Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 TV Overview

It's been something of an upside down year for television in 2017, so here is a not so huge look at the highs and lows of the year in question.

Most Talked About Casting: Jodie Whittaker broke records and provided a lot of discussion when her casting as the 13th Doctor became worldwide news. How this will bode for the series could go either but at least she's generated discussion for Doctor Who again.

Most Welcomed Cancellation: Class. It was the spin off that absolutely no-one wanted, the BBC couldn't be arsed to promote and very few actually tuned in to see and therefore won't be missed.

Most Talked About UK Drama: There was a few but the usual suspects included Broadchurch, Peaky Blinders, Line Of Duty and Doctor Foster. Only one I actually watched but the other three were inescapable on my timeline.

Signs You're Dying On Your Arse: Big Brother UK couldn't get a look in this year during it's civilian series as Love Island became the summer hit while the equally as tired Strictly Come Dancing overshadowed the plain tired X Factor for another year running.

Soap Of The Year: Emmerdale, what with Ashley's dementia storyline and of course, Moira's recent murder of Emma along with the other big hitting storylines of the year.

Soap That Fell Apart This Year: EastEnders, in virtually every way as audiences made their loathing of Sean O'Connor's shockingly inept era more than known online and elsewhere. Fortunately with John Yorke at the helm, the show might be turning around soon.

Irish Show Of The Year: Not a huge selection to choose from if I'm being honest. Red Rock was on for very little of the year, Dancing With The Stars was okay but hardly must see telly. Neither Striking Out nor Acceptable Risk were anything to write home about either. Perhaps that recent Christmas special of Mrs Browns Boys.

Toxic TV Partnership Of The Year: Olicity in Arrow. At this rate, it's not even the writing but the absolutely horrible fan base, who are reaching Johnlock levels of irritation at this rate. But it's also the writing too. Someone rein both Guggenheim and Mericle in already.

Show I Watched, Loved But Didn't Blog About: The fourth and fifth seasons of Wentworth, which really could give the equally great Orange Is The New Black a run for it's money. I can't be the only one hoping that Joan somewhat survived, right?

Worst Cancellation: Not that many really hit me this year but I think losing Sense8, which for me is both Netflix's best and most underrated series was a letdown. Fortunately there is an upcoming special to tie up loose ends though.

Best Cancellation: Girls. Also a strong contender for one of the worst series finales with Lena Dunham not bothering to write something that actually resembled a series finale.

Revivals, Revivals, Revivals: This year saw the returns of Prison Break, Twin Peaks and Will & Grace. All had decent returns but I do wonder if this is a trend that could get out of hand as well.

Strangest Ship Of The Year: Jon and Daenerys from Game Of Thrones have got to win this one, considering what we learned about them in the seventh season finale.

Reunions Of The Year: Join winner here between Arya and Nymeria in Game Of Thrones and Eleven with all the gang in Stranger Things.

Better Than The First: Stranger Things might be Netflix's over talked about show ever, but it managed to create a second season that not only was as good as it's first run, but even better in parts, and yes, that also includes the much divisive The Lost Sister episode.

Disappointment Of The Year: I hate joining in with everyone else but even I can't defend Iron Fist, which turned out to be Marvel's first fail of a series. Thankfully, The Defenders was a lot better, viewing wise.

TV Event Of The Year: There was plenty but I'm going with the Arrow verse's Crisis On Earth X four part saga.

Gone Too Soon Award, Character Wise: Bill Potts. She got one series of Doctor Who and managed to become the best fit for Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor along with Nardole. Don't leave it too long Big Finish to reunite this underrated team.

Kiss Of The Year: It's either going to be Lito/Hernando in nearly every episode of Sense8's second season or it's Citizen Cold/The Ray from Crisis On Earth X. I'll let you guys decide. Also ship of the year as well this one can be counted.

Comedy Show Of The Year: I'm actually going to go with Santa Clarita Diet because a show about a suburban mom as a flesh eating zombie was an unexpected treat. Also Drew Barrymore.

Least Subtle Politically Themed Series Of The Year: Both Supergirl and American Horror Story: Cult are strong contenders for this one.

Amazing Villain Of The Year: Cersei Lannister. Or the Dragon that got possessed by the Night King. Either way, it's something or someone from Game Of Thrones this year.

Shit Villain Of The Year: Savitar from The Flash. Just that one speedster too many. Thank fuck for The Thinker now, yeah?

Ryan Murphy Show Of The Year: I'm going with Feud: Bette And Joan. Don't be surprised if next year, it's The Assassination Of Gianni Versace though.

Non Deaths Of The Year: Nearly every character on Gotham is unable to stay dead for longer than a few episodes. Not complaining but it's becoming a common trend though.

DC Series Of The Year: Legends Of Tomorrow for it's unbridled approach to literally throwing every silly thing and making it work in a sublime way.

Marvel Show Of The Year: The Defenders with The Gifted maybe coming a close-ish second.

Likely To Be Cancelled Next Year: Once Upon A Time as it's current reboot seems to be losing viewers, even though it's picked up a little, quality wise.

Unintentionally Funny (Possible) Death Of The Year: Simon in How To Get Away With Murder, who managed to accidentally shoot himself during a heated confrontation with the Keating 4. If he pulls through, you'd think he'd learn a lesson here.

Meanest Deaths Of The Year: Either Cersei's brutal punishments towards Ellaria and Tyene in Game Of Thrones or Ally's revenge on Ivy in American Horror Story: Cult. Also having two Masters kill each other was a new one for Doctor Who.

Double Act Of The Year: Both the Master and Missy in Doctor Who. John Simm and Michelle Gomez on really superb form.

Binge Watch For Me: Actually Batman 66, following the unfortunate death of Adam West this year. I'll be doing reviews for it next year.

Anticipated New Show For Me In 2018: Right now and because I'm usually Team DC, it's going to be Titans.

LGBT Character Of The Year: Sara Lance from Legends Of Tomorrow.

So those are my highs and lows and in betweens of 2017. What are yours? Also my last blog of the year, so I'll see you guys in 2018.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x13: "Twice Upon A Time"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor: "Doctor, I let you go!"

And now we've come to the end of the road. For some fans, this might be the last episode of Doctor Who they will watch. For others, it's going to be a bit of a wait until Autumn 2018 but for Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, this was their exit episode and it was something altogether.

It's hard to imagine that Moffat himself has now ran the show for the same length of time as John Nathan Turner did in the 1980s and like Turner, Moffat himself has been a polarising showrunner. Never boring but certainly guilty of certain excesses and perhaps overstaying his welcome in the role. With this episode alone, we're given some of those excesses one last time and more proof that it's not a bad thing that he's handing over the reins to Chris Chibnall.

Twice Upon A Time's premise is simple enough - two Doctors unwilling to regenerate, time frozen, a soldier destined for death in the trenches of World War 1 and an alien presence disguised as Bill Potts trying to get a measure of the Doctor's character. All told within an hour in a regeneration episode that feels decidedly low key to boot.

The two Doctors bit first. I've made no bones on my Twitter account that the idea of Peter Capaldi sharing his final story with a former Doctor was a bad idea and despite a great performance from David Bradley as the First Doctor, this episode only confirmed that it was indeed a bad idea.

Aside from the fact that it's an inappropriate time to do a multi Doctor story, another reason why it doesn't work is that the First Doctor actually adds very little to the episode. No-one was angling to see his regeneration yet again and Moffat's overexaggeration of the character's supposed "sexism" along with some genuinely vomit inducing dialogue towards Bill was something I really could've done without.

On the other hand, he did play well with the Doctor, Bill and the WW1 captain of the piece but everything that Moffat was trying to convey (mainly how the show has evolved over 54 years) could've been done with a return of Susan or simply just left alone although, which would've been preferable as well.

Then there's the Captain of the piece. I'll be honest - Mark Gatiss is a pretty hit and miss actor and having him in this role smacked of favouritism and while he was far from amazing in the role, he wasn't too terrible either. The reveal of his character being the Brigadier's grandfather felt a little indulgent but overall it worked well enough but even his character didn't add a whole lot to this particular outing. That said, the bit with the Christmas Armistice added some festivity to this particular episode.

Then there's the alien presence. Not a baddie as such but the Glass Lady did spend most of her time disguised as Bill because in the future, Testimony (who seem like a less sinister version of Missy's 3W scheme) can use of the memories of the recently departed and take their form. It means that we didn't get to see Bill properly in the episode but it did mean that the Doctor managed to see both Clara and Nardole one last time as his memories of the former were restored at the last minute.

As for the Doctor himself, this was Peter Capaldi's last episode and despite my fear that having another Doctor in the mix would upstage him, it didn't. The Twelfth Doctor hasn't always been my favourite Doctor and his era could've been handled better but he's given a good final outing with some choice dialogue to issue in a new era.

Then there's the new Doctor. It's been over five months since Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor and aside from two words and being thrown out of the TARDIS in a scene similar to The Eleventh Hour, there's not much to go on just yet as to how she will be in the role but judging by the online reaction so far, she may win over everyone next year.

- The episode started with a Previously On bit for 709 episodes ago in case you didn't think the First Doctor was being lifted from The Tenth Planet. Ben and Polly's appearances are too brief though.
- More archive images of most of the former Doctors during the Testimony scenes. I wouldn't be surprised if we got something a little similar in Whittaker's first episode as well.
- Rusty from Into The Dalek made a cameo appearance in this one as well. Of all the characters to appear in Twelve's last one, he was a bit unexpected.
- Murray Gold got out some of his most famous bits of music during his time on the series as this episode also served as his departure too.
- The episode will be released on DVD from January 22nd. Truth to be told, it should've been a part of the Series 10 box set.
- Chronology: 1914 Ypres, World War 1 at Christmas as well as the South Pole and the Weapons Factories of Villengard.

Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era and after eight years, I was somewhat hoping that Steven Moffat would go for something a bit bigger and showier for his final episode. It's a good ending for Peter Capaldi's Doctor but easily could've worked better without another Doctor added into the mix but the cameos are nice and the regeneration is well done and there's a whole new era to now look forward to. Thank you Steven and Peter, you did well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Review of Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)

Written by Richard Curtis & Ben Elton
Directed by Richard Boden

Ebenezer Blackadder: "So, let's get this straight: If I was bad, my descendants would rule the entire universe!"
Spirit of Christmas: "Maybe... Maybe... But would you be happy? Being ruler of the universe is not all it's cracked up to be - there's the long hours... I mean, you wave at people the whole time. You're no longer your own boss."

There have been many adaptations of A Christmas Carol and essentially, it's always the same in each version. The Scrooge of the piece is shown the error of his ways and is scared into changing for the better. Except this version has a somewhat different take on the situation.

For Ebenerzer Scrooge (Rowan Atkinson) is already the most generous man in all of Victorian London, so much so that between his shrieking niece Millicent (Nicola Bryant) and Mrs Scratchit Pauline Melville) and everyone else, he's often taken to be a complete mug during the Christmas period with only Baldrick (Tony Robinson) being the one person who doesn't outsmart him.

Ebenezer is then visited by the Spirit of Christmas (Robbie Coltrane) who gives Blackadder a glimpse into the past of his ancestors Lord Blackadder and Mr. E. Blackadder, Esq, giving the current Blackadder the idea that perhaps being so generous is a fault. However it's when the Spirit decides to show Blackadder a rather galactic future, which includes appearances from Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie that Ebenezer is compelling to change his good ways.

It's a predictable change of events but one that is rather delightful as poor Baldrick suffers the brunt of Blackadder's newly acquired mean streak but even he somewhat fares better compared to a visiting Queen Victoria (Miriam Margolyes) and Prince Albert (Jim Broadbent) as the latter's newfound rudeness seems losing out on a reward for good measure.

- The bit about the dog in the nativity scene has been edited in some versions but I've seen it in recent repeats on television.
- This and Blackadder Back & Forth are the only time we've seen previous roles reprised.
- You could see an influence for Hagrid's look here with the Spirit of Christmas's attire and bit of Blake's 7 for Blackadder's galactic descendant.

Probably one of the funniest and memorable adaptation of a classic tale. Blackaddet's Christmas Carol is also for me the best installment of that particular comedy franchise. It might be a little mean spirited but it's also a festive treat to catch over the next few days as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Krampus (2015)

Written by Todd Casey & Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Directed by Michael Dougherty

Max (to Omi): "Are we going to be okay? What?"
Aunt Dorothy: "She said we're fucked!"

Anything that combines both the horror and Christmas genres can never be a bad thing and while there are possibly bigger Christmas horror films out there (Black Christmas, anyone?), this modest hit from two years is a worthy contender.

Centering around the Engel family, young lad Max (Emjay Anthony) just wants a normal Christmas like his family used to enjoy but when extended family members show up and things quickly descend into chaos, he ends up losing his faith in the Holiday and as a result, a certain goated fellow and his friends begin to terrorise the family but not before Max's German grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) recalls her own encounter as a child with Krampus.

The animated flashback gives us the basic details - Krampus punishes those who've been naughty or lost their faith in Christmas and as the movie progresses, each of Max's family members are assaulted by an array of baddies from Krampus. The highlight of this though are the Gingerbread men who are ridiculously cute but utterly sinister, at least until one of them is eaten by the family dog that is.

Of course, Max is the one who brought about Krampus, so after a noble but predicted self sacrifice from his grandmother, it was obviously going to be him that would be the one to end Krampus's reign of terror. I won't spoil what exactly happens but I will say that the final scene of the movie ends the movie on a particular memorable note though.

The family on the other hand are led well enough by Adam Scott and Toni Collette as Max's sympathetic enough parents, Tom and Sarah but the highlights probably are Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) and Howard (David Koechner), who starts the movie as a jerk but steps a little when things begin to get ugly.

As for Krampus, he looks menacing enough and he's actually used quite sparingly in parts, making his actual appearances the more effective when he's seen on screen. It does prove though that less is more as the gory is kept to a minimum and the use of a blizzard adds to the creepy atmosphere that the movie successfully captures.

- The movie was released to coincide with the Krampusnacht, the Austrian festival that celebrates Krampus punishing bad children.
- Three others actresses nearly played Omi before Krista Stadler but all bowed out for different reasons. Pictures of cast and crew members were used for the end credits.
- There's a reference to the director's previous work at the start of this movie. The movie is also dedicated to his mother who passed away during the film's production.
- Standout music: Plenty of Christmas music but Krampus Karol of the Bells by Brea Olinda High School Singers  is the clear highlight though.

Krampus is a delightfully macabre movie to watch. If you fancy a Christmas horror flick this year, this is definitely one to give a watch too. There's a creepy monster, enough rootable characters to care about and a rather tantalising ending to the whole thing. I'm not going to declare it the best Christmas horror movie ever seen but it's definitely worth viewing over the holiday period.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Game Of Thrones - Season 7 Review

US Airdate: July 16th-August 27th 2017

The End Is Near: This has been an interesting year for Game Of Thrones. Onto it's penultimate season and unlike another rival cable series, the show has benefited from the fact that audiences know it's coming to an end fairly soon and that the show has been rightly building towards it.

Last season was the first time the show was flying blind without the original source material as such and this season continues that while at the same time, shortening some of the cast a little too. With seven episodes for this penultimate year, there's time dedicated to giving Arya one last shot at vengeance against the Freys while the Lannisters (with the help of Euron) manage to take out the Sand Snakes, Ellaria and even Olenna as Cersei keeps a grip of the kingdom she killed to stake a claim on in the first.

Perhaps the most satisfying of deaths though would be Littlefinger. A character I've loathed since the first season and one who has survived a little too long for my liking, having Baelish try and pit both Sansa and Arya against one another like he had done in the past with their mother and aunt ultimately proved to be his downfall when Sansa herself showed just how far she's managed to come as a character.

One of the biggest moments of this season was the reunions with the Starks. We saw Sansa and Jon bond most of last season and here, he trusted her to look after their home while he finally met Daenerys but the other reunions were really affecting. Arya's brief encounter with a feral Nymeria was my favourite moment from the season along with her and Sansa and Bran all reuniting within the second half of the season. After everything this particular family had been put through, it was a relief to see Littlefinger fail in his efforts to undermine the Starks once again.

Keeping with families, the Lannisters couldn't be any more fractured than before. The various scenes shared between Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion really did hint at how diminished they are as a unit and even with the former pregnant, there's a feeling that by the time we get into the final season, the Lannisters will be as wiped out as the Tyrells and Martells have been this year.

Then there's the Greyjoys, with Euron trying to fill in the villainous void left by Ramsay. He's not quite as menacing as Ramsay or even as bratty as Joffrey but he's a decent enough antagonist and with his capture of Yara earlier in the season, it took Theon until the end of the season to find himself again and I can't wait to see how he'll deal with his murdering uncle next season.

The big event of the season though had to be Jon and Daenerys finally meeting. It's taken the show quite a while to get there but in the five episodes that they're together, the chemistry between the two of them certainly feels organic, even when Jon's true heritage is actually revealed in more detail between Bran and Sam. That's certainly going to make things a lot more awkward in the last season.

As for the rest of the characters - we did get a little too much time of Sam nearly becoming a maester even if he did get to interact with Jorah and learn more about Jon's real family background. His brother and father were reintroduced, only to be incinerated later in the season but there was also some great character moments from the likes of Brienne, the Hound and Tormund along the way.

The last two episodes of course were the highlight of the season as the White Walkers showed they weren't taking any prisoners given their colossal attack and snaring of one of the dragons while the meetings of Dany and Cersei was another highlight and with that chilling final, we've got one hell of a final battle to look forward to when the show does return for it's last installment.


With seven episodes on display, there are eleven commentaries so not only is every episode represented on that front, but some get more than one commentary to boot. There's features on an anatomy of an episode, deleted scenes and an animated story called Conquest & Rebellion on an extra disc that gives a little more insight into the show's rich history.


7x01: Dragonstone = 7/10, 7x02: Stormborn = 9/10,
7x03: The Queen's Justice = 8/10, 7x04: The Spoils Of War = 9/10,
7x05: Eastwatch = 8/10, 7x06: Beyond The Wall = 9/10,
7x07: The Dragon And The Wolf = 10/10

Season 7 is currently available on DVD.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reign Sort Of Supreme

My last TV jumble blog (probably) for the year and a look into some of the show I've been watching in the last few weeks.

Arrow: To be fair, this season has been mostly good and now that Cayden James has made himself known and seems to be assembling his own little gang of semi-baddies, it does look like he'll be a proper threat for the second half of the season. However there are still some problems with the show - the overt Olicity pandering (that reception scene was 10 minutes too long), the fact that Curtis, Dinah and Rene do not work as characters so them abandoning Team Arrow doesn't really work and the show not knowing what to do with Thea and even Diggle to a point. We could also do with a bit more of Black Siren too.

Once Upon A Time: This season still feels like it's lacking without most of the older cast but admittedly, things have taken a turn for the better. Having Gothel revealed as the Big Bad instead of Victoria along with Drizella's own scheming machinations has done wonders for the last few episodes along with a decent backstory for Rapunzel and introduction of Nick to add to the guy candy of the show as well as Zelena's welcomed return, not to mention a surprising love story between Alice and Robin. Other than that though, the show still can't make the Henry/Jacinda romance compelling while Tiana needs a better role than "supportive" best friend but at least more characters are waking up and Anastasia might be Gothel's downfall when the show returns in March.

Stranger Things: Last time, I mentioned this show, I had just watched the first episode of the second season. Since then, I've finished the entire season and I have to admit, it was just as great as the first year. It was nice to see Will get more screen time, even if the poor kid was playing host to a dangerous creature while Max and Bob turned out to be brilliant additions to the show (poor Bob). It was also nice to see Steve step up this season along with Dustin and Lucas getting bigger roles and Mike and Eleven's reunion at the end. Unlike some fans, I also enjoyed seeing the latter meet her sister for that one episode and I'm intrigued to see where the show will go when it comes back next season.

Supergirl: Outside of the crossover and angst, there hasn't been too much that's really advanced this season. We've had Kara having to deal with Mon El returning with new wife, Imra in tow along with Alex reeling from Maggie's departure but the Reign storyline itself has been more of a slow build until the character fully came into form for the mid-season finale to beat the crap out of Supergirl. Samantha's transition into Reign isn't that different from Smallville's depiction of Doomsday back in it's eighth season but it's been a decent enough trip. Saying that though, the show needs to give the likes of Wynn, Lena and Jimmy better material and Morgan Edge could do with being slightly less one dimensional as a secondary antagonist.

The Flash: Can I say that not having a speedster as the main villain has done this show the world of good? Clifford DeVoe and his wife have been the best and nuanced baddies we've had in a while and now that one of them has jumped bodies and framed Barry for murder, things really have spiced up for the second half of the season.Outside of that, Ralph has been a decent comedy character for the team, Amunet's been a fun antagonist for Caitlin and I've enjoyed Iris being the leader of the team as well though it does seem like the show seems to have no idea what to do with Wally this season.

- BBCAmerica have cancelled Dirk Gently after two seasons.
- Legends Of Tomorrow will air Mondays 8pm from February, Supergirl will return in April in it's old slot, though some episodes will air in January.
- UK/Irish viewers will be able to watch Black Lightning on Netflix next month.
- NBC are planning to revive The Office (why?) for the 2018-2019 TV season.
- James D'Arcy has a recurring role in the seventh season of Homeland.
- Jamie Murray will be playing a vampire with connections to Elijah in the final season of The Originals.
- Netflix will be doing the dark reboot of Sabrina.
- Krypton will air on SyFy from March. Full date to be confirmed though.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x09: "Slave To Memory"

Written by Joshua Allen & Dianne Houston
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Cookie (to Lucious, re Diana): "We got one shot to put this bitch down for good."

It's been building up for long enough and as fun as the DuBois lot have been as antagonists, this probably was the right moment to take them down for good with one of them dying and the other facing public disgrace and arrest to boot.

I loved that in spite of all the protocol that Diana undertook to keep the Lyons out of the Captain's Ball, she still couldn't succeed in having her fancy event go off without a hitch as Lucious and Cookie got to Angelo, made him sign a confession and then gatescrashed the event as Cookie delivered a powerful blow to Diana's social standing within the community.

Having all of Diana's crimes against the Lyon family revealed to her society pals was one way to bruise her ego but also having her arrested for Bella's abduction was another. While I'm sure we'll see her again in some capacity in the second half of the season, this was a glorious takedown for a character who was delightfully villainous but it wasn't just Diana who got her just desserts.

There was something deeply satisfying in seeing Lucious beating the crap out of Angelo after getting him to sign a confession but having Jamal inadvertently kill him to save Warren was another strong moment of the episode. I am glad to see Angelo killed off, even if it's left Jamal in something of a dire situation when the show returns in the Spring.

As for Warren, I think he more than redeemed himself in this episode and despite some justified anger, you could tell that Jamal still cares about him as well and given that Warren basically hung his own family out to dry, getting in with the Lyons or getting out of dodge full stop are probably his only options right now.

Of course it wasn't just the DuBois clan who suffered here too. Hakeem was able to get his revenge on Anika in a calm, collected manner by getting Bella off her and considering the crap Anika has pulled, this was a long time coming as well. How the show is going to keep her around for the remaining of the season, I'm not sure.

The rest of the episode then saw Shyne paying Andre a visit, desperate for the latter to keep his mouth shut, only for Andre to actually reveal to Lucious about his role in the car bomb from last season. However given that the episode ended with Lucious being snatched by Claudia, I think the newly back Lyon patriarch has bigger problems to deal with.

- Becky is pregnant and according to Eddie's ex-wife, Giselle, they're also broke/fleeced by a Ponzi scheme, so he'll be sticking around for a while longer.
- No Tiana and Tory for this one and Porscha didn't really do anything of consequence either.
- Chronology: Yet another version of Jamal/Hakeem's Love Is A Drug but also Andre's opening dream sequence number, Superstar, which was fantastic.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode more or less left off.

Slave To Memory served as a strong mid-season finale. This season has been pretty strong but I'm glad the show is closing down on the DuBois storyline, though I'm hoping that Claudia's Misery style arc with Lucious isn't overly prolonged.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x08: "Cupid Paints Blind"

Written by Diane Ademu-John & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

Pamela (to Andre): "You have got to be the dumbest criminal in the history of crime. Did you really think that you would get away with it?"

That I genuinely did not see coming. I knew something was going to be off with Andre and Pamela's relationship and naturally assumed that she was working for Diana DuBois but this twist was something else altogether. 

There was always going to be a consequence for Andre's therapist interfering with his meds but to have him imagine a girlfriend who he then imagined killing after she threatened to arrest him for his car bomb confession was pretty mind blowing for the show. Diana's meddling really did affect Andre both last and worst it would seem.

I guess in retrospect it might have been a bit obvious that Pamela wasn't real as she only ever really had scenes with Andre but it doesn't stop the reveal itself from delivering a fatal blow as both Cookie and Lucious have to witness Andre break down in the fashion that he did. If this doesn't ignite the old Lucious, I'm not sure what really will.

This episode alone it was mostly Cookie doing the heavy lifting against Diana. She got Thirsty to spot which one of Diana's bodyguards wasn't beside her while also paying Warren a visit and making a spectacle out of giving Diana back her mother's ring. At least with Warren, Cookie didn't have to do much in order to get him to co-operate.

Speaking of Warren, when Angelo wasn't taking pleasure in his bruises and Cookie wasn't pointing a gun at him, Jamal was brooding over his vocals on that particular song before recording a new version with Hakeem as the latter got some introspection on how to be a parent from Shyne of all people. Much as I'm not on the love train for Shyne, I will admit that this episode utilised him pretty well by giving us some more into his background.

Of course when we weren't dealing with present day problems, there were some more flashbacks between Cookie and Poundcake in prison as the latter gave birth and had her baby taken away from her. I've really been enjoying the prison flashbacks this season, even if they don't feel too relevant to what the episodes are trying to convey. I think we all know how fiercely protective of her sons Cookie is without flashbacks reinforcing them, though they're still a welcome treat.

- Tiana stood her ground and gave Hakeem a much needed slap this week. Shyne also has three different kids from three different women.
- No Becky, Porsha or Tory for this episode.
- Standout music: Jamal and Hakeem's Love Is A Drug and Tiana's Let Me Rock.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left off.

Cupid Paints Blind certainly delivered the biggest twist this season and overall, it was a stunning episode to boot. With Cookie firmly out for blood and Andre suffering the worst of Diana's machinations, I can't wait to see what the next episode will bring to the table.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, December 08, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x11: "Queen Takes Knight"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Gordon (to Sofia): "This is about revenge for me killing Mario."

Exactly this time last year, Gordon's bull in a china shop method of doing things ended up with Mario Falcone being killed. One year later, Carmine Falcone finally bit the bullet and his daughter Sofia managed to achieve what Barbara kind of did last year by becoming Queen of Gotham and taking Oswald out of the picture for now.

Sofia playing the long game in itself wasn't the shocker here. No, we've known that from the first appearance that she was out to usurp Oswald and that her feelings for Jim were false but here, after all of her little plans coming together was she able to bask in the fact that she made an even bigger fool out of James than she did with Oswald.

You got to give Sofia her due - she really did play both Gordon and Oswald and both of them deserved it in their own way. I'm not entirely sure how either one of them will get out of their current predicaments - Oswald locked in Arkham for "killing" Martin and Gordon running the GCPD as a false hero but either way, it seems that Sofia is only just beginning with her takeover of the city.

This show's writing for female characters has not always been it's strongest with Selina up until this point the only consistently well written female character of the bunch but this season alone has been an improvement. The formation of the Sirens with Barbara, Tabitha and Selina was a great move, Leslie as a more benevolent crime lady in the Narrows has greatly helped that character, Harper's been a solid recurring presence in the GCPD and despite behind the scenes chaos, it also seems like Ivy herself will finally get more prominent on the show to boot. That in itself is satisfying as the little speech Sofia gave about Gordon's collective screw ups to be honest.

Having Sofia essentially going into Hangman mode in this episode was something of a blast. She faked it with the neck brace and wheelchair for a bit and she was pretty cold in revealing that she had her own father murdered and was the one responsible for bringing Pyg into the city in the first before also killing the latter. Now this is how you write a female villain, people.

Of course when the episode wasn't having Sofia strip away both Gordon and Oswald's power, we also saw the latter become acquainted with Jerome in Arkham and going by the trailer for the second half of the season, those two are going to be quite the team. After losing Zsasz to Sofia, Oswald could use just about anyone right now as a friend, even one as even more deranged as Jerome it would seem.

Moving things along, the episode also had some more poignant stuff to boot. Tabitha resorted to brute force to try and get Grundy to remember who he was as Butch, only to not stick around as the guy was starting to remember while Bruce and Alfred had a physical scrap that resulted in the latter being fired. Amidst all the other chaos, these two moments also sublimely delivered. The less said about Nygma's newfound crush on Leslie though, the better. Let's nip that little one in the bud, shall we?

- Bullock appeared in this episode just so he could resign. His friendship with Jim also seems to be over for now too.
- No confirmation date as to when the second half of the season will air or what the title is for it yet.
- No Leslie or Lucius in this one but we did get to see that both Ivy and Ras will be interacting with Bruce soon again.
- Chronology: Not long from where Things That Go Boom left off.

Queen Takes Knight was a strong mid-season finale, arguably one of the strongest the show has done. Sofia really has stepped up fantastically as a villain and with so much set up for the second half, it'll be interesting to see how and when she'll eventually lose her grip on the city but for now, she really has managed to best both Gordon and Oswald.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, December 07, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x09: "Beebo The God Of War"

Written by Grainne Godfree & James Eagan
Directed by Kevin Mock

Beebo: "Beebo hungry."

Every time I think this show can't possibly get away with pulling off something even dafter than before, they manage to pull it off yet again. For this festive themed delight, who would've thought that a clear substistute for Elmo/Furby would actually make it's way into becoming a Norse God and causing some proper chaos?

The episode opened with the younger Stein from 1992 wanting to get the last Beebo for Lily for Hanukkah, which he managed to do before winding up in 1000 AD and getting himself captured by a group of Vikings who then deemed Beebo to be their new war god, meaning that the Legends along with Ava's help had to swoop and retrieve the huggable toy, only for things to go their usually pear shaped way of things.

I did like the Viking woman who seemed determined to believe in Beebo's power as a god, even if her brother seemed more sceptical while the Legends themselves were having fun mingling with the not so natives before Mick's quest for alcohol ended up blowing their cover and Mick himself incinerated poor Beebo on the spot.

By doing this, not only did we see a cuddly toy get scorched to bits but it gave Damien Darhk and Nora a chance to rock up in this piece, have the former play Odin and then have Sara go through a gamut of losing scenarios before the gang properly banded together to take out Damien before Sara also got a rather chilling glimpse of Mallus to boot. The cherry on top though was Ray seizing control of Beebo and giving a spirited lecture on global warming to Vikings.

Of course when the gang weren't dealing with Beebo and Darhk this week, there was also the younger Stein and the feelings that the gang had towards Stein's recent death. I'm not surprised that Jax tried and ultimately failed to alter his friend's fate but I absolutely loved the scenes he had with younger Stein and his family along with Sara and Zari about the situation as well.

Right now, I'm hoping that Jax's departure is a temporary one but if it's not, then this was a heartfelt and lovely exit for the character. Jax has grown a lot in the three seasons we've seen him and his goodbye speeches were lovely to boot, especially with his last moment with Sara.

Of course this episode had a lot of pleasant surprises in it. Ava in her previous appearances has been rather stiff, character wise but here, she literally had her hair down, willingly defied Time Bureau orders, took Sara's concerns about Mallus seriously and even got stuck in with the main storyline of the week. It's obvious that Sara and Ava are going to be an item by the time we get into the second half of the season and I'm perfectly fine with that.

As for Citizen Cold - he cracked me up in this one. Leo's attempts of getting the gang to channel their grief through a Stein puppet was hilarious but his scenes with Mick as the two bickered and then came to an understanding of each other was another highlight of this episode. I really want Leo to stay for more than another episode. I've missed his presence on the show.

Then the episode with John Constantine rocking up on the Waverider asking for Sara's help with a little girl and a demon that knows Sara's name. Constantine is another character I'm delighted to see on board the show and one whose presence I can't wait to see even more when the show returns in the new year.

- Victor Garber's name is out of the credits and Matt Ryan wasn't listed as I assume they wanted to maintain Constantine's appearance as a surprise.
- Rip is now in a prison due to his actions from the previous episode. Ava mentioned that Damien and Nora have taken out a lot of the Time Bureau agents. Was Gary one of them?
- The gang know about Grodd being taken by Damien as well, which was nice. I also liked the scene with Jax and Zari playing video games.
- Chronology: 1992 Central City and 1000 AD and we had a Christmas meal on the Waverider as well.

This season so far has been a lot of fun with a great underlying threat in Mallus looming around and for a mid season finale, Beebo The God Of War was excellent. It gave us closure for Stein, hopefully wrote Jax out for a little while, had some beautiful character moments, priceless humour and a chain smoking bisexual occult detective pop up at the end. Is it February 2018 yet?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, December 04, 2017

My Review of Batman 66: Batman Vs. Two Face (2017)

Written by Michael Jelenic & James Tucker
Directed by Rick Morales

Robin (re Two Face/Harvey Dent): "His friendship means a lot to you, doesn't it?"
Batman: "Yes, but not as much as yours does, Boy Wonder. I wouldn't want anyone else at my side in this never-ending fight against crime."

In the last fortnight, I purchased the complete Batman 66 series and am currently about three quarters into the show's second season, so I decided to put it on pause to catch up with Adam West's final outing as the Caped Crusader as this second animated movie decided to add a few characters not seen in the TV series but added into the comics in recent years as the main antagonist.

First of all, I have to admit that I do find William Shatner to be rather divisive as a person. The guy might be the original Captain Kirk but he can be a bit hit and miss as an actor and his Twitter handle at times is a mess but for the role of Bruce's friend, Harvey Dent and Batman's latest enemy, Two Face, his casting certainly helped to generate some hype here.

Dent's formation into Two Face has usually been at the hand of Sal Maroni, though Batman: The Animated Series had Rupert Thorne play his role in that transformation but here, it's mainly down to Hugo Strange (Jim Ward) coming up with a machine to extract the badness out of villains such as Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers), Riddler (Wally Wingert) as well as Egghead and Mr Freeze, only for the machine to backfire and cause Harvey to become Two Face and that's before the opening credits even rolled.

Then the movie takes a bit of a time jump where Two Face has committed some crimes, has been caught and Harvey has seemingly been cured of his dual personality (physically at least) while Batman and Robin (Burt Ward) were doing battles with both King Tut (Wingert) and Bookworm (Bergman), only to realise that Harvey wasn't cured after all.

The one thing I did like about this movie was the rivalry between Dick/Robin and Harvey Dent for Bruce/Batman's approval. Aside from using it as a means of developing Bruce's friendships with both Dick and Harvey, it also provided some reasonable conflict between the Caped Crusaders before Robin was temporarily infected with the same condition that Harvey as the latter then revealed that he planned to give Gotham the same dual personality he had.

Of course when Two Face wasn't bringing out the city's bad side, he also managed to capture the Caped Crusaders and planned to auction off their identities to the highest bidder, while also revealing that he knew who Batman and Robin really were himself. However in a bit of a twist (but not really), the Dynamic Duo had at least one villain on their side - Catwoman (Julie Newmar).

In the previous movie, she had been something of a grudging ally to the duo and in this one, when she wasn't receiving prison visits from Batman and escaping from the slammer, she actually bought the guys off Two Face before helping to beat up the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Shame, Clock King, Freeze and Egghead to boot. The end scene then when she won another Batman auction definitely proved this film was as accommodating for Bat/Cat shippers as the previous one was.

As for Two Face, I do think this movie did a good job of exploring the character's inner battle between embracing his criminal side and Harvey Dent fighting for his identity back. It was a bit convenient that once Dent had returned, Two Face's knowledge of the Dynamic Duo's identity would be gone but perhaps the comics could somewhat reverse this outcome if Harvey ever becomes his bad self again.

- Along with Hugo Strange and Two Face, this movie also gave us Dr Harleen Quinzel (Sirena Itwin), who was an assistant to the former while also breaking the Joker out of prison in a scene for the Blu Ray DVD.
- Lee Meriweather appeared in the movie as Lucille Diamond but also managed to get a scene dressed as Catwoman to boot.
- Early drafts for the movie were to include both Poison Ivy and Wonder Woman, but alas, neither character appeared here.
- There's elements of Two-Face Strikes Again and The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne in this movie along with the fact that this was an idea for a lost episode in the series itself.
- Adam West: 1928-2017. Rest Well, Bright Knight. Lovely tribute there.

Batman Vs. Two Face marks a poignant end to an era to a more playful version of the Caped Crusaders. While it's not quite as strong as last year's Return Of The Caped Crusaders, there's still plenty to enjoy with it's successful capturing of the TV series spirit and the animation itself being rather on point to boot.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Titans - First Look At Brenton Thwaites As Robin

I got it wrong. It seems like Brenton Thwaites is going to be portraying the Boy Wonder rather than the grown up counterpart in the first season of DC's streaming service series, Titans.

The series, due to air online in 2018 released a photo of Brenton as Dick Grayson/Robin last night and it seems going by the reaction, that people are rather pleased with this look. While it would've been nice to have had a body shot one (as well as pictures of Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy), it does seem like they've got the look of the Boy Wonder rather on point. It also makes me wonder if we're going to see over the course of the first season Grayson transition from Robin to Nightwing, with the latter factoring into a likely second season.

The series pilot is written by Geoff Johns (current DC movie universe), Greg Berlanti (the current Arrow universe) and Akiva Goldsman, who also penned Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. The director or episode count for the series has yet to be confirmed but given this reveal, I'm guessing a lot more information will be soon coming regarding the upcoming series.

Press Release:

Titans will stream on DC's streaming service in 2018.

My Review of Empire's 4x07: "The Lady Doth Protest"

Written by Matt Pyken & Eric Haywood
Directed by Karen Gaviola

Cookie (to Diana): "We coming for you, bitch!"

At this rate, Cookie, you might want to get a move on with that. Sure, Jamal gave Warren something of a savage beat down when he realised the latter was Diana's nephew and working to destroy his family but that only played into Diana's hands after the failed attempt of getting Jamal to partake in a threesome.

I did feel for Warren in this episode. Okay, he was a little crass with the way he was trying to initiate a threesome (first a hot bartender, then another hot guy off a cruising app) but over the last few episodes, it's been clear that his feelings for Jamal have been genuine, so Diana ended up screwing him over as much as the Lyons with her latest stunt to boot.

Right now, the next episode needs to give us some kind of a victory for the Lyons because we've had more than enough of Diana actually getting the best of them that it's going to lose a bit of momentum soon. I do however find it interesting that although Lucious is essentially his old self that he wasn't able to step in this week, though Cookie should be able to handle Diana herself.

When we weren't having this particular reveal displayed out so publicly, Andre also had a freak out of his own when he thought that Pamela might have been dead. Instead she later turned up alive and also panicked that she staged another person's death, which seemed to intrigue Andre. I'm finding this relationship pretty interesting to watch but I'm also waiting for the shoe to drop and have Pamela have some connection with the DuBois family at this point.

As for the rest of the episode, Porscha finally stood up to Cookie when Eddie's recording methods basically alienated everyone at Empire. I thought this plot was actually pretty decent and it was nice to see Porscha make a stand but it was also resolved a little too quickly as well, even if Cookie did finally treat Porscha with some basic respect.

- We had more flashbacks of Cookie's time in prison where she helped her rival Poundcake with her pregnancy when she wasn't getting divorce papers from Lucious.
- The writers are so setting up Anika and Angelo as a couple, aren't they?
- Standout music: Jamal  and Tory's versions of Light It All Up.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left off.

The Lady Doth Protest isn't the strongest episode we've had but it had it's moments. It's a shame that Jamal and Warren's relationship has come to the messy end that it did but it was inevitably going to go bad. I did like the Cookie flashbacks in this one though.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, December 01, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x10: "Things That Go Boom"

Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Louis Shaw Milito

Oswald (to Sofia/the Sirens): "You wanted a war. You got one!"

As wars go, not sure this was the most explosive one we've had just yet. This week, the pretense was dropped and Sofia made her intention to dethrone Oswald pretty clear and the rest of the episode was just the two of them trying to best either with both Gordon and the Sirens throwing their own spanners into the work along with Martin for good measure.

For those who hated the idea of Oswald and Sofia being close, this episode must have been a godsend to them. Oswald reacted predictably by trying to have Sofia tortured by a creepy dentist while Sofia managed to blackmail her way into not getting the cavity search from hell before getting snatched by the Sirens in broad daylight.

Having Sofia paired with Barbara, Tabitha and Selina is actually a good move and their plan to use Oswald's affections for Martin (whom Sofia had actually manipulated into telling Oswald about her and Gordon kissing) was actually a decent move until it appeared that Oswald was willing to kill a child in order not be weakened.

The reveal that Oswald just faked Martin's death was a good move as even killing a child would be a no no for Oswald. Oswald spent most of the episode being steps behind Sofia before getting a clue how to play her at the end of this one. As for Sofia, she's got the Sirens under her thumb for now while at the same time having lost Gordon as a pawn too. It'll be interesting to see how Oswald and Sofia's war ends, which I assume it might do next week but not before another player gets added into the mix.

Of course when this episode wasn't about Oswald and Sofia going head to head with each other, there was also Gordon trying to learn more about Professor Pyg. Having the latter open the episode with a death of a fellow inmate before ending it with a guard was a good way to show that Arkham wouldn't be a deterrent for Lazlo and I loved that he slipped when he talked in his real accent to Gordon. Having Pyg on the loose should add to the chaos for next week's mid-season finale.

Last but not least, we got more Narrows stuff. This week both Leslie and Nygma banded together to bring a rival neighborhood leader to heel and as a subplot, it worked well enough. I've quite liked this grudging friendship of sorts with Lee and Ed and that the former was honest about the latter being physically fine. For a moment, it almost as though Ed could possibly turn a corner but then we got a glimmer of the Riddler, so we can all guess what's going to happen next.

- How did Oswald not seemingly know where Barbara was before her phone call? She's been in the same place since her reappearance at the start of the start.
- Standout music: Pyg made sure we'll never listen to Ave Maria the same way again.
- No Bruce and Alfred this week or Bullock. I hope the latter is back soon.
- Chronology: Not long since the events of Let The Eat Pie.

Things That Go Boom was a bit more of a tiny boom than a big explosion. Next week looks like it will be the real war as Oswald and Sofia battle for the city while Gordon blunders everything. There's also the fact that Pyg is on the loose and a certain return to also look forward to as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10