Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Review of A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Written And Directed by Wes Craven

Children: "One, two, Freddy's coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again."

And to finish off my series of Halloween themed reviews for the last few days would be this little creepy gem from the early 1980s. If Michael Myers, Leatherface and Jason Voorhes aren't enough to scare the bejesus out of you, then Freddy Krueger has to, given that even in sleep you're not especially safe from the guy.

In this movie (and it's many, many sequels), former child killer Freddy (Robert Englund) met a violent death at the hands of a community he terrorised years ago only for his spirit to haunt the dreams of the neighbourhood's teenage population and subsequently murder them in their sleeps. The ball got rolling in a spectacular fashion when Tina (Amanda Wyss) became the first onscreen victim, quickly followed by her boyfriend Rod (Jsu Garcia) and then both Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and Glen (Johnny Depp) found themselves in danger.

Like with a few classics, this was not a movie I saw as a child but one I caught up with in later years and it's pretty easy to see why it's stood the test of time, inspired many parodies as well as an easily forgotten remake back in 2010.

The idea of a killer being able to kill you in your sleep is as terrifying a concept as you can imagine and Craven certainly amped up the scares throughout this movie as Nancy became the final girl and was forced to risk her own life in order to stop Freddy's reign of terror once and for all. It's an extremely compelling battle of wits between the frightened teenage girl and the heavily burned serial killer and definitely one that took an unexpected twist as the final moment neatly showed us.

- Parts of this movie were inspired by a childhood bully that Craven had, which is a little unsettling, isn't it?
- The creepy jump rope song for Freddy certainly added to the terror of this movie for me.
- Despite the terror he inspires, Freddy doesn't actually have a lot of screentime. That also added to his effectiveness as a threat.
- It took three years for this movie to actually be made. The script was written in 1981 but it took a while for a studio willing to shoot the movie, which took 30 days.

Another classic of a movie and a conclusion this year to my Halloween themed blogs. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a perfect viewing for tonight in lieu of anything else on television but you might want to sleep with a light on afterwards.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Devil's Night

Today is Halloween and three days ago, this show maintained it's tradition by pushing out something for the time as John had an interesting dinner with some of America's famous of killers.

Written by Jennifer Salt
Directed by Loni Peristere

Absinthe Makes The Mind Go Crazier: Getting ditched by his family for Halloween, John Lowe should've been at a loose end but it seems that Mr March had other ideas for the dashing detective and invited him to a lovely dinner party. If by lovely, you don't mind spending time with Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), John Wayne Gacy Jr (John Carroll Lynch), Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel), Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) and the Zodiac Killer as they taunt the crap out of you and murder two men also in front of you. With the way March kept going on about John's potential, I have a horrible feeling that the people Lowe is disgusted by will end up becoming people he'll have something in common with. Could John actually be the Ten Commandments killer? This episode kind of implied it, didn't it?

America's Most Wanted: As if the Hotel Cortez wasn't messed up in general, it seems that Devil's Night is an annual tradition in which all the killers in question (and possibly John now) are personally invited by Mr March to enjoy themselves as we learn that he sparked their murderous tendencies when they were alive. The casting for all the killer was absolutely spot but both Lily Rabe and especially Seth Gabel had a remarking resemblance to both Wuornos and Dahmer, that it made things just that extra creepy. Seeing Rabe once again on this show and following the cancellation of The Whispers - can we please have her as a regular next season?

Protector, Not So Much: Four episodes in and Sally proves yet again, that she's a walking liability. If she's not shooting you up with China White or sewing you into mattresses, she's literally walking you to your death. This week and as part of a yearly deal to be left alone, she drugs up a smug businessman and hands him over to March and company and while the poor bastard is getting stabbed to death, Sally's too busy further worming her way into John's affections. As repellent as Sally is as a character, I am finding Paulson to be her consistently brilliant self in this role though.

Losing A Child: This season has had a theme of lost children - the Lowes with Holden and even Iris with Donovan to a degree and keeping with the theme, we learned in flashbacks to 1925 that Miss Evers (real name Hazel) had her own son snatched and killed by Gordon Northcott and it's a story that she partially revealed to John at the start of this episode. I guess it kind of explains her current actions and it certainly gave Mare Winningham some wonderful material to play off on. Now that we have Miss Evers backstory, can we now have Liz Taylor?

Two Mothers: And this week when Holden wasn't snacking on poor Jasper, Alex was confronting the woman responsible for her son being a vampire. I have to admit, I really liked the scenes with Alex and the Countess (minus that one scene where Tristan smacked the former) as the pair of them bonded and clashed over motherhood. The result of Alex choosing to become a vampire to be with Holden might have been predictable as anything but I am interested to see where this will go in the next few episodes though. Missing from this episode however was Will, Donovan, Iris and Ramona who were probably having just as crazy a Halloween as everyone else but only offscreen of course.

Next week, Iris has to hide her vampirism from a suspicious Countess and a certain Warbler checks in.

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Review of Dracula (1992)

Written by Bram Stroker And James V. Hart
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Dracula: "I am the monster that breathing men would kill. I am Dracula."

Like his other horror literary counterparts, Dracula has been adapted so many times and in so many ways that you could be somewhat desensitised to Bram Stoker's infamous bloodsucker, somewhat based on the sadistic Vlad the Impaler but out of all adaptations, this particular movie for me remains one of the most iconic and memorable.

Released in the early 1990s, this version of the bloodsucker is mostly faithful to Stoker's iconic novel as solicitor Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) takes a business trip to Transylvania where he meets the infamous Count (Gary Oldman) and it's a struggle for him to get out of the castle and back to his beloved Mina (Winona Ryder) to whom Dracula quickly has taken an obsession to.

If you wanted the original sensual and destructive vampire/human relationship, then the Count and his pursuit of Mina is where to be. It's an interesting and deadly story as the Count makes his presence known in England and even takes delight in tormenting and changing Mina's best friend, Lucy (Sadie Frost) into a creature of the night before Mina finds herself conflicted between her relationship with Jonathan and growing feelings for the most dangerous vampire of all time.

Of course, Dracula's pursuit of Mina does however make him a target of not only a vengeful Jonathan and Lucy's suitors - Quincy, Seward and Holmwood but also the most famous of vampire hunters - Van Helsing, played with relish by Sir Anthony Hopkins as Dracula finds his stay in England and obsession with Mina coming to a rather bloody end.

In a way, it's almost lucky we got this version in the nineties because I honestly think what we've get nowadays would be so much more anemic by comparison. Oldman is utterly superb in the lead role - genuinely menacing, alluring, dangerous, cruel and tragic and Ryder herself is actually quite superb as the more innocent but smart and sympathetic Mina. Reeves does well enough as Jonathan but I do think he's overshadowed a little by the rest of his cast members at times.

- Watch the commentary for this movie. A lot of the things that Coppola says are pretty mind blowing, especially about Keanu's casting for the role of Harker.
- This was originally meant to be a television movie before Winona showed it to Coppola.
- Some of the cinematography in this movie is truly stunning - the blood red skies, the fog sequences, the snowy Transylvania towards the end.
- Other actors considered for Dracula include Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicholas Cage to name a few.

There have been many adaptations of this book but for me, Coppola's Dracula is definitely the most definitive of adaptations and one that has yet to be better as well. Primarily faithful to the source material itself but adding a little more, this movie is a classic.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x06: Two Birds, One Millstone

And this week, we got some more revelations, including a potentially unpleasant one with one of the Keating Five and one of the more sensible characters making an error too.

Written by Mike Foley
Directed by Mike Listo

Trotters Revealed: Or is it. Thanks to Sinclair, who felt rather spiteful this week, we and Bonnie know that Tiffany was gang raped and somehow Asher has a role in it. Personally I will really be shocked if it turns out that Asher is a rapist but I have a feeling it's going to revealed that Asher have known about Tiffany's attack and was pressured into keeping his mouth shut. Either way, it's not good and Bonnie herself looked shaken by the news as well. However it does explain why Asher has been so anxious this season and it gives him possible motive for later killing Sinclair as well. It should also be noted that we didn't see anything of him in the flash forwards as well.

Lady Killer: On the other hand, the flash forwards did have a lot of focus on Frank, who seemed pretty freaked out over Annalise getting shot. Oddly enough, I like seeing Frank panic a bit. He's often too cool for his own good, so having a moment here where he genuinely panicked was a nice change of pace. When he wasn't worried about his boss being a corpse, he was also disposing of Catherine's body in the forest. Except unlike Lila and Rebecca, this episode ended with informing us that Catherine was very much alive. In the present though he was mostly having sex with Laurel, introducing her to his chaotic family when he wasn't giving Wes the side eye as well.

Trusting Women: So Wes has issues with women. I thought that was pretty obvious but this episode seemed more keen on drilling that fact in a bit more in case audiences hadn't picked up on it beforehand. His obsession with Rebecca being dead continues to piss off the rest of his classmates, we got a tiny bit of an insight into his relationship. Then there's his ongoing issues with Annalise which are inevitably going to worsen when he realises that yet again, she's lying to him about Rebecca. Oh dear.

Watching Him Watching You: You know what, I have to say - if this show kills off Oliver, it will hit me hard. I absolutely adore the guy and outside of the two main LGBT couples in Sense8, Connor/Oliver are the best LGBT couple on television at the moment and every time they're given a scene together, it's an automatic highlight. This week we learned that Catherine/Caleb's racist aunt had a son named Philip she gave up for adoption. Oliver decided to do some more research on the guy and Connor freaked out for good cause - Philip is now watching the pair of them. Seriously writers, don't kill off Oliver. That guy is too adorable (and hot) to die.

The Wife Did It: In less than two seasons, this show has handled LGBT issues and characters in a way that other shows should pay attention to and with this episode, we were introduced to a trans character named Jill who killed her abusive husband in self defence and who was also revealed into having a prior history with Annalise. The case was fairly straightforward compared to some past ones and I really enjoyed the rapport between Jill and Annalise as they bonded over terrible husbands and secret lives. Another plot in this episode also included the offscreen death of Nate's wife and the growing anger he's developing towards Annalise.

Next week, Eve's back (yay) Sinclair and Annalise go at it and Laurel and Frank's not so secret relationship is known to more people.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Review of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Written by Jim Sharman And Richard O'Brien
Directed by Jim Sharman

Frank: "It's not easy having a good time! Even smiling makes my face ache!"

It's been a good 40 years since the release of this one and needless to say, it's a movie that is both an all time classic and something everyone has an awareness of, even if they've never seen it. Myself, this was a movie that I've seen properly in recent years and have watched over and over because it genuinely is that brilliant and absolutely bizarre in equal measures.

Merging horror, science fiction, comedy, drama and musical in a manner so effortless it's rarely been repeated since, this movie sees a rather sickly sweet couple Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Saradon) forced to spend the night at a rather creepy castle, owned by a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" named Dr Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) and his band of misfits.

Now this is a movie with so many bright and vibrant characters, it's almost hard to keep up in a way but each of the characters are truly sublime though. Curry practically steals the whole thing as Frank - going from playful, charming, homicidal, jealous, seductive, vulnerable and even a touch sympathetic at some point too while his servants Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien), Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and Columbia (Nell Campbell) are also a forced to be reckoned with.

Then there's Rocky himself - the cute, perfect Adonis like creation of Frank's that managed to create some accidental havoc of his own while both Janet and Brad themselves are given something of a sexual awakening the deeper they get involved with Frank and his minions.

Of course, the most memorable moments of the movies involve the actual musical numbers themselves. Whether it's The Time Warp, Damnit Janet, There's a Light (Over At The Frankenstein Place), Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me, Planet Schmanet Janet and Science Fiction/Double Feature, you'll certainly know them and you'll certain find yourself singing along to them, whether you'd want to or not. I don't think there's ever been a musical where every single has truly stood out for me.

As for the alien plot of the movie - it's not always the strongest bit and the conclusion does seem a little rushed at the end but there's so much madness and fun to this whole movie that it almost doesn't matter. There's a reason why this movie is such a classic and if you've never seen it before, do yourself a favour and seek it out.

- I was surprised to read that this movie was critically panned upon initial release but it has become a midnight classic at cinemas nowadays.
- There's a sort of sequel called Shock Treatment that focuses on Brad and Janet but it bombed and didn't feature the original cast.
- One of the more underrated roles in the movie is the role of the Criminologist, who does the narration.
- Just check the wikipedia page to see the true impact this movie has made. It even has a page dedicated it's own cult following.

An absolute classic of a movie - The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the best and without a doubt, one of the maddest movies you will ever watch in your life but it's also one of the few movies where you really do owe it to yourself to watch as well, especially during this spooky week.

Rating: 10 out of 10

My Review of The Craft (1996)

Written by Peter Filardi And Andrew Fleming
Directed by Andrew Fleming

Nancy: "What's going on? Why aren't you dead?"
Sarah: "Manon. He came to me. Saved me. Oh, and by the way. He wanted me to give you a message. You're in big shit. He says you've abused the gifts that he's given you, and now you're going to have to pay the price."

With Halloween around the corner, the next few days I'm going to do some appropriate reviews and one of my favourite movies from the late 1990s was this witching delight as four outcast teenage girls bond and eventually clash over their use of magic and invoking the spirit of Manon to boot.

The girls in question include cynical goth Nancy (Fairuza Balk), newly arrived to LA, Sarah (Robin Tunney) swimmer Rochelle (Rachel True) and scarred Bonnie (Neve Campbell) - the four of whom get deeper and deeper into the art of magic, first with some small spells and then others resulting in death and a nasty fellow student losing her hair.

The big story in the movie however was the power dynamic between Nancy and Sarah. It seemed subtle at first but it's really there from the moment the two of them interact as the former succumbs to the darker side of things while the latter - the more naturally gifted witch is forced into conquering some deep seated fears in order to save herself and overthrow Nancy too.

Out of the four main characters, it is the rivalry and contrasts between Sarah and Nancy that fuel the movie and the way it at times impact both Bonnie and Rochelle. It's a superbly cast movie with some truly terrific performances from both Tunney and Balk and it certainly has tackled witchcraft far better than more recent movies.

The rest of the characters though don't have much to do, other than fill in certain tropes or in Chris's case also get killed off in a suitably nasty way by Nancy but given the charms off the four leading ladies, I really don't find that much of a bad thing to be honest.

- Needless to say, a remake of this movie is currently being planned.
- Fairuza Balk is (or was) a Wiccan in real life while this movie was being made.
- Prior to it being the theme for Charmed, the Smiths song How Soon Is Now was used in this movie.
- During the invocation scene we see Nancy with a snake, Sarah with a budgie, Bonnie with a butterfly and Rochelle with a clown fish.

One of my favourite movies and certainly one with one of the more darker takes on witchcraft, The Craft is a superb movie, led brilliantly by all four actresses in question and in my honest opinion, something of an underrated gem as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Taking On New Identities

Kind of thematic considering nearly all the shows I'm about to cover in this blog. Some of this is UK/US/Irish paced.

Arrow: I've caught the first two episodes and the show has had something of a mini revamp. Oliver has managed to dial his usual dour self down a few notches, adopted the moniker of Green Arrow and even seems to actually enjoy with Felicity. Unfortunately the flashbacks are still adding nothing interesting to the show but on the plus side, Damien Darhk is already a better foe than Ras was last season, we've got a gay Mr Terrific in the making and Thea and Laurel just work well together whether it's kicking bad guy butt or deciding to bring Sara back from the dead.

Jekyll And Hyde: You have to give it to ITV. Their attempts of creating their own Doctor Who effect have had mixed results. Primeval managed to last a decent five series and be fairly enjoyable but Demons was pretty much an abomination of a series and as for this series - well, it's potentially the strongest candidate ITV have done so far and we're only an episode in. Charlie Higson has done a fantastic imagining of the classic story and Tom Bateman is seriously brilliant in both roles. Definitely a winner for me.

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD: Okay, this has yet to air on Channel 4 but RTE2 (for Irish viewers) have so far aired the first two episodes of the show's third season and it's been a little bit of a slow burner. Mostly we've seen Skye complete her transformation into Daisy as she recruited more Inhumans while Ward spent time rebuilding Hydra and Fitz rescued Simmons from that weird dimension place she was in between seasons. There is some great stuff with May in the second episode though Coulson just kind of seems to be there at the moment.

Once Upon A Time: I've only seen the first three episodes so far (will catch up within the next week) and I have to admit, I'm not really that compelled by anything as of yet. In larger roles, the dwarves are actually annoying and Emma's foray into darkness hasn't been quite as dark as I'd hope it would be. I'm also not too blown away by the Camelot arc as of yet but on the plus side, I do like Merida from the little I've seen so far. Maybe the episodes awaiting me are a lot better.

Supergirl: I resisted the urge to watch the pilot when it was leaked several months ago but today, I finally caught and I loved it. Yes, there have been stronger pilots and there certainly were moments similar to The Flash and Smallville but this show genuinely deserves to be successfully. The feminist commentary/misogynistic opening baddie might have been hammered home a little too much but Melissa Benoist is going to be the definitive Supergirl for a lot of people and in this episode alone, she embodied everything about the character. Kara is the superhero we need and with 12 million viewers tuning in, CBS have produced a show worth the weekly watch.

The Flash: Ah, the show that now has become so timey wimey, even Steven Moffat would struggle to keep up with this. The first two episodes of Season 2 have been a joy. I might not have liked the swift way that Ronnie was dispatched or Henry left but everything else though has been a charm. The arrival of Jay Garrick certainly has added to proceedings and the looming threats of Zoom and Wells eventual return to our world are keeping things pretty interesting as well. With all these superhero shows flying high at the moment, it's a great time to be a fan of the genre, isn't it?

- Michelle Gomez will play a mysterious character named The Lady in an upcoming episode of Gotham. Nathan Darrow has been cast as Victor Fries for the show.
- Barbara Hershey will be returning for Once Upon A Time's 100th episode.
- Henry Czerny has been cast as the Toyman for Supergirl.
- HBO have cancelled The Brink after one season.
- Sherlock's upcoming special, The Abominable Bride will air on BBC1 and Masterpiece on New Year's Day.
- Bryan Fuller is to revive anthology series, Amazing Stories for NBC.
- ABC have cancelled The Whispers after one season.
- Gilmore Girls is being revived for Netflix as a series of four 90 minute episodes.
- Ryan Murphy and Gwyneth Paltrow may be working on a new show about a former 1990s hitmaker called One Hit Wonder.
- Empire creator Lee Daniels is planning a show about a girlband named Star.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x06: "By Fire"

Written by Rebecca Perry Cutter
Directed by TJ Scott

Selina: "You don't sound like yourself."
Bridgit: "I'm not myself anymore. I'm free, just like you told me."

Six episodes in and these mini arcs that the show seems intent on doing have been such a godsend. While this arc might have been shorter than the Maniax one, Gotham finally made me interested in Firefly as a character where previous iterations haven't quite mustered it.

In this episode, we saw Selina determined to help Bridgit in the best way possible. First by getting her to rob a sex slave den so that Bridgit could get enough money to leave the city but when she got caught by her awful brothers, Selina reluctantly agreed to help Gordon in order to help her own friend from making a massive mistake.

Of course, Selina was too late. Bridgit got a taste of power and tired of being terrorised by her brothers, she decided to kill them before going back to rescue the girls from the den and punish the men. Unfortunately this was where everything went to pot and Bridgit became a victim of her own success and ended up being set alight as well.

While this resulted in things becoming more hostile between Gordon and a disillusioned Selina, it actually turned out that Bridgit survived her burning and has not only become fireproof (her suit melted into her) but she's also underground Indian Hill (remember that?) in a creepy place where it looks like some superpowered potential threats are being housed.

Of course Bridgit's story wasn't the only one to take such a deadly turn in this episode. Nygma's relationship with Kringle finally looked like it was going to progress to a lovely place until he decided that confession was good for the soul. It seems that learning your current boyfriend bumped off your former abusive boyfriend is a bit of a no-no for Kristin.

Unfortunately it also led to the annoying trope of Nygma inadvertently killing Kristin, which I really wished the writers had avoided. I know Kristin was probably going to die at some point and that her death would be a thing to tip Nygma over the edge but why did she have to die at his hands? Not all of Batman's rogue gallery of villains are serial killers. I really wish they wouldn't go down that route with Nygma when they're being creative with other villains.

As for the other plots this week - we did have Oswald and Butch working their way into getting back Gertrud as the latter managed to get in with the Galavans before getting the crap whipped out of him by Tabitha. On the plus side, at least Oswald and Butch know where the former's mother is being held but six episodes in and I still don't have a good handle on Tabitha. Aside from being a bit of a sadist, the writers haven't really done anything interesting with her yet. Theo on the other hand, continues to be interesting and this week, he really did work overtime to get into Bruce's good books.

Also in "By Fire"

Not going to accuse this show of sexism but despite the feminist talk, there was a lot of stuff that jarred - Tabitha still not having anything decent to do, Kringle's too quick death and Leslie being a captive yet again.

Theo (re Butch): "What do you think ladies?"
Tabitha: "I think he's cute. Like a sad bear."

Barbara recalled her previous encounter with Butch when he was trying to get in with the Galavans.

Bridgit (re girls): "We need to help them."
Selina: "We need to help you because you killed a cop, remember?"

Selina (to traffickers): "And for the record, y'all suck."

Silver reappeared in this episode. I don't think it's too much of a stretch that she's a willing pawn in Theo's overall scheme. Oh and it was nice seeing Ivy too.

Bullock: "Should I call the children's home or get a candy bar and have someone forget to watch you?"
Ivy: "Candy bar."

Selina: "No offence, Jim but I like my chances better than yours."
Gordon (re Bridgit): "Why get involved? Why risk your neck? Who is this girl to you?"

We saw the beginnings of an eventual ethics clash between Gordon and Barnes in this episode as well. The latter's black and white approach is going to be a problem later on I bet.

Oswald (to Butch): "Go find my mother before I chop off your other hand."

Selina: "You're cute for a doctor."
Leslie: "Thanks. You're cute for a gangster."

Chronology: Not long from where Scarification left off.

An interesting episode most definitely. By Fire mostly concluded the Firefly arc for the time being but it set up much more of interest though - Indian Hill's experiments, Nygma's further descent into darkness, a future conflict with Gordon/Barnes and Theo getting his claws into Bruce.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x06: "The Woman Who Lived"

Written by Catherine Tregenna
Directed by Ed Bazalgette

Ashildr (to the Doctor): "My own companion. Singular. Unattached. Alone."

And to slightly prepare for the fact that we are going to have a future with the 12th Doctor that will not feature Clara, this episode not only saw the English teacher being relegated to only just a scene at the end where her impending exit was further hinted at but also saw the Doctor being reunited with a familiar face in a different time.

It's interesting that the show decided to address the consequences of giving Ashildr immortality straightaway rather than leaving it for later in the series or even the next one but nonetheless, the Doctor's jaunt to 1651 England saw him coming face to face with legendary highwayman known as the Knightmare or better yet, Ashildr, who is initially surprised then annoyed to see the Doctor once again.

It seems that in the 800 years since their last meeting Ashildr has lived many lives and gone by many names and loved and lost various children and other people, which has been enough to harden her and steal from the rich as a means of excitement and also something to provide a bit of conflict with her and the Doctor.

Another thing to provide some conflict in this episode would be an alien amulet that Ashildr and her accomplice, Leandro (or Lenny the Lion if you're feeling childish) are both after, only with different motives but then again, so is the Doctor. The dilemma however stemmed from the fact that in order for the amulet to be used to help Ashildr and Leandro get out of 17th century England, someone has to die instead.

The would be sacrifice in question came in the form of rival highwayman and general numpty, Sam Swift as played by Rufus Hound. Silly risque jokes aside and a kiss scene I could've done without seeing, I have to admit that Swift is one of my least favourite guest characters in a while and I wasn't particularly heartbroken over the idea of him being used as potential cannon fodder to further the plot this week. However as soon as Leandro's evil (and predictable) intentions were revealed, it didn't take much for both the Doctor and Ashildr to put their issues to one side, band together to save the day and potentially give Swift a new lease of life to boot.

The strength of this episode was it's dealing with immortality. The Doctor's motives for not wanting to travel with Ashildr made enough sense and harkened back to some of his conflicting past issues with Jack (who rightly got a mention in this episode) and I liked that Ashildr understood that in the end. I also liked the way the both of them talked about mayflies and how that tied into Clara as well.

Also in "The Woman Who Lived"

This is the first time since Series 4 that we've had a female writer for the show. We've also got Sarah Dollard's episode to look forward to in a few weeks time too.

The Doctor: "You?"
Ashildr: "Yes, it is me. What took you so long, old man?"

Ashildr went by the name of Lady Me in this episode. Maisie Williams is even credited as Me in the closing credits for this one.

The Doctor: "How many people have you killed?"
Ashildr: "You'll have to check my diary."

The Doctor: "What could be worse than losing your own children?"
Ashildr: "I keep that entry to remind me not to have any more."

Lady Me had a loyal servant named Clayton, who she initially was going to use for her scheme before deciding on Swift.

Ashildr (re Clara): "Why haven't you made her immortal?"
The Doctor: "Look how you turned out."

Ashildr (to the Doctor): "I'm not looking for a husband, you oaf. I'm looking to get out of town."

Catherine Tregenna who wrote this episode, also penned four episodes during the first two series of Torchwood.

Ashildr: "You didn't save my life, Doctor. You trapped me inside it."

Sam: "What are you playing for my lady?"
Ashildr: "To make it quick."

There was a nice reference to the Terileptils from the Fifth Doctor story, The Visitation.

The Doctor: "I think I'm glad I saved you."
Ashildr: "I think everyone will be."

Clara: "So where are you gonna take me?"
The Doctor: "Wherever you want."

Chronology: 1651 England and 800 years after the events of The Girl Who Died. Ashildr will be back in Face The Raven, folks.

This was certainly an interesting episode. The Woman Who Lived wasn't strictly a concluding part to a two parter story like the first four episodes have been but given how prominent Ashildr was and how vital the events of the previous episode were too, it wasn't exactly a total standalone either. Some of the humour misfired a bit (anything from Sam Swift) and Leandro was another great looking but slightly wasted alien antagonist. However the episode had a superb team with both Peter Capaldi and Maisie Williams delivering wonderfully and it was nice to see the consequences of one person's immortality getting a satisfactory exploration too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x05: Meet Bonnie

With the character named in this episode, some new information on a particular player surfaced as further chaos and mistrust happened between the main players this week.

Written by Sarah L. Thompson
Directed by Stephen Cragg

Making A Statement: As we learned in flashbacks, it seems that Asher and Bonnie also had roles in the night of Annalise's shooting and Sinclair's death. In the present day, Asher was struggling with protecting Bonnie's 'secret', until Annalise dove into the situation to ensure his silence. Back to the flashbacks though, we saw Bonnie cleaning blood off herself while Asher went to the police to make a confession. Now I don't know what he's about to confess to but I'm glad that Asher has a role in this season's murder storyline.

The Woman Of The Hour: Well, the episode was named after Bonnie and her desperation to keep Asher sweet and protect Annalise was the main focus of this whole episode. I was hoping that we'd have gotten more of a backstory for Bonnie though than the brief moment where Annalise showed Asher some genuinely unsettling footage. It kind of explains why Bonnie might be devoted to Annalise but I do hope there's more insight and scope to come with the character over the next few weeks.

Bye Levi: How do you solve an obstacle (or asset?) like Levi? Um, you frame him for drugs if you're Annalise and Frank and then watch as Connor, Michaela and Laurel get rightly pissed off when they learn that Levi and Wes have been working together and the former is Rebecca's foster brother. Actually between Connor's growing antagonism towards Annalise and the rest of the Keating lot fearful of what Asher knows and their growing mistrust of Wes, I'll be surprised if they don't all try to kill each other before this season actually ends.

Day Drinking, Hacking, Orgies And Inflammatory Videos: Keeping with the Keating lot, some progress was made with Caleb and Catherine's case which involved a video of their dead aunt proving herself to be a racist old bat. Which should've helped them but it seems that Sinclair and the judge were quick to dismiss the potential evidence of the siblings due to the way they thought Annalise acquired the damning video. Then we had moments of Connor getting drunk at work, suggesting an orgy with the rest of the Keating lot when Oliver himself wasn't wondering he isn't being paid for the amount of hacking he's done on Annalise's behalf.

Frankly Clever: Frank showed off how clever he was this week with the long game he played with both Wes and Levi and how the latter got arrested while at the same time providing back up for both Bonnie and Annalise while also getting cosy with Laurel down the basement. Other than that, we also had some other choice moments such as Sinclair scolding Asher on morality and murder as well as Nate fessing up to Annalise that the kids think she killed Rebecca to boot.

Next week, everyone's getting fired.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Mommy

And this week, we've got the issue of mother and sons, lovers scorned and a case of the waiting game with a new alliance.

Written by James Wong
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Willing Plaything: Is it me or Will something of a submissive? In this episode alone he let both Tristan (whom he shown initial disdain for) and the Countess have their way with him before both of them elected not to 'satisfy' him. Seriously though, with the exception of the Lowes, he's the closest to a normal character on the show, even if his purpose to become an eventual husband and corpse so that the Countess can regain her fortune/the Cortez. Is it bad that I really want Will not to die, not to become a vampire and spend more time copping off with blokes than becoming the Countess's next love slave/victim? Chances of me getting any of those things are probably not high though. Sigh.

The Junkie & The Detective: Ugh, the idea of a tryst between John and Sally is not something I'm particularly interested in watching. I do love that Paulson is playing a thoroughly horrible character this season and when she wasn't needling John about Commandments (that killer struck again with a gossip owner), she was also attempting to seduce him in the lift with the Addiction Demon nearby. I did like that John didn't cave in - mainly because of his obsession with trying to crack the Commandments Killer and trying to repair his ailing marriage. Speaking of ....

Mommy Dearest: One of the two (possibly three) mommy centred plots this week revolved around Alex admitting that she cared more for Holden than she's ever done for John or Scarlett and when she wasn't serving divorce papers to John or being her usual cold and distant self, she actually spotted Holden in the hotel herself. Aside from the fact that her and John really do owe Scarlett a massive apology, I'm just relieved that this storyline won't be dragged out either.

Ungrateful Son: The other mother/son story of the week revolved around Donovan and Iris were sympathy was afforded to the latter as the former really came across as a spoiled little shit until Liz Taylor actually talked some sense into him. However it was a little too late as Iris convinced Sally to give her an overdose of drugs, forcing Donovan into breaking one of the Countess's cardinal rules as he decided to make the mother he openly hates into a vampire. We're three episodes in and so far only three of the main and recurring cast have not become vampires, murdering ghosts or others. How long before one of these fates befall Will, John or Alex?

Foxy Mama: The first two episodes might have lacked Angela Bassett but this episode more than made up for it with possibly her best role on the show yet. Not only is Ramona Royale the scorned ex lover of the Countess who wants to team up with Donovan to hurt the former's vampiric kids but in the 1970s she was also an actress starring in some kickass movies and she is too also was made by the Countess who broke up with her when Ramona made her own vampire. Bassett might not have had loads of scenes in the episode but every single one she appeared in was a pure gem and I can't wait to see where else the show will go with Ramona. In other news, Gabriel took out Claudia and the murdering March spent most of his time being oddly confused by Tristan's use of the word "google" and "high five".

Next week it's Halloween and John gets to spend time with Mr March, Aileen Wuornos, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer to name a few.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x05: "Be True"

Written by Wendy Calhoun And Jasheika James And Janeika James
Directed by Kevin Bray

Andre: "I've done horrible things."
Cookie: "So have I, Dre. We are good people."

And this episode was truly the best one yet. After the excellence of last week, Be True managed to produce something even more amazing as confessions, baptisms, looming threats and a kidnapping all brought out the most interesting aspects of every character this week.

First of all - Andre's path into becoming a better man has been great to watch and this week he went one step further by following his reverend's advice and confessing some of his past sins to Jamal/Hakeem (the staged robbery from Dangerous Bonds) and Lucious (getting Cookie to take Jamal on as an act from the Pilot).

The interesting thing was the way all three quickly forgave Andre's past misdeeds against them but were more reluctant to attend his baptism. However all three of them along with Cookie actually did, only for past memories to force Lucious to get the hell out of there but it was nice to see the family (and Rhonda) in one place together. There was even some gentle jokes between Lucious and Cookie sniping at each other.

Of course while the baptism storyline was prominent throughout this one, it wasn't the only major arc kicking off. Witnessing Tiana getting mugged by two shady girls also revealed that Lyon Dynasty has worse problems than Lucious undermining them as Cookie and Hakeem learned that they were marked and the episode itself ended with Hakeem being kidnapped by masked men in broad daylight.

Going by the trailer for the next episode, it definitely seems that Hakeem being snatched will be the thing to band Cookie and Lucious together (when he isn't bugging Lyon Dynasty) but as a twist, this was an oddly unexpected one. Suddenly the Lyon Dynasty storyline has taken a whole new interesting turn - a very soapy one too I might add.

The other major plot of the week though involved Jamal getting ready for touring and both Lucious and Neyo (he got a lot to do here) giving him conflicting advice on whether or not to take Michael on the road this week. Michael however went down in my estimation after he was caught getting a blowjob from creepy photographer guy Chase. I'm really starting to actually dislike Michael this season and I'm wondering if that's meant to be intentional. As great as this show has been with Jamal, it's let the side with Michael as a character. They really should get a look at how Connor/Oliver are written in How To Get Away With Murder for better insight.

Also in "Be True"

The show keeps adding gorgeous guys to the roster with Adam Rodriguez as promoter, Laz Delgado. Pretty sure both him and Cookie will be getting it on by next episode.

Thirsty: "Andre, nice to see you without a shovel."

Thirsty is going to be a major problem down the line. The show definitely is hinting at that and at least Andre is smart enough to pick up on it.

Andre: "Reverend, my family doesn't go to church unless somebody is in the casket."

Chase: "Relationships are the death of creativity."
Jamal: "Why would you say that? Are you telling me you've never been in love?"
Chase: "Every day and it's real."

Hakeem showed some actual growth with the way he dealt with Laura spurning his advances in this one. More of that please.

Lucious (re Vernon): "You knew he was a snake?"
Cookie: "I didn't know nothing. So did you off him or did you get one of your goons to do it?"

Becky (to Jamal): "Jesus does love you. I don't care what the bible says."

Porscha didn't stay fired for long, Andre and Rhonda aren't having sex, Leah tried to 'baptise' Lucious as a kid in the worst way possible and can we please have more scenes with Becky and Jamal getting drunk together?

Cookie: "You packing?"
Laz: "I see you are too."

Lucious (to Andre): "I'm not testing you. I'm telling you the only commandments I want followed here are mine. Check your faith at the door, son."

Standout music: Jamal/Neyo's "Born To Love U", Freda's "Why Go?" and Jamal's "Never Love Again".

Cookie (re Lucious): "Ooh mention the devil and he walk right in."
Jamal: "God help us all."

Chronology: Not long from where Poor Yorick left off.

Easily the best episode of the season. Be True was a truly brilliant episode, gripping from start to finish with genuinely great twists and beautiful character moments. Not to mention the fact that the music was also truly exceptional this week.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x05: "Scarification"

Written by Jordan Harper
Directed by Bill Eagles

Bridget: "Who cares if you're free? What good's freedom if you're alone?"
Selina: "What good's family if you're a slave?"

I tend to be mixed on gender swapping characters. Sometimes it can work but other times I feel it would be better if there was more concentration on writing stronger female characters than changing a male character but then again, one of my favourite character is Missy on Doctor Who at the moment and that was one gender swap that has actually worked in that show's favour.

Anyways, back to Gotham and keeping with origin stories, they've decided to gender swap Firefly into a shy girl named Bridget - bullied by her arsonist 'brothers' into taking part in a series of fires against Wayne Enterprises, only for her to develop an addiction for pyromania and inadvertently kill one of Barnes Strike Force lot (bye, bye, Garrett) but on the plus side, at least Bridget has Selina to count on as the latter offers to get her away from being arrested.

Firefly is without a doubt one of my least favourite Batverse of villains so gender swapping the character wasn't a big deal for me. It also helped that the episode made Bridget into an instantly sympathetic character and it's these sort of twists (her fear/newfound addiction to fire) that are the sort of thing that this show is becoming quite good at. After the mini arc with the first three episodes, it's nice that we're back with another one just as quickly.

Having Selina on Bridget also helps the character too as she's been at a loose end since the first season finale. I did like that Oswald sent Butch to get Selina in order to appeal to Bridget's awful brothers in order to carry out Theo's plans in this one. One of the brothers died in this one, so I'm hoping the next two are bumped off in the next episode for good measure.

As for the reasons behind the arsons on Wayne Enterprises properties - it seems that Theo is after some good old fashioned revenge as flashbacks to 200 years ago showed that the Waynes screwed his family over (the then called Dumas clan) and along with a rather creepy monk/priest at the end, it seems that Theo intends to kill Bruce before the season is out. I have to admit this whole plot suddenly got a lot more interesting than expected now.

As for Oswald - when he wasn't gaining a little advantage by learning about Theo's history, he was still hopelessly under the man's thumb which led to his getting madder and madder throughout the episode. Unfortunately for Butch, this meant that Oswald took his frustrations out on him in a way that really did make me slightly dread the next time we see Butch.

Also in "Scarification"

Aside from pointing out how batshit Barbara is, Tabitha still hasn't grown on me as a character. She needs better stuff to work with.

Tabitha (re Barbara): "She's kind of crazy."
Theo: "That's the best part of her."

Bunderslaw from last season had the misfortune of getting his eye gouged out so the Pike brothers and Bridget could retrieve the knife for Theo.

Leslie: "You go strike with your force but what are we doing tonight?"
Gordon: "Sleep."
Leslie: "Nah aw, it's date night, mister."

Tabitha (to Oswald): "Get your head together little man and get it done."

Theo managed to eventually get Gordon into endorsing him for Mayor by the end of this episode. I'm surprised that Gordon isn't a tiny bit suspicious of him but that'll come later I guess.

Selina (re Fish): "She might come back."
Butch: "I was there, darling."
Selina: "She might."

Leslie (to Gordon): "Don't tempt me. I could psychoanalyse the hell out of you but I'm gonna resist the temptation."

I liked the double date moment with Gordon/Leslie and Nygma/Kringle in this one.

Edwidge: "You're in deep waters, Mr Penguin."
Oswald: "Thank you, Edwidge. That's where Penguins thrive."

Bridget: "Where are we going?"
Selina: "Home."

No Bruce, Alfred or Barbara in this one. Considering how much of the plot hinged on the former, kinda surprised he was missing this week.

Father Kreel (to Theo): "Gotham will be redeemed in blood and Bruce Wayne will die."

Chronology: Not long from where Strike Force left off.

This was a brilliant episode. Scarification gave a pretty fantastic twist to the one of the verses least compelling of villains for me, has added a nice cult/league sort of feel with Theo's general plans for the city and with Oswald descending into further madness, things seem like they're going to get even crazier over the next few weeks.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who'x 9x05: "The Girl Who Died"

Written by Jamie Mathieson And Steven Moffat
Directed by Ed Bazalgette

Clara (to Ashildr, re the Doctor): "He hasn't got a plan yet but he will have and it will be spectacular."

If the opening episodes with their multiple returns weren't the most anticipated ones for this series, then second on that list would probably have been the episodes to feature Game Of Thrones actress Maisie Williams and for those who were hoping for something heavier, this episode might have disappointed a tad. For me though, it's quickly become one of my favourites.

The Doctor and Clara wind up in a Viking village, mainly by being captured by a group of them at the wrong time and it's not long before the main threat looms over the entire episode. The threat being a war like robot race known as the Mire, led by someone posing quite badly as Odin and it wasn't until a young girl said the wrong thing that the Mire declared war on the Viking village in question. Nope, it wasn't Clara but instead the character of Ashildr as played nicely by Williams.

Ashildr's words of war (appropriate considering the name means "battle") against the Mire forced the Doctor and Clara to stay in the village and try to train up the villagers so they didn't get slaughtered. The funny thing was that there was less actual fighting on the day of battle in question and more a clever use of diversion and threats of viral humiliation instead.

I've seen a fair amount of criticism for the humour in this episode, even with some fair enough comparison made to last series Robot Of Sherwood but considering that the first four episodes this series were relatively darker (albeit with some lighter moments in them), I actually enjoyed the humour in this one. Yes, the use of a certain theme was a bit of a WTF moment and even the not so great 'Doctor speaks baby' thing was given another whirl but even that came into actual good use for once.

It also helped that most of the characters were likeable enough and while 'Odin' and the Mire were arguably a little too quickly defeated, they weren't really the main story. The main story was Ashildr and not for the reasons people were probably expecting. Anyone (including myself at first) who thought the character was going to be revealed as someone familiar - that didn't happen but maybe that was a good thing.

As a character, Ashildr really didn't need to be anyone we already knew. Pushing the hype of Maisie Williams casting for the character to one side, the character was genuinely interesting, strange and had plenty of wonderful moments with both the Doctor and Clara before she ended up being killed during the battle with Odin and the Mire. I even found her death pretty sad even without the Doctor lamenting to Clara about losing people/hammering home the latter's imminent departure.

Then there was the Doctor playing with Ashildr's death. Giving her a new lease of immortality due to an alien chip has got to blow up in his face by next week and the one thing I've noticed aside from the hybrid theme is that both the Doctor and Clara are behaving extremely reckless this series. Needless to say in seven weeks time this is going to end badly for both of them.

Also in "The Girl Who Died"

The explanation for the Doctor's current face along with a flashback of the 10th Doctor and Donna from The Fires Of Pompeii worked better than expected but again, this wasn't something that needed explaining.

Clara (re spider creature): "It's halfway up my leg."
The Doctor: "Don't worry, it's just hungry."

The opening sequence with Clara in a space suit dealing with a spider creature was amusing but wasn't needed for the episode.

Odin: "Your mightiest warriors will feast within the halls of Valhalla."

Clara (to Odin): "The universe is full of testosterone. It's unbearable."

How does a Viking village have electrical eels? Of course, plot convenience but it did stand out though.

Clara (re villagers): "Turning them into fighters, that's not you."
The Doctor: "I used to believe that too."

Ashildr (to the Doctor/Clara): "I know I'm strange. Everybody knows I'm strange but here I'm loved."

I keep mentioning it but seriously, BBC sort out the Doctor Who Extra and the timeslot for this series, even though this episode went up a bit in the latter category.

Odin (to the Doctor): "This humiliation will not go unpunished. We will meet again."

Clara: "What is wrong with your face?"
The Doctor: "I know why I chose it."

Standout music: Murray Gold really came up with something beautiful when Ashildr's immortality kicked in at the end of this one.

The Doctor (to Clara): "I'm the Doctor and I save people."

Chronology: Viking times, no specific chronology given onscreen.

This might have been a polarising episode for others but for me, I absolutely loved it. The Girl Who Died had humour that actually worked for me, a wonderful guest character in Ashildr whose immortality will have actual consequences for the Doctor. Not to mention a flashback to one of my favourite past episodes and more allusions to Clara's imminent exit from the series.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x04: Skanks Get Shanked

With a rather provocative title came a somewhat provocative episode as we had one hell of a case and several new revelations to digest on too.

Written by Angela Robinson
Directed by Stephen Williams

The Better Woman: Given that Nate's dying wife has been mentioned so frequently on the show, it's actually impressive that it took them until the second season to introduce the character and to be honest, I wish we had more scenes with her. Nia didn't judge Annalise for sleeping with her husband but instead wanted her helping in ending her pain. I'm glad that Annalise ultimately chose not to do so and I liked how the episode didn't try to pit either woman against each other. There was some genuinely superb writing and acting between Viola Davis and Enuka Okuma that I really do hope this isn't the only time we actually see Nia on the show.

Blood On Hands: Can I just say one thing - more scenes between Connor and Annalise on their own please? Especially ones where they're sparring because I really liked that Connor sabotaged the case of the week and I like that he confronted Annalise. I also liked that he reminded her that it was Wes who killed Sam and not him, Laurel, Rebecca and Michaela (though I'm surprised she didn't remind him of hacking up Sam's body). Still though it led to a brilliant confrontation scene and performance between Jack Falahee and Viola Davis and with Oliver being a no show this week, it was nice the episode tapped into Connor's morality with the main case and not wanting any more blood on his hands. Of course, there's also the future problem with Annalise not being dead as she's still alive going by the flashforwards in this one.

She Has Boobs: Yes, apparently that was the reason why Annalise sicced Michaela onto Caleb this week to learn more about the case but aside from learning that Catherine is still a virgin, the only thing Annalise might have done was cause history to repeat itself. This time around it seems like Michaela will be getting romantically involved with Caleb, especially as the last scene of this episode alluded to with him waiting for Michaela at her apartment. Which begs the question - what's going to happen to Catherine in the next few episodes?

Confessions And Team Ups: I really liked the teams up that Wes has currently going with both Nate (to take down Annalise?) and Levi (to find out what happened/who killed Rebecca) but Nate raised some valid enough points about Levi's true motives and again, going into the flashforward territory, where the hell is he? Like Catherine, he hasn't factored into things so far there, so there might be a sticky end for him in the next few weeks. Meanwhile Asher needed his father's help in dealing with Sinclair and Bonnie in a rather overzealous move told Asher that she killed Sam. Bonnie, maybe not saying anything is the best way to go here.

Murder School: I know high school can be intense and all that, but murdering a girl for talking to someone's boyfriend? Sheez. Anyways that was the case of the week and thanks to Laurel not buying into Zoe's "sob story" and Connor's conscience actually kicking in, the little madam was exposed as a manipulative, murdering little sociopath. I have to admit though that Zoe's rant in the courtroom upon being exposed was unintentionally hilarious but all in all, I actually do side with Connor on this one.

Next week it's meant to be crazy and it's an episode named after Bonnie too. I'm sure they're related.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Chutes And Ladders

This week we got a few more character introductions, an almost repeat of history for a certain family and some history about the Cortez itself.

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Dapper Kills: After being missing from the first episode, Evan Peters returned this week and his spell of playing nice guys has come to an end. For James Patrick March was not only the original owner of the Cortez but it became a place where he murdered a variety of people as Miss Evers cleaned the sheets afterwards. Then he killed himself and Evers to avoid police capture. In 1925. Except in 2015, he's very much alive and even attempted to recruit a partner in Finn Wittrock's trashy model, Tristan into a murder spree that didn't pan out. Considering what this season is dealing with - he's either going to be a ghost or a vampire. For now, it's possibly the former but either way, even with a strange accent, Peters exuded a decent degree of menace with this guy.

Trading Up Or Down: Keeping with Tristan - well, he was pleasant to watch, right? A bored, hedonistic model who managed to cause chaos during one of the least convincing fashion shows (completely with Naomi Campbell as well) at the Cortez while pissing off Donovan royally. He did however manage to flee the danger of Mr March before being turned into a vampire by Elizabeth in this one. I did like that we got some general guidelines for the vampires in this show - avoid sunlight, only drink from health bodies and cut for blood than use fangs etc. The flashbacks to Studio 54 were also a lot more entertaining than the slightly overlong March/Cortez flashbacks but I get the feeling the Countess is going to be revealed as March's former wife (or not) but in this episode alone we learned that she has her types in men as Donovan and Tristan are anything to go by.

Dumped: When he wasn't torturing Iris by avoiding contact with her as much as possible, Donovan also spent a great deal of the episode acting the jealous boyfriend. While he might be somewhat of a hypocrite in relation to his attitude with Tristan, I actually do think Donovan has something that Tristan lacks though as a character. That being said, I wasn't particularly devastated to see Donovan getting dumped by the Countess in this episode.

Scaring Kids, Sewing Up Adults: Sally was pretty nuts in the previous episode and here, she kind of excelled herself. When she wasn't scaring the crap out of Scarlett (who discovered her brother is a vampire), creeping up to John in a way that felt super creepy, she was also sewing up poor Gabriel from last week into a mattress. At this rate, aside from the Lowe family and Will Drake (for now), is there anyone this season who isn't going to be killing or covering up deaths now? Speaking of the Lowes - they're still Harmons 2.0 but they're needed to balance out the rest of the craziness of the season. At least John did seem to be making a connection between March's past actions and the current ones of the Ten Commandments Killer though.

Frisky Receptionist: Iris might be in despair over a son who hates her guts but she's more than happy sending bodies down the same chute that March was doing in the past and even seemed to delight in needling John when dishing the dirt on the history of the Cortez. Other than that, she hasn't had too much to do and neither has Liz Taylor either but with another eleven episodes, perhaps both will get more to do or die rather horribly. On this show, both are inevitable.

Next week, the arrival of Ramona Royale who terms up with Donovan to get revenge on the Countess.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x04: "Poor Yorick"

Written And Directed by Danny Strong

Hakeem: "Why y'all look shocked? This family never been a real family. I'm outta here and I ain't never coming back."

And this is the moment where Lucious ended up looking the better person than Hakeem in comparison this week. I get Hakeem has got some lingering issues but his whole entitled attitude over Jamal being the heir apparent really grated in this episode - a lot.

Whinging about an arguably naff painting of Jamal aside, the actual fact that Hakeem attacked Jamal during the video shoot they were doing was beyond pathetic. Lucious is rarely right about his sons but pointing out that Hakeem needed to grow up was one of those moments where he was absolutely spot on but going by the trailers for next week, it does seem like Hakeem won't be growing up anytime soon.

However he did manage to spot a potential new singer at a random bar, so maybe Hakeem might learn something from his recent experience with Mirage A Trois. As for relying on Cookie - I hate to admit it but Lucious might be right. Lyon Dynasty really does seem like it's going to be a short lived venture. Same with Anika too - she should be looking elsewhere for future employment.

Speaking of Cookie, when she wasn't having her place raided (as was Lucious and Empire), she was arrested and practically forced by Roxanne to betray Lucious in order to protect her sons. For the first time this season, I really felt this episode truly nailed Cookie in every way - her spiky banter and her vulnerability and Taraji P. Henson really delivered in this one.

Of course, it wasn't just Cookie at her most vulnerable in this episode. Both Andre and Rhonda have managed to give Lucious so much power over them by showing them Vernon's body and confessing that Rhonda killed him. While I wasn't too surprised that Vernon ended up in the front seat of Roxanne (who really was an almighty bitch in this episode), I also have the horrible feeling that Lucious is going to use this revelation in relation to his grandchild as the season progresses.

As for the rest of the episode - I did like the creativity of the Rolling Stones photoshoot and painting with Jamal and the frazzled looking artist/photographer, Chase. Of course this also seems like a plot that might go somewhere a little more sinister if some of the spoilers are anything to go by.

Also in "Poor Yorick"

Mimi's motivations for buying Empire had something to do with having fun after her remission. Cookie referring to her as "White Bitch" and "KD Lang" weren't her smartest quips.

Lucious (to Roxanne): "Hi there baby. Look wherever you like."

Aside from being something of an overzealous irritant, is there any other motive as to why Roxanne is so determined to get Lucious behind bars?

Mimi: "This is how players play to win."
Lucious: "That's what I'm talking about."

Lucious: "Grandma."
Cookie: "Grandpa. Shut up, look at your fat stomach."

Adam Busch played the role of Chase the photographer in this one. Given that Danny Strong wrote and directed this one, it was a sort of Buffy The Vampire Slayer reunion in a way.

Andre: "God's been speaking to me."
Rhonda: "How's he been speaking to you?"

Andre looks like he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown with each episode. I like that we're seeing Lucious's mother in flashbacks too but I wish he'd tell Andre about his grandmother.

Cookie: "If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide."

Lucious: "You sure about that momma's boy?"
Hakeem: "Call me that one more time, you'll see what happens."

Aside from looking a bit jealous about Chase's interest in Jamal, Michael has yet to do or say anything interesting this season. The guy needs any character development right about now.

Chase: "This is what it should say."
Jamal: "What? That I should have my throat slit?"
Chase: "Yes. It represents violence and anger of a racist and homophobic society. It's genius."
Michael: "Yeah, really powerful."

Standout music: Jamal's "Battle Cry" at the start of the episode and of course, Jamal/Hakeem's "Aint About The Money".

Lucious (to Vernon): "You will rot in hell you snitch."

Chronology: Not long from where "Fires Of Heaven" left off.

Easily the best episode this season. "Poor Yorick" was just brilliant from start to finish and it really pushed so many plotlines this season as well. If some of the first few episodes (last week's mainly) didn't have quite the same punch as the first season, this one more than did.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by TJ Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also in "Strike Force"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theo: "I will run for Mayor."

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

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

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

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

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

Barnes: "Time to take down the Penguin."

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

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

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, October 12, 2015

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

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Daniel O'Hara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also in "Before The Flood"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, October 10, 2015

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

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

Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by John Terlesky

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

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

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

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

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

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