Monday, November 30, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 6 Review

All good things must come to an end and with a Christmas special looming, the sixth season of popular ITV drama, Downton Abbey has been and aired and it was certainly a solid series to watch and for Julian Fellowes to bring things to a close with.

Episode 1: The resolution of Mr Green's death put Anna in the clear and Mary has to deal with a bit of blackmail from a hotel maid.
Episode 2: Marigold went missing for a moment while Daisy landed herself in hot water trying to defend Mr Mason.
Episode 3: Carson and Mrs Hughes finally got wed and Branson came back from America after a two episodes absence.
Episode 4: Gwen returns with a husband and Anna faces a pregnancy scare.
Episode 5: Robert's health took a turn for the worst, Edith was reunited with Bertie and Mary becomes suspicious about Marigold.
Episode 6: The house has an open day to raise funds for the hospital while Carson further isolates Thomas.
Episode 7: Molosley and Daisy rise to the challenges of examination day while Mary has second thoughts on Henry following a motor crash.
Episode 8: The feature length finale which had the best showdown with Mary and Edith for a long time as well as the misfortune of Thomas nearly dying (thankfully he did not) as well as the wedding between Mary and Henry Talbot.

An interesting enough final series, though it won't strictly feel final until the Christmas special itself has aired. I did like Edith standing up to Mary, her romance with Bertie but more so her growing confidence in running a newspaper while the likes of Branson, Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore and Anna had their moments. On the negative side, Thomas's storyline was too bleak for my liking at times and Mary's back and forth with Henry became fairly tedious in parts but the rapports with Isobel/Violet, Spratt/Denker (that one surprised me) and even Thomas/Andy (despite it not becoming romantic) were highlights of the series too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x11: "Heaven Sent"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor: "The hybrid is me."

Or is it Me as in a certain Viking lady who played an indirect role into Clara's death? Now there's a question we won't have to wait too long to see resolved but as a means of ending this episode, it was something of a nice cliffhanger.

Had the BBC not actually spoiled what was due to come, I think most of us would've figured out that Gallifrey was fairly imminent anyways but the final scene with the Doctor on his home planet after so long and the confession finally said aloud was still a wonderful moment to behold the series. I really do hope that Hell Bent resolves this one beautifully to be honest.

Of course with the obvious long way return to Gallifrey being such a vocal part of this episode, the other main issue was the Doctor mainly going it alone for this 55 minutes. Steven Moffat - love or hate the man certainly has a way with experimenting with the show and while not all of his attempts have been favourable over the years, they've certainly left an impression. This episode is no different in that respect.

The Doctor going it alone was an interesting move. I already know that Peter Capaldi is both an amazing actor and Doctor respectively but this episode certainly tested his mettle to it's very limit and he made the whole thing look effortless. That's how incredible an actor Capaldi is and that's how lucky we are as an audience to have him as our Doctor. This episode alone will prove how much he'll be missed when he does step down from the role.

Seeing the Doctor locked in a castle of grief, increasing amount of skulls, flies, paintings of Clara and be stalked by the Veil (a creature plucked from his childhood) - a menacing, non speaking creature worked pretty well as the Doctor slowly began to realise where he was and what he needed to do in order to get out of it as well.

However for an episode that was supposed to be a one hander, Moffat kind of bended the usual rules with that particular trope (when doesn't he, eh?). We had the Veil in a non speaking role and we had a little boy when we landed on Gallifrey but despite being killed by the raven, we also had Clara in one of the most clever and affecting uses going.

For most of the episode, the Doctor was talking to her but not really seeing her. Clara was either turned away from him or invisibly writing on the chalkboard to challenge and motivate him at different key points in the episode. Then we saw her properly, comforting the Doctor when he was at his lowest and even telling him to get up off his arse and win. Nope, she really did say that and it's provoked something of an online discussion. Personally the use of the word 'arse' didn't offend me but I'll admit that it did jar a little and didn't seem needed for that scene though.

Of course while I love a good experimental episode as the next person, there were two overriding thoughts while watching this one. One - as much as I love the Doctor, he needs a companion and this episode reinforced that belief for me and two, this really could've done with losing ten minutes. In particular the last few where the episode was overemphasising the point a little too much and I found wishing for the Doctor to break the diamond wall and get to Gallifrey already. In that respect, less actually would've been a little more.

Also in "Heaven Sent"

Peter Capaldi was the only actor in the opening credits. Jenna Coleman and Jamie Reid Quarrell (the Veil) were credited at the end of the episode.

The Doctor: "I am the Doctor. I am coming to find you and I will never ever stop."

Is Steven Moffat really going to revive a plot from the 1996 TV Movie? I think he just might. I just don't see Ashildr being the Hybrid, it feels too easy if it's her.

The Doctor: "Rule one of dying: don't. Rule two: slow down."

The Doctor: "This is theatre. It's all about fear."

I hadn't actually realised that the skulls were actually modelled on Peter Capaldi. Now that really is impressive, isn't it? Plus we got a Room 12 in this episode.

The Doctor: "It's confession. I have to tell truths I've never told before."

The Doctor: "I'm not scared of hell. It's just heaven for bad people but how long do I have to be here?"

The use of a certain word aside, this episode was the most bloody I think we've had since the Colin Baker era of the show with Twelve getting royally burned by the Veil.

The Doctor: "I confess. I'm afraid."

Clara: "Doctor, it's time. Get up off your arse and win."

Standout music: This episode was easily one of Murray Gold's most striking work, wasn't it?

The Doctor: "People always get it wrong with Time Lords. We take forever to die."

Chronology: From where Face The Raven essentially left off.

Now this was an interesting episode. An essentially solo Doctor, a little more gore than post 2005 has been used and a new/redefined reasoning as to why the Doctor left his home planet in the first place. Heaven Sent certainly wasn't a dull affair in the slightest but much as I enjoyed the episode and think it's great that Moffat can still genuinely surprise and challenge with the series, this is not an experiment I'd want to see repeated in the near future. As for Peter Capaldi, he truly was sublime in this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Becoming The Darkest Couple Of Them All

It's been a few weeks and some shows I still need to catch a bit up on but for the ones I have, here's a bit of a rundown of them.

Arrow: This season has been a bit of an improvement on the previous one but the flashbacks nowadays are getting more and more tedious to watch and I really wish the show would scrap them altogether or relegate them for every few episodes and have them be more relevant to the main narrative. That being said between Sara being brought back to life, Diggle learning his brother was still alive, Ray being alive and Thea managing to find a way to control her bloodlust, things certainly haven't been dull and the guest appearance of Constantine was most definitely a pleasant turn up for the books as well.

Once Upon A Time: I've not been finding this season as engaging as I've wanted to and there have been times when I've found some of the timeline utterly confusing but the last few episodes kind of have pushed things along a little better. Zelena gave birth and retained her malicious ways, Emma revealed that she damned Hook to a fate he didn't want and there was even a nice team up episode with Merida, Mulan and Ruby for good measure. That being said, Merlin is a bit hit and miss and Arthur simply doesn't cut it as a villain for me. I guess I'm just ready for this Dark One/Camelot arc to be done with already.

Supergirl: Five episodes in and this show has been a heap of fun to watch. Like The Flash, this series has been somewhat lighter but not to the point where a good dramatic moment can't happen like the expansion of Kara and Alex's different relationships with their families, more hints about the overall arc and Henry being all mysterious. While I don't think Winn has stepped out of the comic relief role he seems saddled in, I do like that Jimmy and Cat have had a little bit of development, I've liked the arrival of Lucy Lane so far and some of the guest villains have worked well - especially Livewire. How does she do it? Quite well, considering how fantastic this show has been to watch so far.

The Flash: Another show continuing to deliver the goods is this one. So far, I have yet to see any real signs of a sophomore slump as the last couple of episodes have been a blast to watch. The Earth 2 plotline has provided a lot of great material with the likes of a new Wells, Doctor Light and Zoom of course (an incredible villain so far) but also with some returning villains such as Grodd, new characters like Patty and even the natural progression with the main cast themselves. As for who Zoom will turn out to be, I definitely it's someone we may already know.

 - Jonathan Whitesell has been cast as Hercules, Kacey Rohl as Megara and Greg Germann as Distinguished Gentleman/Hades for the second half of Once Upon A Time's fifth season.
- BD Wong will be playing Professor Hugo Strange in the second half of Gotham's second season.
- Matt Ryan may become a regular on Legends Of Tomorrow as John Constantine if the show makes it to a second season.
- There are rumours of a possible crossover between Supergirl and The Flash.
- Marcia Cross will be appearing as Caleb's mother in Quantico soon.
- Tom Amandes has been cast as the Calculator for Arrow. Colton Haynes will also be reprising his role as Roy for the second half of the fourth season.
- Sonia Braga has been cast as Claire Temple's mother for Luke Cage.
- Game Of Thrones have released a certain promotional poster for the sixth season that indicates a certain character may be returning.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x09: "Sinned Against"

Written by Eric Haywood
Directed by Paul McCrane

Skye: "Thank you for seeing me."
Jamal: "Thank you for letting me."

Okay, can I pretend that last scene didn't happen or at the very least can I hope that it was a moment where both Jamal and Skye got caught up in the moment and next week's finale won't push a trope that I really don't want to watch, yes? I like being optimistic and considering that every other character on this show is straight, we don't need to see Jamal exploring whether or not he likes women after all.

Other than that, I'm really glad the show got Alicia Keys for an episode. Although it didn't seem like there was a big difference between her and her character, Skye Summers (except maybe purple hair), I did overall enjoy the character (minus that completely not needed kiss) and I actually thought both her and Jamal made some lovely music together and that's all these two should be making. Whether it's the writers or the networks, either way, knock it off. You have plenty of straight characters on the show as it is.

Anyways moving along, this week we also saw Lucious being told he was past it by a certain guest guest star (more on that later) and this resulted in him being more determined into buying into that streaming company, even going as far as to actually take Andre's advice but judging by next week, it looks like it's going to be a decision he'll regret though.

On the plus side, he did manage to expose Laz for who he really is in front of Hakeem and Cookie and didn't seem as smug about it as he usually would've done in that sort of situation. I'm really glad they finished up that story as soon as Laz conveniently began to show some signs of having a conscience for scamming Cookie in the first place. Laz, you were pretty but the door is that a way.

Keeping with Cookie for a bit - I did like the scenes with her, Candace, Carol and former cell mate, Pepper (played by Rosie O'Donnell). Actually the scenes were some of the strongest this week - ranging from hilarious to actually revealing - about the sisterly dynamic with Cookie, Carol and Candace and the friendship with Cookie and Pepper was pretty fun to watch as well. O'Donnell can come back for another episode far as I'm concerned.

Aside from that this week we had Anika in full stalker mode. I've seen some fans complain about her unhealthy obsession with Hakeem seems a bit much and a part of me agrees. Like Michael this season, they're genuinely struggling with her but I wouldn't be too sad if her antics did result in Hakeem and Laura splitting up. The only thing that shocked me was that Anika just didn't tell Hakeem she was pregnant but I guess they're leaving that one for next week, right?

Also in "Sinned Against"

What exactly did Carol do while Cookie was in prison? I guess we won't have long to wait for that one.

Candace: "You can keep on counting Cookie cos I don't do prisons."
Cookie: "Bitch!"

Keeping with the guest stars, co-creator himself Lee Daniels appeared briefly in this episode. He was the one to tell Lucious he was past it.

Lucious: "Trust me I've got a few great decades left in me but for the record, Empire would be thrilled to have Skye Summers on it's roster."

Carol: "I ain't going nowhere with you Cookie unless it's to get something to eat."

Rhonda seemed a little too accepting of Lucious handing over an expensive house to her and Andre? She's not stupid, she must have some suspicions for his motives.

Lucious: "What do you want?"
Hakeem: "This son can't be bought."

Skye: "I envy you man."
Jamal: "Why you envy me woman?"

Standout music: Jamal/Skye's "Powerful" as well as Hakeem/Laura's "Miracles".

Anika: "It's clear that you love me."
Hakeem: "I don't love you so get it through your damn head."

Chronology: Not long from where My Bad Parts left off.

A strong episode, though not as great as the previous one. That being said, aside from one scene that the show really could've done without, Sinned Against certainly had some great moments and some great music though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x10: "The Son Of Gotham"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Rob Bailey

Gordon: "Son of Gotham?"
Theo: "Goodbye James. I couldn't have done it without you."

Well, this episode had some moments of utter predictability, some nice twists and a confrontation that I wished that had lasted a tiny bit longer. Needless to say, I rather enjoyed this one, purely as it worked well for setting up next week's mid season finale too.

Let's get the predictable stuff out of the way first, shall we? Theo Galavan became a free man and all because of former Mayor James continued to show his utter uselessness and cowardice by claiming that Oswald kidnapped him instead. Oh well, prison was fun while it lasted for Theo and he wasted no time in lording it over Gordon by having him kidnapped and beaten up while most revealing his plans for Bruce at the same time. At least Oswald came in time to stop Gordon from becoming a dead man.

Keeping with the predictable element of the episode, the last scene where Theo managed to get Bruce I guess we all saw coming. On the plus side by next week, this plot should be handily resolved and Bruce will have other problems to deal with in the second half of the season. Also, at least he got a chance to show off being clever in this episode.

I liked that Bruce and Selina teamed up with Tom the knife (Tommy Flanagan marginally better here than he was in Revenge earlier this year) in order to trick Silver. At first it took me a little while to realise that it wasn't a cliche kidnap scenario or that Silver herself wasn't trying to trick Bruce either. It was a clever ploy, exposed Silver for the amateur manipulator that she is and it also brought Bruce and Selina a little closer together as well. Overall, it was the strongest plot of the episode.

Another potentially great one was the confrontation between Alfred and Tabitha. Finally after ten episodes, Tabitha went up against someone she couldn't easily kill and while she certainly left Alfred for dead in a garbage truck, he definitely gave as good as he got. I just hope someone gets to him in time because both Gordon and Bruce are otherwise occupied.

Also in "The Son Of Gotham"

I am loving The Odd Couple style rapport with Nygma and Oswald, even if they didn't have many scenes this week.

Selina (to Bruce): "The best liars always tell the truth."

Leslie is starting to show some suspicion for Kringle's death. At least Oswald kind of destroyed her glasses.

Leslie (re Kringle/Tom): "But he was abusive."
Nygma: "Love."

Tom (to Bruce): "Pleasure doing business. Sorry about the slaps."

Barnes got a funny comment by describing a massage parlour as a 'rub and thub'. Other than that, he didn't do much of consequence in this episode.

Tabitha (to Alfred): "For the record, I was telling the truth. I have no idea where Bruce Wayne is but I'll tell him you were asking."

Barbara was the only regular not in this episode. I bet she'll play a role in the second half of the season's main plot though. Dent popped up briefly in this one.

Theo (to Gordon): "Here you're the prisoner and I'm free."

Chronology: Not long from where A Bitter Pill To Swallow left off.

A bit better than the previous two weeks, The Son of Gotham was mainly set up for the mid season finale next week. Hopefully by next week we should have a satisfying resolution to this whole Galavan/Saint Dumas Brotherhood arc.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x10: "Face The Raven"

Written by Sarah Dollard
Directed by Justin Molotnikov

Clara (to the Doctor): "Let me be brave. Let me be brave."

And the moment came at last. I've been unable to shake off the feeling this series that perhaps Clara Oswald lasted a year longer than she organically should've done and given that there has been a heavier emphasis on the character's growing recklessness, this episode felt inevitable as well as sad to boot.

Clara, whether you love her, hate her or are simply indifferent towards her is a defining companion. It's not a hyperbolic statement but a cold, hard fact. I've seen some people on social media react in a myriad of ways to the character for the last three series and her death also stirred another myriad of reactions to boot as well. For me, this was something of an interesting note to end on.

Like Amy and Rory before her and certainly eschewing the preferred method of Russell T. Davies companion departures, Clara's demise happened not only two episodes before the actual finale itself but also at the hands of fate's cruelty and her own recklessness. Clara might have saved the life of a young man in the returning Rigsy but she also doomed her own by taking the chronolock forced on Rigsy by Ashildr as well.

I have to admit, under maybe some further scrutiny, the mystery and general plot might not stand up that well to scrutiny but for a debut episode, Sarah Dollard had bigger fish to fry and the use of the trap street concept was something I thought the episode actually executed pretty well.

The street itself was well lit and creepy and the central idea of Rigsy having a tattoo counting down his death for a crime that never happened added a certain momentum to proceedings. Rigsy was merely a message from Ashildr in order to get the Doctor's attention. Clara's recklessness was the ultimate price for that message though.

Proving that even a companion who has scattered herself across the Doctor's timestream can be breakable, Clara chose to face the raven (that was what the Quantum Shade, controlled by Ashildr would morph into) and ended the episode by actually dying but not after we got something of a heartfelt performance between Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi.

Whether fans like it or not, Clara Oswald will ultimately be a defining companion for the series and in particular Capaldi's era. I still think the character might have stayed a series longer than needed and in spite of the fact that Coleman herself will factor into the last two episodes in some capacity, this was certainly a memorable exit for the former nanny and English teacher.

Speaking of the Doctor - we've seen him react with grief, sombreness and regret with previous companion departures but the manner in which Clara died brought out his anger and it was Capaldi at his most intense as well as he vowed vengeance on the people responsible for his companion's demise. Given what's already been revealed about the finale, it's not much of a spoiler to say that Ashildr had her own hand forced by the Time Lords to get the Doctor to a certain place as well, now is it?

I have to admit this was another interesting episode for Ashildr and the character certainly has an unpredictable quality that will make her an interesting recurring player for the rest of Capaldi's era. Rigsy did admirably enough in this episode too but I kind of felt that in spite of being framed for a crime that didn't happen, he was a little underused compared to Ashildr though.

Also in "Face The Raven"

Since the last time we've seen him, Rigsy has a partner named Jem and a daughter named Lucy. He was the Craig to the Doctor's Clara, wasn't he?

Rigsy (re Clara): "She enjoyed that way too much."
The Doctor:"Tell me about it. It's an ongoing problem."

In the trap street (yes, I got the Harry Potter comparisons), we saw a Cyberman, an Ood, a Sontaran and some Judoon as well as an Ice Warrior.

Ashildr: "Infinite lifespan, finite memory. It makes for an awkward social life."

The Doctor: "Still saving the world from me then?"
Ashildr: "It's still here, isn't it?"

Ashildr took on the name Mayor Me and demanded the Doctor's confession dial as well in this episode. If that wasn't a hint she was working for the Time Lords, then what is?

Ashildr (to everyone): "Peace on this street depends on one thing. To breach it is to face the raven."

The Doctor: "Can I not be the good cop?"
Clara: "Doctor, we've discussed this. Your face."

Once again, this episode referenced Clara and Jane Austen. I can't help thinking if Clara were bisexual that Steven Moffat would've been a lot more blatant about it, wouldn't he? Also a Danny Pink mention in this episode.

Ashildr (to the Doctor): "Please no resistance. You've already lost."

Clara: "We can fix this, can't we? We always fix it."
The Doctor: "No."

Although scrapped for timing, Sarah Dollard revealed that Rigsy later informed Clara's family of her passing. The episode should've been allotted some extra time for that moment.

Clara: "Goodbye, Doctor."

Chronology: 2015 London and Trap Street I guess.

Well, this was certainly a memorable episode, wasn't it? Face The Raven certainly lived up to it's promise of death and I have to admit, in a way, Clara got a slightly better exit than her predecessors did and with the threat of a vengeful Doctor and Gallifrey looming (along with the hybrid stuff), the last two episodes are certainly going to end things on a memorable note.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x09: What Did We Do?

And this just happened. When it comes to mid season and actual finales, this show is on fire and this is an episode that once you've seen, you won't be forgetting any time soon. As for Annalise's shooting, that bit might not shock you but other things will, big time.

Written by Michael Foley And Erika Green Swafford
Directed by Bill D'Elia

Now It'll Work: Hot damn. I think in the end, maybe it had to be Wes who would end up shooting Annalise, especially as a consequence of being told that Rebecca was dead but even with the obviousness of it, I still found the moment where he pulled the trigger after she goaded him to aim for the leg pretty shocking to watch. Annalise's great plan to make it look like Catherine went on a homicidal rampage spectacularly blew up in her face and while Connor, Michaela and Laurel were just about able to resist her goading, Wes succumbed to it and shot her. Except that wasn't the only thing we learned about this episode concerning him.

Christoph: So, as Annalise was bleeding out on the floor she kept calling Wes 'Christoph' and then we had a flashback to 10 years earlier where a little boy of the same name was being interviewed at the police station before being told his mother had been killed. Then there was Annalise and Eve wondering about their own responsibility for the woman's death. First of all - totally glad that Eve turned out not to be the shooter in all this and secondly, this 'Christoph' is going to mean more of her in the second half of the season and a bigger delving into Wes's past, both of which work for me.

She Had It Coming: Maybe I should've felt sorry for Sinclair but for some reason and in spite of the points she made about a few characters in this episode, I just couldn't do it. We found out halfway through the episode that Asher inadvertently backed into her with his car and killed herself and then Bonnie and Asher threw her off the roof of the Hapstall manor. This now effectively means that everyone on this show has either covered up a murder or has actually murdered someone. This darker path the show is taking with Asher though, I kind of love. However we're still in the dark as to what he actually confessed to with the cops.

Doing Anything For Her: Sinclair's actions really became her own undoing this week. Going after Asher's father resulted in him committing suicide and needling Nate resulted in him being fired as well and even trying to appeal to his better side in order to take down Annalise didn't exactly work in her favour either. Then there was the unwise moment of baiting Asher and getting killed as a result. As an antagonist, she had more bite than Wendy and I'll kind of miss her for that but I do think it was smart of the show to kill her off now rather than overextend her welcome.

The Case: Is still hanging in the air, isn't it? We didn't get any closer to actually finding out who murdered the Hapstalls, only that Catherine looked guilty by having a gun and that Annalise decided to hang her out to dry and only represent Caleb instead. Then we also had Frank drugging Catherine and leaving her out in the woods but with six episodes left, it'll be interesting to see how this case is resolved amongst the other myriad of storylines they've set up for the second half of the season.

The show returns from February 11th on ABC.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Flicker

Now we're at the half way point of the season, it's the best to finally give the Countess something of a backstory - parts of which were surprising and some it less so. Here goes.

Written by Crystal Liu
Directed by Michael Goi

The Great Love Of All: For those of you disappointed that last week spelled the end of Tristan Duffy and Finn Wittrock's time on the show, then you'll be happy to know that this episode brought back Wittrock as silent movie star, Rudolph Valentino along with his wife Natacha, whom the Countess (or mouse as the latter dubbed her) became romantically involved before Rudolph disappeared, was made into a vampire and then made both Natacha and Elizabeth into vampires too. Dodgy accent aside, it's actually a great of keeping Wittrock on the show and provided a decent explanation behind the Countess's thing with Tristan as well. More importantly, it seems that both Rudolph and Natacha were trapped in the walls of the Cortez by the Countess's jealous ex-husband and now they're free to cause some carnage.

Happily Never After: It was obvious from the second episode of this season that the Mr March and the Countess were married to each other and this episode showed us that in flashback along with the Countess encouraging her husband's murderous side. Of course she didn't love him as much as Rudolph and Natacha and therefore March decided to seal the pair up in the walls. The funny thing was that he waited until after she confessed that she intended to marry Will (bleurgh) that he gloated about that fact, while also admitting that they're now on the loose. Which should be a lot of fun along with the other several threads dangling about the place.

Showing Vulnerability: This episode was a big one for Lady Gaga. It was an episode where she could really show her worth as an actress and for the most part, I think she did a little better than expected. I think she showed some new enough edges to the Countess and I did like the scene early in the episode where Iris noted the Countess showing some actual fear where the latter realised that something had escaped. It's not quite an Emmy style performance but it does highlight that Gaga to her credit has been a wise choice to play the Countess though.

Closer To The Killer: This week when we weren't getting the Countess's backstory, we were also getting a little closer into solving the Ten Commandments Killer plotline as John found himself meeting vampire girl Wren. We learned that Wren had an alcoholic father and was made into a vampire by the Countess back in 1986 but somehow ended up in police custody in recent times. John got some tiny hints about the killer (it's really going to be him, isn't it?) and then Wren ended up being hit by a truck after this episode went to great lengths to humanise the character. Damn.

Nix This Story Please: Ryan Murphy - I like you, I really do but not only was Boone pretending to be gay on Scream Queens pretty insulting but having Will wanting to marry the Countess while maintaining that he is gay is also rather insulting to any television viewer with common sense. Given that every other male character on this bloody show is straight, is it really too much to ask that Will can't be more out and proud with his sexuality? At least he's likeable enough compared to other characters (and not murderous/crazy for now) but this storyline is mind numbingly stupid, insulting and regressive as anything. Just stop. It's 2015. This kind of shit doesn't make for entertaining, insightful, gripping or even mildly interesting television. If Will had any sense, he'd take his son and get the hell out of there before one of them becomes a vampire and the other ghost.

In two weeks time, we'll finally learn the truth about the Ten Commandments Killer and the deal struck between Sally and Mr March.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x08: "My Bad Parts"

Written by Malcolm Spellman
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Hakeem: "Call me Hakeem, bullet to the name Lyon."

I guess there's only so much of his father's bullshit that Hakeem is willing to tolerate and this week, Lucious really pushed it with Hakeem by getting his protege Freda to engage in a rap battle with Hakeem, involving some rather mean spirited hits about Hakeem's recent kidnapping and Cookie's mothering skills to boot.

After the cool rap battle we had in the first season with Jamal and that homophobic rapper, I was a little worried that Hakeem and Freda's little showdown wouldn't be as good. I was wrong - it was actually a lot better with the two of them really going for it. Freda might be little more than a pawn for Lucious but this was the first episode where she showed some decent charisma as a rapper and Hakeem himself was actually on fine form too.

I don't think dropping the Lyon name is going to be something long lasting though Hakeem was right to be mad this week as Lucious went that extra bit too far. Of course, it wasn't just Hakeem that was causing further tension with Lucious and Cookie as Jamal's plot involving a song for Pepsi created more conflict between the warring pair too.

I did like that Jamal actually tried to get Lucious and Cookie to put their differences to one side as he came up with the idea of combining both of their songs to get the deal. The song turned out great and he succeeded but mainly the scenes between Jamal, Lucious and Cookie were absolute gold to watch this week. Easily the best bit of the episode outside of the rap battle.

Keeping with interesting developments, it seems that one pregnancy storyline wasn't enough for the writers this season. This episode revealed that Anika is pregnant with Hakeem's baby and when she wasn't stalking Laura, she was also spending some time with Rhonda and scared to tell Hakeem that he was about to be a father. I guess after a few meandering episodes, they've finally came up with a storyline for Anika. Not an original one but certainly interesting enough though.

In terms of other potentially interesting plots, Vivica A. Fox rocked up in this episode as Cookie's previously unmentioned, rich other sister Candace. Apparently, Carol's left her kids and it's up to Cookie and Candace to head to Philadelphia to go get her or something. Not sure what to make of Candace just yet and it's not like Carol is a character I deeply care about but plot wise, it could be fun though.

Also in "My Bad Parts"

Where the hell is Tiana these days? They made the actress a regular but aside from having her mugged, they've done nothing with her this season.

Lucious: "Wall Street can kiss my black ass."
Mimi: "And you can kiss my white one."

I'm guessing this whole merging thing with the streaming company and Mimi is going to result in Empire being screwed over. Lucious seems to be getting quite erratic too.

Cookie (to Hakeem): "I'm not taking anything away from your talen baby but that is not what you do."

Thirsty (re Jago): "Can't blackmail a man who flaunts his foulness."

I liked that Cookie slapped Laz for getting up in Hakeem's face. Hopefully by next week, she'll have figured out what he's up to.

Hakeem: "I think I'm in love."
Anika: "You're in love?"

Cookie (to Lucious, re Jamal): "The boy got this far on his own. Don't ruin it by being you."

Standout music: Jamal's "Ready To Go" and Hakeem/Freda's "Rap Battle (Parts 1 &2)".

Candace (re her husband): "And he's rich."
Cookie: "I can't tell by those cheap ass shoes."

Chronology: Not long from where True Love Never left off.

After two fairly disappointing episodes, My Bad Parts was a step in the right direction with some truly great character moments and music to boot. I'm not too fond of having two pregnancies storylines at the same time but it might turn out alright in the end and should provide some interesting material for Hakeem and Anika too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x09: "A Bitter Pill To Swallow"

Written by Megan Morstyn Brown
Directed by Louis Shaw Milito

Flamingo (to Gordon): "Oh baby, you disappoint me."

This episode though, didn't strictly wow me but compared to some other ones, didn't totally disappoint me either. After all, it gave me Missy from Doctor Who and Ritchie from Looking and most importantly, it also gave audiences the start of a beautiful and deadly friendship between Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot.

Undoubtedly the scenes between Nygma and Oswald were without a doubt the best thing about this whole episode as the former helped to nurse the latter back to health in a way that was slightly milder than Annie Wilkes but still worthy of raising eyebrows. More importantly, Nygma actually helped to get Oswald out of his funk, even if it took a while for that to happen.

I did think for a tiny moment when Nygma used Gertrud's death as a means of snapping Oswald out of his depression that he was going to get cut by his newfound buddy but that didn't happen and instead one of Galavan's unfortunate lackeys ended up getting a presumably brutal off screen murder but this is Gotham and there were plenty of onscreen murders to be had as well.

Murders that were started by a lovestruck and vengeful Tabitha nonetheless. Apparently Barbara is so brilliant that Tabitha decided to get Missy or as she was known in this episode, the Lady to hire a bunch of assassins to take out Gordon and when the majority of them were swiftly taken out (though one of them did injure Barnes), she decided to send in the rather cannibalistic Eduardo Flamingo to finish the job.

Flamingo is another one of the lower rung of Batman villains we've had and while a few episodes ago, the show was able to do something truly innovative with Firefly, Flamingo despite some campy-ish humour and that gruesome moment where he killed the last of the Strike Force team members just didn't have enough screen time to really leave an impression though.

Most of this episode when it wasn't getting Nygma and Oswald on their dark paths was about Gordon confronting his own dark side through his interactions with both Barnes and Leslie this week. Some of the scene played out well enough but I have a feeling that Gordon is going to slip a little further though as we go on with this season.

Also in "A Bitter Pill To Swallow"

Both Alfred and Selina tried to get Bruce to stay away from Silver this week. I got the impression Bruce is actually aware that Silver's playing him.

The Lady: "Why come to us?"
Tabitha: "Had an accident, my aim was off."

I think if Tabitha really wanted Gordon done, she would've done it herself instead of hiring other people. Plus side though - Michelle Gomez.

Silver: "I don't want to cause trouble."
Alfred: "Smart girl, off you pop."

Barnes (re assassin): "Who's that?"
Gordon: "No idea but he just tried to kill me."

Theo is currently residing in Blackgate but Father Creel and his creepy brotherhood showed up at the end, so Bruce is in danger then.

Nygma: "What kind of change you ask?"
Oswald: "I didn't."
Nygma: "I started murdering people."

The Lady: "Are you on a job?"
Flamingo: "It's not a job if you like what you do."

Bullock was missing for this episode. He's really been underused this season, hasn't he? While Barnes isn't a favourite of mine, I do think this one did a better job of making him slightly interesting.

Gordon: "Is that name supposed to mean something to me?"
Flamingo: "Not yet but it will. I'll be upstairs in a few minutes. I want to feast on your friends first. I'll save you for dessert."

Chronology: Not long from where Tonight's The Night left off.

Let's focus on the positives - the Lady, Flamingo (underused as he was) and everything concerning both Nygma and Oswald. Aside from that, A Bitter Pill To Swallow was a fine but not a spectacular episode to watch.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x09: "Sleep No More"

Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Justin Molotnikov

Rassmussen (to audience): "I did tell you not to watch."

Oh dear. If there were ever an unwise set of words to end an episode of well, anything on, it would be those ones. Mark Gatiss for his efforts genuinely tried to do something out of his usual comfort zone for this show and while that alone is almost admirable, it was a venture that did not pay off.

First of all - found footage isn't exactly a new concept and it's certainly one that can seriously divide audiences too. For me, it's a genre in which I don't particularly have strong feelings for. I neither love it nor hate it and technically that's how I feel about this episode, compared to some of the less favourable reactions to it online.

The Doctor and Clara ended up on the Le Verrier space station, only to find that the crew were dead, a rescue mission had landed and there were a bunch of creepy-ish looking creatures that Clara decided to dub Sandmen for fairly obvious reasons.

I have to admit, the concept of having sleep taken away from people is a pretty nasty one and kind of perfect for this show but it's also the sort of concept that Steven Moffat himself would've went to town with while Gatiss's script struggled with it. The Morpheus Machine allowed people to take a snooze of five minutes, which equated to a month's worth of sleep but the downside was that the mucus you get from sleep would result in Sandmen.

Of course this dilemma didn't particularly bother Morpheus's inventor, Gagen Rassmussen, as played by The League Of Gentlemen actor, Reece Shearsmith. I have to admit that while Shearsmith seemed tailor made for this role, not once in this episode was Rassmussen given a moment to really innovative as a villain though. He invented a machine that disgusted the Doctor, Clara and one member of the rescue crew, caused the Sandmen to come to life and seemed more than okay with humanity being wiped out by the creatures as well.

The Sandmen themselves looked a little reminiscent of the Time creatures from Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS and while they exuded a certain degree of menace, we've had better monsters this series - mainly returning ones if I'm being truthful. The reveal at the end of Rassmussen's true plans and the ambiguity of the ending was a mixed bag for me. Points for it's audacity but it still felt a wholly unsatisfying note to end this episode.

As for the crew - unlike Toby Whithouse's two parter earlier this series, this lot weren't as well fleshed out to be honest. Chopra, pretty as he was (something the episode was pleased with commenting on) came close to showing some characterisation due to his opposition to the Morpheus Machine but the Grunt known as 474 (Bethany Black great but sadly wasted in this role), Geordie group leader Nagata and some bloke named Deep Ando were fairly underused and left little impression as a result. Also none of them survived, except Nagata but that was laid out to us earlier in the episode.

Even the Doctor and Clara weren't at their best in this one either. Clara might have got to name the creature and briefly get caught into one of the sleeping pods but you literally could've done this episode without her and it wouldn't have made a different (similar to Amy/Rory in Night Terrors) and the Doctor's greatest contribution this week was to point out how little the plot made sense. It's metatextual but not in a good way whatsoever.

Also in "Sleep No More"

For the first time, there was no opening credit sequence and very little in the way of music. The latter kind of helped the episode.

Rassmussen (to audiences): "You must not watch this. I'm warning you. You can never unsee it."

Full names of the crew members include Jagganth Dalkl-Nagata, Haruka Deep-Ando, Osamu Alml-Chopra while 474 was revealed to be only five years old and genetically grown.

Clara: "Have your brought me to a restaurant?"
The Doctor: "People never do that."

Clara (re Grunts): "That's disgusting."
The Doctor: "Well, that's how they roll in the 38th century."

It was nice that after 52 years the show cast an openly transgender actress for a role. However as I said earlier in the review, Bethany Black deserved something a little more interesting to play than 474.

Rassmussen (to audiences): "I wanted to get out of there immediately. Of course I did but the Doctor, he wanted explanations first."

Clara (re Morpheus Machine): "That's insane, that's horrible."
Chopra: "Finally, someone who sees it for what it is."

There was some nice references to The Space Pirates, The Silurians and Frontios in this one. There's also the possibility of a potential sequel to this story though.

Nagata: "Our lot? What do you mean?"
The Doctor: "The human race."

The Doctor: "Sleep is essential to every sentient being in the universe."

Standout music: The use of "Mr Sandman" with the hologram singers actually worked for most of this episode.

The Doctor: "You know I can't allow that."
Rassmussen: "You can't stop them. None of us can."
Nagata: "I wouldn't bet on that, pet."

Chronology: 38th century with the ship heading for Neptune, specifically the moon Triton, which the guest characters were from.

Well, this was an episode that had a great idea, some noteworthy diversity in casting but in spite of a potentially cool concept, Sleep No More easily emerges as the weakest episode of the series. I didn't quite dislike it as others have done but at the same time, I didn't love it either. Perhaps the sequel should just be left alone.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x08: Hi, I'm Philip

Every week I keep going on about how great this show is but has there ever been a recent series that has managed to avoid the sophomore slump? Once again, this was another gem of an episode with a few shockers too.

Written by Tanya Saracho
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger

He's Alive: Not gonna lie, I was a little worried for Oliver last week when Philip invited himself in but after one slightly dubious scene, it turned out that Oliver is alive and well and Philip is just more irritated with being spied on than eager to kill someone. Still, it didn't stop Connor from going into overprotective boyfriend mode for most of this episode followed by some genuine sexy times with both him and Oliver on Annalise's desk of all places towards the end of the episode. As you tell, this was a great episode to be a fan of these guys.

Cousin Creepy: As for Philip, he might not have hurt Oliver (for which we're all grateful for) but he certainly exuded a shit load of creepiness prior to the last scene he shared with Catherine. So, that girl has been having it off with both her brother and cousin then? Um, okay then. I guess the writers really want to pursue Michaela/Caleb then. I guess then that Philip might have murdered the parents or he's covering for Catherine. It was Wes though (one of the few characters not getting laid this week) who pieced the connection with Catherine and Philip.

Bringing Out The Girls: With Laurel taking over Bonnie's position and Annalise pitting her and Frank against each other (they eventually made up and had meatballs), Michaela tried her damndest to get Caleb not to take a plea deal and later had sex with the bloke before he confessed to finding the missing murder weapon and wondering if his sister is a killer. Then again, Caleb could be playing a long game with Michaela. Either way, just one more episode until we know everything, right?

Bad Bugger: In a weird way, I almost feel sorry for Sinclair. Granted, she's been an irritant all season but unlike Wendy, at least she's been an extended thorn for Annalise, even if this week she well and truly screwed herself over. Asher showed some insight by realising she had bugged the office and Annalise used the situation to completely screw Sinclair over with Catherine and Caleb. It was pretty clever to see unfold to be honest and of course, only one more episode to go before Sinclair is taken out too.

Reconnecting: Last week we had some lovely, intimate moments with Annalise and Eve and this week, it was time for a reconnection of sorts with Annalise and Nate as the two of them worked together and had sex (which Wes kind of interrupted). Parts of it were sweet and some of it was odd too if I'm being honest. Considering the damage between, I can't see Annalise and Nate completely rekindling their relationship without something going wrong. Unless this was a set up for the big shooting next week, right?

Next week it's time to learn who shot Annalise. My money's on Bonnie at the moment.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Room 33

Remember during the panel at Comic-Con that Ryan Murphy promised we'd see some characters from the past? Well, this episode somewhat helped with keeping that promise as we learned a little more about the Countess.

Written by John J. Gray
Directed by Loni Peristere

Bartholomew: It's 1926 this week in flashbacks and the Countess is paying a visit to the infamous murder house from the first season to terminate a late pregnancy with Dr Charles Montgomery's help. Except that this pregnancy can't be terminated and the Countess gives birth to a boy named Bartholomew. We also learn that it's this baby who has been kept in Room 33 and when Ramona and Donovan were trying to kill the child, it was Alex who rescued the baby and nursed it back to health. If I were the Countess, I'd start to worry about Alex. If anyone is going to take her down, it's going to be the overzealous and overly mothering Alex to be honest.

Purpose Found: Alex proved how toxic a mother's love can be in this episode. When she wasn't avoiding Scarlett like the plague, she decided to get the Swedish girls from the first two episodes to psychologically torture (and screw) John until he lost the rest of his marbles, so she can be left alone with Holden. Alex's mothering skills are certainly worrying to watch and her callous disregard for both John and Scarlett is rather unsettling. Maybe it's her that Ramona should be siding up instead of Donovan and Iris.

Not Letting Go: Both Donovan and Ramona could learn something from Tristan in a way. He might not be bright but he knew that the Countess didn't love him while these two are mutually obsessed with getting back at their former girlfriend. To be honest, I found Ramona more entertaining during her scenes with Iris and Liz Taylor and Donovan when he was giving the Swedish models a talk about finding a purpose than when either of them were sniping about letting go of the Countess. I don't think either Donovan or Ramona will succeed in taking her down though.

You Can Have Him: To be honest, I didn't really see Tristan and Liz coming as a couple and given how too quickly it was dealt with in this episode - the Countess finding out and slicing Tristan's throat, it was a little too hard to care about it. I haven't liked Tristan a great deal so the episode where he finally developed as a character, I should've seen his "death" coming (he'll probably be a ghost now). It could've been more effective than it was but at least Tristan got one moment where he got to call the Countess out on her hypocrisy with her collection of lovers. If only he had been this well written in earlier episodes though. I even felt bad for him when he was being used to fluff Will halfway through this episode.

Daddy Losing His Cool: This wasn't a fun episode for John Lowe, was it? Alex and the Swedish twins drove him out of his mind, his partner didn't want his help with the latest Ten Commandments Killer attack and worse still, he terrified the crap out of poor Scarlett (who at this rate is probably the only sympathetic character left on this show). At this rate, it might be more shocking if John isn't a killer but hopefully this plot is resolved fairly soon and he realises that Holden actually is alive after all.

Next week we see the connection between the Countess and Mr March.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x07: "True Love Never"

Written by Ingrid Escajeda
Directed by Sylvain White

Lucious (to Freda): "You're about to become part of my life story."

And this was something of an underwhelming. I've liked the flashbacks to Lucious's past with his mother but I'm starting to wonder if the writers actually intend to go somewhere significant with them and soon. Though this week there was the hint that Leah might have killed herself and by the end of the episode, Lucious had found a way of helping his prodigy, Freda with that song we heard enough times in this episode.

Keeping with Lucious - thank goodness for small mercies. I really did not want to watch a three way with him, Mimi and some random girl and between Lucious changing his mind and Mimi's sudden erratic behaviour, it was a scene we were spared from. Aside from that, I'm actually intrigued by the rapport with Lucious and Mimi though.

Lucious is still a raging homophobe at the end of the day and Mimi seemed a little too eager against Andre's warning to get Lucious to merge with a streaming company owned by a guy named Jacob who trashed Lucious's musical prowess as well in this episode. Could Mimi be out to ruin Empire? Why not, after all it's not like Cookie isn't getting the wool pulled over her by Laz, so it's probably fair if we're heading into a direction where Lucious ignoring Andre's actual sound advice is going to result in him getting screwed over in some capacity.

Speaking of Cookie -  a part of me is wondering if she knows something is up with Laz. I hope so and not just because Hakeem openly dislikes the guy but mainly because Cookie usually isn't stupid and I don't want to see her being easily manipulated by Laz either. Going by the trailer for next week though, it does seem like she's going to see a side to her new man that she won't like one bit.

As for the rest of the episode - I love that they recaptured the dynamic between Cookie and Jamal that I loved in the first season but seeing the two of them sneaking around to record material and get Jamal's musical groove back just came across as a tad silly and pointless. During that house party scene, it seemed fairly obvious that Lucious suspected that Jamal was working with his mother once again.

Also in "True Love Never"

Andre resorted to blackmailing the deputy mayor rather than sex in order to get rid of Freda's criminal record this week.

Lucious: "What did your daddy do to you?"
Freda: "What did yours do to you?"

I'm still struggling to actually figure out what Laz's endgame with Lyon Dynasty actually is to be honest. It's starting to lose my interest as a storyline.

Andre: "That's not a small issue, pops."
Lucious: "And you're not a small man, son. That's why the deputy mayor likes doing business with you."

Lucious (to Jacob): "Shallow that, punk ass."

Tiana helping out Laura was nice enough but maybe Cookie has a point about the girl - one which Hakeem seemed uninterested in taking on board.

Cookie: "You did good. I'm proud of you, boy."
Hakeem: "So maybe you'll not forget I'm your partner, mom and let me make my own decisions."

Standout music: Lucious/Freda's "Boom Boom Boom Boom", Jamal's "Heavy" and Laura's "Yo Vivre".

Lucious: "History in the making."

Chronology: Not long from where A High Hope For A Low Heaven left off.

This wasn't a terrible episode, it had some interesting moments but there were times when during True Love Never I found myself drifting a little and that's not really a good sign, is it? I don't think the show is suffering from a sophomore slump but these last two episodes lacked something though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Review of Gotham's 2x08: "Tonight's The Night"

Written by Jim Barnes
Directed by Jeffrey Hunt

Barbara: "Make you? Jim, you long to kill me. Do it, Jim. Do me."
Gordon: "Don't take another step."

This week in terms of batshit craziness, Barbara well and truly excelled herself that I was both a little impressed and a lot creeped out by her. Her obsession with Gordon really took a hold of her this week that she allowed herself to be manipulated by Theo into handing herself over to GCPD and then forcing her ex-boyfriend into a trap and the possible wedding for hell. It really was as bonkers and scripted as it could've been.

The thing was though, the episode made a point, maybe too much of one that Gordon knew Barbara was leading him into a trap all along and yet, the guy willing put his head in the noose, didn't he? Gordon's recklessness would be enough to give Clara Oswald a moment of pause and this season, it's almost become a rather unfunny joke at times.

Morally, you want to root for the guy but when he continuously makes decisions that are beyond fucking stupid, you just wish someone - anyone would literally slap some sense into him. In this episode alone we had Leslie, Barnes, Bullock and even Barbara all calling Gordon out on his own lunacy but all four of them might as well have been talking to a brick wall for all the good it would've done them.

Speaking of Leslie, this show is in horrible danger of putting her in the same damn role that Barbara suffered from too before ditching her sanity. Leslie is a lot more deserving than just getting captured by Barbara and calling Gordon out on his stupidity from time to time. Give her something better to do, show. For God's sake, have her interact with Bruce Wayne a bit more or something.

As for Barbara - this was a fun episode for Erin Richards. She got to have a whale of a time as the seductive, kind of pathetic, absolutely dangerous and ultimately nutty Bridezilla from hell with Barbara this week. It was easily her best performance and the show managed to sideline it's annoying trend of bumping off female character by not having Babs kick the bucket when she fell off the church roof. I guess she'll be around for another while to be a thorn in Gordon and Leslie's sides.

The rest of the episode though wasn't as great. Theo's manipulation of Bruce came a little too swiftly for my liking but at least it was turned on it's head when Gordon was able to rescue Mayor James (seriously, who cares about that guy?) and pin his abduction on Theo, which means this whole arc should be coming to a conclusion within the next few episodes.

Last but not least - Nygma's officially become a serial killer. While trying to get rid of Kringle's body, he ended up killing someone else and then the episode ended with him and Oswald getting reacquainted. I'm not gonna lie - I really hate that they've made Nygma into a killer and it reeks of laziness but I love the idea of him and Oswald becoming friends though.

Also in "Tonight's The Night"

The opening Gordon/Barbara/Leslie dream sequence with puking birds and Oswald as a priest was utterly sublime. That type of bonkers is what this show can thrive on.

Barbara: "I love my present. Does it mean what I think it means?"
Theo: "Yes my dear. Today's the day you get to kill Jim Gordon."

Come to think of it, wouldn't Today's The Day have made more sense as a title for this episode?

Barbara: "I knew it. I knew you still had feelings for me."
Gordon: "Of course I have feelings. Talk to me."

Leslie (to Gordon): "You see an abyss and you run towards it. That's not healthy."

Barnes didn't notice that Leslie got kidnapped and that both Nygma and Kringle weren't at work? Of course not.

Bruce: "You want my company."
Theo: "I want to clean up Gotham. Protect it's citizens, return the city to what it was but I can't do it without your help."

Nygma: "For a secluded forest, this place sure has a lot of foot traffic."

No Selina or Butch this week. Or Dent or Lucious either. Why were the latter two made regulars when they've barely featured at all?

Leslie (re Gordon): "I know who he is."
Barbara: "How could you when he doesn't even know? He is incapable of being honest with himself, let alone anyone else."

Nygma: "Mr Penguin?"
Oswald: "Help me please."

Chronology: Not long from where Mommy's Little Monster left off.

An entertaining episode, but in spite of the manic joy of Barbara going nuttier than usual and Theo's storyline coming to a conclusion, Tonight's The Night did highlight a few gnawing problems this show continues to have - Gordon's reckless and the general treatment of it's female characters. On both fronts, this show needs to massively improve.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, November 09, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x08: "The Zygon Inversion"

Written by Peter Harness And Steven Moffat
Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Osgood (to the Doctor): "Does it matter which is which?"
Osgood: "All that matters is that Osgood lives."

And the answer as to whether Osgood is either human or Zygon will remain a mystery for another day and I definitely think there will be another day, even if Osgood herself turned down the chance to become a companion in this absolutely incredible episode.

It's something of a shame that she did though between I really could watch a whole series with the Doctor and Petronella Osgood (yup, that's her name) and it would probably one of the best we'll have ever had to boot. For now though, I'm just grateful that the second part of this Zygon adventure managed to excel and surpass the first part of it rather effortlessly.

The Doctor and Osgood survived being blasted out of the sky by Bonnie courtesy of Clara's subconscious kicking in at the right time. Upon surviving, the pair made their way through London, encounter one of Bonnie's side projects - a half human/Zygon man (look, there's that hybrid theme again) who just wanted to live in peace but ultimately took his own life when he felt he couldn't do so before the pair of them manage to pull a few tricks with Bonnie in relation to the Osgood box.

The Osgood box. It was never going to be a straightforward sort of thing but this was one of those times where the twists and turns truly shined because it highlighted the single mindedness in both Bonnie - determined to start a war and Kate, similarly determined to take out the Zygons in order to protect her own planet.

The scenes in the Black Archives are going to go down as some of the most iconic scenes in this show's 52 year history and certainly some of the most timely of ones too. The Doctor's whole speech about what war truly meant was some of the harrowing pieces of television I've watched in a while and Peter Capaldi gave his most definitive performance as the Doctor in the two series he's been in the role. It's an amazing scene, one that genuinely made hairs stand on the back of my neck and a moment that begs to rewatched as many times as humanly possible.

It's also a scene that's so stirring that it offered a satisfying of resolving the issue. I do like though that Bonnie wasn't immediately won over by the Doctor's anti-war speech (he did liken her to a spoiled child) but the gradual way in which his words began to take effect and wear down her resolve was beautifully handled and felt pretty believable to me.

Speaking of Bonnie - this was a good episode for Jenna Coleman, maybe her best one this series. Clara was still pretty underutilised (as she has been this series) but Coleman got to shine as the more calmly sinister Zygon and the back and forth between Clara and Bonnie was a good acting exercise for Coleman to say the least. However the hints towards Clara being a dead woman walking (if she isn't already dead) have never felt more obvious than in this one as well.

As for the rest of the episode, scaling the focus back to London worked more in the episode's favour and certainly helped to keep things significantly more focused as all the main players were drawn closer to each other in order to prevent Bonnie's plan from coming to fruition. Also after being a bit underused in previous story, I felt that Kate came a little more into her own with this story. She even got to channel a familiar saying from her father too, which was hard not to love during a particular moment.

Also in "The Zygon Inversion"

Loved all the dream like tropes we had in Clara's mind, even though the black toothpaste slightly grossed me out.

Bonnie (to Etoine): "If we cannot hide, we must fight. You are going to be the first. The first to make the humans see."

Osgood was pretty clear that she'd shoot the Doctor if she was the baddie, didn't she? I also liked the fact that she didn't know what TARDIS actually stood for.

Osgood: "Never really met Clara. Pretty strong, yeah?"
The Doctor: "She was amazing."

Bonnie: "There's no point in turning over. There's nothing better on the other side. I could erase your mind."
Clara: "Then why haven't you?"

Of course there would be two Osgood boxes - the blue and the red. Not sure if I liked Kate's memory erased when Bonnie's wasn't though.

Bonnie: "You think you're calling my bluff."
Clara: "I am calling your bluff."

Clara: "This is not a war you can win."
Bonnie: "Then we will die in the fire instead of living in chains."

There was some controversy in relation to the plane sequence due to recent real life circumstances but to be fair, this episode was written and filmed months ago.

The Doctor: "How did you survive?"
Kate: "Five rounds rapid."

What actually happened to Rebecca Front's Colonel Walsh? She seemed to disappear from this altogether. Offscreen death or retreat?

The Doctor: "Do you know what thinking is? It's just a fancy word for changing your mind."
Bonnie: "I will not change my mind."

The Doctor (to Bonnie): "I forgive you. After all you've done, I forgive you."

Chronology: From where The Zygon Invasion left off.

Well, this was truly exceptional. The Zygon Inversion truly hit a series high in terms of drama with this beyond satisfying conclusion to one of the most topical stories we've had on the show in such a while. Peter Capaldi gave his best performance ever but let's also praise Jenna Coleman, Ingrid Oliver and Jemma Redgrave, all of whom were on fine form too.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Doctor Who/Class - Recent Rumours/Spoilers Addressed

With five episodes left in the ninth series of Doctor Who and Jenna Coleman's departure as Clara Oswald looming, discussions have been circulating about the show's current situation. So let's clarify some things.

 - First of all, there will be a tenth series comprising of 12 episodes and a Christmas special, starring Peter Capaldi. Filming should begin at some point in 2016, but when pressed into revealing when it will air, Steven Moffat was unable to confirm.
- He has said, contrary to a published rumour in The Mirror that the show will not be halved.
- More interesting though is that both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi have agreed that the show is airing in too late a time slot and would prefer an earlier one. Take the hint, BBC.
- The next companion will be someone new and not a previous recurring character (no Osgood or Shona then). Capaldi even cited wanting a working class companion like Rose Tyler.

After weeks of various and contradicting spoilers, it's nice to have some confirmation but until the ninth series and possibly the Christmas special with River Song actually air, I have a feeling we'll be waiting for definitive confirmation as to what will film and what will actually air in the next year or two.

Personally, I really do suspect that most of Series 10 at best will film in 2016 but that the series itself will air during Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017 with a Christmas special sandwiched between, in a similar manner to how the seventh series was dealt with in 2012 and 2013. I also think it'll end up being a swansong for both Moffat and Capaldi but that's speculation on my part, not an actual spoiler.

In terms of a new companion, I echo Capaldi's sentiments but I also think it might be a good idea to have two companions as well - introduce a new female companion in the first half and then a male companion in the second half of Series 10 and have both of them from different times and not romantically involved with each other.

I'm also hoping that with the BBC losing The Voice as well that the show will eventually move back to Spring because it's becoming increasingly clear that it's struggling in an Autumn slot at the moment.

Meanwhile the upcoming Coal Hill based spin-off, Class has had some little spoilers revealing but it still seems like things are early days with that show at the moment ....

- Patrick Ness hasn't confirmed whether or not the show will feature any guest appearances from Peter Capaldi, though to be honest I would be shocked if he doesn't at least cameo in one episode.
- According to Ness's own Twitter account, he's written a scene that is disgusting and evil for one episode, which sounds intriguing.
- The emphasis is going to be primarily on new characters, monsters and situations here.
- He already knows the last line of the first season, which is something that he cites as to doing with his books.

I'm still a little mixed on this show and I do get Ness's urge to do something new but at the same time, the odd familiar element here and there to remind people that Class exists in the same universe as Doctor Who wouldn't be a bad thing either.

Hopefully by the time the upcoming finale Heaven Sent/Hell Bent has aired, we'll have some more concrete details on both the main series and upcoming spin-off.

Doctor Who Spoilers/Rumours:

Doctor Who currently airs Saturdays on BBC1 and BBC America until December 5th.

Recap/Review: How To Get Away With Murder's 2x07: I Want You To Die

Well, that escalated rather quickly, didn't it? And there's still two episodes after this one to go as well.

Written by Warren Hsu Leonard
Directed by Kevin Bray

How's Your Night: Oh, Oliver. Of course there was going to have to be a time when his good intentioned helping out with the gang (how cool was it that Annalise thanked him?) was going to backfire on him and helping to snare the crazed Philip backfired spectacularly as instead of going for the honey trap that is Connor (whose overprotectiveness was bloody sweet this week), Philip decided to face off and possibly kidnap Oliver instead. The trailer for next week has me more worried for Oliver's safety than who might have actually shot Annalise for once. Oh and that comment Frank made about wanting to spank Oliver over Connor - quote of the week, right?

It's Him: Ever since this show began there's been an ongoing suspicion that Annalise might be Wes's real mother and in a way this episode seemed to hint at that or at least at the fact that Annalise knows a lot about Wes than she's been letting on so far. Eve, when she wasn't making sure that Nate didn't get sent to prison for his wife's death gently confronted Annalise on the issue and I assume the next two episodes will give us the actual answer though. Speaking of Eve and repeating myself yet again - please don't let her be the one to shoot Annalise. Thanks show. And let Oliver be alive too.

Looking At You Differently: The mystery of Trotter Lake was resolved here - Asher is thankfully not a rapist but he was too drunk to stop his friends from raping Tiffany though which managed to disgust Bonnie along with the fact that she's aware of Asher knowing about her past. The confrontation scene between Bonnie and Asher though was nothing on the one between the former and Annalise. Bonnie went pure psycho during that scene, even telling Annalise that she wanted her dead. This dark version of Bonnie is a lot more interesting to watch but I'm not assuming she's the one who'll pull the trigger on Annalise. As for Sinclair, I think it might have been Bonnie if that last moment of this episode was anything to go by.

No Worries: This week Laurel found herself mostly being put out by Annalise being snarky towards her, which at this point you'd think she'd be desensitised to. Of course, Laurel assumed that Annalise was bothered about her sleeping with Frank but it turns out that Laurel just isn't a worry for Annalise, which should be a compliment. Laurel did have some slightly better material using her smarts to solve the case and there seems to be a her/Wes and Connor/Michaela division in the flashforwards too.

Stalky Ones: While this episode was gripping, the case of the week wasn't particularly exciting for me. It involved a stalking ex-husband unwilling to move on from his former wife and driving her current husband to suicide. Granted there was a few unexpected twists and Laurel showed her smarts amidst everyone else's doubts but it was easily the weakest link of an otherwise gripping episode.

Next week, the search for Oliver is on as Connor assumes the worst.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Recap/Review: American Horror Story: Hotel - Room Service

It's still Halloween and this week we've got the most pretentious guests from hell and an outbreak of kiddie vampires to find either terrifying or annoying, depending on your mood.

Written by Ned Martel
Directed by Michael Goi

Pate Ala Catfood: Because Ryan Murphy likes working with various people on other projects and timing with Lea Michele playing someone slightly different on Scream Queens, former Glee heartthrob Darren Criss wound up in the Hotel Cortez this week with a girlfriend. The pair of them were a bunch of obnoxious hipsters who grated on newly made vampire Iris's last nerve until she gloriously snapped and killed the pair in a manner less gruesome than previous kills on this show. I'm calling it now - Criss will be back as a regular next season like Matt Bomer has been this year. I'd almost be shocked if he wasn't to be honest. As for Kathy Bates, this was without a doubt her best episode this season as Iris truly came to life as a character now that she's a member of the undead.

Save One Child, Doom Many Others: When it comes to this whole new vampire lark, you think maybe we should get a scene where Tristan, Iris and Alex all sit down and compare notes? Anyways, this week Alex mucked up royally by using her new blood to save a patient and therefore infecting several other kids as vampires, which is not a plot that I care to see much more of but inevitably will have to though. When Alex wasn't messing up royally she was forced into obeying the Countess's house rules and become the new governess to Holden and the rest of the kids. For a tiny moment, Alex also expressed some brief interest in her estranged husband but that quickly dissipated.

Blacking Out: Speaking of John - still not his week. His attempts of telling a very bored looking Robert Knepper that he had a dinner party with America's most famous and dead of serial killers wasn't believed, effectively losing his job and he had some rather nasty hate sex with Sally, which wasn't particularly riveting or racy to watch. Oh and some more allusions to him possibly being the Ten Commandments Killer was made in this episode by Sally making a point of John's blackouts and whatnot.

A Little Yelp: After getting Miss Evers backstory last week, this week it was Liz Taylor's turn as we journeyed back into 1984 where Liz was an unhappy married medical rep named Nick who visited the Cortez, had the pleasure of meeting the Countess who killed his homophobic fellow reps (this episode emphasised that Nick/Liz isn't gay) and got Nick to embrace his true identity. Without a doubt Liz has become the best character that Denis O'Hare has played on the series so far and his scenes with Kathy Bates and Lady Gaga were utterly superb to watch.

Plotting Vengeance: Following their absences last week (and this week there was no Will, March, Scarlett or Evers), we briefly got a look into Donovan and Ramona who kind of flirted with each other and quickly deduced the invisible Iris would be a perfect inside man for their revenge against the Countess. Yeah, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Given that Ramona and Liz quickly sussed that Iris is now a vampire, it looked like the Countess picked up on it too, following a cryptic exchange between her and Alex towards the end of this one. On the other hand, it does look like Ramona isn't going to waste too much time though.

Next week, John loses himself so more, Ramona and the Countess face off and could Will be a dead man walking?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

My Review of Empire's 2x06: "A High Hope For A Low Heaven"

Written by Robert Munic
Directed by Mario Van Peebles

Hakeem: "Can't be worse than the nightmare of being your son."
Lucious: "I ain't your momma, watch how you talk to me."

We got a week's break and with the promise of a serious storyline once the show returned, I was a little surprised that Hakeem's kidnapping plot kind of fizzled out a little in a way. We didn't even get to see both Cookie and Lucious saving their son. Instead his captives let him go somewhere else and he sloped off to have sex with Anika offscreen instead.

I should give the show credit though. There was a solid focus on Hakeem dealing with the trauma - lashing out at his family (Lucious mainly) and being unable to focus on a song that he wrote with his girl band before Laura was able to get him to get his shit together on stage, after that rather moving moment with Jamal, Andre and Hakeem as the brothers banded together.

As for the kidnappers - I should've suspected Laz because the idea of Cookie actually wanting to use those guys as muscle for Hakeem was so ludicrous and I'm glad that Hakeem's blow up when faced with them was a way of highlighting that stupidity as well. The reveal of Laz at the end when Cookie started to have sex with him though was done particularly well. She really does know how to pick them, doesn't she?

As for Lucious - I think he was genuinely trying to help this week in his own divisive sort of way. Lyon Dynasty aren't going to last and if Cookie wasn't so stubborn, she'd admit that and Lucious did try several times to actually reach out to Hakeem, only then to turn his focus onto the volatile Freda instead, whom he saw something of a kindred spirit in.

The rest of the episode seemed to focus on Andre trying to find his place (or be put in his place) within the company by testing out the acts and encouraging Becky's rapper boyfriend, J Poppa to embrace his religious side within his music. Now with this storyline, I'm on Becky and Lucious's side here. Andre did seem like he was forcing the issue a tad.

Also in "A High Hope For A Low Heaven"

The writers really don't know what to do with Anika this season. I'm not sure why she was even featured in this episode.

Hakeem: "This video is proof of life. I'm still here."

I'm relieved that it was Laz who was involved in Hakeem's kidnapping. For a moment, it really could've been Lucious.

Lucious (re Jameson): "There's all kinds of vampires in this business. Some will suck your blood and some will suck your -"
Jamal: "Don't do that."

Lucious: "I don't want you back, Cookie, just Hakeem and if you love him like you say you love him, Cookie, you gotta want that for him."

We met Jameson in this episode - a gay man who might be able to help Jamal break away from his niche marketing. No Michael, Tiana or Rhonda this week though.

Cookie: "You gonna be my wolf slayer?"
Laz: "That's right."

Andre: "You put me in charge."
Lucious: "I put you in your place. Don't confuse the two."

Standout music: Hakeem and his girl band's "Runnin'" and Jamal's "You Broke Love".

Cookie (to Laz): "Make me forget about everything that happened this week."

Chronology: Not long from where Be True left off.

Not the best episode we had this season. I kind of felt like A High Hope For A Low Heaven rushed through too many things for my liking and the pacing seemed a bit off in parts and even some of the Cookie/Lucious moments fell a little flat for me. Hopefully just a minor blip though.

Rating: 7 out of 10