Monday, December 20, 2010
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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.