hakeem and Jamal duet, so here's hoping there's more of that to look forward to as this episode's performance with those two was the highlight of the hour.

Of course, Hakeem wasn't the only one causing controversy for Lucious's little Empire. Other bad boy/not very talented rapper Kid Fo Fo (really, that's a name?) inspired a shooting and didn't show any apologies for it either. Also on an equally infuriating note, he kept coming at Cookie which sadly didn't result in her whacking him with a broom but I'll take Lucious defending his ex-wife's honour by dropping him from the Leviticus gig though.

Speaking of Cookie, she's still my favourite character for now. Her attempts of having Jamal publicly did seem a little too much for her own benefit than his but at least she's perceptive about Hakeem and watching her and Anika trading insults was fun for most of this episode. As for the plotline with her and Agent Carter, it'll be interesting to see how that one pans out over the next few weeks.

As for Lucious - he's going to be divisive for me. I hate him forcing Jamal to stay in the closet but I liked his scenes with Becky and Cookie and his 'performance' when Vernon revealed that Bunky (who was Cookie's cousin) was murdered was actually pretty superb. I guess in that regard, he's actually as successful a character as his delightful ex-wife then.

Also in "The Outspoken King"

While Andre and Rhonda still seem to be the schemers of the bunch, I do like that Rhonda is helping her husband with his condition. Becky also found out about Lucious having ALS.

Cookie: "You are not shutting Jamal out anymore."
Lucious: "It's not gonna happen."

So will Cookie be referring to Michael as Dora in every episode when she's not calling Anika Boo-Boo Kitty? I found her assistant Porsha pretty amusing as well.

Jamal (re Lucious): "He don't want me there."
Cookie: "I don't care what he wants."
Michael: "We do."
Cookie: "Shut up, Dora."

Kid Fo-Fo: "And who is this stupid bitch?"
Cookie: "Someone who would've never given birth to your ugly ass."

This episode was co-written by Ilene Chaiken - creator of The L Word. She's also an executive producer on this show.

Porsha (re Hakeem's video): "It's gone viral."
Cookie: "What's viral?"
Porsha: "I don't know. It's what they said on the news."

Anika: "Rude."
Cookie: "No more rude than that anchorwoman haircut you slopped on your head."

There's some interesting support characters here - like the bald woman in Hakeem's crew and that publicist friend of Rhonda's as well. Lucious's phone conversation with Obama was priceless too.

Jamal: "The world does not revolve around you."
Lucious: "Your world does."

Standout music: Jamal/Hakeem's "No Apologies", Lucious's "What The DJ Spin" (from 2002) and Tiana's "Adios".

Cookie (to Lucious, re Hakeem): "You'll make him a celebrity but you'll make him a fool first."

Chronology: From where the "Pilot" more or less left off.

Yeah, I'm definitely hooked. "The Outspoken King" certainly had the right moments for controversy and the soapy antics are hard not to enjoy as well as the back and forth between Cookie and Lucious. I do hope that Jamal's coming out is on his own terms though when it does happen.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Review of Empire's 1x01: "Pilot"

Written by Lee Daniels And Danny Strong
Directed by Lee Daniels

Jamal: "So what are you gonna do now?"
Cookie: "I'm here to get what's mine."

The biggest new US drama and while it's taken me two months to catch, I finally get why people are falling over themselves with this show. Musical shows aren't exactly a rarity in recent times. Glee might be on the way out but we've had Smash, Nashville nicely ticks along and even HBO are doing a show called Virtuoso but with Empire, FOX managed to come up with a mammoth here.

The pilot managed to set up everything nicely as we found out that record company owner Lucious Lyons has ALS and only three years to live and this episode heavily focused on the return of his formerly imprisoned ex-wife Cookie and grooming his sons to take over the company when he dies.

Before I talk about the sons - let's talk about Lucious, shall we? Terrence Howard is strong in the role but Lucious is a bit of a bastard, isn't he? He callously rejects Jamal's sexuality repeatedly throughout the opening episode, undermines older son, Andre while being strict with the somewhat spoiled Hakeem. His best scenes however are with former wife, Cookie.

Taraji P. Henson is definitely the star of the show as the newly released from prison Cookie. I liked that she went in there all guns blazing to claim a hold of the company she helped set up with Lucious and her support of Jamal (minus the sissy comment) certainly endeared her to me throughout the episode. Her determination to make Jamal a star with Lucious backing Hakeem should make for interesting television over the next few episodes.

As for the sons themselves - I think the opening episode did an excellent job in making me like all three of them. Andre is certainly a bit of a schemer (his wife, Rhonda even more so) but as the businessman of the three, I think his fears about Lucious preferring an artist taking over Empire Entertainment are justified enough. Though his plan to play off his brothers against each other didn't seem to pan out though.

Out of the three - Jamal definitely emerges as the favourite with Jussie Smollett being brilliant in the role. His own self esteem issues over his sexuality is something I hope he moves on from as the show progresses especially now that he has Cookie in his corner and a crowd of people generally receptive to his music. And that's not even mentioning the fact that both him and younger sibling Hakeem actually get along with each other too.

As for Hakeem - yeah, he's spoiled, something of a hedonist and a ladies man but aside from the one scene where he was awful to Cookie (and came a cropper for it), I actually found him sympathetic enough. Not to mention that musically both him and Jamal seemed to compliment each other pretty well throughout the episode.

As for the rest of the episode - we met Lucious's current girlfriend, Anika who seemed okay, uncle Vernon, the rather sassy Becky and Jamal's sweet boyfriend, Michael but at the same time when we weren't getting flashbacks to Cookie and Lucious's early days of setting up their business and family disputes we also had things nearly fall to pieces when a disgruntled right man of Lucious attempted a little blackmail. Needless to say that one didn't end particularly well for the bloke in question.

Also in "Empire"

Cookie was in prison for seventeen years for drug dealing. She was meant to serve longer but got let out on good behaviour.

Lucious (to singer): "I need you to sing like you are going to die tomorrow. Like this is the last song you will ever sing, you hear me?"

Lucious mentioned that Miss Dotty got shot. Assuming we didn't see her in the flashbacks (did we?), I imagine we'll see/learn more of her in later episodes.

Jamal (re Lucious): "He'd never pick me anyway."
Michael: "Why?"
Jamal: "Too much homophobia in the black community."
Michael: "It's 2015, nobody cares."

Hakeem: "You want a medal, bitch?"
Cookie: "What I want is some respect!"

While Lucious was revealed to have ALS in this episode, it was also revealed that Andre has bipolar as well.

Andre (to Cookie): "You really love me, ma? Okay, here's what we gotta do."

Cookie (to Lucious): "Don't 'baby' me you two faced bastard. I've been living like a dog for seventeen years and now I want what's mine. I want Jamal."

Standout music: This is going to be interesting to do each week but the ones that stood out here were Jamal's "Good Enough", Jamal/Hakeem's "Live For The Moment" and the unnamed singer's "What Is Love?"

Lucious (re Jamal): "You really aren't ashamed of him?"
Cookie: "No!"

Chronology: The show premiered in January 2015, so let's say that for now.

Now this was an impressive pilot episode. Empire has everything for a winning format - excellent writing from creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, a powerhouse cast, excellent music (courtesy of Timbaland) and enough superb soapy twists and turns to certainly keep things moving at a strong pace as well. I can definitely see myself sticking with this show.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Review of Revenge's 4x15: "Bait"

Written by Shannon Goss
Directed by Ty Trullinger

Emily: "Word of advice, if you're gonna keep coming at me, you're gonna have to be a hell of a lot smarter."
Margaux: "You think you're invincible?"
Emily: "Not invincible, just better."

Now this was a fun episode. Revenge has always worked well with it's female rivalries and while the days of Emily and Victoria are no longer a thing, both ladies at least have other adversaries they can try to take down with varying degrees of relish.

First of all, Emily vs. Margaux. I've always actually liked Margaux enough as a character but as an antagonist, she is both lacking something and isn't half as clever as she wants to think she is. Granted, she's no Ashley either but this episode almost made it too easy for Emily to constantly best her that the last scene with Ben at a disadvantage (looks like we're meeting his ex-wife soon) actually came as a surprise.

Until then it was amusing to see a simple bracelet become the very thing used to corrupt Margaux's computer system and Emily revelling in being the smarter of the two was amusing as well. Of course, Emily does have a weak spot - he's called Jack but by keeping him at arm's length, she managed to remove one ace from Margaux's short sleeve though.

Personally though, I wish the show would give up on this rivalry. Margaux simply isn't justified in her revenge against Emily and she simply doesn't work as an antagonist. The sooner she actually takes Victoria's advice and moves on with her life, the better for her and for us as viewers as well.

Speaking of Victoria - I love the rivalry with her and Natalie. I don't know if Natalie is a slightly nicer or potentially nastier version of Victoria but I do love that she was Conrad's stepmother and the fighting over Edward's will between the ladies is actually a lot more fun than I expected it to be. A part of me is surprised they didn't connect Natalie with the Malcolm Black storyline but it looks like everyone's forgotten that was ever a thing to begin with.

Victoria's teaming up with Lymon as well was another surprise twist I liked in this storyline. Lymon's determination to revive his flagging political career and Victoria wanting more than two incontinent Corgis out of her father in law's will was a good enough incentive for the pair of them to join forces. I'm not sure if there's enough story here to get us to the finale but it's a lot of fun nonetheless though.

A little less fun was Emily rejecting Jack though. On one hand, I get that she's trying not to give Margaux any further ammunition but on the other hand, I just don't see her and Ben as an endgame couple. However I don't doubt by the finale (if not an episode or two before then) that Jack and Emily will finally get it on though.

Also in "Bait"

Natalie was Edward's nurse and divorced her previous husband to quickly marry him. I'm guessing she might be the Annie Wilkes of the Hamptons then.

Ben: "So what is Jack Porter doing next?"
Jack: "Something I should've done a long time ago."

If Jack's idea of doing something spontaneous is making a grilled cheese sandwich - well, that's just a bit weak, isn't it?

Victoria: "You were Edward's wife? That was your secret?"
Natalie: "Gotta admit, it was a good one."

I liked Louise being included in the whole screwing Margaux over plot this week. I still don't want her and Nolan actually sleeping together but I do like their rapport.

Victoria: "I need a lawyer, not an opportunist."
Lymon: "Well, it's a good thing for you, I'm both."

Nolan (re Emily): "We're sort of like superheroes."
Louise: "Well I thought we were like the Wonder Twins."

Nolan describing him and Emily's dynamic like that cracked me up. Oh and it looks like we might be having a David/Natalie pairing as well to rile Victoria up in later episodes.

Natalie (re Edward): "I loved him."
Victoria: "What exactly did you love most? The fact that he was worth millions or was on death's doorstep? I think it was both."

Standout music: Broods "Never Gonna Change" at the start of the episode.

Jack: "It's always been you. From the moment Sammy ran out to you that day."
Emily: "I don't know what to say, things between us Jack are messy."

Chronology: More or less from where "Kindred" left off.

I liked this episode. "Bait" wasn't big or too eventful but it kept things ticking along nicely and while Emily's rejection of Jack was more frustrating than heartbreaking, fans of that particular are more than likely going to get their happy ending anyways. Still not sure where else this show can go once this season wraps up properly.

Rating: 8 out of 10