Monday, April 19, 2010

In Treatment: Week One (1.1 - 1.5)

Before I began watching In Treatment, I was fully aware that patience was the key ingredient to actually enjoying it. The show is literally characters sitting around talking. And, I may add, the first season is 43 episodes long. Now, that's a lot of talking. But with the DVDs in my hand, I think I have that patience, and with the promise of a collection of big-name stars and, of course, the fact that this is HBO, I'm sure it'll be pretty great.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The X-Files: Duane Barry (2.5)

I'm ordinarily not a fan of hostage-crisis episodes on TV shows. They're usually predictable, and almost always episodes designed to cut back on costs for a week. And while there is some predictability to the structure of this episode, there are enough end-of-the-act plot twists and some memorable performers to make it pretty great.

The X-Files: Sleepless (2.4)

By far the best moment of the episode for me was the really moving phone call between Mulder and Scully. There's once again some almost flirtatious banter, as they reminisce about the "old days", Scully expressing a certain amount of jealousy over Krycek, and Mulder's joking "I'm surprised I put up with you for so long". Aww, man. They're so made for each other.

Nip/Tuck: Mrs. Grubman (2.4)

The concept of growing older plays an important part in practically every Nip/Tuck episode, but it was particularly evident here, with Annie hitting early puberty, Julia accepting that she is getting older, and Kimber making herself look older through a spiraling coke addiction.

Nip/Tuck: Manya Mabika (2.3)

For somebody I'd only ever seen before on sitcoms, Aisha Tyler totally blew me away as Manya. She perfectly conveyed the sadness and abuse of female circumcision, and her story was not only beautifully written but also extremely inspiring. I loved that she only had an orgasm after pleasuring herself, and that it's not all about the woman being satisfied by the man.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The X-Files: Blood (2.3)

Unusual. There's a lot to like here, but there's something a little "off" about the whole thing, with a script that feels rushed, few insights into the bigger picture at work, and a storyline that travels in varying different directions. It's a mess of an episode, but still a pretty fun mess.

The X-Files: The Host (2.2)

Big ick. The first X-Files episode to feature a real, disturbing and ridiculously gross monster, The Host plays like one of those hokey old B-movies, with some truly vomit-inducing scenes (most of them involving flatworms, flatworms coming out of mouths, slithering out of corpses etc. etc.) but apart from a couple of suitably nasty moments, it's not a hugely successful episode.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The X-Files: Little Green Men (2.1)

Not a typical opener to a new season, but one that portrays Mulder in an entirely new (and arguably better) light. Little Green Men doesn't have the strongest of storylines at its center, but works wonders from a character perspective.

The X-Files: The Erlenmeyer Flask (1.24)

Fear and paranoia radiate from this, the first season finale. More than ever before, we're getting a terrifying sense that nobody is safe, monumental lies are being told and, as Deep Throat says in his last words, nobody can be trusted. The most chilling moment for me was Scully's discovery of Dr. Carpenter's murder, she and her entire family wiped out to cover up an extra-terrestrial discovery. The stakes are that high, and the show will never be the same again.

The X-Files: Roland (1.23)

Annoyingly scheduled right after another episode all about dudes manipulating, from beyond the grave, a fragile somebody into committing murders, this follows the same pattern with similarly flat results. I also have a problem with able-bodied/minded actors playing mentally disabled characters, so whatever the quality of Zeljko Ivanek's guest performance as the titular Roland, it's still uncomfortable to watch.

The X-Files: Born Again (1.22)

The title gives the game away, so this pretty forgettable episode is forced to catch up with the audience as the predictable twists and turns unravel. Born Again starts well, but once we get scenes of guest stars communicating with other guest stars and it turns into a general procedural-style mystery, it loses steam.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The X-Files: Tooms (1.21)

Squeeze wasn't exactly crying out for a sequel, but damn if this isn't a great conclusion to that story. Doug Hutchison is overwhelmingly terrifying as Tooms, the vacant expression and eye movements conveying so much evil. And the way he licked his fingers like that? Ick.

The X-Files: Darkness Falls (1.20)

An effective episode that utilizes the same formula which made Ice so successful, with Mulder and Scully's own lives being threatened by a seemingly unstoppable monster accidentally unearthed by man. It may lack the paranoia of Ice, but Darkness Falls does that have that palpable tension that makes it so unnerving.

Nip/Tuck: Christian Troy (2.2)

This episode was all about Christian and Sean's relationship, and how both realize that they can only be excellent surgeons when they're together. They're a double act, and without the other person there, they're nowhere near as good as they can be.

Nip/Tuck: Erica Noughton (2.1)

Nip/Tuck has clearly grown up. Not exactly in the mature sense of the word (since the show is still silly-as-hell), but it's obvious that entering its second season has given it an added confidence. Ryan Murphy is now unafraid to venture into deeper, more character-driven storylines, and it's great to see every member of the cast get some great material to work with in this season premiere.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The X-Files: Shapes (1.19)

It's an episode set on a Native American land reserve, so there's the predictable over-acting, the lazy stereotypes, the mystical old man with lots of monologues, and the distrust of the feds. For about two minutes, there are also some shenanigans with a werewolf, but it's all so misconceived that it barely raises one scare.

The X-Files: Miracle Man (1.18)

The first of many faith-related X-Files episodes, Miracle Man centers less on the most obvious religious character (Scully) and more on faith itself, how it can be manipulated and sold for profit, how quickly it can be turned on, and how it can drive people to potentially fatal actions.

The X-Files: E.B.E. (1.17)

The best conspiracy episode so far, this is both fun and frustrating, and a perfect template for future episodes of this kind. From an audience perspective, we realize that only Mulder and Scully can trust each other, and that we too can only trust them. The paranoia created here even throws Deep Throat's final revelations into question. As the show always said: Trust No One.

The X-Files: Young at Heart (1.16)

Another unmemorable episode, but still a tightly-scripted thriller with some reasonably tense moments as Mulder attempts to unravel what on the surface looks like an unexplainable mystery involving a figure from his past. The only downside to the story is the revelation of government involvement. I get the impression that the writers at this point felt like every episode should have some tenuous link to government cover-ups, which is disappointing. A brief Deep Throat appearance and some conspiracy hoodoo do not automatically heighten suspense.

The X-Files: Lazarus (1.15)

While the idea of spirits transferring from one body to another is an interesting one, there's something flat about this episode, and it's probably one of the most forgettable hours from the first season, despite a reasonably intense guest performance from Christopher Allport.

The X-Files: Gender Bender (1.14)

Disappointing since it aired after one of the greatest ever episodes, Gender Bender attempts to create an interesting dynamic between the vacuous underground club scene of the big city and the quiet, "otherworldly" Amish community, but it just doesn't work. Arguably one of the worst, and undeniably one of the most boring, X-Files episodes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Annual TV Commentary: 2008-2009 (Part 2)

In my effort to transfer various blogs over here, here's the first of what has become a sort of mini-tradition, my annual TV reviews. Here's the second, for the 2008-2009 TV season, and remember that there are spoilers for each show's respective season at the time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Annual TV Commentary: 2008-2009 (Part 1)

In my effort to transfer various blogs over here, here's the first of what has become a sort of mini-tradition, my annual TV reviews. Here's the second, for the 2008-2009 TV season, and remember that there are spoilers for each show's respective season at the time.

The X-Files: Beyond the Sea (1.13)

So far above and beyond anything the show has given us so far, this episode sees The X-Files taking a huge risk in its storytelling and producing a blueprint for what the series is truly capable of. Beyond the Sea is a powerful, terrifying hour all about faith and emotional horror, and featuring stunning performances from Gillian Anderson and Brad Dourif.

The X-Files: Fire (1.12)

You can't expect too much from an episode with a simple premise, and, obviously, Fire isn't exactly a hugely original or convoluted hour, but more one of those monster-of-the-week shows that are, simply put, pretty awesome.

The X-Files: Eve (1.11)

My favorite X-Files episodes are usually ones which are psychologically creepy, and not the ones that are full-on blood and violence. Eve falls into the former category, as it's an episode that's as genuinely gory as it is psychologically sinister.

The X-Files: Fallen Angel (1.10)

Pretty entertaining despite a feeling of not knowing which direction it wants to go in, Fallen Angel has some intriguing storylines, but the promise of a Predator-style hunt for an invisible monster through the woods ends up a more intimate analysis of a paranoid abductee. A little disappointing, but never boring.

The X-Files: Space (1.9)

This is a site featuring X-Files reviews, so here's the requisite "woah-is-Space-really-terrible-or-what?" review. Woah! Is Space really terrible or what? It may not be deserving of the frequent "worst episode ever" squeals, but it is a ridiculously flat and artistically lazy X-Files hour.

Annual TV Commentary: 2007-2008 (Part 2)

In my effort to transfer various blogs over here, here's the first of what has become a sort of mini-tradition, my annual TV reviews. Here's the first, for the 2007-2008 TV season, and remember that there are spoilers for each show's respective season at the time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Annual TV Commentary: 2007-2008 (Part 1)

In my effort to transfer various blogs over here, here's the first of what has become a sort of mini-tradition, my annual TV reviews. Here's the first, for the 2007-2008 TV season, and remember that there are spoilers for each show's respective season at the time.

Nip/Tuck: Escobar Gallardo (1.13)

A near-perfect season finale, which brings together all the tension and craziness of the previous episodes and produces a great final hour. It also creates a lot of storyline opportunity for season two, including most importantly the issue of Matt's paternity, which Julia is still keeping quiet about before the credits roll.

Nip/Tuck: Antonia Ramos (1.12)

I'm not ashamed to say it, but Escobar Gallardo scares the crap out of me. As I was watching this episode, I was wondering to myself if Robert LaSardo is a nice person in real life, or if he's actually evil. He's probably a really great family man or something though, but, man, he's one hell of a convincing actor.

Nip/Tuck: Montana/Sassy/Justice (1.11)

So Gina's pregnant, and Christian has to face up to taking responsibility of somebody other than himself. It was great to have Jessalyn Gilsig back, who can get laughs from just one reading of the world "asshole". I found it a little ridiculous though that Gina was accusing Christian of being a bad parent. Considering she's a raging former sexaholic, she's hardly one to talk!

The X-Files: Ice (1.8)

It's X-Files meets The Thing, and while Ice adds nothing new to a pretty standard "paranoid folk isolated in the middle of nowhere" storyline, the overwhelmingly great characterization and reliable tension of Morgan and Wong's script creates what is the show's first, and one of this show's most commendable, series classics.

The X-Files: Ghost in the Machine (1.7)

While it has nothing on the more interesting monster-of-the-week cases and, along with Buffy's I Robot, You Jane and numerous other 1990's computer-themed sci-fi hours, it now looks ridiculously dated due to all the whirring modems and such, Ghost in the Machine has a certain charm to it, and it's far better than the god-awful mess some fans would lead you to believe it is.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nip/Tuck: Adelle Coffin (1.10)

I've never lost anybody close to me to cancer, and hopefully never will. So I went into this episode not exactly knowing what to expect. One thing I was expecting was sadness, and unsurprisingly we got a lot of that. This episode sees death hit the show like a ton of bricks, and it's unrelentingly devastating.

Nip/Tuck: Sofia Lopez II (1.9)

Sofia Lopez made such an impression in her first appearance, so it's no surprise they wrote her back into the show. I loved seeing her growing relationship with Liz, even though it was sad too in equal measure. Both of them were in completely wrong places in their lives, so you knew things couldn't work out. Liz is a gay woman, while Sofia wants to be a straight woman. And if Sofia didn't have her gender surgery, Liz would still see her as a man in the sexual sense of the word.

Nip/Tuck: Cara Fitzgerald (1.8)

Most of the time, Nip/Tuck is seen as a trashy guilty pleasure, full of sex and violence, with nothing else besides that. Being perfectly honest, that is kinda true... especially of the later seasons. But Nip/Tuck also features dark, haunting and character-driven episodes like this: the complete antithesis of what the show would eventually grow to be known for.