Monday, December 20, 2010

Birds of Prey: Reunion (1.11)

So far, any element of genuine sweetness between Helena and Reese has eluded the show. That is until Reunion, which features a couple of moments which actually got to me a little. A lot of the episode is about Helena's conflict between real-world Helena, and crime-fighter Huntress. I loved the discussion (instigated by Dinah??!! Wah!!??) about Helena's lack of a disguise, and her ridiculously feminine, stereotypical response to why she hates wearing a mask. At the same time, I appreciated the irony in Reese being surprised that Helena is a bartender. So often in this kind of show a character hides their kick-ass job from their loved ones, but in this relationship Helena's banal day job is the thing that's kept top-secret.

Nip/Tuck: Gala Gallardo (4.15)

The end of the road for the Miami episodes unsurprisingly ends with a very Miami-oriented episode. We have drug lords, crocodiles, the everglades. Almost a bookend for the very first episode. That idea obviously also occurred with the disposal of Escobar's body. Only, this time, Liz joined in with the fun. It was a fitting end for a Nip/Tuck legend. On a similar note, we have the city move, something unprecedented, attention-grabbing and pretty darn polarizing. It can only truly be debated in hindsight, and while the move to Los Angeles opened up certain areas of story (particularly in the first part of season five), it's pretty shocking to realize that the show never really changed as a result. Take out all the TV hijinks of season five, and the last run of episodes were pretty interchangeable to the ones set in Miami.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Charmed: The Wedding from Hell (1.6)

One of the funniest things I have ever read online is the Television Without Pity recap for this episode. The comedic genius over there, Demian, entirely tears this god-awful episode to pieces, saving his most intense derision for Sara Rose Peterson, an actress who briefly popped up on a host of '90s shows, in roles which proved strangely memorable. There was Elizabeth Hornswoggle on Friends, Jerry's girlfriend with the hellooooo belly button on Seinfeld, and here as the ridiculously named Jade D'Mon. I always wondered if Demian's recap, in which he dubbed Peterson a 'cancer' upon acting, was responsible for her swift retirement from the industry. She hasn't worked since 1999, and maybe there's a recap-related reason...

Charmed: Dream Sorcerer (1.5)

Weirdly for this show, Dream Sorcerer works better visually than it does everywhere else. I'm a huge fan of dream sequences on film (especially when they're done well), and the dreams depicted in this episode are gorgeous. The moody red coloring, the cold Garbage song playing. They're atmospheric and pretty darn sensual. It's unfortunate, however, that the reality-based scenes aren't so great. The idea of Whitaker Berman and his dream factory is surprisingly straight for such an eccentric fantasy show, and it's something that wasn't repeated too often. You can kind of see why, though, since icy laboratories and test facilities don't have the same visual impact of an underworld lair or whatever.

The X-Files: Max (4.18)

Strangely for an episode in which he barely appeared, and even stranger considering he's not even what you would call a recurring character, I found Max Fenig curiously affecting here. I don't know if it was the prolonged fear he conveyed in the abduction scene, or just how driven and aware of his likely demise he was in the video he left for Mulder and Scully, but he was a tragic character, and I just felt terrible for everything he'd experienced in his life. The repeated abductions, the determination to get the truth out there. He's like an unluckier version of Mulder.

Birds of Prey: Gladiatrix (1.10)

A host of shows in the early 2000's did the 'cage-fighting' episode, presumably as a response to the flash-in-the-pan mainstream popularity of WWE and those other homoerotic brain-bashing shows. Honestly, none of them were successful. Angel, Charmed, they all blew. Birds of Prey is no different. It's another misconceived hour with an Adam West-era Batman villain, an annoyingly shrill Dinah subplot and contrived character development. It also makes the epic mistake that effects a lot of these episodes, with the butch stunt doubles for the fighting girls, and that annoying thing where after every punch or kick, the hero makes some annoying quip about her opponent. It's just really, really irritating.

Nip/Tuck: Willy Ward (4.14)

Season four continues to unravel at the seams, with multiple storylines crashing in on one another, and all of them pretty lazy. James, as wonderful as she was, is here depicted as a complete cartoon of a villainness. The show may as well have asked Jacqueline Bisset to grow a pencil mustache that she could twirl whenever James comes up with evil plan. We already knew that James was ruthless (just see the mess she made with Reefer last episode), but adding 'potential child-killer' to her rap sheet was a little contrived. It obviously made her final monologue a little more affecting, but I'm not sure it was really worth it in the first place. However, Bisset was pretty damn extraordinary in this part, and ranks up there with Famke Janssen in the 'bad-ass bitch' department.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Undercovers: A Night to Forget (1.9)

This had all the ingredients for a great episode, but it never really came together. Leo has been the strongest character on the show so far, his recklessness and one-liners outshining the bland monotony of the Blooms, while he's played with humor and enthusiasm by Carter MacIntyre, the only actor on the show who really sparkles. It's about time he got an episode centered around him, especially as he's been so underused so far, but for whatever reason the Blooms took control midway through the episode. What began as a humorous Hangover-style comedy escapade quickly became a Bloom-heavy run of predictability.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Charmed: Dead Man Dating (1.4)

I remember years ago posting something on a message board about how Charmed never really represented the diversity of San Francisco. Where were the gays? The Asians? It's no big deal, but the Halliwells did always seem to exist in their own little bubble of white folk. And the writers rarely attempted to reflect varying lifestyles or cultures throughout the show's eight-year run. Dead Man Dating is one of the only episodes I can remember which actively reflected another culture, and in doing so created one of the first hours which signposted that the show could be something pretty great.

Charmed: Thank You for Not Morphing (1.3)

Victor was always kind of a question mark, mainly down to the writers. He is, in essence, one of those ancillary characters that isn't important enough to give a consistent personality. It's a little like Buffy Summers' father, originally shown to be pretty low-key and protective, then written as a heartless, child-abandoning sociopath when the scripts called for it. The same happens on Charmed. Played by a different actor here, Victor is depicted as a sleazy, heartless abandoner; something entirely flipped in later appearances, Victor eventually appearing worlds away from the kind of person who would ditch his entire family at one point or another.

The X-Files: Tempus Fugit (4.17)

Even without the inclusion of Max Fenig, this episode is a total throwback to the first season, where the conspiracy episodes weren't awash in a sea of vagueness, ambiguous characters like The Cigarette-Smoking Man hadn't been run into the ground, and there was an attractive simplicity to the mysteries of UFOs and cover-ups. The idea of losing nine minutes of time is one of my favorite X-Files motifs, and while it isn't explained or evolved upon here, it's nice to see to it resurfacing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Birds of Prey: Nature of the Beast (1.9)

I always think it's hysterical when a show explains away a cast member change with a couple of lines about plastic surgery. It's like when Steven Carrington had facial reconstruction surgery on Dynasty, waking up with flawless skin, no scar tissue. Not that I'm necessarily unhappy with Al Hawke's transformation from Stephen McHattie into A.D. Skinner. Mitch Pileggi was actually pretty great. The story he's involved in, the continued shenanigans with Reese and his dad, was also pretty great. I've never thought a whole lot about Reese as a character, but I could understand his conflict here. The choice he had was between protecting his father because he's his father, or punishing him for the crimes he's committed. In general, the concept worked.

Nip/Tuck: Reefer (4.13)

Like most storylines this season, I had mixed feelings about Wilber's return. As sad as it was, I liked the ending to his arc back in season two, and the personal growth Christian experienced. But to resurrect him in an already plot-heavy season is yet another decision I have trouble with. It also bothered me that Michelle had such a problem with the idea of being Wilber's mom until she discovered he was bi-racial. I understand that it would make it theoretically possible for her to be his actual mother, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Undercovers: Crashed (1.8)

This show has a lot to learn when it comes to revelations. Two episodes ago, we discovered Steven's big secret reason for getting thrown out of the training unit. Was it undercover espionage? Somebody was killed? Nope. He hacked into a database to find out Samantha's name. He thought she was cute. Snore. Now, in Crashed, we discover some haunting memories from Sam's past. Something interesting happened? Not really. She killed somebody who was torturing her. All performed with Gugu Mbatha-Raw's dead-eyed, vacant stare. Sorry for being so harsh on her. She kinda sucked here. And she destroyed that huge cake, the bitch!

Charmed: I've Got You Under My Skin (1.2)

It's always bugged me that so many movies and TV shows perpetuate the myth that witches were burned at the stake. Especially a show that actually revolves around witches themselves. It was particularly noticeable in this episode, with Piper watching a documentary which made all kinds of unfounded claims about burnings and lightening bolts. Yeesh. What network is she watching? Piper's subplot here was actually pretty sweet, all things considered. Her nerves over her powers making her 'evil' were understandable, and it was a far greater example of the various 'dealing' storylines the show explored just as it began, compared to Prue's anger over using their powers at all...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The X-Files: Unrequited (4.16)

My appreciation for this episode stems from the fact that it's a conspiracy episode rooted in a standalone mystery. It's also welcome to see the conspiracy involved in incidents and events far removed from the usual UFO-related hoodoo. I understand that that is actually one of the biggest complaints about the episode, that the details of what the powers that be actually wanted in the long term didn't make a whole lot of sense. They set a series of events so an invisible assassin would want to kill generals who themselves wanted to expose POW secrets. I guess it's a little long-winded, but I don't really have a problem with the logistics here. At least it's something a little different.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Birds of Prey: Lady Shiva (1.8)

It's not exactly a challenge, but Barbara is clearly the most interesting character on the show, as she has the most potential for psychological depth. She's confined to a wheelchair after a life of fighting crime, is locked up in a tower all day, and has the burden of playing den mother to two annoying females. There's a lot of regret and pent-up anger within her, and the show finally exploited that in what was probably the best episode so far. I was just a little disappointed that we actually had resolution to all of this at the end. When Barbara told Alfred that she doesn't feel sad about giving up her Batgirl cowl, it felt like a major wasted opportunity. An interesting character-driven storyline about what she has experienced? Nope, we'll just wrap it all up in forty minutes...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Undercovers: Assassin (1.7)

They always say that you can correctly guess who the killer is on Law & Order as soon as the famous guest star appears. It's that guy! So when David Anders, aka Alias' Mr. Sark, showed up in the teaser sequence, introduced himself as a flirtatious photographer, and then left... well, it wasn't totally surprising when he turned out to be the villain of the episode. It was a little disappointing, however, that the same executive producer who blessed Anders with one of the last decade's finest TV villains failed to give him anything to work with here. Go figure.

Charmed: Something Wicca This Way Comes (1.1)

Charmed is the definition of 'guilty pleasure television'. It's a show I'd never confess in public to enjoying. It's also a show that I've tuned into more times than I'd like to admit. Throughout its shockingly long run, it was fun, energetic, dumb and frequently appalling. But through most of it, it maintained its heart. The chemistry between its three leads (both sets of them) was always palpable, and while the show regularly aimed for the lowest common denominator in terms of storylines, character growth, antagonists and love interests, once in a blue moon it came up with something that had considerable power. Seriously.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nip/Tuck: Diana Lubey (4.12)

Maybe it's the accent, or the seemingly everlasting beauty, but French women just have this classy, glamorous way about them, and Catherine Deneuve displayed all those things in her guest spot. Seriously, how the hell did this show land her? The Diana Lubey story was really moving, even with the mistress twist near the end. On paper the whole "ashes in implants" idea may seem silly, but the show portrayed it in such a poignant, beautiful way that you can completely understand why Diana would want the surgery. I also loved how she managed to get through to Sean, and her farewell kiss was awesome.

The X-Files: Kaddish (4.15)

Kaddish is a slow-burner episode, one which takes a while to get going but once it does proves to be a surprising improvement on similarly plotted X-Files hours. We're pretty used to both minority group exploration and revenge tales on this show, and both types have been done with varying success in the past. Kaddish goes a little deeper than similar hours, with an interesting script that is by turns horror movie, cultural expose and love story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Undercovers: Xerxes (1.6)

This was probably the first episode in which the mission overshadowed the flawed character plots. I mention this because pretty much every episode so far has featured some pretty woeful espionage stories. There's always a MacGuffin of some sort or a person to find, and while Xerxes doesn't totally see a turnaround in plot devices, it does feature some strong guest stars and some decent twists along the way. If only the show's protagonists could equally get out of the rut the writers have stuck them in.

Nip/Tuck: Conor McNamara, 2026 (4.11)

It's interesting to view this episode after the series has ended, as it's not totally as show-destroying as everybody perceived it to be when it first aired. I remember a lot of anger over the show's decision to basically reveal everybody's future (bar Liz and Kimber, who don't appear), and it wasn't helped by Ryan Murphy commenting that everything seen here is real. I don't know what happened between then and the end of season five, but the episode was eventually retconned. However, even with that complaint proven irrelevant, the episode is still pretty weak.

Birds of Prey: Split (1.7)

As annoying as most aspects of the show are, this is arguably the strongest episode so far, principally because it featured a Metahuman storyline played mostly straight, featured some decent performances and a faint stab at handling the touchy subject of mental illness. Yes, viewers, I am still talking about Birds of Prey. The Crawler/Darkstrike story worked pretty well, if only because there was some mystery to it and decent execution of the whole 'serial killer' motif. The twist was signposted from the beginning, albeit the whole thing was mildly entertaining. At least compared to every other Metahuman story so far.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The X-Files: Memento Mori (4.14)

The conspiracy episodes are now at a point where they're not merely creating even more problems and conspiracies within existing conspiracies, but are just revisiting past events. Several of the reveals here (the clones, CSM once again holding power over something or someone) are mere remakes of old episodes, and it's disappointing to see a story that could be pretty huge get reduced to the same ol', same ol'. Memento Mori is all over the place, but the conviction of Gillian Anderson's performance undoubtedly saves it from disaster.

Undercovers: Not Without My Daughter (1.5)

I've noticed that every review I've written for Undercovers thus far has mentioned other, far greater shows. No matter the quality of the episode I'm reviewing, I'm constantly reminded of certain plot strands or ideas that are executed in far better ways on other series. Why is this? Has the well of espionage spy drama been run dry? Or maybe it's the fact that, five episodes in, Undercovers doesn't yet have much of an identity. It's just there. I'm waiting for the show to grow a little, or become just that little bit more intriguing or generally likable, but so far it's not happening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The X-Files: Never Again (4.13)

Cancer equals a death sentence. That's what we all presume, anyway. There's the fighting, the therapy, the potential overcoming of such a hideous ailment, but at the end of everything it still in all our heads equals death. Scully, here, is lost in that place. Her cancer hasn't been confirmed, but it is all she can think about. Cancer is the elephant in the room. It's never uttered, but it's all over this episode, as Scully abandons her duties and embarks on a voyage of self-discovery, utilizing her sexuality and experiencing both pleasure and pain.

Birds of Prey: Primal Scream (1.6)

Subtlety isn't this show's friend. Primal Scream explores two character-driven plotlines, one being Helena's fondness for 'being bad' (potentially inherited from her mother), and the other Dinah's guilt and anger over her own mom's death last episode. But, since this show assumes its audience are folk who think Smallville and Charmed are "a little too heavy" for them, the episode goes out of its way to project these feelings so brutally that it almost becomes pretty damn hilarious.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The X-Files: Leonard Betts (4.12)

One of the issues that is stopping me from completely loving The X-Files is the way the show's two protagonists are written. They're great characters and performed impeccably, but they're written so relentlessly dour and miserable all the time that they frequently lose their humanity. They may as well be two sharp-suited cyborgs most of the time; they're so unemotional and bleak. I mention this because Leonard Betts feels like the first episode in a long while where they're written as human. They exhibit human characteristics and emotions, and it helps that the rest of the hour is equally as awesome.

Birds of Prey: Sins of the Mother (1.5)

Once again, an intriguing superhero-related issue is sidestepped in favor of dumb action sequences and whining, in another installment of the little show that could (but didn't). The arrival of Black Canary, here depicted as Dinah's mother, should have opened the door to insight into what it's like trying to juggle life as both a crime-fighter and a mother. Yes, the show had a couple of moments this episode where it explored that, but unsurprisingly it wasn't given the weight it deserved.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Undercovers: Jailbreak (1.4)

Once again we have The Agents Bloom attempting to intercept a device of some sort which, if released and/or sold, could have insanely heinous repercussions for some giant corporation. Is there too much of this, already? Four episodes in, and the show seems to be stuck in a familiar rut. We have the infiltration of various buildings, some undercover action, a kidnap victim, a twist midway through. A series like this lives or dies on its own sense of wonderment and high-stakes espionage, and so far it's not totally delivering.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nip/Tuck: Merrill Bobolit (4.10)

I've never been as big a fan of Escobar Gallardo as pretty much everybody else, but his presence does admittedly create unrivaled fear and a sense of complete unpredictability. However, I'm not sure his re-appearance here was particularly wise. Season four has already been driven by so many varying plot strands and its various villains (some storylines having already been quietly dropped or forgotten about) that adding in yet another feels unnecessary. I guess his storyline here is pretty entertaining, even if it is held together by some clumsy exposition and equally contrived plot twists, but the real star of the show is Bobolit.

The X-Files: El Mundo Gira (4.11)

I'm always a little ambivalent about X-Files episodes centered on minority groups, since so often the show bathes in stereotypes and cultural clich├ęs instead of exploring actual issues. El Mundo Gira doesn't necessarily avoid these trappings (it makes a decent attempt at reflecting cultural 'issues', I'll give the show that), but it is still pretty awful. I'm informed that the title translates to 'as the world turns' in Spanish, implying spoofery on Mexican telenovelas and their melodramatic ridiculousness. However, in the hands of the show's worst writer, any self-conscious awfulness instead only reads as completely unintentional.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Birds of Prey: Three Birds and a Baby (1.4)

There's no comedy stand-by more deplorable than the one involving single women saddled with the new found responsibility of having a baby handed to them unexpectedly. Wackiness inevitably ensues, there are complaints about diaper-changing, whining over constant crying, rinse, repeat. While Birds of Prey didn't completely bleed that familiar sack of awfulness dry, it didn't save the episode from being yet another flat and campy superhero mess.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Undercovers: Devices (1.3)

I think what Undercovers is lacking is some emotional depth in its characters. On both Alias and Fringe, even if certain episodes didn't work, we had protagonists who were immediately fascinating and likable. Even Fringe, despite almost its entire cast of characters at first being pretty generic and dull, at least had Walter, intriguing and endearing right from the get-go. So far, the cast of Undercovers haven't entirely won me over. I don't feel as if I necessarily know these people, let alone explicitly care about them. Sure, Leo and Hoyt are both pretty amusing, and I guess Sam and Steven are fine to watch every week, but I don't particularly care about them so far.

Nip/Tuck: Liz Cruz (4.9)

Nip/Tuck in its later years was never averse to entirely retconning the personalities of its protagonists to fit a particular storyline. Hell, it seems to be a trademark of Ryan Murphy and Co., his one major flaw as a writer. I guess it's a soap tradition. The crazy situations are the main area of importance, and characters are obviously secondary. It's disappointing, but it begins to affect this show around this episode. Liz's decision to undergo plastic surgery to become, in her new girlfriend's eyes, 'a more physically attractive woman' was ridiculous, and the show didn't grant Roma Maffia the emotionally-driven material the story needed to work.

Nip/Tuck: Conor McNamara (4.8)

I've always though Mrs Grubman was a great recurring character. Vain, plastic, and ultimately pretty sad, she was a perfect representation of this show's message: that no matter what you fix on the outside, you're still the same deep down. Plus, she was always a great foil for Christian. Ruth Williamson was really spectacular here, and she got to finally display her Broadway musical pipes with her rendition of This Girl's in Love alongside Mr Burt Bacharach himself. I guess it's not original that such a grand, arrogant society woman like Grubby turns out to have little of the social circle she claimed she did, but it was pretty darn touching regardless.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The X-Files: Paper Hearts (4.10)

731, one of season three's various mythology episodes, played around with the idea of the fantastical elements of the series being a vast, unbelievable lie engineered to cover up real evil perpetrated by humans. Paper Hearts, one of the series' greatest episodes so far, covers similar ground to far greater effect, combining the best elements of traditional standalone episodes with the one over-arching mystery this show hasn't systematically destroyed yet (though they've definitely tried)...

The X-Files: Terma (4.9)

It's disappointing that so much of Terma is annoyingly complex and ridiculous, since the whole "alien rock from Mars" idea is pretty fun. And no matter how illogical the writers appear to be making it, the black oil (or, now, 'the black cancer' - way cooler) is still a great plot device. And while I wouldn't say Terma is any more annoying than a lot of the other more recent conspiracy episodes, more than ever it seems to be more convoluted junk folded in on itself.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birds of Prey: Prey for the Hunter (1.3)

There were some ham-fisted attempts at discussing weighty issues this episode. This is most evident in Helena at first distancing herself from her fellow meta-humans, and her eventual turnaround mid-way through the episode. The issue isn't explored as greatly as it could have been, but there's the potential there for some decent exploration into ideas of self-hatred and being part of a minority group in a city where you're considered public enemy one. Of course, this being a gimmicky WB show, the weight to the story never really develops. But the 'idea' is there, which is something.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The X-Files: Tunguska (4.8)

I admit that I've reached the point where I'm not ecstatic whenever I realize another conspiracy episode is right around the corner. This is especially true of the Tunguska/Terma two-parter, which I had only heard bad things about. At the center of this episode at least is the resurfacing of Alex Krycek, a character whose purpose eludes me. He's always seemed like somebody written in to the show purely for fan service, being largely vague and angry all of the time. I guess the homoerotic banter and physicality between him and Mulder is fun, but it's clearly the show grasping at straws here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Undercovers: Instructions (1.2)

A lot of people have complained about how breezy this show is, and while I have to agree that it's been pretty lightweight so far, it's important to remember that it's only just premiered. As TV viewers, we've come to a point where an immediate hook is necessary to capture an audience, and waiting around for a couple of weeks to see a TV series eventually grow and evolve is just too damn long. One of my favorite shows on the air right now, the similarly J.J. Abrams-produced Fringe, took seemingly forever to hit the jackpot, eventually stumbling into stunning science-fiction towards the back-end of its first season. So while Undercovers isn't mind-blowing at this point, it's reliable, sufficient escapism. I'm hoping that it will at some point evolve to loftier, more complicated heights but so far I'm actually enjoying watching the series unfold.

The X-Files: Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man (4.7)

This is undoubtedly a strong episode. It's also one that works on a variety of different levels, subverting expectations at repeated junctures, advancing the scope of the show's tone and of the history of the world our protagonists occupy, as well as raising some fun questions about the show as a whole: conspiracies within conspiracies, and the elusive truth that hides somewhere between fact and fiction. The Cigarette-Smoking Man's elaborate history, detailed here, is by turns shocking and pretty ridiculous, creating an episode that is pretty darn spectacular in what it wants to achieve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birds of Prey: Slick (1.2)

An element of the show I didn't touch upon last review was the presence of Dr. Harleen "Harley Quinn" Quinzel, professional deranged megalomaniac and The Joker's right-hand woman. She's one of my favorite comic book characters and a huge reminder of my childhood (she regularly stole the show on Batman: The Animated Series and the Mad Love graphic novel is ridiculously awesome), but she's one of those comic book characters that just can't work outside of the page. A character so outlandish needs that rare actor who can make the insanity believable. Mark Hamill has got the voice down pat, while Heath Ledger was, of course, remarkable. But Mia Sara just can't pull that off.

Nip/Tuck: Burt Landau (4.7)

A pretty good episode which utilizes the majority of the cast extremely well. The only downside is that the Landau's are still dragging this season down. Just like last week, I liked that a lot of the subplots folded into one another. Matt's stupid decisions are once again revealed to be a result of his libido, while at the same time Christian accuses Michelle of attempting to kill Burt. As a result, Michelle gets mad, Christian manipulates Kimber into bed before dumping her, and Kimber hooks up with Matt in revenge. It's a big web of craziness, this show.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Birds of Prey: Pilot (1.1)

Women have it rough. Especially in the entertainment industry. I remember reading years ago that the box office under-performance of Jodie Foster's vigilante thriller The Brave One meant the studio behind the movie immediately black-balled female-led projects. Supposedly "they didn't sell". This kind of sexism also seemingly occurred as a result of the WB's short-lived Birds of Prey, a flawed comic book adaptation picked up to series following the success of the network's Superman re-working Smallville. The show flatlined quickly after it premiered, and was quietly canceled after thirteen episodes. Its failure, knowing the industry, probably sealed the fate for any other comic book-adaptations based on female characters. So no Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, non-appalling Catwoman, nor any consistent update of the Birds of Prey themselves. Bummer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The X-Files: Sanguinarium (4.6)

Plastic surgery is intrinsically horrifying. Just the names of the procedures represented here (liposuction, face peel) sound pretty gross. Pair this with the at-the-time growing popularity of such procedures, and it's unsurprising that the show would explore this area of medical science, if only to exploit it for all of its grotesque qualities. So, we're audience to face meltings, face suckage, explosions of blood, and pentagram leeches. The latter is clearly a band-name in the making. It's a little disappointing, however, that Sanguinarium is lacking in the substance department. Sure, it's insanely gross, but pretty light everywhere else.

The X-Files: The Field Where I Died (4.5)

I have always struggled with this episode. I remember watching it years ago and coming away from it tired, unmoved and a little frustrated that I had just spent an hour watching something so boring. Before watching it again, I assumed that it must have been something wrong with me, and not the episode. It's Morgan & Wong, surely it's gotta be pretty great. In the end, while this episode isn't as bad as I remembered, I'm still not sure it's executed well at all.

Nip/Tuck: Faith Wolper, Ph.D (4.6)

Despite opening with an arresting dream sequence featuring Sean and Christian as gay lovers (shame the show caved to network pressure, forcing them to cut an actual kiss), Faith Wolper, Ph.D suffers from being weighed down by two of this season's worst story arcs. The Landau storyline unexpectedly blurs together with Brooke Shields' nutty shrink, a turn of events which briefly gives the Burt subplot some life. Faith herself is exposed as being completely wacko, and I loved her sadomasochistic tattoos. However, the Landau arc doesn't interest.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The X-Files: Unruhe (4.4)

While it does feature the return of the dreaded "Scully kidnapped and tied up" motif that has been resurrected repeatedly over the last three seasons, Unruhe is in fact pretty spectacular. Cribbing together the most successful elements of The Silence of the Lambs and several series classics like Irresistible and Grotesque, this is a wonderfully terrifying exploration into the mind of somebody left so mentally disturbed that he believes his horrific actions are actually beneficial to his victims.