Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost “Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” Locke Resurrects

The episode of Lost (ABC) “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” seems to answer some questions about John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), while raising even more. But this is typical for this series, which so far this season is doing a good job of roping in viewers so they come back for more.

My only annoyance with the show – and with ABC – is that they can’t seem to get the story told in one hour, completely screwing up any opportunity to DVR the show if you’re like me and already DVR two shows (Law & Order, CSI NY) at 10:00 PM. But more on that gripe later.

In case you didn’t know, Jeremy Bentham is the name given to John Locke by Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) when Locke returns to the mainland from the Island. Locke has a leg injury from when he fell into the well on the Island. Jack’s father tells him to turn the big wheel in order to get off the island and back to civilization, and that he will also die. He adds to say hello to his son. Locke then finds himself in the middle of nowhere in Tunisia, but there is a camera trained on him. Hours later, while Locke lay there injured, a truck approaches, several men come out and pick up Locke and throws him in the back of the pickup. He is taken to a makeshift hospital where he is treated and he passes out. When he comes to, Charles Widmore is at his beside. He tells Locke they had met years before when Widmore was 17 – on the Island of all places. Despite the fact Widmore has aged considerably, to Locke, it only seems like days since he first met him. Yet Locke looks the same to Widmore. Widmore says he was leader on the Island until Ben exiled him. Locke tells Widmore he chose to leave, and Widmore realizes Locke wants to bring everyone back – and those that have returned have been back for three years. Widmore will help Locke to get everyone to return, because if they don’t get back, there will be a huge war – and the wrong people will win. He later gives Locke the name and identity of Jeremy Bentham, and says he has been monitoring those that returned from the Island. He gives Locke his driver Matthew (Lance Reddick) to take him wherever he needs to go.

Locke finds Sayid (Naveen Andrews) in Santo Domingo, helping to build a home in a village. Sayid had found someone he loved, who was recently murdered, but he is happy doing his work there, and won’t leave. Later, in New York, Locke really wants to find someone named Helen Norwood, and he asks Matthew to find her. He then tracks down Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), and sees him leaving school. Walt spots Locke and walks over, and they talk. Walt seems happy, and asks Locke about his father, and Locke tells him he is on a ship near the Island. Walt says he has been dreaming about Locke, but he is happy, so Locke decides to just let him continue to be happy. But someone else is watching from afar – Ben (Michael Emerson).

Locke heads to Santa Rosa, and visits Hurley (Jorge Garcia), who at first, thinks he is seeing an apparition of a dead Locke. But when he realized Locke is alive, and he spots Matthew, Hurley becomes concerned, he’s seen Matthew before. Hurley becomes very agitated and says he won’t go back, running back to the psychiatric hospital.

Locke meets with Kate (Evangeline Lilly) in Los Angeles. She tells him she won’t return, saying he didn’t return because he had no one to love. He mentioned Helen, and said things just didn’t work out. He said he was angry and obsessed at the same time. Afterwards, when Locke asks Matthew if he found Helen, Matthew takes him to her grave; she had died from a brain aneurysm in 2006. As they are leaving the cemetery, while Matthew is putting Locke’s wheelchair in the trunk, he is shot, and Locke fights his way into the drivers seat and takes off, leaving Matthew’s body to drop to the ground. In his attempt to flee the shooter, he gets into a car accident and ends up in the hospital – Jack’s hospital. Jack (Matthew Fox) is upset to see Locke, and is not receptive to Locke’s plea for him to return to the island. As Jack moves to leave, Locke tells him that his father asked him to say hello. Jack responds that his father died in Australia three years ago. Jack told Locke to leave him and the other returnees alone.

Later, in a hotel room, Locke is writing a note to Jack, saying he wished he believed him. As he prepares to hang himself, Locke hears a knock on the door, and Ben breaks in, pleading for Locke not to do it. He manages to coax Locke down, but there is something a little to creepy about it. Ben admits he killed Matthew and has been following the returnees and is trying to protect him. Those creepy feelings are validated when Locke begins to spill too much information – Jin is still alive, and that a woman named Eloise can help them – and Ben takes the same cord that Locke was going to use to hang himself and he strangles Locke, killing him. He later cleans up any evidence he was there, and tells Locke he will miss him.

But this is all a bit of a flashback, a memory. Locke is now back alive on the Island, seemingly resurrected after the second plane crash that returned everyone, plus a few others, to the Island. Locke - his last memory was of dying - tells someone named Cesar (Saïd Taghmaoui), who is looking at Dharma files, that he is not sure how he got back. Cesar tells Locke that Hurley and several other passengers disappeared after a flash of light appeared on the plane right before the crash. Locke asks for the passenger list, and Cesar tells Locke that the pilot took it. Cesar then takes Locke to a room full of injured passengers that were hurt during the crash, Locke sees Ben laying there, and tells Cesar that Ben is the man that killed him.

So now we know what – or who – killed Locke. That question has been answered. But now, we are left with an even bigger mystery: why is Ben helping them all get back to the Island, when this is apparently what Widmore, who seems to be his enemy, wants as well? Who is lying here? Do they both want everyone back for different reasons? How does their presence on the Island prevent a war? Clearly Ben and Widmore have long-standing issues – what caused the rift and why are the people on the Island key in playing the whole thing out? Did Ben simply kill Locke because Locke’s destiny was to die anyway, but Ben needed the information from him before Locke met his fate, so Ben could carry it out the return? Is Ben the one not to be trusted – or is Widmore – or both? And why was Locke’s death a requirement of their return? What was odd is that it didn’t seem that anyone Locke encountered had any questions of exactly how Locke came back from the Island. Wouldn’t that be the first question they would ask? All good questions that I am sure will be answered…but when?

Now, back to my gripe about ABC and their run-overs past the 10:00 time. This week it was not a problem for me, because only CSI NY was a new episode and Law & Order was a rerun, so my DVR was only recording one program, so I could continue to watch Lost. But on those days where both of those shows at 10:00 are new and I record both, I have to go to another room and watch the remainder of the show on another television. If for some reason can’t stay up to watch all of Lost (my husband and I are very early risers), I have to program the DVR manually and I have to cut off the recording at 9:59, missing the last few minutes, which I have to catch on line. It is a very very cumbersome and tiresome process. I wish ABC would stop doing it, in fact, I wish ALL the shows would stop doing it. Everyone is aware that they are playing this game to screw up people’s DVR programming, and hoping to keep more eyes watching their show live and their ads. For me, I am now making note of the ads that ABC is running at the last break before the end of the show, and I am crossing those people off my list of companies to buy from. And, if they run a promo ad for another show on their own network, that show is immediately crossed off my list of things to watch. Now really ABC, didn’t you run enough ads of your new show “Castle” to save some time so you can finish Lost on time? This is an annoying practice that the networks need to stop.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

House “Softer Side” Brings a Hard Choice

All photos from Fox
This episode of House(Fox) “The Softer Side” seems to be an attempt to return viewers to the old “Greg House” that we used to know. It’s the Greg House that will do just about anything to get rid of the pain in his leg.

The scenario plays out over a case about a child who was born with both male and female DNA, and the parents chose to allow the child to grow up as a male. But, problems ensue when the boy becomes ill after a school basketball game, and the parents convince House (Hugh Laurie) – a little too easily – that the boy is suffering from a “blind uterus.” Despite House’s better judgment, House caves into the parents’ wishes for an MRI, which is what causes the boy to eventually experience more horrible symptoms than what caused his original illness. We learn at the end of the show that the energy drinks that the overbearing and overprotective parents have been giving him have caused problems for his kidneys, and the MRI only made the problems worse as the contrast fluid that they injected him was absorbed to a much greater extent than normal.

OK, that’s out of the way. Let’s get back to House. It seems that he’s become far too agreeable, and this becomes a cause for concern for his colleagues. He asks permission rather than simply stealing Wilson’s (Robert Sean Leonard) food. He seems far too agreeable with the patient’s parents. He actually treats an apparently stupid patient with a broken finger without incident. He seems – happy! But his colleagues become concerned when they find House, who looks to be sleeping in his chair in his office, is not really asleep - he's not breathing. Foreman (Omar Epps) does the manly thing and grabs and twists House’s nipples in order to shock him awake as Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) panics and calls a code blue. House revives, and seems mum about what caused this problem. This further raises the suspicions of Cuddy and Wilson, who deduce that House’s happiness and absence of pain is because he is on heroin.

Later, Wilson tests the theory by taking House to dinner and tries to get him to drink alcohol, which he says House can't drink if he is on heroin. House is on to Wilson’s ruse, and drinks it anyway, much to Wilson’s surprise. But, Wilson decides to follow through and later finds House outside throwing up what he just drank, and House later admits to Wilson he’s not on heroin, it’s methadone. And it makes him pain free. He throws away his cane.

Much to House’s dismay, once Cuddy gets wind of this she hunts him down in the men’s room. He tells her he has a legal prescription for the methadone, but she thinks he just found a willing doctor who wasn’t aware of House’s previous addiction problems. She suddenly decides she has had enough, and tells him unless he gets off the methadone, he’s out. House chooses the methadone, and leaves. Later, we see House at home, lathering up for a much-needed shave. The next we see him, he’s in a suit and tie, and is clean-shaven, and asking Cuddy for a letter of recommendation so he can get another job. Cuddy won’t provide it, instead offering House his job back, with several strings attached, including that he has to get his doses of methadone from their own clinic. He accepts the job back, but later when Cuddy brings him his dose, decides the medication isn’t working as he expected. He feels that it made him misdiagnose the boy. Cuddy tells him that he is just afraid to be happy. When she offers him his methadone, he throws if away, and says this is the only House she gets.

Also, behind the scenes, we have Foreman and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) still trying to keep their relationship a secret, and when they both are tested by Kutner (Kal Penn) and Taub (Peter Jacobson), they become concerned that those two know they are back together. But they also seem somewhat relieved that House is not yet on to them. Thirteen also gets into a tight situation when she misinterprets a letter they found in the boy’s room as a suicide note, and tips off the patient to ask his parents about the “vitamins” they have been giving him. This opens up a whole can of worms with the parents and makes them angry, but they work through the situation as the case goes along. Maybe this will teach her to get her facts straight before she decides to meddle in something that is probably not her business. Later, when House sees Thirteen wearing the shoes that he knows Foreman likes, I think House is now on to the fact that they are back together. Frankly, I could care less.

I am starting to wonder if Lisa Edelstein is planning some sort of cosmetic surgery. It’s because of the horrific hairdo she is sporting, with the awkward looking bangs. Many times actors will change their hair – make it longer, or in the case of men, grow facial hair – and then when they change their hair style back or shave, they suddenly look “refreshed”, and viewers assume it’s the change in hair. I wondered if that is why Laurie shaved too, but it’s been so long viewers have seen a bare face that maybe he just looked younger because all the stubble was gone. But Edelstein's bangs are a red alert for a forehead lift or botox or some other cosmetic procedure. I’m just waiting to see. Otherwise, I find myself still tiring of Cuddy, even though we didn’t get assaulted by her baby issues in this week’s episode. She seems to be constantly gazing at House with her helpless, love-stricken eyes. I wish she would just get over her crush so the show can just move on.

All in all, the episode was a bit of an improvement over the previous weeks. It seemed to bring the focus on to the House that intrigued viewers at the start. I wonder, though, what else they can have House do in order to relieve the pain in his leg? Is the fact that he decided against the methadone that he is realizing that part of the person – and the doctor – who he has become, is very reliant on the pain? Somehow, I think he will continue to work to find a way to be a great diagnostician and still find a way to make the pain go away.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars: A Dud, A Bore, Asleep

Against my better judgment, I began to watch the Oscar telecast last night on ABC. It was being touted as something so new and different and ABC was going out of its way to keep everything under wraps to try to build excitement. Since there wasn’t much of anything else on, I decided to turn on the telecast when it began at 8:30 and see if it truly was going to be different. I always avoid at all costs the half hour lead in show on the red carpet. Unfortunately, I turned on ABC about three minutes early and if those three minutes of the red carpet show were any indication of the content of the entire half hour, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time watching that segment.

Try as he might, Hugh Jackman is no Billy Crystal. I knew I was in for a rough evening when Jackman performed his song and dance tribute to the nominated movies. It was forced and uninspiring, and I actually felt a little bad for Jackman having to perform such a mediocre number. Little did I know it would be all downhill from there.

When Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn and Angelica Huston trotted out to present the Oscar for the best supporting actress, I had a feeling of dread. It turned out to be confirmed when all five actresses seemed to be delivering somber and syrupy tributes to the nominees, more fitting for a funeral than an award ceremony. I was concerned; if it took this long to announce just one major acting category, this would certainly be a long night. By the way, Tilda Swinton may be an Oscar winner, but frankly she looked more like she was trying for the lead role in a remake of “Mannequin” – as a mannequin.

Afterwards, we have Tina Fey and Steve Martin presenting the awards for screenplay and adapted screenplay. Steve Martin made me uncomfortable with his forced humor. He ceased being funny to me a long time ago, and I am still reeling at the thought that he actually was given the role of Inspector Clouseau in 2 Pink Panther movies. (Sacrilege!) Anyway, their presentation of the awards was another overblown several minutes of sheer boredom.

The horror continues with Jennifer Anniston and Jack Black presenting animated movie awards. Jack Black has to be one of the most overrated person in the movies right now. He wasn’t entertaining one bit, and I couldn’t wait until he was off the stage.

Despite the fact that the Kodak Theatre had the expensive and dazzling Swarovski Crystal curtain hanging about the stage – the best part of the telecast I thought – the show continued with its recession themed version of the stage props. When Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker come on to present art directions and costume awards, the setting around them looked like a prop warehouse. But it was completely overshadowed by Parker’s overwhelming cleavage, which looked so pushed up I felt as if it was coming all the way from her thighs. I am sure that she was being held in by tons of double sided wardrobe tape, still, I worried that something as going to pop out any minute.

I started to get a little sleepy as Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried (who are they? I asked myself) came out to present a montage of romance movies from the year. But I was momentarily awakened by Natalie Portman and Ben Stiller presenting the cinematography awards, with Stiller in costume doing his best Joaquin Phoenix impersentation. I actually felt terrible for those nominees, as they deserved better than Stiller doing his act, where he tried to keep the focus on HIM rather than the nominees. A pity for the cinematographers, really.

I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and we both said that was enough. Probably only about one hour into the show, we called it quits and went to bed.

If the Oscars are looking at ways to bring some excitement to the show to draw in more viewers, first and foremost we need to have a better stable of movies that more people have actually seen. I am sure there are many Oscar-worthy performances that are overlooked because they are not dramas. The Academy also seems to frequently shun films for awards that are enjoyed by the highest number of viewers. It’s that “snob” factor – and the Academy has to learn to get over themselves. Sure, this is not the “People’s Choice” awards, but sometimes the top movies deserve more recognition than they get.

But the real problem is the pace of the show. It’s still dreadfully slow and plodding. They need to quit trying so hard with the presenters. Get them on the stage, announce the award, and get them off. The presenters need to realize that they are not there to make themselves look good, they are there to help honor those who have been nominated. As far as the host of the show, I know it is a hard gig with a tough live crowd and massive TV audience, but Hugh Jackman was the final sanitizing of what used to be a role that provided some edgy content that often made the whole show worth watching.

In my opinion, the only winner of the show was the dazzling Swarovski Crystal curtain, which sparkled constantly and kept me mesmerized. It’s almost as if it were saying to me…”Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain.” It was the only thing that shone brightly on this 2009 Oscar snooze fest.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

CSI NY “The Party’s Over” Before It Started

Photo from CBS

Wednesday’s episode of CSI NY (CBS), “The Party’s Over” involved a murder and a case of the “blue flu” for the police department. But this is one case where the CSI NY team delivered a story that seemed overly contrived, with ridiculous forensics and with weak acting.

The murder was of Deputy Mayor Kaplan (David Chisum), who happened to drop from the ceiling along with a pile of balloons at a formal-looking fundraiser. (I call it the show’s annual excuse to put some of the main characters in evening clothes.) Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) was there with her date Brendon Walsh (Ethan Erickson) who is a fireman. Of course, since Stella is first on the scene, she takes over immediately, with Brendon using his jacket to prop up the head of the deputy mayor. Why he did this I have no idea, since the man was clearly was dead. But it was only so he could get some key evidence attached to his jacket, pulling him into the story again later.

Mac (Gary Sinise), meanwhile, was detained from the fundraiser because someone yelled for help, and Mac chased down the criminal in his tux. It was a complete red herring by the way and a waste of story telling time. We didn't need it to see Mac arrest someone while in a tux to understand that a large number of the police force had come down with the blue flu in a protest. In fact, Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) decides that, after arriving at the crime scene at the fundraiser that he is coming down with the flu as well, and during the episode his colleagues moan to Lindsay (Anna Belknap) about Danny’s lack of dedication. In fact, it creates a real problem when Hawkes (Hill Harper) has to testify in court about a case that Danny was supposed to be testifying for, and Hawkes doesn’t have the complete knowledge of the case, which causes the case to be thrown out.

But back to the fundraiser. Robert Dunbrook (Craig T. Nelson) is planning on making a one million dollar donation to the charity. As he is the editor of The Ledger, it seems clear he is doing it for the publicity, or he expects something in return for his donation. Also, while the group is investigating the crime since, Kaplan’s brother arrives, concerned that Kaplan’s son seems to be missing and he was at the fundraiser with Kaplan. Adam (AJ Buckley), using a heat-sensing device, finds Jake Kaplan (Skyler Gisondo) hiding in a cabinet and coxes him out, and allows him to use his ipod. How touching...well, more like how trite.

But the forensics don’t add up with this case. It all points to HAIR. Magically, they find 10 pristine eyelash hairs with tags on them on a balloon, and a hair of a thoroughbred horse on the victim’s body. They mentioned that static electricity on the balloon helped draw the eyelashes to the balloon. Using that same logic, wouldn’t it also have drawn all the other hair that just happened to be on the floor at the event? There were a lot of people in that room, and I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t have had a huge amount of hair to collect as evidence. Still, they pick out only 10 eyelash hairs to examine. And, with the horse hair, they trace it back to a thoroughbred AND the horse's owner (Dunbrook), but never say exactly how they made the match. Is there a database of thoroughbred DNA on file somewhere? I can’t see how just having the hair itself would allow them to make a match, especially if the hair had no tag on it. And isn't animal DNA comparison muchmore complex and time consuming?

A weak link in this episode was Deputy Inspector Gillian Whitford (Julia Ormond). Ormond’s performance is flat in this episode. The scene where she was talking with the press was wooden and lifeless. It seems that she is just window dressing for the show. She finds a message on her car that later points them to possible corruption with the deceased deputy mayor and involvement from Dunbrook, which even may be affecting the police department finances. She responds to the matter by dialing the phone to call Dunbrook. Mac, of course, had to slow her down and tell her how the matter really needs to be handled. How did this woman get to be a Deputy Inspector? One would think she would know better than to make a frontal attack like that with a seasoned and apparently unscrupulous newspaper editor. Of course, Mac steps in and takes control, and later Kaplan gives Mac a check for $20 million to help shore up the police budget shortfall. Whitford later takes the check and plans to use it to end the blue flu, which it does. She assumes there are no strings attached, but I am sure there will be many.

Adam gets his chance to shine when he helps to draw out the story of the murder from Jake Kaplan. In what has to be one of the silliest murder scenarios ever, maybe really more fitting an episode of CSI Miami, Jake, in some sort of OCD frenzy of sorts, jumps on the back of his father and strangles him with his kiddie clip on tie. As Stella had mentioned earlier, it doesn’t take much strength to strangle someone, just the right positioning. In a moment of sheer stupidity, Adam gives Jake his ipod, which to me, should have been kept as evidence in the murder for a while, since it had traces of a chemical from Jake’s tie on it and which helped "tie" Jake to the crime (no pun intended). I suppose that they felt that they needed to give Adam his one touching moment of the season. I could have done without the saccharine.

But at the end, all seems well with the CSI NY team, as Danny returns to work after the blue flu has ended, and Hawkes seems to have put aside whatever issues he had with Danny’s stance and his actions. The problems for them may come later if they bring Robert Dunbrook back into the mix later on, because one just has to think that he will expect something in return for that $20 million dollars. And how far did that corruption with Deputy Mayor Kaplan go, and who else may be involved?

The hour moved by quickly, but this wasn’t one of their better outings. I could have thought of better scenarios for the Kaplan’s murder that would have set up further complications and storylines down the road. The whole premise of the kid being the murder was lame to say the least – they should keep these kinds of stories for CSI Miami, where kids seem to be frequently used as props to advance a weak storyline. And, unless Julia Ormond can show some more depth in this role, I say that she needs to go. I know the woman can act but her acting style may not fit this role or this show. For some reason, “The Party’s Over” seemed like a dud to me.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

House “Unfaithful”, 24 “4:00 – 5:00 PM“: Predictable But Passable

All images from Fox
Fox’s Monday night prime time programming is a strong 2 hours for drama. The problem last night was that both hours seemed somewhat predictable.

At the 8:00 hour, the episode of House(Fox) titled “Unfaithful” featured a priest who sees Jesus and then goes to the ER, where House (Hugh Laurie) is trolling for cases. House is intrigued by what appears to Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) as a simple case of a drunken cleric, so he takes the case. Boredom ensues when the case falls into the typical suspicion that the priest may have a shady sexual past. Despite the fact that I am a lapsed Catholic, I still tire of TV continuing to even hint that all priests have to have some sort of “issue” with sex.

Compounding the boredom is the hospitals main head case – I mean Dean of Medicine Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) – inviting, then uninviting, then inviting House to her baby’s Jewish naming ceremony. Things backfire on her when House accepts, and Cuddy chastises Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) for his poor advice on the matter as she didn't want him to come. The problem is, the ever-indecisive Cuddy later seems to want him there, even after she tells him not to come. (?) Can’t this woman make a simple decision? Clearly Cuddy is at the stage where I think she needs psychiatric help with her obsession with House. I think that many viewers are getting tired of a character that used to be a strong woman who now seems to have descended past the lobotomy stage and is now a quivering bowl of jello.

Predictable was the staged friction between Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) and “Thirteen”/Dr. Hadley (Olivia Wilde). They had a faux altercation in front of House to make him believe their relationship is over so that Foreman would get rehired and Thirteen could keep her job. Sadly, the normally astute and always suspicious House seems to buy it, strange since he was probably the only one who did. I again have to say that the Foreman/Thirteen pairing is a lifeless and disinteresting one. I put the blame mostly on Foreman, who seems to be such a cold man. Thirteen, however, doesn't have much depth of emotion to her either, which makes the pairing about as warm as two trays of ice cubes.

Also included in this episode was when House, trying to help explain the symptoms, makes some sort of references to Duran Duran concerts, which I still don’t quite follow. Of course, House gets his weekly epiphany and solves the case, diagnosing the priest with Wiscott-Aldridge Syndrome, which impairs the immune system and gives AIDS-like symptoms without him actually having AIDS. The episode closes with House absent from the naming ceremony, with him deciding to stay home and play his piano, probably the only redeeming part of the show.

As far as ”24” (Fox), the 4:00 – 5:00 PM hour was an interesting hour of television. 24 remains one of my favorite shows, but this episode was filled with trite, overused plot contrivances and what I think was a silly mistake on the part of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Flub of the season so far was Jack and Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) relying on cell phone tracking only, rather than be ready in their car, in order to keep tabs on Marika (Enuka Okuma), the now-reluctant girlfriend of the evil Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim). As you can’t have “24” without problem employees at the government agency du jour - in this case Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) at the FBI - Gold has a fit of jealousy over Chloe’s presence. She manages to get access from Sean Hillinger (Rhys Coira) to weasel a way to hack into the cell tracking system that Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) was using, during which it seems Gold temporarily disables the system, rendering Chloe, and therefore Jack, temporarily blind to Marika’s location. Of course, this is just a diversion, as FBI mole is exposed to viewers as Sean. Problems for Jack and Renee get much worse as, even though Chloe has reestablished the cell phone tracking, they manage to completely lose Marika as Sean has arranged to fake an FBI order to have them both arrested.

Meanwhile, President Allison Taylor’s (Cherry Jones) husband Henry (Colm Feore) may be out of the picture for a while, since the surgery on his bullet wound will take 5 hours. But, President Taylor is now in good hands as she has entrusted more of her security to Bill Buchanan (James Morrison). Maybe it’s just me, but I found it odd that despite the fact that Bill seems to be working on their side, that she is entrusting so much of her security to him. In the world of 24, though, I suppose that only people like Jack, Bill, and Chloe are the only people that can be trusted.

We are also introduced to the President’s daughter, who is told about her father’s shooting by recurring 24 favorite inactive Agent Aaron Pierce (Glen Morshower). With Chloe and her moodiness returning, we also get a brief scene with her husband, Morris (Carlo Rota). I have to admit, though, that I am finding Chloe’s moodiness and snippiness somewhat tiresome.

It is too much for me to expect that every episode of 24 knock my socks off, but I was hoping that the show wouldn’t be falling into the predictable plot devices and character behaviors so soon. Maybe a catfight will develop between Chloe and Janis, and we can rid ourselves of both of these cranky women soon. I can’t imagine, though, that just casing down Dubaku can last much longer as this show needs a bigger fish to dry for Jack in order to keep things interesting.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lost “This Place is Death” A Killer of An Episode

Photo from ABC
Last year about this same time, I was moaning that ”Lost” had lost me. The show was plodding, it was too confusing, it seemed to answer none of the pressing question. A little more than a year later there are still many questions, but at least the series seems to finally be moving forward. In fact, there isn’t any series on television right now that has so many layers to it, and that happens in so many time periods, with so many people that is so compelling and almost addictive to watch.

The following includes a recap of what happened in this latest Lost (ABC) episode, “This Place is Death.” There are so many things going on, but believe it or not, things are actually starting to make more sense, and events seem to tie in more cohesively than in the last season. Maybe there are more subtle things buried in this show that I am missing, but if there were, I didn’t feel the lack of little imbedded secrets detracted from the episode. In fact, I find that the story line is much cleaner, crisper, and seems to have more of an impact.

If you missed it, here’s what happened:
Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) has returned to The Island, still alive after the ship explosion. When he meets a much younger Danielle Rousseau (Melissa Farman), he is surprised that he doesn’t seem to be in the same time period when he left the island. He later finds himself in the same predicament as the rest of those he left behind on The Island – he is shifting in time. After being attacked by the black smoke monster, the group of French people he is with disappear into the monster’s hiding hole, with Danielle staying behind. But when Jin shifts in time, he finds himself standing there alone, accompanied by one of the Frenchmen’s decaying dismembered arms. He later sees Rousseau, in a different time, shooting one of the Frenchmen, telling him that the monster changed him. She also gets ready to shot Jin because she saw him disappear, but the time shifts again. He later finds himself connecting with Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Locke (Terry O’Quinn), and some of the rest of those left on The Island, including the three scientists and researchers Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies), Miles Straume (Ken Leung), and Charlotte Lewis (Rebecca Mader). While they continue to head to the Orchid station as Locke thinks this is the way for him to get off the island and save everyone, Charlotte’s nosebleeds and her disorientation continue to get worse, and she eventually dies, with Faraday present. Before she dies, she tells Faraday that she was on the island before – as a child, and someone told her that The Island was Death and never to come back. She remembers who told her that years ago when she was a child – it was Faraday himself, much to his shock.

The group manages to find the Orchid station, and after a time shift, only see a well in its place. As Charlotte also told them to look for the well, Locke decides to drop himself down into it, hoping it would bring the others back. But Jin is having second thoughts, and does not want Locke to tell Sun (Yunjin Kim) to return, as he is concerned she will die as the others left behind appear to be doing, as they are developing the same symptoms as Charlotte. He gives Locke his wedding ring to use as proof that he saw Jin, and to tell her not to come back. We later find that the ring is not used in the manner Jin expected.

Meanwhile, back in the present – whatever the present happens to be – Ben (Michael Emerson) is still trying to convince Jack (Matthew Fox), Sun, Sayid (Naveen Andrews) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) to go back to The Island. As Sun holds a gun on Ben, he tells her that he has proof that Jin is alive and they need to go back. He convinces them to go with him so he can show them the proof. Kate wants nothing to do with it, so she takes Aaron and leaves. Sayid also takes off for the same reasons. Jack and Sun accompany Ben.

Meanwhile, back on The Island, Locke has gone into the well via a rope, and when the light of an impending time shift appears, Sawyer grabbed on to the rope to pull Locke out. But, as the time shifted, Locke fell off the rope into the well, injuring himself, and Sawyer was standing there with the rope in his hands, that suddenly went straight into the covered ground. The well was gone. But Locke, in his own area deep in the well, was greeting by Jack’s father (John Terry), who tells Locke that he must get everyone back to the island, and needs to enlist the help of Eloise Hawking (Fionnula Flanagan). Christian couldn’t physically help Locke, but he tells him that the wheel has slipped off its axis and Locke must give it a little push in order to save everyone. As Locke seems to make the wheel get back on track, the white light of a time shift appears, and Christian tells Locke to say hello to his son as the flash grows brighter, but Locke does not know who he is talking about.

Back in the “real” world, Ben has taken Sun and Jack to a church, and shows Sun the ring that Jin gave to Locke, as proof Jin is alive back on The Island. She agrees to go along with him. But, another person has come into the church – it’s Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), who asks "What are you doing here?" Ben responds "I assume the same thing you are." Desmond asks "You're looking for Faraday's mother too?" At this point, Eloise Hawking walks in, and seems displeased that Ben didn’t bring “all of them.” When Ben says this is all he could get on such short notice, she looks at him with a strange, determined face and says "Well, I suppose it will have to do, for now" and they should get started.

The questions are: Get started to do what? Is Eloise on the good side or the bad side? Is Ben really trying to help everyone or just himself? Why are the people on The Island getting nosebleeds and will they die like Charlotte? How did Locke get off The Island and to the present time, and what caused his death? How will they get back and how does Locke’s body fit into all this? Oh the questions, the questions! Will this show ever answer a question?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NCIS “Deliverance” Doesn’t Deliver

Image from CBS
This episode of NCIS (CBS) “’Deliverance” tried very hard to deliver a interesting story, but it quickly failed.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team gets called in to investigate a murdered Marine, who just so happens to have Gibbs’ Marine service number written near his body – in blood. But this causes Gibbs to become very secretive about the case, seeing that very few people knew his service number, and only one person knew it with a ”G” written at the end of it. It was a woman by the name of Rose Tamayo, who Gibbs encountered while he was working “black ops” in Columbia, and who also saved his life.

This gives Gibbs the excuse to bring in someone from his past, his friend and former mentor, Mike Franks (Muse Watson), who is the only other person that knew about this woman. In fact, Franks helped bring her to the US, and kept that a secret from Gibbs. It is at this point that the show begins to go downhill, with repeated flashbacks to Gibbs encounters with Rose. Adding to the mess is that it seems that Mike Franks, despite the fact that he doesn’t work with NCIS and has no current law enforcement credentials that I know of, is allowed to actively participate in the investigation and interrogations. The episode also worked hard to establish the thought that one of the murder suspects, Marine Private First Class Tomas Tamayo (Jesse Garcia), could have been the love child of Gibbs and the mysterious Rose. For me, since I am not very interested in Gibbs’ past – which the series has repeatedly tried to foist onto viewers – I am even less interested in such a clichéd plot device of having a child pop up from one’s past. Thankfully, at the end of the show, Gibbs confirms to Tomas that his mother was already pregnant when he first met her.

The show also continues to try hard to establish some sort of friction or mistrust between Gibbs’ boss NCIS Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), because after all, Gibbs can’t get along with anybody to whom he has to answer. It would be nice for a change to have Gibbs actually learn to work with people in authority, because he is starting to look a little bit like the spoiled brat who seems to either throw a tantrum or clam up when he is questioned about anything.

Taking a back seat in this episode was the rest of the NCIS team. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is having a conniption because Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murry) took and incomplete phone message, to which McGee seems to dedicate more time to getting the message completed than he seemed to spend on the murder case. DiNozzo and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) – who is still listed Mossad Liaison but when you think about it, why do we still need a Mossad Liaison? – help to investigate the case. It seems that DiNozzo brought David along as a bodyguard, seeing that she is able to disable two men to DiNozzo’s one. DiNozzo also spends too much time worrying about why Gibbs is so secretive about the case and the people involved that he is about the case itself. Abby (Pauley Perrette) spends most of her time trying to be quirky, and Ducky (David McCallum) actually seems to be – gasp – doing his job! The silliness of the whole case is made evident when a woman named Maggie Scott (Kari Coleman), who is Tomas’ guardian, and who was trying to help others in the area get away from gangs, is the one who was helping in the gun theft ring. It seems she felt she could only fight guns with more guns – that just by having more guns (no necessarily using them) would deter the violence. That made no sense to me. Later, Gibbs finally admits to Director Vance that the man he killed in Columbia was Tomas’s father. I still can't seem to care.

The bottom line is that when NCIS tries to bring in information or characters from Gibbs’ past, it’s an indicator that viewers are in for a weak story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am not completely and totally disinterested in the varying layers to Gibbs' back story, it’s just that so far, they haven’t seem to make any storyline associated with his past interesting enough to make me want to really care about it. Frankly, I think exploring the current personal life of the secretive and mysterious Gibbs could be far more interesting.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CSI Miami “Presumed Guilty” Presumably Bad

Two Bad Actors - One Bad Episode
Photo from

This episode of CSI Miami (CBS), “Presumed Guilty” tried hard to break out of the corny standard that we’ve seen for quite a while now in this series. It tried – but ultimately it failed, as the story was so clichéd. Also a detractor was the much-hyped appearance of Sean Combs as an attorney, whose acting talents are marginal at best.

The episode begins with the murder trial of Alfonso Reyes (Nicholas Gonzalez) in progress, with CSIs Duquesne (Emily Procter), Boa Vista (Eva La Rue) and Delko (Adam Rodriguez) testifying for the prosecution. Proving that this show is as weak in presenting a believable trial as well as a story, the CSIs’ testimonies are picked apart by the defense attorney, Derek Powell (Sean Combs). Never mind that the prosecution was leading the CSIs in their testimony, because Powell didn’t seem to object to this behavior either. Still, Reyes is convicted. But, the case gets quickly re-opened when ME Price (Megalyn Echikunwoke) opens the body bag for the murder victim and finds it swarming with blowflies. I wonder why she had to open the translucent bag to see those flies, as it was clear in one of the shots that the body was crawling with them. Of course, the flies made a beeline for Horatio Caine (David Caruso), in a precursor that should indicate we are in for a smelly story.

As can be expected, evidence later falls into the CSIs laps, which helps confirm that Reyes was not guilty. Lucky for them that a witness to what may have been the murderer fleeing the original murder scene happens to show up in the hospital with a drug overdose – and then mysteriously disappears again. But her statement helps them to locate the original crime scene, where – lucky for them – they find the same blowflies that had taken up residence in the murder victim’s body. Also lucky for them, they find blood on her car that Calleigh realizes is from a golf glove. But, had they not done such sloppy work earlier in the investigation, they would have examined the victim’s car much sooner and found the blood. Lucky for them that Horatio decided to don his CSI lab coat and pull out an air filter in the car that had some DNA in it that likely belonged to the murderer. And in another case of missed evidence, they also seemed to have missed checking the iron that Reyes recalled that he had used right before the murder, which was in the items confiscated from his locker. Apparently no one noticed the glaring piece of evidence that was on it when they placed the iron into the evidence box. Lucky for them them found it the second time around!

The biggest laugh was when Wolf (Jonathan Togo) – who seems to be sporting the beginnings of a pot belly – catches up with one of the suspects, Kevin Sheridan (Chris Wiehl). After having an over-the-top altercation with him, Wolf manages to snap a picture of the suspects broken taillight that – lucky for them – the possible murder witness now kidnap victim Tammy Witten (Rachel Mier) happened to be looking through right when Wolf took the picture and her eye caught the sunlight and created a flare on the picture. Amazing! Not to be outdone, when Horatio realizes that the mylar sheets that the Sheridan had in his car could be disguising the body as it would prevent the heat from the body from showing up on any heat-sensoring equipment, he immediately gets in a helicopter and tells his CSIs to look for the voids in the heat for the area being searched. Of course, Horatio saves the day and they find the kidnap victim in what seemed like a sewer tunnel, and Horatio gets his much-needed embrace from her. (Hmmm...I wondered how those mylar sheets would have worked to cover up her body heat if she would have moved away from that area, even for a few feet?)

Needless to say, with the shifty eyes of Judge Gregory Thorpe (Jim Pirri),and the fact that he dared not to give Horatio his warrant when Horatio asked for it, that I knew that he was going to be a part of the problem, and that Horatio would come back to get him.

What made this show fail is that it continues to fall back into predictable patterns: the over saturated color camera shots, the stiff acting, the lazy, plodding dialog, and the convenient evidence. Let’s not forget that if they hadn’t done such sloppy forensics work, maybe they wouldn’t have tried the wrong man for murder. This was all made worse by the addition of Sean Combs, who has the acting skill of a block of wood. All of this made “Presumed Guilty” into a presumably bad episode. Lucky you if you missed it.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Lie to Me” Is Great – Honestly!

Image from Fox
l to r: Monica Raymund, Brendan Hines, Tim Roth, Kelli Williams

Just when you think there can’t possibly be another twist on the everyday crime show, someone comes along and proves that there is. This is the case with Fox’s new show “Lie to Me,” which is about Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and his team of “deception experts” who are human lie detectors. It seems they can read body language and facial expressions in order to determine whether a person is lying or telling the truth. It can also help them to determine why a person may be hiding the truth.

I missed the pilot episode (I haven’t had a chance as yet to watch it on the show’s web site), but so far I really like what I see. Tim Roth is very believable as Dr. Lightman, who seems as blunt as Dr. Greg House, without the nasty streak. Lightman, like any completely honest person would be, is open and direct himself – he tells it like it is. That is, unless not saying anything gets him more information. I have to admit that in the few times I have watched the show, I find myself thinking about how I may look to other people when I am talking to them. Not that I would lie, mind you, just that I wouldn’t want to LOOK like I’m lying.

The rest of Lightman’s staff seems to be very well balanced. Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams) who is a psychologist, Will Loker (Brendan Hines), the lead researcher, and Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) seem to “play nice” together. But Torres is the new kid on the block who wasn’t educated in school to hone her talent – she’s considered a “natural”. Because she hasn’t been formally trained in the field, her ability to read people sometimes puts a new light on the case. It may also be causing some mild tension between her and Lightman, since Torres’ talent is a gift, while Lightman had to undertake extensive study to gain his.

There is light humor peppered throughout the show, which seems to soften Lightman’s sometimes clinical approach. But what I enjoy the most is that I feel like I am learning something while I am watching. After watching crime shows for years, I feel like I could work on a forensics team, or be an attorney, and after watching years of medical shows I learned so much about diseases, treatments, and medications. But body language and facial expressions seems like new, uncharted territory for me. Even though at one point in my own career while managing large groups of people we were taught very rudimentary body language, this show is taking it much farther than what I had learned before. (A side note, we were told that when people cross their arms when talking to you that they were being closed minded or guarded. But our offices were so cold that when everyone had their arms crossed all the time just to keep warm, body language sometimes only told you the person was freezing cold!)

“Lie to Me” looks like a winner – I can be entertained AND learn something at the same time. It’s now on my “must watch” list for this season.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fringe “ The Transformation”: Is Change Coming?

Congratulations to the happy couple!
Images from Fox

In this week’s episode of Fringe (Fox), “The Transformation” Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) seems to have come to a crossroads. In order to solve a case, she needs to go back into Dr. Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) isolation tank and reestablish her connection with the memories of the deceased Agent John Scott (Mark Valley), her former colleague and her lover. The problem is in doing so, she must essentially big him goodbye, as the memories she gained from him are quickly fading permanently.

But, as reported yesterday by the TV Guide, Anna Torv won’t be saying goodbye to Mark Valley in real lilfe, as the two secretly married over the Christmas holiday. TV Guide also reported that Valley is leaving the show. This may mark a slight change in direction for the show, which up to now has been somewhat dependent on Valley’s dead character to help Agent Dunham solve some of her cases. I’m assuming this was Valley’s last episode, as Olivia was finally taken to see his dead body – held in suspended animation at Massive Dynamics. Needless to say, she is stunned. She is told by Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) that they kept his body going as a disk that was implanted in Scott as part of a bio-terrorist plot, and they needed his body to continue functioning in order for the disk to keep functioning. But since they weren’t able to get anything from the disk, my guess is there is no reason to keep him in this state much longer.

Agent Scott's body related to the current case through thie implanted disk. It seems someone else who had the disk implanted in him went through a physical transformation while aboard a fully loaded jet – and the jet crashes as a result of the man’s rampage during his transformation. Walter finds a disk in the “hand” of the remains of the transformed man, and suspects it triggered the process. Based on memories Olivia retained from Scott, she was able to identify other people involved in what they suspect is a bio-terrorist plot, and when they pick up another man that was associated with "plane crash guy" and with Scott, he also begins to transform. Lucky for him that Walter is there to help in sedating the man to help slow his transformation, just long enough to get the guy to his lab and put him into a coma to really slow down the process. He too has a disk implanted inside his hand.

It also seems that the man was set to meet someone by the name of Conrad (Al Sapienza), who they believe is selling weapons on the black market. Olivia tries to get the information from John Scott via the isolation tank, but all he tells her is that in one of his memories, he was on a rooftop, pointing a rifle at Conrad, and didn’t kill him because he didn’t know it was Conrad. He also tells her that he was in “black ops” for a secret NSA task force. He doesn’t know anything about the sale in which Conrad may now be involved. He tells her that Hicks – the other man with the disk who Walter has in a coma in his lab – should know.

Walter had been working on a antidote for Hicks and they try to use it to keep him conscious while Olivia and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) try to make Hick’s meeting with Conrad in his place. Hicks feeds them the proper responses for Conrad’s front men, and things seem to be working well, until one of Conrad’s men asks a question that Hicks can’t answer, because Walter’s antidote was wearing off and he was transforming again. It seems that Hicks became a little stressed when he heard one of the men mention that they were throwing in the antidote with the sale because it would take someone years to develop on their own. While Olivia and Peter wait for Hick’s answer to one of the men’s questions about Ernesto, one of the men who was supposed to have shown up for the meeting, they can hear Hicks going through a very terrifying sounding ordeal. When one of the men, dissatisfied at the delay in their response, pulls out a gun, Peter jumps up and starts yelling at Olivia to just tell them already, that he’s not going to die for Ernesto's “dirty little secret.” Olivia says Ernesto is sick. Lucky for them, Conrad arrives, and Olivia finally uses the code word of “Christmas” which is the signal for the rest of the team to come in and arrest the group. And they do. Olivia leans over to Conrad and says “John Scott says hi.”

Back at the office, Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) wants Olivia to be happy that they got Conrad. It still leaves Scott’s status as a traitor to the bureau the same, as there is no proof he was working to get Conrad - but Olivia believes he is innocent. She decides to get back in touch with John’s memories. Despite the fact that Olivia’s previous time in the tank was so traumatic that she had to be pulled out, she wants to go back in and she enlists Walter’s help. He warns her that she probably wouldn't be able to find John as her brain waves are returning to normal and her brain is “purging” him. She'd probably only have seconds, so she says to do it now.

In the tank, she sees herself on a dock at a small lake. John appears standing beside her, and she tells him they got Conrad. She is sorry she did not trust John, and he says it was not her fault. He adds there is one other thing, and he takes out a diamond engagement ring and places it on her ring finger. They kiss as a final goodbye, and he disappears. We see Olivia, in the tank, with her eyes closed, saying, “I love you, too."

Now that they seemed to have closed the book on Valley’s character for now, Olivia will be left to her own investigative skills in order to crack cases. It may bring more of a sense of realism to the show that seems to be all about the unrealistic, and maybe it will also help her to move on to another relationship as well. Will that other relationship be with Peter, or does he have eyes for her sister? Or, once he realizes that the book is closed on John Scott, will he be more open to a relationship with Olivia? I have to admit that the “spark” between Torv and Valley on screen was somewhat obvious, and maybe that’s why it never seemed there was much chemistry between Olivia and Peter. It could be that this episode will bring on another transformation – with the relationship between these two. One thing is for sure, I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

House “The Greater Good” Cuddy’s Lobotomy is Complete

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This episode of House(Fox), “The Greater Good” wasn’t as horrible as some have been as of late, although I didn’t completely love it, either. This was the 100th episode of the series, and despite that they had a 100th episode party to celebrate it, you’d never know there was anything special about it. In fact, Drs. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer) were missing, which is OK with me because I am not that interested in them any more.

The patient of the week was Dana Miller (Judith Scott), a cancer researcher who left a very important project in order to find happiness. While she is being treated, she seems to be helping others to looking at their own lives and determine what makes them happy. To make a long story short, when House (Hugh Laurie) is having a discussion with Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) about her hormonal behavior, he has his weekly epiphany. He realizes that a surgery that Miller had months earlier resulted in a cut in her uterine wall, allowing endometrial cells to get into bloodstream. They proceeded to multiply and so what they are supposed to do at that time of the month – swell and bleed. How nice.

We also find Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is struggling to find out how to move on after Amber’s death. He gets wisdom from Miller and at the end of the show, we see him washing one of Amber’s mugs, marked with lipstick, that he has apparently left on the kitchen counter since her death. This made me very happy, because frankly Wilson is probably the one character on the show that I seem to care about what happens to him. In fact, his character seems the most genuine than anyone else on the show. I'm glad he is trying to move on.

The relationship between Drs. Foreman (Omar Epps) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) becomes strained when Foreman admits to her that he altered the drug trial for her and she is now getting the experimental meds. The problem is compounded when Thirteen develops serious side effects, like a sudden brain tumor. But, magically, Foreman and House do surgery somewhat “off the books” to fix her up. Foreman decides to report what he did to the drug company, and Thirteen's information gets pulled from the trial. Foreman is also forbidden to participate in any more trials. He is lucky he didn’t get fired. Still, as all of this was going on, I felt no chemistry between Foreman and Thirteen. Foreman seems a little too cold, and Thirteen too distant. There seems to be no passion there.

Drs. Kutner (Kal Penn) and Taub (Peter Jacobson) seem to be the only ones on House’s team that are actually focused on the patient, although Taub does begin to speculate on having children. His wife doesn’t feel the same way, and Taub seems to be accepting of that fact.

Image from Fox
The big miss with this episode is what is continuing to be a problem for the show – and that is Dr. Cuddy. This week, she has resorted to playing pranks on House in order to retaliate for him "making" her come back to work and keeping her away from her baby. She goes so far as to put a trip wire on the entry to his office door, and he trips, falls, and skins his knee. I have several problems with this whole scenario. First and foremost, it is not anyone else’s fault that Cuddy is back to work than Cuddy herself. She apparently hasn't properly groomed anyone to be her backup in her job, and Cameron, who was ill suited to cover for Cuddy, had too many House issues of her own to be able to handle the task. Cuddy also never got control over House, which continues to come back to haunt her. She also seems to think that her choice to adopt a baby should become everyone else’s priority, and anyone who gets in the way of her an her baby – in this case, House – should be punished. The fact that she strung a trip wire on his door, which ANYONE could caused ANYONE to trip and fall, was reckless, irresponsible, and downright mean. I found myself wishing that someone else, like a nurse or other doctor, would have walked in, tripped, broken and arm or leg, and then sued the hospital. I am coming to really despise Cuddy, and I do not understand why the writers for this show continue to paint her in such a horrible light. If I had an employee like Cuddy in a job like Cuddy's, I can tell you that they wouldn’t be an employee of mine for very long. It is almost like someone lobotomized her, because she is not behaving in a manner that I would expect from a Dean of Medicine . I find they way they are portraying her to be an insult to women and I am becoming increasingly offended by it.

My diagnosis for this show is that they need to move Cuddy out of her job, and get someone in there that will actually be a challenge for House. It doesn’t have to be anyone as extreme as when Vogler (Chi McBride) was calling the shots at the hospital, but it should be someone like that that can push House’s buttons in the right way. They need to bring the drama back, and fast. Otherwise, this show may find itself needing more serious treatment to heal itself.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Battlestar Galactica “ The Oath” Suspenseful, Unsettling

Friday’s episode of Battlestar Galactica (SciFi), “The Oath.” was probably one of the most suspenseful of the entire series. It was also extremely unsettling. Things seem to be unraveling very quickly for the crew of the Galactica and for the fleet.

A quick recap, and then my comments at the end:

In last week’s episode, “A Disquiet Follow My Soul”, we saw Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani ) conspiring with Zarek (Richard Hatch ) on how Zarek can gain complete power over the fleet and to get President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) out of power. In “The Oath”, the plan begins to unfold as Gaeta manages to utilize the other crew members he has recruited to the cause in order to break Zarek out of the brig and get him off the ship, returning him to Colonial One. Zarek gets off Galactica under the cover of clearing the flight deck from a fake fuel leak, but one crew member sees that Zarek is being spirited away.

Gaeta is also in the perfect position on the bridge as he can control many of the systems and communications within the ship and can block communication from other ships in the fleet. He uses his position to carefully control information coming into Adama, going so far as to outright lie to Adama and other crew members on the bridge so they don’t suspect what is going on, and making them think that there is a fire on board. Systematically, those crew members who have aligned themselves with Gaeta and Zarek work to take control over Galactica.

Meanwhile, Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber ) is on Colonial One, in an emergency session with the Quorum. He is trying to convince them to go ahead with the plans to incorporate the Cylon FTL drive technology, saying that it is essential to the fleet. He also states that Zarek was in custody because he was agitating against a lawful order. But Lee is shocked as Zarek waltzes into the session, gloating that even Adama knows when he holds a losing hand. What Lee does not know is that Zarek was not released with Admiral Adama’s knowledge, and when Lee tries to establish contact with his father, he’s given the brush off from his father – although this was at the hands of Gaeta.

When Lee senses something is wrong, he heads back to Galactica, and is taken into custody by the rebelling crew members. Lucky for him, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff ) has noticed that an insurrection is taking place, and she manages to arm herself. She manages to catch the crew members trying to detain Lee, and, shooting one, manages to get them to back off. She and Lee continue to work to get word to the Admiral that something is wrong, but it’s too late. Gaeta had already taken control of the bridge and Admiral Adama and Col. Tighe (Michael Hogan ) are being escorted to the brig. Lee and Kara try to find President Roslin in order to protect her and also enlist her help.

Also, Helo (Tahmoh Penikett), Athena (Grace Park), and Hera are dumped in a room with Tighe's Six (Tricia Helfer ) and Anders (Michael Trucco). Helo is bleeding and unconscious. Six thinks they are all going to be killed, because some can’t handle the thought of Cylons being able to procreate. Athena thinks they will be kept alive and used as a bargaining chip with the rebel Cylons, seemingly thinking that Anders will hold some special wisdom. But, as the final five, Anders says he has no grand wisdom to offer. Athena urges he keep that to himself.

But Tighe and Adama manage to distract their captors while being led to the brig, and shoot one and take the other hostage. Lee and Kara get to Adama’s quarters and find Roslin there, and they bring her up to speed. Roslin finally seems to get out of the funk she has been in and she decides to address the fleet. But, in order to get wireless access to get the message out and bypass Gaeta’s communication control, she make contact with Baltar (James Callis ). Tyrol is already there with Baltar, as he had a heads up about the uprising, and he’s working to protect the compound. Roslin manages to convince Baltar to let them use his secret wireless communications system in order to get a message out to the fleet, appealing to his need for self –preservation. Much to Gaeta’s and Zarek’s surprise, she does a fleet wide broadcast and appeals for calm. She says they have come to a crossroads, and that after generations of conflict and losses on both sides and with supplies running low and limited options their former enemies may represent their last and only hope. The Quorum is also listening to the message. She says that for those who reject this alliance with the Cylons, she begs them to reconsider their actions and reject the traitors who would are using fear of the Cylons to destroy Colonial civilization. Gaeta finally finds a way to cut her off.

Lee and Kara finally catch up with the Admiral Adama and Tighe, and together they work to get Roslin off the ship Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) has a way to get her off the ship, and they use a secondary storage airlock in order to bring in a ship and get Roslin out. Baltar also goes with her. But the renegade military is on their way to the airlock, and Tighe and Adama says they will stay back to fend them off to allow Roslin’s ship to depart in safety. Once Gaeta realizes what is going on, he gives the order to arm all weapons, engage the target, and destroy them. But Adama and Tighe won’t go down without a fight. As the traitorous military tries to break into the airlock, Adama remarks to Tighe "it's been an honor to have served with you my friend." The Marines roll in a grenade, and it explodes. And we're told this story will continue.

Needless to say, the Galactica is in grave peril, as is the entire fleet. In fact, they may be in just as much danger from their own people than they were from the Cylons. While many may have thought a few seasons ago that Gaeta would turn out to be a Cylon, it seems that he became an even worse threat to them by his traitorous actions. I found myself hoping that when all this is said and done, that Gaeta dies a horrible death. I usually don’t like to wish that on a character, but his actions have been the lowest of the low. Likewise, Zarek also shows that a leopard can’t really change his spots, and is living up to the conniving, scheming, power hungry man he has always seemed to be. I wish him the worst as well.

It was good to see that Roslin came to her senses, albeit a little late. Had she stepped up to her job and done it sooner, maybe this would not have happened. She created the leadership vacuum that allowed Zarek the hole he could use to squeeze in and gain control. It also allowed rampant fear of the Cylons to overcome those members of the fleet who were weakened in spirit by finding a devastated earth. So she deserves a good chunk of the blame for the environment, which allowed mutinous thoughts to fester.

All in all, a great episode that left me hanging on the edge for the continuation of the story next week. Based on the previews, I suspect things will only get worse. But, if they can purge ALL the evil from the fleet – and I don’t mean the Cylons – maybe they will still have a chance. One can only hope.

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