Heroes (S03E05): “Angels and Monsters”

Posted in Heroes, TV with tags , , , on October 15, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: C

A few weeks ago, I made the resolution to lower my expectations for Heroes, hoping it would help me to better enjoy the show from a standpoint of pure fun with no analytical strings attached. Four weeks and five long hours later, though, and I’m forcing myself to sit through an entire hour’s worth of eye rolling, stifled yawns, and the repeated reminder that this show, for me, will probably never return to being the Heroes I used to enjoy so much. “Angels and Monsters” offers a few noteworthy moments, but those continue to be lost in the rubble of a rapidly crumbling foundation, barely held up by the many broken characters and an annoying habit of using plot twists as a replacement for good storytelling.

The theme of the season is villains, and Heroes really wants to let everyone know it, and essentially everyone gets to act a little bit evil in “Angels and Monsters”, even when it makes little to no sense. Peter tries to slice open his mom’s head, Sylar style, and gives a fine example of overacting when he shouts in her face “Tell me all your secrets!, Claire decides to enact taser justice on the escaped criminals of Level 5, Suresh is killing drug dealers and cocooning people, including Maya, on the walls of his apartment, and even Hiro has an unexpected evil itch to scratch. I appreciate the concept of an overarching theme that ties stories together under a cozy umbrella, but this just feels suffocating.

The biggest offender might be the whole Mohinder story, where a boring character has been taken and made evil with the hope that would, in turn, make him more interesting. Not so much. His character has taken a 180 degree turn, killing people, making animal love to women, and performing strange experiments with people held captive in larva looking pods, but it’s all just a little too weird and hard to swallow. My suggestion would have been to write the character out, but making him a hybrid of The Lizard, The Beast, and The Fly was probably not the right way to make this character more likable amongst fans.

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Chuck (S02E03): “Chuck Versus the Break-Up”

Posted in Chuck, TV with tags , , , on October 14, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B+

As if Chuck believed it was unable to woo me any further, episode three opened with a song by The National and closed with one of my favorite tracks from Bon Iver’s brilliant album. Right, so an episode of TV isn’t made by its song selection, but it gets serious cool points nonetheless. As far as the actual episode, “Chuck Versus the Break Up” is probably my least favorite of the season, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable time spent with TVs most huggable character.

I didn’t get around to writing about last week’s “Chuck Versus the Seduction”, but Chuck’s moves are considerably less smooth this week, thanks to the reappearance of Sarah’s ex-partner and continuous thorn in Chuck’s side, Bryce Larkin. His return puts the stops on Chuck and Sarah’s romance and makes them both begin to question the costs their feelings might have. Sarah is making choices based around Chuck and possibly compromising her ability as a spy while Chuck is pouring drinks in the laps of the rich and dangerous and dropping whole bottles of $1000 wine.

Chuck is not your average spy, with smooth moves and crazy gadgets, and he doesn’t introduce himself last name first (Bartowski. Chuck Bartowski), but he still proves he has the potential to be a spy of his own defining; one that’s a whole lot more amusing to watch. While he isn’t a real spy, he’s also not your typical bumbling one, with skills hidden beneath a layer of ineptness and social awkwardness. Instead, he’s a very normal guy that uses some quick thinking and parts of his own personality to get himself out of tricky situations. In the premiere it was the Call of Duty gag, where he convinced a group of seasoned killers that an elaborate online game strategy was actually a real one.Then last week he managed to seduce a deadly killer, at least partly, using a sprinkling of advice from a seasoned playboy spy and a lot of his own brand of sweet talk. However, in the newest case he’s assigned to pose as a waiter while Bryce and Sarah pretend to be a married couple, and watching them dance and lock lips and generally feel each other up proves to be just a little too much for him to handle.

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Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 14, 2008 by scenescreen

I’m working hard to make this a site people want to visit and to write reviews that keep people coming back for more. So in my pursuit of keeping up the best blog possible, I thought I’d get a little feedback from anyone willing to help. Take just a few seconds to weigh in on the polls below and if there is a concern or an idea you have for this site that doesn’t fit in there, leave me a comment. Thanks in advance. I will be taking any opinions very seriously.

True Blood (S01E06): “Cold Ground”

Posted in True Blood, TV with tags , , , on October 14, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

The sixth episode of True Blood brings us the saddest scene of a cute girl eating pie to ever air on TV and swims in all sorts of emotionally murky waters in a similarly daring and unrestrained fashion. This show about vampires is always walking hand-in-hand with death, but the fallout from Gran’s murder is the blackest moment yet, and like Sookie may leave you feeling uncomfortably numb.

The south is a place where manners and smiles are plastered on with duct tape and Elmer’s glue, which is to say they’re very obviously fake. While some people will tell you like it is to your face, Southerners prefer to gossip and slander behind your back, or, in Sookie’s case, in their thoughts. Usually so composed, Sookie is finding it hard to deal with her Gran’s death and even harder to block out all the thoughts firing at her from every supposedly supportive member of the community. They’re baking casseroles and feigning sympathy, but she can hear their thoughts, about how they wished it was her dead and not her Gran or, worse, that she had something to do with the death. It’s enough to make her snap when the very nosy Maxine takes out a pie from the Frigidaire that Sookie’s Gran had baked shortly before passing. It’s not the pie, of course, that sends her over the edge, but the idea settling in that it’s the last pie ever to be baked by the woman she describes as her grandmother, her parent and her best friend.

She’s pushed even further at the funeral when she again can’t ward off the nasty thoughts of all the people, and she ends what could have been a very touching speech by telling each and every one in attendance that they can F*** off. It’s not only the people who have been saying one thing and thinking another, but our heroine has been trying to maintain a smile all this time as well. Sure, she’s had outbursts of emotion, but for the most Part Sookie has retained a certain level of optimism and cheer. Right after she finds Gran dead, she doesn’t show any emotion. The next day, she admits to feeling numb–not knowing what to feel. She tries to put on a show for the town and to hide her grief. As she finally unwraps the last fourth of Gran’s pecan pie, she lets herself grieve a little bit more with every bite, until the tin is empty and she’s filling it back up with tears. It’s good to see her really let go of all the grief stuck inside and hopefully try and figure out how to live in a world where she and her brother are the only two Stackhouses (with exception to the creepy Uncle introduced this hour, who has some unexplained bad blood with the family).

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Grey’s Anatomy (S05E03): “Here Comes the Flood”

Posted in Grey's Anatomy, TV with tags , , on October 11, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B-

Grey’s managed to pick itself back up a little after last week’s near-unbearable premiere by making the cast more likable and the stories more sincere, but still suffered from the “ER Syndrome” of adding unnecessarily dramatic events into the hospital setting. Last week it was an icicle, this week it’s a flood, and it’s hard not to think that these freak accidents could become a pattern.

Last week was about reshaping the Hospital to get up its ranking, while this week starts with the Chief addressing all his staff and talking of cutting out malignancies, which should start with the people that work their and trickle down. He says he wants no more personal relationships interfering with work, whether it’s between employees or between doctors and their patients, and he doesn’t want people, aka Christina, being allowed to specialize in only one area. And just like last week was a clear double-sided message, this one very clearly bleeds behind the scenes as well. They need to get ratings for Grey’s up, so they’re cutting out the bad stuff and trying to change things up. Shonda isn’t keen on subtlety it would seem, but the message is still a sign of better episodes in the future. Hopefully. Unfortunately, while baby steps were made this time around, certain watery disasters held this hour back from being really good.

Grey’s first season had very few episodes that had any kind of extraordinary events in them, and the individual patients and the characters had enough going on that you didn’t need anything added on top of them. Somewhere along the way, though, Shonda decided there needed to be a disaster every week, perhaps starting after the Ferry incident and spiraling out of control afterward. It’s annoying and takes the show into further depths of the unreal, and the fact is that the show could thrive just as well without them. In this episode, there’s a busted pipe somewhere in the hospital that begins by causing minor leaks until it eventually floods a good portion of the hospital. Water’s rushing into elevators, dropping into patient’s abdomens and causing general over-the-top chaos.

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Friday Night Lights (S03E02): “Tami Knows Best”

Posted in Friday Night Lights, TV with tags , , , on October 11, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

It almost seems as if season two of Friday Night Lights was the product of network pressures and of a show trying too hard to bring up the ratings and prove its worth in order to be renewed by going out of its comfort zone and, thus, straying from what it did best. This feeling comes two episodes into the third season, where the show many of us fell hard for is back in its prime and not letting outside anxieties rule the show’s direction. The crazy drama of last year did not feel like the next step forward for FNL, but last weeks premier and tonight’s “Tami Knows Best” feel like the next stage in evolution for this show. Perhaps the writers and producers examined their own mantra, because this episode is full of heart, though my eyes were definitely not always clear.

It’s Tami vs. football again this week,  which boils down to pretty much everyone except her family. Buddy and the rest of the Booster club go on the offense to get their jumbo tron, but give Tami a chance to admit she made a big mistake by reallocating the funds. She won’t budge and chooses instead to stick it to them all in one of the episode’s best moments. However, as awesome as her tirade against the religion of football was and how education should come first, there’s still the question of whether it’s right of her to take money that was raised for a specific thing only to have it taken away and used in a different way. Personally, I’m taking Tami’s side, but I do appreciate the shades of gray they’ve plopped into this story. Unfortunately, the people of Dillon aren’t seeing her decision in such a positive way. Last episode, everyone was squawking about needing new text books and more teachers, but this week they’ve gotten that and are instead causing a ruckus over not getting their over sized football TV. Tami’s feeling pretty lost right about now, and even her husband can’t give much comfort as he tries to stick to middle ground to avoid the whole stink causing a strain on their relationship (perhaps sparked by a nasty article in the paper that turned what Tami said into a story about her new job causing marital strife). What’s most interesting is that the mayor and other influential members of the community seem to put so much more passion into football than the needs of the community and its youth, and whether Tami’s decision was right or wrong, you can’t fault her for what she’s done. She’s coming from a pure place, whereas the rest of the angered people play off as totally selfish. Guess the town really is a bit of a devil town, as the song suggests, where football is clearly the religion of choice. And god certainly comes before education, I suppose, only it’s a pigskin being bowed down to.

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Ugly Betty (S03E03): “Crimes of Fashion”

Posted in TV, Ugly Betty with tags , , , on October 10, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B

With news that Rebecca Romijn would be leaving the show early on this season circulating the web for some time, this episode was bound to happen. It has that feel that most shows do when real life drama seeps into the fictional world, seeming just a little forced and raising all sorts of “what ifs” as to where the characters would have gone had the writer’s pen not been guided by outside influences. Tonight’s story certainly felt propelled along by the need to find Alexis an exit door, but that said it was still enjoyable even if the weakest episode in the still fledgling season.

“Crimes of Fashion” is all about the aftermath of Christina’s classic soap opera moment last week–pushed down the stairs by an unseen hand. Betty gets wrapped up in the middle of it all, trying to prove Daniel’s innocence after she unintentionally lets the police know that Daniel had asked her to lie about his whereabouts on the night of the incident. It’s of course very clear by this early revelation that Daniel is not guilty, but it’s all about finding the evidence to prove this. The episode flashes back and forth between the present and the slowly connecting pieces of the puzzle from the night of the MODE party, presented in drunken sepia tone.

What was a nice touch in Betty’s sleuthing was the humanizing of almost all of our characters. Usually, one or maybe two might have a tender moment in an episode, but tonight they all let their guard down for Betty, albeit only briefly. Amanda shares her financial woes and we learn just how she affords (or doesn’t afford) her fancy lifestyle, Marc reveals he likes to slap around Wilhelmina’s Mannequin, which looks a lot like one of those Real Dolls, and Claire admits she can’t drink one cocktail without drinking fifty. These little moments of insight into the real thoughts of the characters versus the personas they’re always putting on are always enjoyable, and these were no exception.

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