Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x14: "Love Is A Smoke"

Written by Diane Ademu-John & Cherien Dabis
Directed by Tricia Brock

Cookie: "You two know each other?"
Lucious (re Giuliana): "We met a long time ago."

Ah yes, of course they did. Somewhere between Cookie languishing in prison for Lucious and before Anika was ever on the scene, it seems that Lucious and Giuliana were briefly a pairing that resulted in the latter's husband scamming Lucious for a great deal of money just around the same time that Lucious was beginning to fall for Giuliana as well.

I'll admit the whole Lucious/Giuliana thing comes across as massively contrived and rather convenient considering this episode also came about ending Cookie and Angelo but there's enough chemistry between Lucious and Giuliana to at least make it work well enough and I didn't mind Lucious actually outsmarting Andre, Giuliana and Shyne by giving Tori the spot promised to Nessa and of course, bringing Charlotte Frost into the mix.

Keeping with the guest roster this season, Eva Longoria stepped into the role of Charlotte reasonably well, even if she didn't really actually do anything. All we know is that her character is some kind of power player that Lucious managed to charm before Andre could but going by the trailers, it seems that Andre will find another way of getting Charlotte to his way of thinking.

Speaking of Lucious, when he wasn't outsmarting Andre and Tariq (with some help from Anika), he was also being surprisingly diplomatic about Cookie getting potentially engaged to Angelo. Of course, the episode then came to a very public break up with Cookie and Angelo as the former refused his hand in marriage and the latter unwitting confessed to some of his shadier antics during to a microphone being left on.

While I'm not surprised that Cookie and Angelo's relationship came to an end, I really didn't imagine it would get so nasty so quickly. He well and truly showed his colours by labelling her family as garbage and with his secrets exposed and that meddling mother of his, I think Cookie might have bitten off more than she could chew there.

- Giuliana admitted to Lucious that she killed her husband for him. We saw Lucious and Giuliana's first romance in flashbacks.
- Did anyone else think both Tori and Tiana were going to get it on with each other during that studio performance? Also, the show had Tori channel Amy Winehouse in a big way during this episode.
- Standout music: Tori's Play The World and Crazy 4 U, the latter song that Lucious originally wrote for Giuliana.
- Chronology: A couple of days from where the previous episode left off.

Love Is A Smoke certainly had it's moments. Seeing Cookie and Angelo as Lucious and Giuliana reconnect was convenient enough but with some excellent music and nice one liners (loved Cookie telling Bella that her granddad is a savage beast), it did make for an enjoyable episode though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"

Written by Gina Welch
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Joan: "I hope I made a new friend."
Bette: "Me too."

And here it is, the very end. Eight episodes into the Feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and aside from a brief interaction via a dream sequence with the former, the last few years of both women's respective lives were them dealing with their own disappointments and so on.

Joan herself had moved into an apartment, adopted a cute little Shih Tzu and was basically becoming a recluse, although Mamacita had managed to come back into her life on a part time basis. The first half of this episode dealt with Joan's final movie - the critically panned Trog and a disastrous book signing that resulted in her retirement from acting for good and becoming a recluse until her death.

Cynically, this episode felt like the 'Jessica Lange for an Emmy' hour, a familiar experience given that Murphy sometimes favoured her during her time on American Horror Story too but credit given where it's due, the episode is easily Lange's strongest one to date as Joan became more and more tragic throughout the whole thing.

Of course before Joan did succumb to death, the episode gave us a rather illuminating dream sequence between herself, Bette, Hedda and Jack L. Warner as the four of them all voice what went right and wrong with Joan's career. While it's a scene that arguably wasn't needed for the episode, it is however the best scene from the episode itself.

As for Joan's death itself, it's depicted off screen and we see that the crew who have been interviewing everyone throughout the series (including Pauline, Mamacita and Victor Buono this week) were doing so during the 1978 Oscars. The moment where everyone reacted to the In Memorium bit was rather telling. Joan might have been a polarising personality but there was no denying that she did garner some respect within Hollywood itself, despite the treatment stars like her endured at the time and still do to an extent.

As for Bette, things weren't going so swimmingly for her either. Not only had her relationship with BD completely tanked at this point but she also was failing in her own health and had suffered through a string of failed television pilots as well. Like Crawford herself, Bette's days were also coming to a close, even if she had lived over a decade longer and had a few more hits before her death in 1989.

The series itself has explored the feud between Davis and Crawford at a reasonable length and the final episode did make an attempt to see Bette try to connect to Joan but ultimately she couldn't. I did like the flashback to their first day on Whatever Happened To Baby Jane where both women mused the idea of striking up a friendship. Maybe in another life, that's what would've happened between the stars.

- The episode's title comes from the last line of the movie that inspired this whole series.
- The show delved into Christina releasing her Mommie Dearest novel and made the comment of Faye Dunaway wanting to play Crawford in a picture. Oh, the irony there.
- I'm surprised the episode also didn't delve into BD's scathing memoir as well.#, especially given that the episode was longer than usual.
- Chronology: From 1969 to 1978. I'm surprised we didn't get to see Bette's death, though the end credits talked about what happened with all the significant players in the show.

You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends? provided a satisfying and emotional conclusion to the series. While creative liberties were taken with both Crawford and Davis's real lives, I do think that Ryan Murphy and company gave a fairly balanced look into both actresses with both Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon doing their best to bring them to life as well. I have to admit that I'm not especially looking forward to the next installment though the casting might change my mind on that one.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 3x15: "How The Riddler Got His Name"

Written by Megan Mostyn-Brown
Directed by TJ Scott

Nygma (to Lucius): "Oh come on, Foxy. I'm the Riddler"

It's been three months since the last episode and apparently now we're in the official second half of Season 3, which almost makes me wonder where those other three episodes (let's call them the other Jerome arc) fit into things but we're back and if this is what we can expect in the final eight episodes of the season, then we're off to a good start.

Ever since putting a bullet into Oswald and leaving him for dead, poor Edward has been at a bit of a loss for himself. It seems that terrorising intellectual types and murdering them when they fail to solve his riddles isn't quite as fun as Nygma thought they would be, so needless to say, he decides to up his game this week.

Being challenged by the dripping hallucinations of Oswald, whom Nygma seems to deliberately bring about every time he chewed on a pill in this episode, Edward gets the bright idea of bagging himself an enemy to go along with his newfound villain status. The candidate for this accolade of course was going to be Gordon but this episode decided to take a clever turn by having Lucius unsuspectingly take on the role instead after intercepting one of Eddie's deadly riddles.

It's moments like this that I truly find myself loving this show. Having Lucius be the thorn into Nygma's side is a far better proposition than Gordon. Aside from the fact that Lucius has been savagely underused ever since Chris Chalk was made a regular back in Season 2, this episode served as a great opportunity to highlight how great Lucius actually can be as a character when the writers actually give him something to do.

Lucius's scenes with both Bullock and Leslie during Nygma's terror campaign were great but his one on one moments with Nygma were truly the best part of the episode. For a moment it looked like Lucius was almost reaching out to Edward before the latter embraced his new criminal identity and life on the run after failing to kill Bullock as well for good measure.

Of course another great thing about this episode was when we weren't getting Nygma haunted by Oswald and mulling over their friendship, the latter also turned up to be alive and was being looked after by Ivy of all people. Now I wasn't surprised that Oswald would be alive (then again, who would've been?) but this was the second surprise pairing of the week and it was only a brief scene. Still, there's more to come with Oswald being on the warpath though.

As for the rest of the episode, the other two plots were merely okay. Bruce failed to patch things up with Selina but he did manage to get replaced by his clone and seemed to be in a snowy prison of sorts, which had some Batman Begins callbacks to be honest. Of course, the Court of Owls stuff worked alright in the background.

As for Gordon, he reconnected with his uncle and seemed to have a reasonable amount of scepticism about Frank's motives for seeking him out right now. I liked that Gordon was taken away from the main Nygma plot this week but he's going to be an even bigger pain in the backside for the Court of Owls for Bruce, so I'm not sure why Kathryn is even indulging Frank's attempts to manipulate Jim into joining up.

- Barbara, Butch and Tabitha sat this episode out and aside from one scene alloted to Selina, Ivy and Leslie each, this definitely felt like a very male centred episode. Also Nygma kept called Lucius 'Foxy'. I'm just saying.
- The tagline for the remaining episodes this season is called Heroes Rise.
- I absolutely loved Oswald's risque little musical number - a version of Amy Winehouse's Wake Up Alone. Can we please have a musical episode next season, writers? Go on, you know you want to.
- Chronology: A couple of weeks since the events of The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies.

How The Riddler Got His Name might have seemed relatively simple in terms of how Nygma finally embraced his identity but it certainly made for a compelling little episode and along with giving Lucius some much needed screen time and that musical number, how could you not love this one?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x02: "Smile"

Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Directed by Lawrence Gough

Bill (to the Doctor): "Stop trying to keep me out of trouble!"

Going back to the tradition of Series 1 to 5 of this revived series, we've had the present day opening story and now we've gone into the future as the Doctor bestowed Bill with the choice for her first TARDIS trip while Nardole mostly sat this one out.

Enter a trip to the planet Gliese 581d and both the Doctor and Bill have ended up on a world where the only inhabitants seem to be some rather harmless robots that communicate in the not so extinct language of emoji, which amuses Bill but not so much the Doctor. Aside from the opening sequence that ruins the surprise, alarms also pop up when the Doctor and Bill get to wear mood badges that they can't see.

The planet itself is largely empty for the most part so there's a lot of screen time for solely the Doctor and Bill, which in some ways almost made this episode into a two hander of sorts between the new friends. It mostly works as both the Doctor and Bill are given a little more insight into how the other ticks during a crisis.

I know it's only been two episodes but the rapport between Capaldi and Mackie has certainly rejuvenated the show and while the student/mentor dynamic has been explored before with Seven and Ace, this version with Twelve and Bill is already turning out to be equally dynamic.

For all the questions that Bill asks the Doctor (and they're still reasonable ones), she also figures out certain things by herself. She certainly was able to deduce what had happened to a lot of the colonists that came to the planet and did her best to try and calm down a distressed child in the midst of a near battle between the remaining colonists and the bots themselves.

Speaking of the bots, the idea of them using the emoji language (hence them being labelled as Emojibots to a point) seemed really daft when I first read about this episode but it was effectively done and they managed to have a decent level of menace to them as well. I mean, they turned people into fertilizer and their inability to understand grief had disastrous consequences all around.

However while the episode a lot that worked in it's favour (beautiful character bits for our TARDIS duo, gorgeous location work and mostly satisfying baddies), the last few minutes slightly undo all the good work beforehand. The Doctor's resolution between the Vardy/Emojibots is a bit too pat and the few guest actors they have in the episode, such as Ralf Little's Steadfast are criminally wasted that it does make the episode a little frustrating.

Of course two episodes in though and the current series does seem to have a nice spring in it's step. The characterisation for the Twelfth Doctor is easily the best we've had, Bill is working out wonderfully and the mystery of the vault isn't soaking up too much screen time although the Doctor did mention that he had a promise to keep in relation to guarding it. Plus any episode that ends on the note of an elephant standing on the frozen Thames in the snow deserves an extra point or two.

- Apparently the Algae King fancies the Doctor. Bill also ate some blue algae jelly during the episode as well.
- "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" - gotta love a David Bowie reference, don't you? There was also a Erewhon reference too.
- Did I mention the gorgeous location work this week? Valencia translated beautifully on the screen as a different world.
- Anyone spot the allusions and similarities to the likes of The Ark In Space, The Happiness Patrol and The Beast Below in this one?
- I'm still convinced what's in the Vault has been spoiled online now. Not mentioning it for those who still want to be surprised though.
- Mina Anwar, who played Goodthing in this episode also played Rani Chandra's mother, Gita in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

After the much maligned In The Forest Of The Night, I wasn't particularly enthused with the idea of Frank Cottrell-Boyce returning for another episode. Smile however, while it won't go down as a classic, certainly was a step up from Boyce's previous effort. While the resolution was extremely poor and guest characters savagely underused, the episode itself was more watchable than expected, so that's a good thing.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back In Jail Again

A look into some of the shows I've been watching over the last few weeks.

Arrow: With the show set to return for it's final batch of episodes next week, the previous two were rather good offerings. Not only did we have Oliver temporarily broken down by Prometheus but we also had the latter's identity publicly exposed when the gang finally realised that having Bratva around to solve the problem wasn't such a bright idea. As well as that there was also Felicity sinking deeper into the whole Helix subplot and that looks set to take more focus in the next two episodes. We still could do with more of Thea though.

Once Upon A Time: I've seen five more episodes since the last blog and things have certainly heated up a bit. The show finally cured the ongoing Snow/Charming sleeping curse problem, wrote out both the other Evil Queen and Robin, temporary got rid of Hook, brought back Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, Ariel, Tinkerbell, Blackbeard etc. It also delved more into the lingering threat for the remainder of the season and thankfully, it's the Black Fairy because Gideon is too mopey and boring to really work as a threat. The scenery chewing Black Fairy on the other hand is something of a better adversary for Emma as the last few episodes have been hammering home the final battle thing for a bit now.

Prison Break: And it's back. As the TV revivals continue apace (Twin Peaks next month too), FOX decided to serve a fifth helping of this prison drama and the issue of Michael Scofield actually being dead doesn't factor because he's alive and stuck in a prison in Yemen and when Lincoln and other past characters aren't trying to break him out, Michael is also making friends (a gay character, another guy called Whip, etc) to do the same thing along with some other political prisoner type. I have to admit that while it's nice to see the gang nearly all back, the main plot is feeling a bit too reminiscent of 24 for my liking so far. On the other hand, I'm also intrigued by the grudging alliance between Sara and Kellermen though and T-Bag's new hand.

Santa Clarita Diet: I somewhat put off watching the final two episodes of this show for a bit but last week, I got round to watching them and I have to say, it was a solid way to end the first season. I liked the introduction of Portia deRossi's scientist character and I definitely liked the consequences of Sheila becoming more feral as well while poor Joel ended up getting locked up by the end of the last episode. Story wise, I think the show has covered itself well for it's second season in that regard.

Supergirl: Kara/Mon El - this series Olicity? Nope, not really but since becoming a couple not so long ago, they've generated some controversy as a pairing, especially as the last two episodes introduced Mon El's parents and let's just say that Rhea isn't someone you'd want as a mother in law. As a villain though, you can tell that Teri Hatcher is having fun in the role and it's great that she's going to be around at least for the final few episodes as well. Other than that, we've had subplots with Winn's girlfriend and Alex/Maggie meeting the latter's ex for good measure too.

The Flash: After the delightful musical crossover with Supergirl, things took another magical twist with Abra Kadabra popping up on the show. Aside from being one of the best guest villains going and more doom surrounding Iris's impending death, the episode's biggest highlight was the arrival of Killer Frost at the very end. It's been a while coming and the season has teased it for the longest while but at long last we're finally going to see what the show will do now that Caitlin has succumbed to the dark side.

- Ricky Martin has been cast as Antonio D'Amico, the long term lover of Edgar Ramirez's Gianni Versace for the third season of American Crime Story.
- Billie Lourd, Alison Wright and Billy Eichner will be appearing in the seventh season of American Horror Story.
- Katie Cassidy, Juliana Harkavy and Rick Gonzalez will be regulars for the sixth season of Arrow.
- A trailer for the Krypton prequel series has emerged online.
- Both Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are leaving Once Upon A Time.
- Marvel have a series focusing on Squirrel Girl called New Warriors in the works.
- The Big Bang Theory has been picked up for a further two seasons and a Sheldon prequel spin-off will also be in the works.
- Freeform also have commissioned a mermaid series named Siren.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "Abandoned"

Written by Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam
Directed by Helen Hunt

Mamacita (to Joan): "I told you the next time you throw something at my head I leave."

Joan Crawford really was becoming her own worst enemy and in this episode alone, she had virtually alienated any and every ally she could've had. The episode began with her increasingly feeling out of the loop with production of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte in full swing and ended with even Mamacita wiping her hands off Joan.

And the thing is and maybe it's down to Lange's performance in this one, but my sympathy for Joan wasn't really there. I get that she felt left out of the buddy/ally routine that both Bette and Aldrich but the way Joan halted production and generally seemed to throw a hissy fit did her next to no favours with this particular episode.

Joan had gotten to a point where she had seriously overestimated her own clout and when Aldrich basically told her to get her act together and stop trying to make script changes of her own, it should've been a hint. However it took the threat of being examined by a studio doctor, being sued for $100,000 and being replaced by Olivia de Havilland for the lesson to really sink in.

The thing is though while Mamacita was completely justified in finally abandoning Joan, the vase wasn't strictly aimed for her head this time around. That said though aside from one revealing exchange between Joan and Bette about talent and beauty, Joan showed no real insight here and continued to make her circumstances far worse than they needed.

Not that it was plain sailing for Bette either. At different points in the episode, both Victor and Aldrich castigated her for her treatment of Joan while BD herself had managed to marry Jeremy behind Bette's back too but in the end in relation to the movie itself, Bette maintain some professionalism and took her producer role with some seriousness too.

Unlike Joan, Bette was the one who tried to keep production going and in the end, Joan was traded in for a less demanding actress with Havilland. Heck, the episode even ended a little with a not so subtle 'screw you' to Joan as Bette, Olivia and Aldrich posed with a certain drink for photographers while Joan's health ended up taking an actual hit by the time the closing credits emerged.

- History wise, Mamacita might have left Joan a lot later than what this episode indicated she did. However I don't blame her for finally having enough.
- Much as I've enjoyed seeing Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell in the series, has she really been necessary though?
- Nice use of Sweet Charlotte towards the end of the episode as well.
- Chronology: I guess 1963/1964 considering the production of the movie in question.

Abandoned stumbles a bit as a penultimate episode but it's still got some great moments though. The obvious highlight is the beauty vs. talent conversation between Crawford and Davis along with the former losing ally after ally. Just one more episode to go now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x01: "The Pilot"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Lawrence Gough

Bill: "Doctor what?'"

Can you believe that it's nearly been a year since Pearl Mackie was first announced as new companion, Bill Potts? In that time we've also learned that this tenth series will be the last for Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, several returns have been confirmed and heavily rumoured and Nardole is also a regular? Not to mention we've had the rather polarising Class air and a fairly disappointing Christmas special with The Return Of Doctor Mysterio. Time does sort of fly really.

Onto The Pilot and it's something a mission statement to behold. After two more series of Clara Oswald, a dark tone, apathetic advertising and a less family friendly timeslot, this series seems to be a welcome return of the basics with an opening episode that's both accessible but at the same time sets up the essentials for both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi's final run.

First of all, our new girl herself, Bill Potts. If you were hoping for someone tonally different to both Amy and Clara, then Bill manages to achieve that within seconds of meeting her and then continuously throughout the episode.  For all the sometimes unfair accusations that Moffat is given towards the way he writes for women, you can tell with Bill that he's making the effort to be different here.

On a personal note, Bill might be one of the most relatable companions the show has done so far. There's a lot with her that I can directly identify with (sexual orientation, race, family background, love of sci-fi etc) but my own feelings aside, I just love that in one episode she's managed to endear herself with even people who have been more than vocal in their weariness for the current era and that in itself is quite the achievement.

Bill works on a lot of levels but the biggest one seems to be the overt fondness both her and the Doctor have for one another. The episode started with him confronting her about sneaking into his lectures and then offering to teach her on the side and pretty soon when the main threat of the episode was stalking Bill, she was soon catapulted into the Doctor's exciting and dangerous world.

Seeing Bill working the Doctor and Nardole was something of a treat and already I think we've possibly got one of the most striking TARDIS teams in the show's 54 year history. It's one of those dynamics that you don't expect to work but somehow it really does look like it's going to and I can't wait to see how the three interact for the rest of this series.

As for the threat itself, well it involved the girl of Bill's affections - Heather (Stephanie Hyam) being taken over by some space oil/water type creature and chasing after Bill throughout the ends of the universe before the latter was able to convince the thing possessing Heather to eventually let her go. In some respects, it's a bit of a rushed resolution to the main threat but considering the character building up in other areas for this episode, I didn't mind so much.

Keeping with the character stuff, a lot of hype was generated towards the reveal that Bill would be the show's first openly gay companion and given that Moffat himself can be a mixed bag for LGBT characters, I thought the depiction of Bill's sexuality was actually brilliant. There was no doubt that Bill was gay but it was written in a manner that was respectable and believable and the somewhat star crossed love story of sorts with Heather also had a nice level of poignancy to it before it came to an ending.

Of course the highlight then was having Bill call out the Doctor for trying to mind wipe her. I really hate when the Doctor pulls that and aside from obvious reminders of both Donna and Clara in recent times, I did like that Bill was able to stop him before he went through with it. Of course, I'm also curious as to why the Doctor is at that particular university and what he's hiding in a vault, though if I'm right, I have a feeling the tabloids might have leaked the latter spoiler.

As for Nardole, I think the jury is still out on him, character wise. I mean he works well enough with the Doctor and Bill and the episode revealed that he's got a robotic body but I'm still dubious as to whether or not the show actually needs him in the long run. On the other hand, he didn't hinder the episode in any way and he got some good lines so there's that.

- The Doctor had a row of old sonic screwdrivers (that has now been added to the dictionary) on his desk and pictures of Susan and River for good measure along with Clara's theme music.
- We got to see an edited (for the better) version of the Friend From The Future scene that introduced Bill last year as herself, the Doctor and Nardole got caught up in a Dalek and Movellan war.
- Bill and Heather: an ode to William Hartnell and his wife, Heather McIntyre. Then again, this episode was from a man who decided to call the show's 828th episode, The Pilot after all.
- The original title for this episode was A Star In Her Eye, in relation to the defect that Heather had. Bill's foster mother, Moira (Jennifer Hennessey) was also Valerie in Gridlock.
- Along with Doctor Who Extra bits for this series, we also have an After Party series on YouTube with Christel Dee. Australia also have a Takeover series as well.
- Chronology: Mainly 2017 England. We did get to see Australia for a brief moment and went 23 million years into the future as well.

The Pilot definitely was an interesting mission statement. On one hand, it sort of riffed off several other episodes (Rose, Midnight, The Waters Of Mars, The Lodger) while on the other hand, it actually did make for a good jumping on point for people who have slipped away from the last few series. Bill already made a wonderful impression and with both Mondasian Cybermen, two Masters on the horizon and other imminent returns, this is certainly shaping up to be an interesting final run for Moffat and Capaldi alike.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x13: "My Naked Villainy"

Written by Joshua Allen & Jamie Rosengard
Directed by Cherien Dabis

Guiliana (to Lucious): "I'm about to make your wishes come true."

This episode started with Lucious in bad condition and then ended with the not remotely shocking revelation that he has a past with Guiliana. In between that though he had to deal with Andre and Anika making their own power plays while continuing to be a lingering threat to Cookie and Angelo's relationship.

The last few episodes have been signposting the beginning of the end for Cookie and Angelo due to the former being hooked on Lucious and this episode really had to hammer home the point even more. When Cookie wasn't being accosted in the street by fangirls over Jamal's ode to his parents dangerous love, even Anika was dismissive of Cookie not being in love with Lucious.

Angelo himself even had his own mayoral victory upstaged by Lucious gatecrashing Leviticus and playing You're So Beautiful before Giuliana took the wind out of the latter's sails. I think the question now with five episodes left to go, will Angelo and Cookie break up in the finale or before then? The trailers show that Cookie is certainly put out of place by Lucious/Giuliana working together soon, so I imagine it's going to be soon enough.

Of course when things weren't pivoting on either being love with Lucious or wanting to get one over on him, business wise as Andre managed to successfully do this week, there were some other plots worth getting into.

Hakeem went from being oblivious to the fallout of Kennedy's attack during his birthday antics to actually taking on board the advice both Jamal and Cookie gave him in relation to misogyny and victim blaming, especially when both called out some of his past music. Hakeem's attempts to amend the situation with a female friendly song were actually pretty good, even if Andre tried to scupper the whole thing. At least Hakeem is showing some maturity though.

- Anika asking Cookie to look after Bella was a surprising moment but I can actually believe that despite their mutual hatred, Cookie would be the best person to look after Bella though.
- Jamal and Delphine (Estelle) played Lucious and Cookie while flashbacks also showed Cookie peddling drugs for Lucious as well.
- Standout music: You're So Beautiful by Lucious and Jamal/Delphine's Dangerous and Hakeem's Special.
- Chronology: A couple of days since Strange Bedfellows.

Solid enough episode. My Naked Villainy had some good bits in it (Jamal schooling both Hakeem and Derek, Nessa doing something similar to Andre) and it was nice to see Hakeem actually do something mature as well but the whole Guiliana/Lucious/Cookie/Angelo quadrangle really could go either way in the last few episodes though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "Hagsploitation"

Written by Tim Minear & Gina Welch
Directed by Tim Minear

Jack L. Warner (to Aldrich, re Bette/Joan): "If you think it's Twilight for us, it is Midnight for them."

Much as I do loathe the Jack Warners of the world, there's no denying that his words, unpleasant as they were also happened to be true. All of them needed another big hit on their hands. Warner and Aldrich needed a hit. Joan wanted another movie that could give her proper buzz and Bette probably wanted more than television spot.

The answer to all their possible problems - a movie called Whatever Happened To Cousin Charlotte (later named Sweet Charlotte) following into a genre that goes by the unflattering name of hagsploitation, which Jack seemed taken with as it meant that he could 'degrade' actresses on their last line, career wise.

Getting both Joan and Bette to agree to the project was down to Aldrich, who had to persuade both of them to put their differences aside to work with each other again while also making their own demands (Bette wanted some creative control, Joan to be paid upfront). Aldrich also later made some of his own demands to Warner while his marriage to Harriet was falling apart behind the scenes during this episode as well.

Of course when Joan wasn't working on this new project with Bette and trying to present  united front with her rival (half assed Oscar apology, matches as a symbolic gesture), she also had two other plotlines in an episode that was heavily focused on her.

First of all we saw her on the road promoting her movie, Strait Jacket with the director William Castle, which was a fun way of opening the episode and then there was the threat of a sex tape that her brother Hal was threatening to leak. The latter gave us more of an insight into Joan's family history while also revealing that the tape wasn't real.

Another interesting point of this episode was seeing the cracks in Joan's relationship with Mamacita as well. The latter has always been Joan's only real ally (especially as Hedda showed her true colours this week) but even her limits were tested this week when she threatened to leave Joan if the latter threw anything else at her head again. Going by next week, it seems she'll make good on that threat too.

- Having John Walters as William Castle was a nice bit of guest casting. Murphy managed to keep that one under his hat.
- Hedda was dying in this episode and even then the episode managed to make her horrible as possible. It was nice to see Pauline and Victor Buono again though.
- If you want to know more about the genre of Hagsploitation, here you go ....
- Chronology: 1964 going by the release of Joan's movie and production on Sweet Charlotte.

Hagsploitation was another suitably strong episode. As the series comes closer to it's end along with both Bette and Joan's careers on the decline, this episode showed the desperation from both to have another major hit but history shows us, only one of them stuck out their would be second venture together.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Doctor Who - Series 10 Guide (Including Big Spoilers)

With four days to go for the 10th series of Doctor Who, the synopsises for all the episodes have been realised, via Radio Times and there are some interesting times ahead for the 12th Doctor, Bill Potts and Nardole.

10x01: The Pilot 

Written by Steven Moffat/Directed by Lawrence Gough

"What's the one thing you never see when you look at your reflection?"

Meet Bill Potts. She works at St Luke's University, serving chips to students, and nothing ever, ever happens. Then, one day, she finds there's another world beneath the one she knows. A familiar face in a pool of water, and a love that is over before it can begin, will change her life for ever - because this is the day Bill meets the Doctor. Bill's foster mother, Moira (Jennifer Hennessey) appears in this episode along with Stephanie Hyam as Heather, a potential love interest for Bill.

10x02: Smile

Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce/Directed by Lawrence Gough

"Between here and my office, before the kettle boils, is everything that ever happened, or ever will. Make your choice."

In the far future, at the edge of the galaxy, there is a gleaming, perfect city. This brand-new human settlement is said to hold the secret of human happiness - but the only smiles the Doctor and Bill can find are on a pile of grinning skulls. Something is alive in the walls, and the Emojibots are watching from the shadows, as the Doctor and Bill try to unravel a terrifying mystery. Guest cast include Ralf Little and Mina Anwar.

10x03: Thin Ice

Written by Sarah Dollard/Directed by Bill Anderson

"So the TARDIS has dresses and likes a bit of trouble? I think I'm low-key in love with her."

In Regency England, beneath the Frozen Tames, something is stirring. The Doctor and Bill arrive at the last of the great frost fairs and find themselves investigating a string of impossible disappearances - people have been vanishing on the ice! Bill is about to discover that the past is more like her world than she expected, and that not all monsters come from outer space. Guest cast include Nicholas Burns and Peter Singh.

10x04: Knock Knock

Written by Mike Bartlett/Directed by Bill Anderson

"Did you hear the trees creaking outside when we arrived?" "Yeah. It was the wind." "There wasn't any wind."

Bill is moving in with some friends and they've found the perfect house! So what if it's strangely cheap to rent, and the landlord is a little creepy? The wind blows, the floorboards creak and the Doctor thinks something is very wrong. What lurks in the strange tower at the heart of the building - and why can't they find any way to enter it...? Guest cast include David Suchet as the Landlord.

10x05: Oxygen

Written by Jamie Mathieson/ Directed by Charles Palmer

"You only see the true face of the universe when it's asking you for help."

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole answer a distress call in deep space, and find themselves trapped on board space station Chasm Forge. All but four of the crew have been murdered - and the dead are still walking! In a future where oxygen is sold by the breath, and space suits are valued more highly than their occupants, the TARDIS crew battle for survival against the darkest evil of all. Guest cast include Peter Caulfield and Kieren Bew.

10x06: Extremis

Written by Steven Moffat/ Directed by Daniel Neitteim

"They read The Veritas - and chose hell."

In the Haereticum (the Vatican's secret library of blasphemy) there is an ancient book known only as The Veritas. Throughout history, anyone who has ever read it has immediately taken their own life. Now a new translation is online, and the danger is spreading. The Vatican appeals to the Doctor. Will he read The Veritas? But can even the Doctor survive the ultimate truth? Guest cast include Michelle Gomez as the Master/Missy.

10x07: The Pyramid At The End Of The World

Written by Peter Harness & Steven Moffat/Directed by Daniel Neitteim

"Fear is inefficient. We must be loved."

A 5,000-year-old pyramid stands at the centre of a war zone, where the Chinese, Russian and American armies are about to clash. There are many problems with that, but the one that intrigues the Doctor is this: there wasn't a pyramid there yesterday. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole face and alien invasion unlike any other - before conquest can begin, these aliens need the consent of the human race.

10x08: The Lie Of The Land

Written by Toby Whithouse/Directed by Wayne Yip

"I'm sorry, Bill, I really wanted to make you see!" "Oh my God, this is real. You're really doing this!"

The world is gripped by a mass delusion and only Bill Potts can see the truth. When even the Doctor is fighting on the wrong side, it's up to Bill to convince the Time Lord that humanity is in deadly danger. And if she can't do that, she may just have to kill her best friend.

10x09: The Empress Of Mars

Written by Mark Gatiss/Directed by Wayne Yip

"It's a simple choice, Iraxxa. The oldest one in the book. We must live together. Or die together."

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive on Mars and find themselves in an impossible conflict between Ice Warriors... and Victorian soldiers. As the Martian hive awakes around them, the Doctor faces a unique dilemma - this time the humans, not the Ice Warriors are the invaders. When Earth is invading Mars, whose side is he on?

10x10: The Eaters Of Light

Written by Rona Munro/Directed by Charles Palmer

"Now you have a choice. You can all keep on slaughtering each other till there's no one left standing, or you can grow the hell up!"

A long time ago, the Roman legion of the ninth vanished into the mists of Scotland. Bill has a theory about what happened, and the Doctor has a time machine. But when they arrive in ancient Aberdeenshire, what they find is a far greater threat than any army. In a cairn, on a hillside, is a doorway leading to the end of the world.

10x11: World Enough And Time

Written by Steven Moffat/Directed by Rachel Talalay

"My name's Doctor Who."

Friendship drives the Doctor into the rashest decision of his life. Trapped on a giant spaceship, caught in the event horizon of a black hole, he witnesses the death of someone he is pledged to protect. Is there any way he can redeem his mistake? Are events already out of control? For once, time is the Time Lord's enemy. Guest cast includes both Michelle Gomez and John Simm as the Master.

10x12: The Doctor Falls

Written by Steven Moffat/Directed by Rachel Talalay

"Without hope, without witness, without reward."

The Mondasian Cybermen are on the rise. It's time for the Doctor's final battle. Guest cast includes both Michelle Gomez and John as the Master.

And the last spoiler was meant to be a secret but not only will the finale feature multiple versions of the Cybermen but also the Master as now confirmed by Steven Moffat, John Simm will be reprising the role for the finale. Simm last seen as the Master in The End Of Time will appear in Capaldi's penultimate story, working alongside Michelle Gomez's current incarnation, Missy and there's rumours they won't be the only Masters in the finale. Other rumours include David Bradley possibly playing a version of the 1st Doctor while the upcoming Christmas special, due to film in June will see the 12th Doctor's regeneration will be precipitated by him doing something reckless. It will also be a story of redemption too. As for the casting for Doctor 13, well an announcement should hopefully be with us shortly but until then, it looks like we've got an exciting final series for Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi ahead of us.

Series 10 Radio Times Episode Guide:
Series 10 Trailer 3:

Series 10 of Doctor Who airs from Saturday on both BBC1 and BBCAmerica. Class will also air on the latter station too.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x12: "Strange Bedfellows"

Written by Matt Pyken & Attica Locke
Directed by Bille Woodruff

Lucious (to Hakeem): "Hey son, happy birthday!"

Ah, the big 21st birthday. I barely remember my own but I do recall it not resulting in live streams and public scraps, so it probably wasn't as chaotic by comparison. Now that he's hit a certain milestone, can Hakeem actually mature?

Sometimes he can show that he's capable of stepping up but most of the time the show seems a little too content with having him in perpetual spoiled child mode and various characters calling him out for it. This episode highlighted why that needed to change as Hakeem's self absorption saw him more concerned about his birthday bash being ruined rather than Tiana's friend being assaulted.

I did like that Andre, Jamal and Tiana's words had some impact on Hakeem given that he decided to celebrate the rest of his birthday with Bella by the end of the episode. The other highlight though was having Lucious tell Hakeem about what happened the night he was born. It's a surprisingly lovely moment and one hell of a way to end the episode as well. Why can't Lucious have more moments on the show like this?

Keeping with Lucious though, both him and Cookie confronted Anika on her maybe screwing them over and the latter managed to worm her way out of being killed. Of course Leah came close to doing it but for now, Anika has the chance to play Tariq for a fool in order to keep in with the Lyons or screw everyone over. You just never know with this show.

Meanwhile we saw some romantic shifts this week. When Cookie wasn't asking for Angelo's help and embracing his upper class of things a little more, we saw Jamal in a triangle of sorts with Philip and the newly out Derek. Needless to say the latter is far more compelling and I had a lot of sympathy for Derek in this episode, even if Jamal is being wise by trying to put some distance between them for now.

As for Giuliana, I'm liking the rapport between her and Andre so far and it's interesting that she's got an ulterior motive as well. Of course what we need now is to have the character in both Cookie and Lucious's orbit but I say that's fairly imminent though.

- Tory disappeared as quickly as she appeared on this show. I know Jamal was annoyed with her in the previous one, but I was hoping they had made it up though.
- Cookie shot a guy in the leg in a flashback and lied about it to Angelo. That'll come back to bite her no doubt.
- Standout music: Jamal/Tiana/Hakeem's I Got You and weirdly enough, a reprise of Hakeem's Can't Truss 'Em.
- Standout music: A few days after where Play On left off.

Another good but not amazing episode. Strange Bedfellows did have it's moments though and I loved all the Jamal/Derek/Philip scenes and that last scene with Lucious and Hakeem though was one of the most surprisingly humane moments we've had this season.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, April 07, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x11: "Play On"

Written by Janeika James & Jasheika James & Malcolm Spellman
Directed by Benny Boom

Cookie (to Anika): "You need to want more for your life, honey."

Well, the episode did start with Anika being back at Empire in the very job Becky wanted and had her winning over the latter through flattery (and probably some sincerity). Then Tariq stuck his oar in and Anika soon found herself dropping Bella off on Hakeem and appearing to once again be on the brink of selling out Lucious. 

Well, it's hardly the most disappointing of propositions and it was inevitable that Anika would turn on Lucious once again but it seems that we have Leah to thank for this one. When she wasn't being nasty to a female security guard at Empire, she was whispering poison into Tariq's ear in order to make him go after both Cookie and Anika this week.

Yup, Cookie herself wasn't impervious as it seems that there was some glitch with her parole conditions, leading to a heated confrontation between Lucious and Angelo in this one. The more and more this episode tried to signpost that Cookie should move on properly with Angelo (mostly via Candace), the flashbacks to Lucious and Cookie's wedding and the latter being pregnant with Andre indicated the opposite here. 

I have to admit that while the whole Lucious being addictive to Cookie is repetitive by now, the flashbacks with their younger selves have been great in further detailing their messy history though. Keeping with Lucious, he might have kept quiet about the kiss they shared but he still messed around with Jamal's studio time though.

Speaking of Jamal, he made some nice music with Tory before throwing a bit of a fit with her for working with Lucious but we also had him dump Derek and get together with Philip in this one. Meanwhile we saw some tension between Hakeem and Tiana as the latter struggled to accept Bella but Andre got some of the better material though.

Introducing Nia Long's Giuliana Green at the end of the episode was an interesting stroke. In less than five minutes we saw her cowering from an abusive husband to shooting in the back as the character is apparently going to be a key player in Andre and Shyne's campaign to take Lucious down. Not to mention a clear thorn in Cookie's side too going from the previews.

- At one point in this episode, Tiana seemed to be channeling Christina Aguilera's look from Lady Marmalade.
- I think this episode just set up the much needed coming out moment for Derek, right?
- Standout music: Jamal/Tory's Feels So Good and Veronika and Nessa's Throne.
- Chronology: From where Sound & Fury left off.

A strong enough episode but not quite as brilliant as the previous one. Play On was pretty on point with the music, the young Lucious/Cookie flashbacks continue to be strong and Guliana does seem like an interesting antagonist in the making too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 2x17: "Aruba"

Written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim
Directed by Rob Seidenglaz

Sara (to the gang): "Guys, I think we've broke time."

Somewhere Barry Allen is thinking "not just me then". Yup, the latest season finale of this wonderfully daft show saw the gang solve a few problems while also managing to create many others in the wake of their rule breaking.

First of all, there was the gang reuniting with Rip and fixing the Waverider's shrunken state with Ray's suit and then there was the gang also deciding to go back to 1916 to stop Eobard and company from nabbing the spear in the first place. And that predictably went to hell.

Aside from having two sets of Legends meeting and clashing with one another before banding together, Eobard upped the ante by killing one of the Rays and also by bringing as many versions of himself as he could get at one time but even with that amount of back up, it certainly wasn't his day as Sara proved to be his undoing.

Grabbing a hold of the spear and being briefly tempted by Laurel, Sara came up with the clever solution of depowering the spear and taking Eobard out with Black Flash. It was a bold move but along with Eobard dying and the rest of the Legion of Doom sent back to their respective times with their memories erased, it was a great way of tying up those loose ends as both Ray and Amaya also came back to life.

However a departure still had to happen in this one and it came in the shape of Rip simply jumping ship for pastures new. It's a shame to lose the character but the reasoning behind his exit is believable enough as the gang have outgrown him a little. That being said, I'm still hoping that we do see him again next season, even if he's not a regular though.

As for the last few minutes of this episodes, Mick's plans to go to Aruba went awry pretty fast as the gang ended up in 2017 LA with dinosaurs on the loose. Come to think it, we've had dinosaurs in two episodes where it's kind of had a point to it so it's going to be exciting to see how the gang fix this particular mess next season.

- Sara and Laurel were watching The Wizard of Oz and Amaya had a pair of ruby slippers.
- There will be some new regular next season but we've yet to find out who though.
- I do wonder if this episode should be the last we see of either Malcolm, Eobard or Damien altogether.
- Chronology: 1916 France and 2017 LA by the end of this episode.

Aruba wasn't quite as good as the previous episode or last season's finale but it certainly ended the season on a satisfying note and certainly set up enough to get me back for next year as well. How the gang will fix this mess though.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "And The Winner Is (The Oscars Of 1963)"

Written And Directed by Ryan Murphy

Geraldine Page (re Joan): "Well, she needs it and besides, Hollywood should be forced to look at what they've done to her."

And this one was a fucking doozy and a half. It's Oscars time and Joan Crawford is clearly a woman who will find a way of attaining the limelight, even when it's not all about her. Smarting over Bette Davis getting the Oscar nomination over her and having Hedda chewing her ear (loving the performance, detesting the woman with every passing episode though), Joan resorted to some tactics to get one over on Davis yet again.

This time it included a bit of casual bad mouthing through Hedda spreading her usual poison via certain phone calls but also Crawford herself going after some of the other Best Actress nominees as well. This included somewhat belittling Geraldine Page's confidence til the woman actress to let Joan collect the award for her.

Sarah Paulson only got about three minutes of screen time and once again, proved why she's become one of those actors that Ryan Murphy will call upon for whatever part he can get for her. Page's comment to her partner about Hollywood having to look at what they created with Joan and boy, did this episode demonstrate that. Geraldine saw through Joan's desperation as did everyone else in Hollywood during this Oscar season.

Speaking of the desperation, you could see that Anne Bancroft herself, who was putting her theatre work over attending the event could see the desperation in Joan wanting to accept her win for her. I thought Serinda Swan was excellent casting as Bancroft and certainly held her own with Jessica Lange in the one scene they shared together.

As for Bette Davis, we saw her worry a little about being nominated and we saw her anger when Crawford accepted the award on Bancroft's behalf and made sure to rub it in but unlike Joan, she had the better support system with Olivia de Havilland being her champion for the majority of the episode. It was nice to see a bit more of Olivia in this one too and I like the rapport between her and Bette too.

As for Joan, she got one up on Bette but it was a victory that felt hollow. After all, she accepted another woman's award but at the same time, she publicly exposed her own pettiness and came home to an empty house. As horrible as Joan's actions were in this episode and there was no justifying them, even I felt a little sympathy for her. Not much though.

- The episode delved a little into Olivia's own feud with her sister. I can't help thinking that would make a better second season than the one we're getting for this show.
- No Pauline or Aldrich in this episode.
- Joan's silvery look for the Oscars was a little weird to be honest. Bette had the better look, to be honest.
- Chronology: Early 1963, Oscar season of course.

I swear this show is getting better and better. And The Winner Is (The Oscars Of 1963) easily surpassed last week's excellent episode and it seems like the next one is going to be another gem too. I am really enjoying this show the more and more it goes on.

Rating: 8 out of 10