Friday, September 30, 2011

My Review of Ringer's 1x01: "Pilot"

Written by Eric Charmelo And Nicole Snyder
Directed by Richard Shepard

Bridget (to an attacker): “You have the wrong girl.”

I debated about taking this show on permanently and after watching the first two episodes, the decision became clearer. I’m taking this series on for the foreseeable future because while it’s neither perfect nor groundbreaking as a series, there’s a lot of potential here and if the show survives on the air long enough, perhaps it will get the chance to realise it.

It’s been eight years since Sarah Michelle Gellar was last on TV (apparently she was in some series about vampires, never heard of it myself) and watching this opening episode again made me realise that a) I really missed her and b) she’s one of those actresses who works better on television than in movies, so that’s another reason as to why I’d like to see this show thrive.

The general premise is interesting – Bridget Kelly, a former stripper on the run from some nasty fella because she witnessed the murder of another stripper who also happens to be a recovering alcoholic who decides to skip FBI custody the night before the trial that could’ve freed her of the same man she’s terrified will kill her.

In less than five minutes we learnt a lot about Bridget and the most important thing was that she happened to have a twin sister named Siobhan Martin, her polar opposite in many ways. Siobhan seemed the more together twin – rich husband, a secret lover, annoying stepdaughter, nice weekend place but of course, the relationship between both sisters is an interesting driving point.

Apart from the clothing and some slight mannerisms, Gellar and the series will have to do a bit more to really highlight the differences between Bridget and Siobhan but we’re off to a decent start. I liked the initial meeting between both sisters, and more so what seemed to be set up in it’s wake.

Bridget wanted forgiveness from Siobhan about Sean but Siobhan cut her down by saying she was already forgiven and then the two of them went on a nice boat ride together. I know that scene has been heavily criticised but I didn’t really mind it all that much. Sure, it was cheesy but I’ve seen worse and it did result in setting up a nice chain of events.

Even if the trailers hadn’t spoiled the fact that Siobhan was actually still alive (way to spoil the ending for this episode, CW), I doubt there would’ve been many people who would’ve believed that Siobhan was actually dead anyways.

So, what exactly is Siobhan up to herself? Is this some attempt of getting even with Bridget or is she in a similar position to her sister and needs to be in hiding too? Hopefully this show will be wise enough not to over stretch that mystery. It would be nice to know at least in the first half of the series why Siobhan is suddenly hiding from everyone in Paris.

As for Bridget – boy, she was quick. While it made sense that she didn’t actually report her sister’s disappearance and made some attempt of looking for her, it did seem like she was a little too eager to assume her sister’s identity at the time. Thankfully though, if Bridget thought Siobhan’s life was totally idyllic, then the rest of the episode gave her a little wake up call on that one.

So, where to begin with Siobhan’s life? The family stuff seems to be the obvious choice. Andrew immediately found Bridget suspicious when she was behaving too nicely and in a terribly predictable move, Juliet seemed to hate her stepmother’s guts as well. Still, Andrew at least softened when he found out that ‘Siobhan’ was four weeks pregnant which means Bridget really is in a trick situation, besides having to deal with hitmen coming after her.

As for Siobhan sleeping with her best mate Gemma’s husband – Henry, ooh bad move. Sure, he’s cute but he was also incredibly annoying in this episode that instead of Gemma investigating who her hubby’s screwing around, I actually hope she sleeps with a contractor instead. Well, she did get a good one liner out of it and despite being a little overly perky, I actually found myself liking Gemma more than I thought I would.

Of course, another thing to tie Bridget and Siobhan together would be FBI man Victor Machado. I like Nestor Carbonell as an actor and hopefully, Victor will become more and more fleshed out as the series runs. He’s definitely the strongest of the leading men and it was nice that even before getting evidence about Bridget being in East Hamptons, he was suspicious enough of Siobhan.

The last important character then was Malcolm – Bridget’s sponsor. I really hope that Bridget genuinely likes him because it does seem like he’s very sweet on her, doesn’t it? That being said, it was rather stupid for Bridget to phone him up and tell him about Siobhan. She only went and put the poor fella in danger by doing that.

Also in “Ringer”

Originally this show was meant for CBS but they passed on it and the CW stepped in at the last minute.

Bridget (at the AA meeting): “I keep reminding myself mistakes aren’t tragedies but please higher power, help me learn from them.”

Both Bridget and Siobhan were born on September 30th 1979 and Sean died back in 2005 if I’m not mistaken.

Siobhan: “I was wondering how you’d look after six years.”
Bridget: “Not nearly as good as you.”

Bridget: “I want you to know how sorry I am for everything.”
Siobhan: “You already apologised in your letter.”

Bridget was staying in the Double Nickel Motel before she knocked out Jimmy and legged it. The stripper who was murdered by Macawi was called Shaylene Briggs.

Bridget: “Siobhan, I don’t want to have to be the sister you pretend doesn’t exist.”
Siobhan: “Just so you know, I missed you too.”

Gemma (to Bridget, re Henry): “I’ll hook up with one of the workmen. I’m sure contractors make more money than out of work novelists.”

What exactly is Andrew trying to get out of? He was awfully quick to change the subject when Bridget walked in on his phone conversation.

Andrew: “That was an act. This is your game, Siobhan.”
Siobhan: “What if I don’t want to play games anymore?”

Bridget (at another AA meeting, re Siobhan): “In all this, I lost someone who meant everything to me. I just got her back. Now she’s gone.”

Juliet got booted out of boarding school in London because she’s on drugs and Gemma went through a list of suspects of people she thought Henry was sleeping with.

Bridget: “Siobhan, what did you do?”

Voiceover: “Siobhan, we have a problem.”

Chronology: Because of the photo of Sean, I’m going to assume it’s 2011 but when I’m unsure of.

As pilot episodes go, “Ringer” is far from perfect but it’s more than interesting enough to make me want to watch and review the series. I’m interested in learning more about Bridget and Siobhan’s rocky relationship, what Andrew is up to, seeing if Macawi catches up with Bridget and also if Victor realises what’s going on with the current set up as well. In that respect, this opening episode did everything it needed to for me.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Soap Discussion - September 2011

And here's a penultimate blog for this month.

Coronation Street: The biggest storyline this month has been the quick devolution of Frank and Carla's relationship. It's almost a shame the writers decided to make Frank a baddie because him and Carla actually made a decent pairing. The rape part was certainly shocking, more so considering that it also now has consequences for both Peter and Leanne (and the injured Stella as well) and storywise, it's the show firing on all cylinders. The rest of the month hasn't been quite as good with Tracy's all too convenient pregnancy Pam reigniting her feud with Kevin. Mind you, she's not exactly wrong about Kevin's ability at bouncing back though.

EastEnders: I've never been the biggest fan of Darren and Jodie as a couple and I can't honestly say the show will suffer without him but the near wedding/sleeping with Lauren, coupled with Vanessa's inability to keep her opinions to herself made it more interesting than expected. This was also a month for more of Mandy's antics, Kat and Alfie losing another baby (really, show?), Ben kissing and being dumped by Duncan in quick succession, Yusef being his manipulative self, Lauren finding out about Tanya's cancer and preparations for Amira's return with some red button antics as well as a new Moon in Craig and another series of E20 with Mercy's annoying sister, Faith. Well, at least it's been busy.

Emmerdale: Dear writers - just knock it off already. I am bored shitless by your constant attempts of putting Aaron through the ringer. Now we can add self harming into the mix. Seriously show, in terms of dramatic storylines, learn to share the wealth a little, alright? And progress the Amy is pregnant plot because that's becoming similarly tedious to watch at the moment as well. I don't know but for me, this soap is in need of some better structuring because only Nicola and Jimmy's reunion was the best thing to happen in the last few weeks.

Fair City: I haven't been watching this one as actively either but I have liked the fallout over Barry's murder of Sarah and how it's affected most of the main characters on the series but apart from that and more stuff on Carol's pregnancy, it's been a rather dull month for the show in general.
Hollyoaks: Ooh, what a month. two sets of college kids (Maddie and her mates returning for Bart and Sinead, Ash and company for Will/Theresa/Dodger), the death of Rae, Brendan being set up for said death by Silas, Lynsey isolating more people with her Silas vendetta and the return of Gilly, plus the antics of Hollyoaks Later, I have to admit that this has been another strong month for the show. That being said, more people need to start waking up to Silas, it's getting a bit unrealistic at this point.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Season 5 Cast Pictures

We've got less than a week to go but finally, cast shots of the fifth and final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures have been released ...

Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen): She may have lost Luke to university (in a way) but Sarah Jane is about to become a mother for the second time when Sky comes into her life.

Luke Smith (Tommy Knight): he may be in university but Luke will definitely be present for the last three stories of the show's fifth year, especially as he's put in the position of older brother.

Sky Smith (Sinead Michael): Newcomer Sky starts off as an alien baby and then becomes a lot older as she makes her debut in the first story, Sky.

Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony): Clyde is also getting older but he takes centre stage in the second story, The Curse Of Clyde Langer when the theme of homelessness is explored in the series. But all isn't as it seems.

Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra): Like Clyde, she's definitely getting older and moving away from school but I'm not sure what her role this season is to be honest.

Meanwhile although three stories were filmed (i.e. six episodes), the last one, The Man Who Wasn't There was actually the finale intended for Series 5, so it should give the series a sense of closure. It's certainly not going to be easy watching these episodes but as a final tribute to Elisabeth Sladen, I have no doubt they will be worth it.

Season 5 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQoaWFyH3pk

Series 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures will air Mondays/Tuesdays on CBBC at 5.15pm from October 3rd.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x12: "Closing Time"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Steve Hughes

Craig: “You always win. You always survive.”
The Doctor: “Those were the days.”

Is it me or has there been a huge pile of déjà vu with this episode? I mean the way the Doctor and Craig (minus the not-snog moment) were with each other in this one reminded me once too often of the way a previous incarnation and Wilfred were during “The End Of Time”. That isn’t actually a bad thing by the way.

I was surprised that Craig was brought back as part of the Doctor’s farewell tour but really pleased by it as well. The character was endearing during “The Lodger” and with a great rapport between Matt Smith and James Corden, this was an excellent reunion story for the pair of them.

It made sense that Craig’s life had taken several changes when the Doctor met him again. This time around, he had moved into a house with Sophie and they had a baby boy named Alfie and with Sophie gone for the weekend, it was nice to see another side to Craig as well in this episode.

His struggling with fatherhood seemed better explored here than in “Night Terrors” with Alex and George and it was amusing how the Doctor’s alleged ability (can he really do it or is he just screwing with Craig?) was used in this episode. Maybe the Doctor has a new vocation in life if he can manage to survive his impending demise first that is.

Of course, much as I wished that the Doctor had been just visiting solely to see Craig; it did seem that once again he was drawn to Colchester because of alien activities. Last time around saw people disappearing and this time around, the same also happened, though this time there was no mystery ship attached to a house.

Instead we got the return of both the Cybermen and the Cybermats and wasn’t this an interesting outing for them? Well, personally I think the Cybermats fared better than their masters in this one. At least the Cybermat got to show some menace on screen and with those teeth, both the Doctor and Craig should count themselves lucky they didn’t get by the thing for real.

Plus the Cybermat was excellent at playing clever too. It got the Doctor into thinking it had been slowed down long enough to try and attack again and it was also causing all the electrical problems within Colchester as well. You know it’s worrying when the minions are actually more successful than the main monsters themselves.

Ah, the Cybermen. They always seem to be overshadowed and their latest scheme here felt more like an afterthought than anything else. A ship of six Cybermen trapped within Sanderson And Grainger and a few conversions here and there, including one on Craig, except this time around, a conversion doesn’t spell the end.

I wasn’t surprised that the ‘power of love’ (i.e. Craig’s response to Alfie’s distress cries) ended up being the very thing that stopped the Cybermen from successfully converting Craig and I certainly wasn’t shocked that it shot through their emotional inhibitors and destroyed them once again. Poor Cybermen – maybe one day, they get another story where they’re not so easily defeated.

At the same time though, this story was never about the Cybermen, they were only ever an obstacle to overcome – it was about the Doctor’s final days and his friendship with Craig. Even with his own life and Alfie’s in danger, Craig never blamed the Doctor for what happened. I found that to be an amazing gesture on Craig’s part.

Heck, the Doctor even rewarded that by getting Craig to come out of his shell as a parent and even by fixing the place up before Sophie returned home. The best part though was connecting the story to the events of the season opener. The Doctor got both his Stetson and his stationary from Craig.

As for the last scene with the three kids – I found that scene really powerful. The Doctor seemed to be embracing his death, which is an obvious contrast to his tenth incarnation but at the same time, there’s no way the Doctor is going to remain dead. Something in next week’s episode is going to ensure that the events with the astronaut in Lake Silencio is not going to be his last.

Speaking of the astronaut – of course it was going to be River but I always assumed it would be the pre-Mels version rather than her grown up self. If I didn’t hate Madame Kovarian and the Silence beforehand, I sure as hell do now. Them along with the Clerics forcing River (on the day she became a doctor herself) into the astronaut suit and leaving her underwater at Silencio actually got to me scene wise.

It’s not like we haven’t seen River vulnerable before but something about this scene just got to me more than it should’ve done. I think it’s because River had already believed that she saved the Doctor’s life and Kovarian’s malice ensured that once again, River was put in the awkward position of having to be the one to kill her love.

I really hope in the last episode we actually find out why Kovarian has it in for the Doctor. What exactly did he do to both her and the Silence that they would go to these lengths to ensure that he died? It’s definitely something that as a viewer, I need to know just as much as any of the other important bits about River that we still don’t know already.

Last but not least – I loved the brief appearance from Amy and Rory in this one. I’m not bothered that they were in Colchester without reason and I certainly have no qualm with Amy becoming a perfume model and being asked for an autograph, it was just nice to see them, even if the scene did last less than a minute.

Also in “Closing Time”

Gareth Roberts mentioned in DWM that he originally intended to call the episode “Three Cybermen And A Baby”.

Craig: “I need something. I’m rubbish at this.”
The Doctor: “At what?”
Craig: “Being a dad.”

Sophie was only in two scenes for this episode because Daisy Haggard was in a play at the time of filming it.

Craig (to the Doctor): “You’re here for a reason, aren’t you? You’ve noticed something and you’re investigating and because it’s you, it’s gonna be dangerous and alien.”

Craig: “Doctor, are you gonna kiss me?”
The Doctor: “Yes, Craig, yes I am. Would you like that? Bit out of practice but I’ve had some wonderful feedback.”

Lynda Baron made her third contribution to the series (after “The Gunfighters” and “Enlightenment”) by playing Val in this one. I loved that no-one corrected her when she mistook the Doctor and Craig for a couple.

Craig: “Can you put that on quiet?”
The Doctor: “No, it’s a sonic screwdriver. Sonic equals sound.”

The Doctor (to Alfie): “Stop crying, you’ve got a lot to look forward, you know. A normal human life on Earth.”

Yappy the robot-dog was an obvious allusion to K9 and Alfie liked to be called Stormageddon and he called everyone who wasn’t Sophie “not mum” and “peasants”.

The Doctor: “Do you still feel safe with me, Craig?”
Craig: “Can’t help who your mates are.”

Cybermen (to Craig): “Your designation is Cyber-Controller, you will lead us. We will conquer this world.”

Amy’s perfume was called Petrichor and had the tagline of “for the girl who’s tired of waiting”.

Cybermen: “What is happening?”
The Doctor: “What’s happening you metal moron – a baby is crying and you better watch out because guess what? Daddy is coming home.”

The Doctor (to the TARDIS): “Well, then old girl. One last trip, eh?”

I’d like to say that this is the first episode not written by Steven Moffat to feature River but I have a suspicion that he might have written the last scene of this episode. Kovarian also delivered a much more malevolent version of that nursery rhyme from “Night Terrors” as well.

River: “It’s only a story.”
Madame Kovarian: “And this is where it begins. You never really escaped us, Melody Pond. We were always coming for you.”
River: “How do you know who I am?”
Madame Kovarian: “I made you what you are – the woman who kills the Doctor.”

Chronology: It’s been two hundred years for the Doctor since “The God Complex” but how long has it been for Amy, Rory, River and Craig since they’ve last seen him?

Well, that was certainly an entertaining episode. “Closing Time” probably could’ve put the Cybermen to better use but I liked the return of the Cybermats, every scene between the Doctor and Craig sparkled, Amy/Rory’s brief appearances were nice and the River/Kovarian bit at the end was a good way of leading into next week’s finale.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, September 23, 2011

Desperate Housewives - Season 7 Review

US Airdate: September 26th 2010 – May 15th 2011

As the show enters its seventh year, some old faces return to wreck havoc on Wisteria Lane while a new face finds herself becoming a part of the gang.

Wild West Edition: Oh, sometimes I watch this show and I wonder about where it sort of went wrong. I use the phrase ‘sort of’ because while the series isn’t the most talked about thing anymore, it can still produce moments here and there that are worthy of discussion and after this series alone, only one more season is left for the least safest piece of suburbia in American TV.

Season Seven took something of an odd format for the mystery route that we’ve been used to for the last six years. Paul Young finally got the last laugh when Felicia’s attempts to frame him blew up in her face and she wound up in jail as penance. Now, Paul could’ve used the money he was given as compensation to go anywhere and start all over again.

Of course that would’ve been seen as too easy a solution, so Paul decided the best thing to do was to get a frumpy wife in the shape of Beth (who actually gets interesting as a character during the second half of the season) and return to Wisteria Lane, just to rub it into the neighbours that turned their backs on him all those years ago.

As plots go, it’s surprisingly direct even if there are predictable turns with Paul blackmailing Susan during her lowest ebb and causing neighbourhood chaos with the organisation of a halfway house during the first half of the season. It’s only when he gets shot and Beth kills herself that things actually step up a gear.

Okay, so Zach being the shooter was a bit of a copout (Zach’s return in general just proves that both him and John should never be brought back again) but I did love the reveal of Beth being Felicia’s daughter and that when she was rejected by both her mother and husband, she decided to save Susan’s life by ending her own in the show’s 150th episode. Now that was something I genuinely did not expect.

It also provided an interesting change of gears as well for the season. Instead of Paul being the baddie, he became someone we could actually sympathise with for the first time. I also have to admit that his friendship with Susan also became a highlight in the last few episodes along with Felicia’s many attempts to kill him.

Now for the disappointing part of it all. I enjoyed Felicia in the first two seasons and her brand of nuttiness but here I found her more of a nuisance and a far worse human being than Martha had been in the first year. Thankfully this show actually killed her off this time while sending Paul back to jail for a crime he actually did commit. All in all, when I look at the Paul/Felicia plot, I have to admit that it was a lot better than the antics of the Applewhites or Dave in previous seasons but only just.

As for the housewives themselves, it’s been an interesting enough time for them. Susan and Mike’s financial problems sounded good on paper but seemed to lack certain realism. I mean the apartment they’re forced to stay in for most of this year is a lot better than what other people with their dire finances can afford and the erotic housecleaning plot was just silly, even if it did cost Susan her teaching job. The kidney plot however (coupled with brief reappearances from Julie and Sophie) actually worked a lot better, especially given that it resulted in a great exit for Beth and an interesting Susan/Paul friendship.

Bree on the other hand seemed to have mostly storylines involving her love life. With no business to run, a brief look into Andrew’s alcoholism and Carlos finding out how his mother really died, the variations of Orson (who finally left the series), Keith (because Bree was due a younger man) and Chuck (the best match for her, maybe?) certainly proved that Bree still had it in her, didn’t it?

Less interesting were Lynette and Tom and their many arguments of this year. I guess the most refreshing thing about them this year was that they actually seperated but listening to the endless arguments between them over past hook-ups, work issues and the like, it became more and more difficult to actually care about them. If Lynette and Tom are supposed to be our most relatable couple, then theirs really is a marriage that could be likened to a special brand of hell this year.

As for Renee – I was quite excited about Vanessa Williams joining the cast but the first half of the season suffered with trying to find a sufficient role for her and it did take me a while to believe that someone like Renee would actually be friends with anyone on Wisteria Lane but somewhere during the second half of the year, the character seemed to work a lot better. Edie Britt she’s not but she’s probably the closest thing this show will have to it again.

Gabrielle on the other hand seemed to be given a rather important plot towards the end. Although too much of this year is dedicated to the Juanita/Grace storyline, it’s really the killing of abusive stepfather Alejandro and the wives covering up of his body that saw the season end on a bang. Well that and the Come Dine With Me antics too certainly paved the way as well and I liked that Bob and Lee got some more screen time this year as well.

DVD Extras: An interesting enough collection of bloopers, deleted scenes, commentaries and other features for the series. We’ve had more in previous releases but it’s still a modest enough round up of stuff.

EPISODE RATINGS:

7x01: Remember Paul = 8/10, 7x02: You Must Meet My Wife = 7/10,
7x03: Truly Content = 7/10, 7x04: The Thing That Counts Is What’s Inside = 7/10,
7x05: Let Me Entertain You = 6/10, 7x06: Excited And Scared = 9/10,
7x07: A Humiliating Business = 7/10, 7x08: Sorry Grateful = 7/10,
7x09: Pleasant Little Kingdom = 7/10, 7x10: Down The Block There’s A Riot = 9/10,
7x11: Assassins = 8/10, 7x12: Where Do I Belong = 6/10,
7x13: I’m Still Here = 7/10, 7x14: Flashback = 8/10,
7x15: Farewell Letter = 9/10, 7x16: Searching = 10/10,
7x17: Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed = 8/10,
7x18: Moments In The Woods = 8/10, 7x19: The Lies Ill-Concealed = 7/10,
7x20: I’ll Swallow Poison On Sunday = 8/10, 7x21: Then I Really Got Scared = 7/10,
7x22: And Lots Of Security = 8/10, 7x23: Come On Over For Dinner = 9/10.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Got The Beat

Okay, it really has been a while, so apologies and here are some of the things I've been watching in the last while.

Downton Abbey - I literally spent four days last week catching up with the first series and writing up a review for it before watching the first episode of Season 2. The first episode of the new series taught me a lot of things, namely that this series isn't a flash in the pan for top notch quality entertainment on a Sunday night and that I really have become invested in the characters. The new ones were a varied bunch - I sort of sided with Ethel, Lavinia made no solid impression and Vera was a total unbridled bitch in the making. The love arcs - Matthew/Mary, Anna/Bates and Sybil/Branson all took up some good screentime but the scenes within the Somme with Matthew and Thomas were definitely the most effective, particularly towards the end. Welcome back, show.

Glee - I just watched the first episode of Season 3 yesterday and while there's too much talk about the show's ratings (overexposure can be a curse), the episode itself was actually pretty good. Sure, it would've been nice if the writers had come up with a better excuse for Blaine to transfer to McKinley and maybe Will shouldn't have booted Santana out of the group but it does seem like the show's back on fine form. I certainly enjoyed punky Quinn, the gang's take on We Got The Beat and Kurt/Rachel getting one hell of a humbling experience. Plus, the obvious tension between Finn and Blaine could make for an interesting rivalry. The biggest problem is still Sue though. I feel she is losing impact as a character and her candidacy is something that I don't is strong to be sustained throughout the series.

Smallville - I still have to catch up with E4's episode this week but the last few have been nothing but brilliant. I loved Chloe's re-introduction to the series, Martha's brief return and of course, Parallel Lionel doing his damndest to influence Alexander as well. Heck, even The Hangover themed episode was a lot more fun than it actually should've been but maybe that was because of Cassidy Freeman's singing. That being said though, the Darkseid arc does need to step up a gear though, considering that we don't have that many episodes left.

The Fades - You gotta love BBC3. They gave us the wonders of both Torchwood and Being Human and now they're hoping that The Fades can also bring them success. The ratings have certainly been good for the station and the apocalyptic scenerio that's presented here with the creepy dead things is certainly interesting. Paul's not a bad protagonist but I found myself disappointed that both Sarah and Helen were bumped off when I could've thought of two other characters I wouldn't have minded seeing the back off. Still, though I will be watching this one for the next five weeks.

The Vampire Diaries: Good set of episodes here. Rose's death certainly hit home, the build up towards Klaus has been interesting to watch along with the return of John Gilbert, werewolf lady Jules and the divide between Tyler and Caroline. In fairness, this show has certainly come leaps and bounds and the multiple plotting has certainly been more interesting than Damon's continuous veering between being good and bad. Just choose a damn side, already.

The X Factor: The last few weeks have been fine, ratings are up but have we really seen anyone with that great potential? Kelly's crying over one contestant was pretty horrid to watch and Louis needs to stop encouraging novelty acts as well. Also, I get that it wasn't intended but Simon's return last week just proved to me that the series really does work without him. Liking Gary and Tulisa the most as judges this year.

- I'll be reviewing Ringer from next week onwards. I needed to watch the first two episodes and while it's not perfect, I do want to review it.
- Alexandra Daddario has landed a multiple episode arc on Parenthood, playing the role of receptionist Rachel.
- Michael Zegan has signed up to play a new character in the second season of The Walking Dead.
- Despite being shot in the finale, Rutina Wesley will be appearing in the fifth season of True Blood. A mysterious woman will also be at the centre point of the next series.
- Downton Abbey has been renewed for a third run. The first episode of Season 2 attracted over 9 million viewers. Filming for this year's Christmas special has begun.
- Lacey Turner will appearing in David Tennant's episode of upcoming BBC series, Love Life. Filming for the series began this week.
- Matthew Rhys will be playing John Jasper in a BBC2 production of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, due to air next year for the bicentennial of Charles Dickens. Tamzin Merchant and Alun Armstrong will also appear in the two-parter.
- Merlin's fourth season will air on October 1st at 7.50pm. Misfits third year will also debut on E4 next month.
- Gilles Marini will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Modern Family, playing a character named Julian.
- Ashton Kutcher's opening episode of Two And A Half Men attracted 28 million viewers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Doctor Who - Christmas 2011 Special Further Details

And here are some big whopping details for this year's Christmas special. Well, we still need a title for it.

First thing is first - this one is set during World War 2 and Claire Skinner is playing a widowed mother named Madge Arwell, that ends up in Dorset with her children, Lily and Cyril and embarks on an unforgettable adventure with a mysterious bowtie wearing man named the Doctor. Also appearing in the special are Bill Bailey, Alexander Armstrong and Arabella Weir and the press for this special episode does seem to indicate this year's special really is the show's take on The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

However two other guest stars that will also be appearing in this episode are Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. On Saturday last, a scene was filmed where the Doctor paid Amy and Rory a brief visit for New Year's, so while it's likely that their days travelling with the Doctor really are over, Amy and Rory still aren't forgotten either. The episode (yet to be titled) will be written by Steven Moffat and directed by Farren Blackburn.

Press Release: http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/09_september/21/who.shtml

The Christmas special is due to air on Christmas Day. A timeslot has yet to be confirmed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Glee - Season 2 Review

US Airdate: September 21st 2010-May 24th 2011

For the second year at McKinley High, the gang go through their usual quest for popularity but can the success really keep a coming for the series?

New York, New York: I have a confession to make. For anyone who’s been reading my blogs over the last several months, you’ll have noticed that I’m not near as damning towards the series second season as many other critics have been but that doesn’t automatically mean that the show has been perfect either in it’s second run, even if I have enjoyed a lot of the second year.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. While this show is fantastic and hardly in a minority, some of the pacing for the second season has definitely been a problem for the show, in particular with the multitude of relationships that have dominated the entire 22 episodes of the show.

Rachel and Finn are supposed to be the lynchpin relationship of the season but contrary to Ryan Murphy’s promises, they actually spent more time apart than together and even when they were a couple, there weren’t as riveting as they could’ve been. I think with these two, it’s a case of the show putting their leading characters together and not really knowing what to do with them.

When they’re apart as well, there’s a terrible attempt of Finn and Quinn rekindling their relationship and something of a wasted reunion between Rachel and Jesse in the final three episodes as well. Similarly, the writers keep telling us to ship Brittany and Santana as a couple but instead we’re lumbered with the dullest relationship in the series run – Brittany and Artie and despite being a good looking guy, newcomer Sam had difficulties sustaining relationships with either Quinn and Santana for two thirds of the series.

Even when they decide to pair him with Mercedes in the finale, its a case of being too late and let’s not get into the mess with Will and Emma (and Holly and Carl) or else I really will want to tear my hair out. Heck, even the somewhat odd pairing with Puck and Lauren loses it’s appeal long before the finale kicked in.

In fact the only romantic pairings that actually seemed to work this year were the savagely underused Mike and Tina and of course, Kurt’s relationship with Blaine, even if it’s a little rushed to an extent. I’m beginning to think that with this show, the friendships – Rachel/Kurt/Mercedes, Quinn/Santana/Brittany and Will/Beiste were the only times when the writers really got the interactions more finely tuned.

However, I think the biggest issue for me with this series is the show’s continuous insistence of making the Glee kids into outsiders. I can understand the thematic relevance for it but at this point, I’m bored to tears of the slushie facials and it’s also beginning to lose it’s credibility as well. Plus for the most part, the likes of Puck and Will really don’t have much to do and the writers over exaggerate Brittany’s stupidity as well.

Similarly, Sue’s continued machinations against the gang and Will really got old this series. In fact, the only times in which I’ve actually enjoyed Sue have been when she’s shown either compassion to Kurt or when she lost her sister Jean in the penultimate episode of the season. Other than that (and despite Jane Lynch being on fine form), I have actually grown a little tired with the character.

As for the positives of the series, well there were some. Kurt’s gay bullying/meeting Blaine/transferring to Dalton/coming back to McKinley might not be that radical to watch on repeats but it certainly helped cement Chris Colfer’s abilities as an actor and gave the character the much needed depth that he had been sorely lacking from the first year.

More riveting however was Santana’s storyline. I’m not entirely sure if Santana needed to be revealed as gay (I think it did seem more likely that she was bisexual) but this was definitely Naya Rivera’s year to shine and considering the amount of stuff the writers threw at her to play with, it’s amazing that she knocked it out of the park every time. I just hope that Santana and Brittany are an end game though, couple wise.

Another great element of the show was expanding the character. It was nice to see Karofsky given more depth and Lauren did have her plus point as did Becky but the newcomers in Sam, Beiste and Blaine is where the season worked at it’s best too. Plus even Gwyneth Paltrow as flighty Holly Holiday and John Stamos as Emma’s short lived husband Carl went down a treat too, though Sunshine could’ve been used a little better and Figgins has to be the worst principal known to man. How someone that incompetent is running a school is beyond me.

As the music itself – okay, not gonna lie, the show did rely too much on themed episodes and current chart stuff (please never subject us to Justin Bieber again) but considering that some of those themes hinged on religion, binge drinking, sexuality, identity, Christmas and gossip, I’m actually forgiving of it. Plus, we did get an interesting take on a cult classic and an episode dedicated to Fleetwood Mac should be seen as a good thing.

In terms of the Glee club furthering in success, I’m hoping that their loss in Nationals during the finale will teach them a valuable. Then again, if it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure that Santana will teach Rachel a valuable lesson, Lima Heights style and also more original songs to. We need another “Trouty Mouth” and “My Cup”

EXTRAS: Actually there’s an impressive bunch of stuff here. You’ve got the usual array of bloopers, deleted scenes, commentaries and interviews. There’s a look around the set with Cory Monteith, filming in New York, a featurette on Brittany, making of The Rocky Horror episode to name but a few.

EPISODE RATINGS:

2x01: Audition = 8/10, 2x02: Brittany/Britney = 8/10,
2x03: Grilled Cheesus = 9/10, 2x04: Duets = 9/10,
2x05: The Rocky Horror Glee Show = 7/10, 2x06: Never Been Kissed = 9/10,
2x07: The Substitute = 7/10, 2x08: Furt = 8/10,
2x09: Special Education = 9/10, 2x10: A Very Glee Christmas = 9/10,
2x11: The Sue Sylvester Shuffle = 8/10, 2x12: Silly Love Songs = 9/10,
2x13: Comeback = 6/10, 2x14: Blame It On The Alcohol = 7/10,
2x15: Sexy = 10/10, 2x16: Original Song = 9/10,
2x17: A Night Of Neglect = 6/10, 2x18: Born This Way = 9/10,
2x19: Rumours = 9/10, 2x20: Prom Queen = 8/10,
2x21: Funeral = 9/10, 2x22: New York = 8/10.

Season 2 is currently available on DVD.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Downton Abbey - Season 1 Review

For the last while I managed to evade the buzz about this series quite well but thanks to my sister, I actually succumbed to the period piece and have found the antics of both the upstairs and the downstairs types of Downton actually quite gripping. Of course, it’s mostly the downstairs lot that win out but with a cast like Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Dan Stevens, this show certainly aimed high and succeeded because of it.

Episode 1: A really solid opening episode. Gorgeously shot, it set up the main premise about the Grantham’s dilemma over Mary’s inheritance going down the crapper as well as Robert’s attempts of solving the solution with adding Matthew and Isobel into the mix. And I loved the Titanic connection as well here. April 1912.

Episode 2: Stronger episode. The tension between Mary and Matthew worked pretty well, but the rivalry between Violet and Isobel was a lot more gripping to watch. It’s a good job; they actually paid attention to Isobel’s medical knowledge in this one too. Both Thomas and O’Brien make for a scheming double act and Carson’s music hall past was an interesting reveal. September 1912

Episode 3: One of my favourites of the bunch. I didn’t see Kemal’s death coming but I did see Mary, Cora and Anna’s attempts of saving Mary’s dignity being scuppered though. However, this was also an interesting episode for Gwen when Sybil stepped into the fray and tried to help her. The Matthew/Edith part just petered out though. March 1913.

Episode 4: A good one for showing us more of Mrs Hughes and there was some nice moments between Anna and Mr Bates too in this one. Also, trust Thomas to stick in the boot with William by trying to cosy up to Daisy and there was also the debut of socialist chauffeur Branson as well. May 1913.

Episode 5: Thanks to O’Brien and Thomas, Edith had the perfect means of getting even with Mary and she did it with malice style. Other good plots included Mary getting closer to Matthew, the whole snuffbox debacle (nice save, Bates), Sybil’s continuous encouragement of Gwen’s secretarial endeavours and Violet at the flower show. August 1913.

Episode 6: Ah, damn, they nearly got there with Anna and Bates and we got bloody sidetracked. Still, at least Mary and Matthew kissed and it even seemed like Edith was getting a love interest while Sybil was doing her bit for women’s rights. I also liked that Mrs Patmore’s eyesight issue got dealt with and Daisy did the right thing as well when O’Brien and Thomas continued with their plotting against Bates. May 1914.

Episode 7: Cora had an heir to the house and thanks to O’Brien getting the wrong end of the stick, she lost her baby. Mary lost Matthew and also made sure that Edith got her comeuppance, Sybil finally seemed successful in getting Gwen a job, Anna learned more about Bates’s past, Patmore got her eyesight fixed, there was fuss over the house getting a telephone and Robert had to tell everyone that Britain and Germany were at war. Plus much joy in William punching Thomas’s lights out as well. July 1914.

An absolutely gripping first run. For seven episodes, this show ran smoothly, packing in a lot of action, great character moments, sublime performance and now, I finally get why everyone is raving about it. I’ll be watching the second season without further delay.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x11: "The God Complex"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Nick Hurran

Rory (re the Doctor): “What’s happened? What is he doing?”
Amy: “He’s saving us.”

Meme to this series, I already had enough shocks this week thanks to another show I watch but even I saw the last scene of this episode coming a mile off. Did that ruin the moment for me? Actually, no it didn’t but more on that later.

I loved the concept of this episode – a creepy hotel feeding on people’s fears and resulting in their actual deaths, so when the episode actually subverted and it was their faith that was becoming the guests undoing in this episode, my enjoyment skyrocketed a little more for this particular story.

The Doctor has a tendency for bringing the gang to the wrong place a lot of the time but obviously, the TARDIS must have thought that he needed to visit this creepy hotel and form an alliance with the remaining survivors against the Minotaur in order to save the day, didn’t she?

Most of the guest characters in this one worked extremely well. Lucy Haywood set the tone up nicely with her death and fears of a gorilla giving us the first clue that faith rather than fear was the key to the whole thing.

Similarly Joe when he wasn’t bound and gagged by everyone else also showed us the way before getting killed by the Minotaur. I have to admit that I find ventriloquist dummies more annoying than terrifying but it seemed like a plausible thing to be frightened of, even if Joe’s faith in gambling/luck became his downfall.

But it was really Howie, Rita and Gibbis who were the guest characters we got to form more of an attachment to, compared to Lucy and Joe. Howie definitely seemed to be a socially awkward young guy consumed with his fear of being rejected by women and his obsession with conspiracy theories.

In some ways that made the character a rather broad stereotype but given that he was played extremely well and that his possession of the Minotaur actually gave the Doctor a chance to trap the creature, he did work a lot better than expected to, even if he did also perish in this episode.

For me, the death that actually got to me was Rita. Okay, so the moment she was written as a potential future companion should’ve been enough of a hint that she wasn’t going to survive the episode but for once, I was hoping the show would do something different.

I loved the character of Rita. Her fears of her father’s disapproval of her academia worked extremely well, she had a wonderful rapport with the Doctor, Amy and Rory and because she sacrificed herself to the Minotaur, she did actually manage to buy the Doctor some time and I loved that he lost it as well.

As impressive as the body count was in this episode, what was better was the Doctor reacting to it. Joe, Howie and Rita’s deaths along with the others that happened in the hotel bothered the Doctor as they should but they also gave him some food for thought concerning Amy and Rory as well.

It’s interesting that Rory didn’t have a room in this episode (all the characters had rooms with fears) but considering the stuff that he’s been through, I think Rory really is made of sterner stuff. Though there was a point in the story where he did look an exit door, so maybe that was intended for him.

As for the Doctor’s room – of course we weren’t going to see what was in it but if I to hazard a guess, it’s either the astronaut revealing itself or it’s the Doctor himself. Remember if “Amy’s Choice” has taught us anything, it’s that the Doctor has a lot of self loathing issues and it makes more sense than a PE teacher as well.

Amy’s fears of her seven year self being abandoned really does sum her up though. I loved that the Doctor shattered her faith in order to starve/kill the Minotaur, especially as the scene in question was similar to what the Doctor had done to Ace in “The Curse Of Fenric” but done in a different manner with Amy.

As for the departure with Amy and Rory at the end – I actually loved the scene. In some ways, it’s a reverse of Martha’s exit from “Last Of The Time Lords” but it also made a lot of sense too. Eventually every companion has to leave the TARDIS and given that Amy/Rory have suffered whilst being with the Doctor, he’s actually being kind in his own way too.

More importantly what I loved about the scene was that Amy understood what the Doctor was doing as well. She might not have liked the idea of leaving the Doctor but she understood and seemed to accept his reasons. However, considering that Amy/Rory are still in the last two episodes, their time with the Doctor isn’t completely over yet and let’s not forget about the whole River arc too.

As for the rest of the episode, I really liked the reveal of the hotel being a prison as well as the reveal of the Minotaur being a distant cousin of Nimon but as enjoyable as David Wallaims is, I actually disliked Gibbis as a character.

Gibbis’s cowardice really had been a form of slyness and I hated that he was responsible for Howie’s death. Similarly, I don’t really that Wallaims was given that much to really do but aside from that, there’s very little about the episode that bothered me.

Also in “The God Complex”

Did anyone think the hotel in this episode looked like a slightly bigger one of Honolulu Heights from Being Human?

Amy (to Rory): “Did you just say ‘it’s okay, we’re nice’?”

The Daleks were mentioned in this episode, the Weeping Angels were Gibbis’s fear and on the wall of the defeated, there were pictures of Judoon, Sontaran, Silurian and a Cat Nurse.

Joe: “We’re going to die here.”
The Doctor: “Well they certainly didn’t mention that in the brochure.”

Gibbis: “Times like this, I think of my old school motto – resistance is exhausting.”

Joe (and presumably) everyone else was here two days before being taken over. Gibbis is from Tivoli, the most taken over planet in the universe.

Rory (to Amy, re Rita): “Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone, I have this overwhelming urge to notify their next of kin.”

Gibbis: “All I want to do is go home, be conquered and oppressed. Is that too much to ask?”

The Doctor’s room was 11 (a reference to his current incarnation) and Amy’s was 7 (a reference to the first time she met the Doctor). The gang were also meant to go to Ravan-Skala, where the people are 600 feet tall.

Rita: “How’s it going?”
Amy: “Don’t talk to the clown.”

The Doctor: “Have you found your room yet?”
Rory: “No, is that good or bad?”

Side-note: Why were some fans offended by Rita’s Muslim comments? Rani said something similar in The Sarah Jane Adventures once. It was also Rita who spoke the episode’s title in obvious relation to the Doctor.

The Doctor (re his room): “Of course. Who else?”

The Doctor: “Let me find you.”
Rita: “You stay where you are. Let me be robbed of my faith in private.”

Are Amy and Rory actually living in the same house we saw back in “The Impossible Astronaut”? I have to admit, the car was nice too.

The Doctor: “Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you, glorious Pond, the girl who waited for me. I’m not a hero, I really am just a mad man in a box and it’s time we saw each other as we really are, Amy Williams. It’s time to stop waiting.”

For everyone wondering about River, well Amy did mention her in this one before the Doctor left.

Amy: “So, you’re leaving, aren’t you?”
The Doctor: “You haven’t seen the last of me. Bad Penny is my middle name.”

Amy (to the Doctor, re River): “If you bump into my daughter, tell her to visit her old mum sometime.”

Chronology: I assume it’s 2011 where the Doctor left Amy and Rory but I’m not sure when though. Before or after “The Impossible Astronaut”?

Now, this to me is why I hope Toby Whithouse either succeeds Moffat as a producer or simply writes more for this show. The man simply gets the characters and “The God Complex” certainly enforced that more and more. I guess I should say I have faith in Toby Whithouse but I could’ve sworn I saw a Minotaur looming about, so maybe writing it down will keep me safe.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Friday, September 16, 2011

Doctor Who - Christmas 2011 News/Spoilers

There might be three episodes to Season 6 left to air but filming has finally begun on this year's Christmas special.

Is it Maxine Peake or Claire Skinner? Arguments have been made on various sites for both (I think it's the latter though) but the lucky lady is clearly going to be the main focus of this year's special with Matt Smith. Details of the special are still unknown, though there have been rumours that this one could be a take on The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Very interesting if that turns out to be true. More importantly, while the 11th Doctor will certainly be back, will Amy and Rory factor into this special? Oh and apparently a regular from QI will be in this one too.

Elsewhere, DWM have released the cover of next week's issue and unsurprisingly, it's theme is for The Wedding Of River Song. Yes, the 45 minute, one part finale will tie up the loose ends surrounding River, the astronaut, Madame Kovarian and the Doctor's death but what of Amy and Rory? I know both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have said in interviews that they're coming back for Season 7 but I'm beginning to think it won't be as regulars. As for the upcoming release of the complete sixth series on DVD, expect a load of new scenes, prequels, commentaries, bloopers, monster files, trailers and deleted scenes as an additional Confidential called The Night's Tale.

The Complete Season 6 will be released on DVD from November 14th.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Desperate Housewives - Season 8 Cast Shots

With the eighth and final season set to air, on ABC next Sunday, here's what to expect from the ladies of Wisteria Lane ...

Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross): She's still dating Chuck and it's potentially going to get more serious as the show progresses.

Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria): There's tension between her and Carlos, following the murder of her abusive stepfather.

Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman): Both her and Tom are seperated, he's got a new girlfriend and Lynette's sister Lydia is also making a reappearance as well as a grown up Kayla.

Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams): Meets and dates a new guy called Ben, who is more than he seems. On this show, that's an expected thing.

Susan Delfino (Teri Hatcher): She's affected a lot by covering up a murder but there's also trouble afoot for her when she gets her teaching job back.

Other stuff that should be noteworthy in the first two episodes, include the women dealing with Alejandro's death in their own way, including a homage back to the first season. Here's hoping this show goes out with a bang.

Season 8 Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBYVe_2ubQ0

Season 8 will air on ABC, Sundays at 9pm and a date for it's returns on both RTE2 and Channel 4/E4 has yet to be confirmed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Fades - More UK TV Spookiness

Okay, if Bedlam wasn't enough for UK viewers this year and Being Human wasn't enough for BBC3 on the supernatural front, then it's rather nice that The Fades is offering another piece of spookiness to UK telly, right?

The series, set to debut next week focuses on a loner named Paul (Iain De Caestecker) who has apocalyptic dreams that both a therapist and his friend can do nothing about. On top of that, he's also seeing the spirits of the dead, or Fades as they're called in this series.

The trailer for the series is definitely promising and BBC3 definitely seems the right place for a series like this to flourish. Plus with a cast that contains Game Of Thrones newcomer Natalie Dormer as a visionary as well and Daniella Nardini as a priest, this is definitely a series with a lot of promise.

Press Release: http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/03_march/29/fades.shtml
Season 1 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB3iMW0fbLs

The Fades airs Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC3 from September 21st.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Review of True Blood's 4x12: "And When I Die"

Written by Raelle Tucker
Directed by Scott Winant

Marnie: “Oh, this fucking sucks.”
Antonia: “Change is hard.”

Oh, Antonia, you were a lot nicer to Marnie than I think I would’ve been. Clearly you are a way better woman and witch than Marnie would’ve ever been. I have to admit for a last episode, Marnie did another no-no and made my hit list of characters to despise – she killed Jesus while still possessing Lafayette.

Maybe it’s because of that action, that it felt oddly perturbing that both Antonia and Adele were sent to bring her to the spirit world/other side but if it wasn’t for Sookie, Tara and Holly summoning the dead on Halloween, then Bill and Eric would’ve also been added to the impressive list of casualties in this one.

Not that I believed for a second that Bill and Eric were in any actual danger. Sure, they were bound to a stake with silver and got a little crispy but given that even they didn’t seem that worried for their lives, it was hard to actually believe they were going to meet the true death. Still, Marnie’s determination to annihilate them one last time was oddly admirable, if for it’s consistency with her character more than anything else.

As for Jesus’s death, well it was one of four important deaths in this episode and it was sad as well. I didn’t cry but what made it sad was the fact that he died because Marnie wanted the demon inside and because she made Lafayette commit the deed and it was also sad because of Lafayette’s guilt when he came to his senses again.

Of course, the biggest death in this episode wasn’t Jesus. If Tara is legitimately dead thanks to Debbie, then damn show, I did not expect that one bit. I really don’t know how I feel about Tara’s death in some ways. Obviously, I’d rather she wasn’t dead and it kind of sucked that she was killed because she was trying to save Sookie but more so, I just don’t know if I should believe it.

I mean, there’s a slim chance that she could come back or be turned as a vampire but if this is really it for Tara, then I applaud the series for the element of surprise but also curse it for ridding us of one of it’s strongest female characters too and especially when Tara and Sookie were getting their friendship back on track too.

Debbie Pelt really made a final impression. Not only will she be known as Alcide’s crazy, V-addicted ex but now she’s also going to be known as the woman who murdered Tara. Of course, Sookie reacted like anyone else in the situation and promptly shot Debbie down in the process.

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the last scene and Debbie’s demise too. On one hand, it was better than the book version but on the other hand, there should’ve been more dialogue between the ladies before Tara and Debbie ended up being shot. I would’ve liked more of a confrontation between Sookie and Debbie as well before the latter got her just desserts.

As for the last death – like Jesus and Debbie, I totally saw Nan getting staked in this one. She made the cardinal of both getting on Bill and Eric’s bad sides and threatening Sookie’s life, so there was no way in hell she was going to make it out of this episode alive. Much as I liked Nan as a character, I didn’t feel bad for her when she was staked by Bill. Only Jesus and Tara’s deaths ignited any sympathy for me.

Speaking of Bill and Eric, this was one of my favourite episodes with those two. Okay, them both drinking out of Sookie to heal themselves didn’t do much for me but I loved their snarky banter whilst tied up and I certainly liked them having each other’s back with Nan and not behaving like dicks when Sookie dumped them both. If we get more of that with them next season, I will be one extremely happy viewer.

Keeping with the vampires of this episode, I might not have liked Pam this year as much as previous ones, but I found her frustration over Eric rather delightful, story wise and the fact that she let Ginger give her a hug was sweet. Ginger is a much better character when she’s not bloody screaming all the time as this episode nicely proved.

You know what else I loved, vampire wise here – Jessica deciding to take things slowly with Jason. Because it made a lot of sense. It made sense that she would want to have a less serious relationship after Hoyt and while I’m a bit sad that Jason and Hoyt’s friendship has been ruined, I am glad that Hoyt knows about Jason and Jessica too.

And then there were the two best vampire related plots of the episode as well. I don’t care how ‘obvious’ it might have been to have turned Steve Newlin into a vampire, I think it’s an absolutely genius idea and I cannot wait to see where the writers go with it next season. That being said, Jason better not be dumb enough to let Steve into his home though.

As for Russell breaking free from his cemented prison – I literally wanted to jump with joy. Russell has been my favourite season baddie and if his return works brilliantly second time round as Herrick’s did in Being Human, then it is going to be a lot of fun seeing him cause upheaval for Bill, Eric and Sookie. Too bad we didn’t actually see Russell in the episode though but there’s definitely always next year.

Last but not least – the set of Patrick. He might have appeared in this episode for two minutes but it’s evident that he’s going to be trouble for Arlene and Terry. I didn’t need a ghostly visit from Rene (the last person I was expecting to see in this one) in order to drill that home but damn, I’m intrigued by what kinds of craziness Patrick can add to the series and I have to admit, Scott Foley is definitely nice to look at too.

Also in “And When I Die”

While it was sweet that Maxine attended Tommy’s funeral and wanted to mother Sam, shouldn’t she just actually try and make up with her own son first? Oh and Andy and Holly have made up too.

Tara (re Adele): “If she was here, what do you think she’d say to us?”
Sookie: “To be good to each other.”

For Halloween, Sam wore some kind of a hat (policeman or chauffeur?), Arlene and Terry were zombie, Lisa was pretending to be a teen mother, Holly dressed as a fairy, Sookie wore bunny ears (while getting her job back) and Jessica dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.

Jesus: “Marnie, before Antonia came along, you were afraid of your own voice.”

Sam: “You want your job back or not?”
Sookie: “I’m gonna get you for this, Sam.”
Sam: “Nobody likes an angry bunny.”

Sam and Luna seemed to be in an odd place with each other in this episode and who was that wolf that went for Sam?

Sookie: “I can’t change who I love. Lord knows I’ve tried.”
Alcide: “Try harder.”

Eric: “Any idea how to get us out of this your majesty?”
Bill: “You could summon Pam.”
Eric: “You could summon Jessica.”

So, who exactly in the Authority and AVL have different views to those of Nan when it comes to how vampires are in society? I also wonder if this means that Russell is going to get himself in league with those sorts of vampires.

Marnie: “I don’t want to go. I’m not ready. Please.”

Adele: “Being alone is nothing to be afraid of my Sookie. We’re all alone in the end.”

Even as a vampire, Steve Newlin’s dress sense is horribly conservation. I’m wondering who turned him because I’m not sure if Russell would’ve been free long enough to have done it.

Jason: “You don’t know me very well.”
Jessica: “Fair enough. I’m just getting to know myself but I don’t want to hurt you the way I hurt Hoyt.”

Eric: “You saved my life.”
Bill: “Both our lives.”
Sookie: “It was my turn.”

Standout music: Bobby Borris Prickett and The Crypt Keepers “Monster Mash” and the Heavy’s “And When I Die”. The former is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Bill: “We are not fucking puppy dogs.”
Eric (re Nan): “What a bitch.”

Debbie (to Sookie): “I should’ve done this a long time ago.”

Chronology: It’s Halloween and a couple of days since “Soul Of Fire”.

Well, that was certainly a finale to behold. “And When I Die” certainly tallied an impressive body count and set up some potentially brilliant storylines for next year. I will definitely be coming back for more.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x10: "The Girl Who Waited"

Written by Tom MacRae
Directed by Nick Hurran

Older Amy: “You didn’t save me.”
Rory: “But this is the saving. This is the ‘us saving you’. The Doctor just got the timing a bit out.”

With a title like this, it was only logical that once again, Amy Pond would be placed in a familiar predicament. Waiting for the men in her life, especially the Doctor and Rory has been a repeated strand in Amy’s life and each time, it’s been effective.

As a child, she waited twelve years for the Doctor to show up and after their encounter with Prisoner Zero, Amy waited another two years on top of that. For a great amount she also waited for the Doctor and Rory whilst being kept captive by Madame Kovarian on Demon’s Run but even this episode went a bit beyond those lengths of time for Amy.

Waiting thirty six years on Apalapucia in the Twostreams facility and fending herself against the helpful but dangerous Handbots made Amy Pond into a rather bitter woman but understandably so. Amy’s faith in the Doctor was always going to become shaken at some point and considering what she’s been through most of her life, it made sense that she snapped at him here.

The Doctor and Rory might not have intended to wait nearly four decades in order to rescue Amy but fate certainly wasn’t in their hands and it was rather sad the kind of living that the older Amy had been thrown into. Stuck on a world where she had to survive on her wits alone, I think it’s understandable to see why Amy hardened as much as she did.

I love the Doctor to bits as a character and while I adore his dynamic with Amy and Rory a lot, this is another example of how him being in their lives have cost them. Losing Melody (which strangely isn’t addressed here) was the worst thing but older Amy’s predicament also comes across as being mighty unfair too.

I did like that no matter how hardened the older Amy appeared to be, Rory could break through it. The fact that she neutralised a Handbot and named it after her husband spoke volumes as did her initial refusal to help her younger self until she was reminded about how much she loved Rory.

And here lies something about this episode that I loved – Rory. I’ve never needed proof that Amy loves Rory and we’ve had more than enough of it in past episodes but if “The Doctor’s Wife” was a love letter to the series and the Doctor’s relationship with the TARDIS, then this episode is an even bigger love letter to Amy and Rory’s relationship.

The way both versions of Amy lament about Rory speak volumes of how much he actually means to them and the fact that Rory was put in a position where he had to choose between both versions of his wife was damn well effective. I think that was however mainly down to an astute comment that Rory made about the Doctor trying to turn Rory into him.

Of course, there was no way that both versions of Amy were going to make it out the episode alive. Seeing the older version beg to be let into the TARDIS was heartbreaking but not as much as her poignant goodbye to Rory and eventual defeat at the hands of the Handbots. Poor Older Amy, it might have been emotionally manipulative but I couldn’t help feeling bad for her in the end.

As for our Amy, well she was largely trapped in a different time stream during her stay in the Twostreams facility but her scenes with her older self and Rory really just cemented how far Karen Gillan has come with this series. I thought she was absolutely superb in both roles. I bought her as the older, hardened version of Amy and of course, her regular self as well.

I also found it interesting the way this episode ended as well. The Doctor might have been right about unsustainable paradoxes with both versions of Amy but it still felt rather cruel in some ways what he did, even if he was in the right. It also raised an interesting question of how much longer can Amy and Rory stay with him as well.

One of the biggest themes of this season (apart from the mystery of River and the Doctor’s imminent death) is that it does seem that time is running out for Amy and Rory too. At some point, their time with the Doctor is going to come to an end and considering the things they’ve been put through, perhaps the time to leave is coming a lot sooner for them after all.

As for the rest of the episode – I really liked the Handbots. Okay, it’s another episode in a row where the monster isn’t technically evil but it worked rather nicely and there is something rather sinister about the idea of being killed with kindness too. Though in the end, it only seemed to be an anaesthetic they gave out rather than a poison to Amy and Rory after all.

And as for the Doctor – for an episode that was supposed to be Doctor-Lite, it didn’t feel like one. The Doctor was in enough scenes that his onscreen presence was always felt and his presence lingered nicely during the moments where we didn’t see him either. Perhaps that is the best way of dealing with the Doctor every once in a while.

Also in “The Girl Who Waited”

Tom MacRae who wrote this episode, previously wrote the second season two-parter, “Rise Of The Cybermen”/”The Age Of Steel”

Amy (to the Doctor/Rory): “Where am I? In fact, where are you?”

Amy pushed the red waterfall button instead of the green anchor button, leading to the whole chain of events.

Amy: “Rory, I love you, now save me. Go on.”

Amy: “I’m not from this world; your medicine will kill me.”
Handbot: “Statement rejected. Do not be alarmed, this is a kindness.”

The Handbots could be neutralised with feedback to each other but Older Amy using her katana on them was more fun to watch.

Amy (re gardens): “You could really spend a lifetime here. Not that I’m going to.”

Older Amy: “I got old, Rory. What did you think was going to happen?”
Rory: “I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together.”

The Computer Interface was voiced by Imelda Staunton, who didn’t actually appear in this episode. I would’ve liked to have seen her in this one.

Rory (re Rory Handbot): “You named him after me?”
Older Amy: “Needed a bit of company.”
Rory: “So, he’s like your -”
Older Amy: “- Pet.”

Rory: “But you’ll die here.”
Older Amy: “Not if you take me with you.”

Originally, there were plans to use an older actress to play Amy in this episode. Also, I loved that Older Amy made herself a sonic probe and a protective outfit from the Handbots.

The Doctor: “That is not how I travel.”
Rory: “Then I do not want to travel with you.”

Amy: “Why are we still here?”
Older Amy: “Because they leave you. They get into their TARDIS and fly away.”

Other titles that were considered for this episode including “The Visiting Hour” and “Kindness”. Oh and Rory pretended to be in a rock band once and Amy/Rory’s first kiss was to the Macarena.

Older Amy (to Rory): “I’m gonna pull time apart for you.”

The Doctor: “There can be only one Amy in the TARDIS. Which one do you want? It’s your choice.”
Rory: “This isn’t fair. You’re turning me into you.”

The Confidential for this episode had Arthur Darvill swimming with sharks (not a first for him) and Karen Gillan racing as well.

Rory: “Amy, I love you.”
Older Amy: “I love you too. Don’t let me in. Tell Amy, your Amy, I’m giving her the days. The days with you. The days to come.”

Chronology: None specified since “Night Terrors”.

I absolutely loved “The Girl Who Waited”. A wonderful tour de force for Amy and Rory and an instant classic to boot. In a season with some classics in it already, this is another pinnacle for the new series.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Review of Torchwood's 4x10: "The Blood Line"

Written by Russell T. Davies And Jane Espenson
Directed by Billy Gierhart

Rex (to Jack): “You, World War Two. What the hell did you do to me?”

And here I thought the crux of spending too much time (if you’re anyone but Gwen) was that you ended up dead (well, that still happened here) rather than immortal. As cliff hangers, Rex’s new lease of life was not something I expected or wanted to see happen to the character.

The unique selling point of Jack was that he was immortal and now we have both him and Rex wearing the immortality badge. If we had to have gotten this particular character development, wouldn’t Esther have been a more interesting candidate instead? For some reason, Rex doesn’t seem the right choice for it or am I being unfair?

It’s interesting that Rex suffused with Jack’s blood became instrumental in taking the Blessing down and it made sense that our heroes needed to be in both Buenos Aires and Shanghai at the same time. It’s just too bad that the Blessing really didn’t seem that interesting in the end.

And neither were the motivations of the Mother Colasanto and the Families either. So, basically their grand scheme was make their own little caste system and wipe out those who they didn’t see as good enough to be a part of it. We didn’t need something like the Blessing for that plot and neither did the Families themselves.

Speaking of the Mother Colasanto – I was so hoping she was going to be an interesting but Frances Fisher was horribly wasted in this episode. I like a campy villain as much as the next one but given how uninteresting Mother Colasanto turned out to be in the end, I really felt that we lost out too.

As for Jilly – the girl got her ass kicked by Gwen, she was nearly blown to bits by Oswald, she’s become a fugitive and she’s still daft enough to go and work for the Families again? Blue Eyes is cute and all but maybe Jilly should’ve told him not to bother with Plan B because right now, this show’s future isn’t particularly rock solid stuff to begin with.

Also after ten episodes and so much convoluted nonsense, it did seem like death was restored a little more easier, didn’t it? One thing that’s consistent with this show as well is the death count but even this episode seemed to break a record with the amount of deaths that happened.

I’m not sure if Geraint actually died along with the other Category Ones because that scene did seem a little ambiguous but those soldiers who blew themselves up thinking they were preventing Jack’s blood from resetting the Blessing were certainly stupid, weren’t they? Of course it was going to turn out that Rex’s blood had been replaced with Jack’s in the end.

Charlotte’s murder of her colleagues (Noah, Shapiro and Sandra) sort of seemed pointless in the end, especially when she was killed herself after her failed attempt on Rex. I sort of wished we had seen more of Charlotte’s motivations for the Families. It would’ve been nice but instead it felt like Charlotte was a mole because the CIA always seems to have one on most TV programs.

Similarly if Oswald’s death was supposed to stir any other emotion apart from glee, then it failed spectacularly. I’ve hated Oswald throughout the entire series and while I’m glad he took Mother Colasanto with him, even in death, Oswald was an evil, remorseless bastard to the last. At least that’s one successful bit of consistency we’ve had this year.

Last but not least – Esther Drummond. You poor, sweet girl. Of course she was going to die. Given how much RTD seems to think that only Gwen can be the ‘heart’ of Torchwood, any other female character who’s an ally is ultimately never gonna be allowed to stay with the show for long. Toshiko was shot by a horrible man and so was poor Esther. Thankfully Rex also did us a favour and killed the asshole that did poor Esther in.

I don’t really know what else I can say in this main bit, except that both Rex’s immortality and Esther’s death seemed like unnecessary and silly plot developments and that the Blessing was actually poorly thought out. I don’t want to bash Russell T. Davies too much but he did really drop the ball with this episode.

Also in “The Blood Line”

Most of the action in this episode was in Wales, Washington, Shanghai and Buenos Aires.

Rex (to Esther, re Jack’s blood): “I’ve seen some crazy shit with Torchwood but now I’m at the limit.”

Am I reading too much into it, or did Rex seem to be closer to Esther in this episode before her death?

Gwen (to Oswald): “Just you wait. If this goes right, murder’s coming back.”

Oswald: “Who are you?”
Jack: “Captain Jack Harkness.”
Oswald: “No, I spent a long time in prison and I know the smile of a man who’s done terrible things. And your friends, you’ve been watching them. Sometimes they like you, sometimes they love you and sometimes, just once or twice, glittering away in those tiny little gaps, they fear you.”
Jack: “I’m from the future.”

I got a smile in reminders of the Doctor, the Silurians, Racnoss and the Huon particles. I wonder if Jack knows what the Doctor looks like nowadays.

Rex: “I got you into a whole lot of trouble.”
Esther: “I did that on my own.”
Rex: “I never did thank you, did I?”
Esther: “No, you didn’t.”
Rex: “Well, don’t expect it now.”

Mother Colasanto: “What can you see?”
Gwen: “Enough guilt to last me a lifetime but that’s okay, I’m a working mother. I don’t need the Blessing to tell me that.”
Mother Colasanto: “And you Jack?”
Jack: “I’ve lived so many lives and now I can see them all. Hey, not so bad.”

Nice to see Rhys and Andy in this episode but I was kind of hoping for more. I did like that Rhys attended Esther’s funeral though.

Gwen: “And that’s what I did in a pit in Old Shanghai. I brought death back to the world.”

Chronology: From where “The Gathering” left off.

I really wanted to like “The Blood Line” but even though “Miracle Day” was an interesting experiment, maybe it’s also proof that if the series stands any chance of continuation, it either needs to return to the format of the first two years or just do these high concept storylines with lesser episodes.

Rating: 5 out of 10