Tuesday, March 31, 2009

House “Locked In” Very Liberating For Everyone

Photo from Fox

This episode of House(Fox) “Locked In” was probably the best episode of the season. I have to admit, though, the scenario of the patient was very reminiscent of an episode of a TV show that I watched sometime in the 1960s (I think) – sadly, the name of the series escapes me. It may have been a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits or a show in that genre; a person was in some sort of car accident and they appeared to be dead, and we went through the episode through that person’s eyes. It wasn’t discovered until they were ready to do an autopsy – and that person began to cry and the ME saw the tear – that they realized the person was alive.

Lucky for this patient, when he was in the ER, he was lucky to also have Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) in the bed next to him. As the ER doc talks about harvesting the patient’s organs, House tries to show him that there are signs that that patient – who’s name is Lee (Mos Def) – isn’t brain dead at all. Despite the ER doctor wanting House to worry about House’s own injuries from his fall from his motorcycle, he eventually sees that House is correct in his diagnoses. Of course, House has Lee transferred to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital so he can have his diagnostic way with him,

Most of the episode is viewed from the patient’s eyes, making for quite a few close up shots of everyone’s face. This is not a flattering look for anyone, including House, especially since Laurie is starting to look more and more like he was rode hard and put away wet. The view from the patient’s eyes brings some fairly accurate assessments of the people he sees. For example, when Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) first sees House with the patient, she fawns over House, and Lee thinks, ”I can’t move, and she’s worried about his boo-boo.” He also sees that she has a thing for House and it may go back the other way too. Thankfully, for all our sakes, I think that is the last we see Cuddy in the episode or are forced to even think about her “thing” with House. When Lee observes House and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) going at it as they always do, he thinks, “You guys are friends?” And when Foreman (Omar Epps) bores him with a story, Lee thinks, “Did you tell this story to someone who could walk away?” I have to remember that last line for future use.

Meanwhile, as House and his crew are working on the patient, Wilson is trying to figure out why House was in NY. The story keeps changing. First House tells Wilson he was in NY to pick up a vintage guitar, then he says he went to NY to see Foreman’s brother in prison. But Wilson checks that out, and that is a lie too. House then tells Wilson he went to NY to check out a woman that Wilson is seeing that has some involvement with his brother’s rehabilitation. Wilson seems half mortified and half scared. But later, Wilson steals House’s phone and finds many calls to a psychiatrist – House has been seeing a shrink. At the end of the episode, House indicates he won’t be going back. I suppose he doesn’t want to be locked in to psychoanalysis, which to House may be just as bad as the patient being locked in his brain. But there is a blurry shot at the end, which gives an air of mystery.

But back to the patient, who actually seemed to be interesting this week. While they find a way for him to communicate – first by blinking and then by moving a cursor up and down on a screen to indicate yes or no just by thinking of moving the cursor up and down – they find that Lee has been lying to his wife, and he’s been working other jobs and looking for more work, using his friend’s home as a cover. They first think he was exposed to heavy metals while working a janitorial job, so they treat him for heavy metal poisoning. Sadly, that’s not his problem, and after trial and error – like always – Kutner (Kal Penn) makes a connection between a rash he sees on Thirteen’s (Olivia Wilde) wrist and the patient’s symptoms. Kutner correctly diagnoses Lee with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection he got from coming in contact with rat pee from his friend’s basement. The problem is, when House asks Kutner and Taub (Peter Jacobson) who got the diagnosis, Taub takes credit, and Kutner is silent. But after Taub walks off, House tells Kutner that he knows it wasn’t Taub, and that Taub must really care about his job if he is willing to lie for it.

If you think House didn’t try to get one up on his staff in this episode like he always does, he did actually find out a lot about them, as he’d left a small tape recorder in the patient’s bed so he can hear what secrets or little tidbits he could get to use at a later time.

This episode had a lot of unusual camera shots, considering many scenes were shot as if they were looking through the patient’s eyes. I don’t care for stunt casting, and it seems many TV shows are signing up any rapper they can get to star in their show. In this case, Mos Def was really not that bad, but a lot of it is due to the fact that he really didn’t have to synchronize his lines with his expressions for most of the show. The few scenes where he imagined himself on a beach playing with his kids and talking to House were short and really didn’t require a huge talent. So in this case, there wasn’t much to lose with casting someone who may not have a huge acting range. Still, I think he did a decent job.

All in all, a very good episode, and a rare one where we actually may have cared about the patient. It seemed to have the perfect balance of patient + House + Wilson + House’s staff, with less Cuddy. Kind of like lite beer – taste great, lower calories.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lost “He’s Our You “ Sayid Takes a Stand

Photo from ABC
This episode of Lost (ABC) titled “He’s Our You” put the focus on Sayid (Naveen Andrews). Sayid is one of the characters on this show that I have always been on the fence about. He has a very scary, dark side to him, and he always seems to be simmering inside. Yet, at times, he seems to be very reflective on certain aspects of his life, possibly wanting to change, but not exactly knowing how.

We see him as a young boy, who easily kills a chicken when his brother, after being asked by his father to do so, is unable to perform the task. Besides the flashbacks to Sayid’s childhood life, we also see some of his contact with Ben after his return from the Island when he kills others at Ben's request. He’s been tagged a natural for the task. The problem is, it seems Sayid doesn’t seem to want to be labeled that way anymore. He’s working to help rebuild a community that seems away from modern cities, and he seems content. Maybe it’s guilt, maybe it’s disappointment that the killings he did for Ben (Michael Emerson) haven’t changed anything. He doesn’t want to help Ben any more.

He’s now back on the Island in 1977, and has been captured by the Dharma people, as they think he’s one of the Others and qA sent there as a spy. They try to get him to talk, but Sayid knows how to be silent. A very young Ben Linus seems to have befriended Sayid, and Ben expresses his hopes that if he breaks Sayid out, that Sayid will take him with him. Ben apparently hates his father who is also on the Island, as his father seems abusive to Ben.

We also see a flashback to Sayid meeting up with a woman in a bar – the same woman we had seen him handcuffed to when he made his return flight to the Island. He thinks that she’s hitting on him, and when they get back to the hotel room, she overtakes him and holds him at gunpoint, saying she was contracted to bring him back to face the consequences for one of the killings he did at the request of Ben. He is stunned when he and this bounty hunter get to the waiting area for the flight, and he sees the other people from the Island making their return. He tries to convince the woman to change the flight but she won’t budge. Of course, they both end up on the Island, separated by location and probably time as well. Personally, I could have done without so much back story on the bounty hunter and Sayid. The whole bar scene seemed to take too long and seemed very forced, especially since the actress playing the bounty hunter talked with a poorly executed fake accent.

Meanwhile, Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), and Hurley (Jorge Garcia) are trying to acclimate to their new jobs on the Island, and Kate seems to be trying to get used to the idea of Sawyer being with Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell). These characters seem to stay in the background this episode, which is fine with me.

When Sayid refuses to talk to Horace, and when Sawyer (Josh Holloway) – AKA LeFleur – can’t convince him to go along with a cover story, Sayid is taken to one of the Dharma men to loosen his tongue. When he asks Sawyer who the man is, Sawyer says, “He’s our you”, meaning that the man would torture and kill a the drop of a hat. Sayid is drugged and he spills everything, including information about Dharma that they said no one is supposed to know. They are convinced he is a spy. The problem is, no one believes him when he says he is from the future, and they start to believe they gave him too much of the drug. When Sayid is returned to his cell, the key people of the Dharma group meet and decide that Sayid should be killed. Sawyer/LeFleur is forced to agree – and seems to do so for appearances. He goes to Sayid, and tries to convince Sayid to escape, and Sawyer will let him make it look like Sayid overpowered him and took his keys. But Sayid isn’t buying it. Later, when one of the vans, set aflame, crashes into a building and the Dharma group fights the fire, young Ben arranges to get Sayid out of the cell, and they escape. While on the run, Sayid encounters Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), and when Jin gets a message on the radio that the prisoner has escaped, Sayid overpowers him, knocks him out, and takes his gun. And then, the unthinkable happens - Sayid tells Ben that he was right when he said that he was a killer, and then he points his gun at Ben and shoots him. Ben collapses, apparently dead. It seems clear that Sayid is, in fact, a killer, when the killing seems necessary. Sayid, I think, just wants to get off the crazy Island merry-go-round.

This is going to make things interesting. If Ben was shot dead as a child, how can he have lived on to create all the problems he did for the Islanders later? Is this the classic paradox, where it seems impossible that someone who has already existed in the future had already died in the past, and therefore should have no future? Will the Island’s healing properties bring Ben back to life as it did Locke? Will Ben’s shooting just escalate the tension between the Dharma people and the Others? And what suspicion will be cast on Sawyer and the other new arrivals? Sayid’s actions may have several unintended consequences…or are they intended? With “Lost,” it’s anybody guess.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NCIS “Hide and Seek” Finds Fun In Crime

All photos CBS

Unlike last week’s episode of NCIS (CBS) “Knockout“, this week’s episode, “Hide and Seek” was light and it moved well. When NCIS highlights the core team and each person’s idiosyncrasies, this show is great fun to watch. And that is what part of the problem with “Knockout “ was last week – it focused on an uninteresting case involving an uninteresting character, Director Vance (Rocky Carroll).

“Hide and Seek” involved a mother, living in naval base housing, who finds a gun in her son’s room. When the gun is turned in to NCIS, brain matter is discovered on it, leading the team to a murder. The case seems like a real stretch of an excuse to get NCIS involved, but it really is just a backdrop for the interaction between the team. Here’s what happened, and I have more comments about the episode after this brief recap.

The episode opens with McGee (Sean Murray) working hard to order a set of golf clubs on an on-line auction to replace the set he borrowed from Ducky that McGee damaged. Abby (Pauley Perrette) comes in and, as Gibbs would do, orders them to work on a case where a gun was found by a mother in her son’s room on a navy base. When they are reluctant to jump to it, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) comes in and confirms Abby’s orders.

The team investigates the case, starting with the kids who found the gun. The kids finally admit they found the gun next to a body in an open area. Despite McGee using his boy scout experience to help them find the body, the kids are dismayed when the body isn’t where they last saw it. After the kids leave, McGee and DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) work to find out to where the body was moved. Again, McGee’s boy scout training helps to locate it, despite the frequent ribbing from DiNozzo about McGee’s scouting prowess. Ducky (David McCallum) later IDs the body as Dylan Bates, and believes the time of death is about three weeks ago. He can narrow the time of death down by analyzing the insects on the body. Of course, Abby nurtures these bugs as if they were real children, to the point of playing classical music for them (which clearly Abby hates).

Abby later tells Gibbs and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) that she’s been able to track down who fired the weapon. She shows them a newspaper article about a postal worker getting shot, and said this gun was admitted as evidence in a trial four years ago. This was also an NCIS case, and they were the ones who had the gun in evidence. Later, they find that after the case, the gun was returned to its original order. Ziva find that the gun was sold to a man named Eddie Felson. DiNozzo, the movie buff, immediately recognizes the name of Fast Eddie Felson, a character from the classic Paul Newman movie, “The Hustler”. They realize the person is using a false identity, and DiNozzo, reviewing a bunch of photos of possible suspects he has, IDs the man as someone named Ronnie, who he had used the guns to rob some convenience stores. They bring Ronnie in, and he says he threw the gun in a store dumpster. By looking at security video footage, Ronnie’s story seems to pan out, but they also see someone who worked at the store who pulled the gun out of the dumpster. He’s identified as Joseph Ellis. Ellis is a Navy “brat” who couldn’t get into the Navy himself because of a criminal record. His accomplice in that crime was Dylan Bates.

McGee had also been trying to identify tire tracks found where Bates’ body was moved, and successfully finds the tracks belong to wagon tires. He confiscates as many wagons as he can find on the base (it seemed like a lot to me), and he and Abby find evidence of blood on one of them. The wagon belongs to Noah, one of the boys who originally found the gun and the body to begin with. They bring the boy in for questioning, Gibbs doing the honors. Gibbs calm, yet steely questioning gets the boy to admit that he killed Dylan because he was always picking on him and his friends and stealing their money. But Noah’s lack of details makes Gibbs not believe Noah’s story, and then Noah admits it was his father who killed Dylan.

They video conference with Noah’s father Mike, who is stationed elsewhere. He says despite his previous threat to Dylan, he didn’t do it. He only deployed early because he needed the money so he took a more hazardous assignment. Ducky then informs Gibbs that the blowflies on the body mean the time of death was 15 days ago, and Gibbs realizes Mike was already deployed for a few days when the murder occurred. They decide to hone in on Ellis but he can’t be located. They find that despite the fact that his mother had been deployed for a month, there have been calls made from her home on base within the last few weeks. Gibbs sends Ziva and DiNozzo to Ellis’ mother’s home, while Gibbs takes McGee to Noah’s home and ask Noah’s mother to talk to her daughter, Rebecca. Ziva and DiNozzo find Joey dead in his home, an apparent suicide. Back with Gibbs, Rebecca says Joey was her best friend and that Dylan convinced him to commit the robberies and do drugs. She talked to Joey about his life, but he decided to kill himself. She found his body, and took his gun to Dylan to show him how Joey killed himself and when Dylan grabbed the gun, it went off, killing him. Case closed.

Back at NCIS, DiNozzo thinks he’s pulled a fast one on McGee when DiNozzo wins an on-line auction for the golf clubs McGee needs to replace Ducky’s. When he offers them to McGee with an added $100 finders fee, DiNozzo is chagrined to find that he bought left handed clubs, and Ducky is right handed. He threatens that if McGee won’t buy the clubs anyway he’ll tell Ducky that McGee destroyed his clubs. Too late, as Ducky has overheard it all. Ducky gets his satisfaction when he tells McGee to recall an autographed, one of a kind jazz album that he borrowed from him. When McGee asks him, worriedly, what has happened to it, Ducky gets evasive and walks off as McGee looks very concerned.

I think this was a decent episode, but I do have some questions. Is it normal that the NCIS team would be called in to investigate a case of a gun found on a naval base, simply because they was brain matter on it? If there was no evidence that it was a military person who was killed, shouldn’t the police first take the case? How convenient is it that one of the people who found the gun and the body was the brother of the girl who killed the man? If Joey was her best friend, why did Rebecca just leave his body there in his home? Why wouldn’t she have called the police? Did they ever cover why she moved Joey’s body – assuming was her that moved it? I don’t recall them saying who moved the body but I could have missed it.

What made the episode good – and one of the reason why I like NCIS – is the interaction between the main characters. Sure, sometimes they go a little overboard with it, but when then get the mix just right, the show is very entertaining. No one does the simmering calm of Gibbs like Mark Harmon, but when he gets that playful twinkle in his eyes, it lights up the whole screen. He is very tolerant of Abby, yet he seems to care for her in a special way, unlike how he cares for the others on his team. It was great to see Abby back to her normal self – unlike the worried, overly concerned Abby we saw in too many episodes this season. It was cute when she decided to “play Gibbs” on a few occasions by giving orders to the team, with Gibbs showing some low-key delight with it. And there is nothing like a little friendly competition between DiNozzo and McGee, especially when DiNozzo gets burned by trying to pull a fast one on McGee. All in all, a very comfortable episode that, despite a crime that probably wasn’t worthy of an NCIS investigative team, provided a great backdrop for the fun.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Battlestar Galactica “Daybreak” Series Finale - Will History Repeat Itself?

All photos SciFi

I’m a little late on my commentary about the series finale of “Battlestar Galactica”. There was so much to digest, yet so many things remain unanswered. We’ve all heard the saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This seems to be the case with the people of Battlestar Galactica, as the closing thought is that if humanity is not careful, the cycle can be repeated.
Last week, I gave you my comments on the part one of Battlestar Galactica’s “Daybreak” finale, and this two hour conclusion answered some question while leaving a few on the table. Generally, I liked the finale and thought that it was a fitting close for the series, but there are some things that I didn’t quite like. More on those issues later.

First, a brief overview of what happened. Admiral Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos) had decided to take the Galactica to find Hera (Iliana Gomez-Martinez) and recover her from Cavil (Dean Stockwell), who is on a Cylon ship close to a singularity (a black hole). Baltar (James Callis) has decided to stay with Galactica and help fight the fight. The Galactica teams all plan their attack and after getting everyone ready, they make their jump to the singularity and virtually right on top of the Cylon ship. They meet immediate fire, but as they have Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) hooked up to the Cylon technology, he can communicate with the Cylon technology on their ship, and he shuts down the Cylon’s ability to fire their weapons. The Galactica also rams the Cylon ship, giving them entry to the Cylon ship. Boomer (Grace Park), having second thoughts about kidnapping Hera, kills the doctor who is experimenting on Hera and takes Hera away. When Boomer runs into the Galactica team, including Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and Sharon (also Grace Park), Sharon gets Hera back and kills Boomer. But things get messy when the team finds themselves under attack and Hera runs off.

President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who is dying an being held together by lots of drugs, senses Hera is in trouble and runs off and finds her, all the while having memories of her previous Opera House visions. But once Roslin is also under attack, Hera takes off again. Baltar and Caprica (Trish Helfer), who now seem to be able to see the inner visions of each other that they have had in the past, find Hera, and they also rellive their Opera House memories. When they manage to get Hera to the bridge, Cavil is already there and manages to get hold of Hera. The final five offers Cavil the technology of Resurrection if he returns Hera, and he does so. But when the final five get their minds together –using Sam as the conduit - to collect the information for the Resurrection technology to transmit it to the Cylons, and as they are all connected with each other’s thoughts, Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) discovers it was Tory (Rekha Sharma ) that killed his wife. Tyrol then kills Tory, breaking the connection and the transmission to the Cylons. This causes an immediate reaction from the Cylons on the ship, and Cavil kills himself as he knows there is no way out. While all this is going on, Bill Adama orders them to jump and tells Kara (Katee Sackhoff) to get them out of there. The musical message from “All Along the Watchtower” that Kara was trying to decode the week before, trying to find a solution with numbers, realizes that the music is the number code for the jump coordinates. She enters them and the ship jumps, barely staying together. They find themselves at a planet with a moon that looks very much like our Earth, the continent of Africa very visible.

They land on the planet and know that this must be their last stop, as the Galactica can’t take any more jumps or anything much else for that matter. They plan to make their lives there, separating into various groups to live in areas around the world giving them better chances for survival. There are humans already there, but very primitive ones, and they don’t seem to know how to speak. They give the Cylon Centurions the base ship and set them free, hopefully never to return and cause trouble. Bill Adama goes off to be on his own and takes Roslin, who dies en route. Adama buries her and picks that area to build a cabin. Baltar and Caprica also go off on their own, Baltar finding a good place for farming. Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), now permanently separated from his father, has a nice talk with Kara and she feels that her work is over. While Lee is talking to her and turns away, when he turns back, Kara has disappeared into thin air.

As we move forward 150,000 years, we see a modern day New York City, complete with Times Square. Baltar and Six/Caprica are walking around, talking about how it seems that the people have found themselves in the same place again, and with technology becoming more commonplace and ingrained in everyone’s life. Will they just go through it all over again, like the people of Caprica had to do and even those apparently before them? The hope that this time, we will have learned enough not to.

During all this action, we see numerous flashbacks to Caprica life by some members of Galactica. Lee and Kara recall the night when Lee first meets Kara, and his brother gets drunk and passes out, and Lee and Kara almost decide to have a little “fun” of their own. After Kara disappears, Lee later remembers the pigeon or dove that came into his apartment and then flew out an open door. Roslin remembers a blind date with someone who turns out to be a former student, and later she blows him off to accept a political position. Bill Adama, Tighe (Michael Hogan) and Ellen (Kate Vernon ) find themselves in a strip club partying on, getting plastered. Baltar recalls when Six first asked him for access to information that eventually is what causes the fall of Caprica. It seems like all their lives at the time were somewhat of a mess, or headed that way.

Here’s what didn’t sit quite right with me:

1. The Galactica ramming into another ship. While this seem to throw a lot of people around, I wondered why no one took precautions to strap themselves in somewhere while the ship collided. I also wondered why, if a person can get killed in a simple car accident these days, that the act of ramming a vehicle like the Galactica into another with such force as to tear a hole into it that there weren’t many deaths just from the jolt of the impact.

2. References in previous episodes to Kara being the “harbinger of death” now seem even more vague. The death of who or what exactly? Was it life as they knew it? It seemed to me that when they originally wrote the whole “harbinger of death” line that they weren’t quite sure themselves as to what it would mean. It certainly didn’t seem to be the horrible thing that it was meant to be, seeing that they seem to have found a place where they could live in peace.

3. Kara’s sudden disappearance. I suppose we are to think she was some sort of angel, and when her work was over, she just poofed off into nothingness. It seemed as if she was an angel that could be seen by everyone, why not allow her to stick around a little longer and let he have a happy life with Lee? I guess angels are allowed to be corporeal until a serious relationship comes along.

4. Why did Adama go off on his own? After all he did to mend fences with his son, why leave him now and go at it alone? Why would he not want to first help the rest of the human race get established, and then fade off into the sunset?

5. Why did Hera keep running away? I still don’t get why a child who had been held captive and was finally in the arms of her mother and father would take off. Likewise when she took off from Roslin.

6. The whole Opera House vision seemed to be another thing that when they first brought it out, they weren’t exactly sure where it was going to lead. As the flashbacks to the respective visions occurred, overlaid on the present action, it seemed like someone had taken great pains to try to make the vision make some sense. It seemed more like someone tried to shoehorn a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe.

7. Adama, Tighe, and Ellen in a strip club. Sorry, that seemed just so "off" to me. And I never liked Tighe, and I disliked him even less, as all he seemed to be able to due in the club is yell.

8. Baltar and Caprica both being able to really see the “people” – or are they angels – that they used to only see in their heads. This scene seemed more comical, and as as result, it was very out of place.

9. Baltar’s Angel speech on the bridge. It seemed weirdly out of place as well. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for all the other people standing around the area with guns to just shoot Cavil in the head? And why would Adama allow the often-untrustworthy Baltar to speak for all of them, and about angels no less?

What I liked:

1. The few references to the original Battlestar Galactic series. I swear I heard the sounds that the original Cylons made. It was obvious, though, when Galactica and the rest of the ships headed into the sun, that one could hear pieces of the original theme. Nice.

2. The scenes where Galactica attacked the Cylon colony. It was action packed, with plenty of centurions and plenty of gunfire. I still don’t buy the whole Galactica ramming the ship thing, but I can look past it since it brought such an intense attack.

3. Roslin’s death was very well done. Death is usually so trivialized on television these days that this one seemed to actually have real meaning. I honestly felt sad when she passed away. Mary McDonnell did an excellent job in this whole series, but these last few episodes, she played the role of a woman - succumbing to death, yet fighting every way she could until she didn’t have to anymore – very well. Emmy worthy, although I think sadly they will ignore her.

4. I enjoyed all the flashback scenes, and wish they would have done this more often in the series as it seemed to add such depth to the characters. Knowing what they had, and what they were going through while living in Caprica before its destruction seemed to make their quest for earth even more desperate. It also explained why they decided so easily to chuck it all and start over with a much simpler, less complicated life.

5. The cameo by Ronald D. Moore, the writer and producer behind the re-imagining of the original series. He could be spotted in the last segment, at a newsstand.

6. The ending. Out of all of the bad times they had during their search for Earth, the ending had great hope. Sure, in 150,000 years they may have been getting back to where the are in a position to start the conflict all over again. But the idea that maybe subconsciously they have learned from all this and that they may not be destined to repeat it meant that a cycle can be broken. Maybe those feelings of déjà vu, or the appearance of what may be “angels” in the series are really deep seated memories that have been passed along over the eons through their DNA, and somewhere in there is a warning message that may stop the human race from completely turning themselves over to technology.

All in all, it was a great finish to a very good series. It made up for that one season or more where the show just seemed to languish in the dark, depressing doldrums. The finale gave a glimmer of hope for them. And you never know, if they haven’t learned from their past mistakes, someone can resurrect the series at some later time, and just start all over again.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Mentalist “Bloodshot” Blindingly Bad

Photo from CBS
This episode of The Mentalist (CBS), “Bloodshot” had a decent start. It started off as a normal day, with Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) arriving at the CBI and seeing Grace (Amanda Righetti) talking to a man at the outdoor food vendor. Things look like they could be cozy, and Jane decides to gossip to Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Cho (Tim Kang) about it, just to get Rigsby a little jealous. But, it seems that someone has been calling in bomb threats to the CBI, and the day turns eventful when a bomb threat is texted directly to Jane’s phone. As the building evacuates, Jane realizes that person who sent him the text was telling him the bomb was not in the building but nearby the building. He and Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) start to check cars in the parking lot, and Jane sees a van, with a man inside being restrained, with what looks like detonator ticking off the seconds. But there isn’t enough time to get the man out, and the van blows up, vaulting Jane high into the air with the explosion. He seems unhurt – which is amazing considering the loft he had as he was thrown by the blast - but there is one problem: he can’t see anything.

This is when things take a turn for the worse as far as credibility. At the hospital, Jane is told that his blindness will be temporary. But the big error the episode makes is that temporary or not, Jane is still blind, yet they seem to make it so easy for him to get around by just hanging on to people and using a walking stick to help him find his way. Now I have never lost my sight, but I highly doubt that after an ordeal like that, they would let him out of the hospital immediately. He also seemed a little too comfortable with that walking stick and even simply walking, even with his hands on someone’s shoulder. To me, they minimized the whole idea of what it would be like to lose one’s sight, and I think it may have even been an insult to people who have developed blindness. Ludicrous was when Jane walked into an interrogation all alone and managed to find his bearings, and a chair, a little too easily. The whole blind thing simply was not credible and I think it ruined what could have been a decent episode.

They decide to check out to see if the person who was blown up in the van was suicidal, but Jane doubts it, since he saw the look in the man’s eyes. They begin to look at motives, and why the bomber decided to target Jane in his latest threat. We get some insight to Jane’s past as he tries to recall his previous consultations. He realizes that he touched a watch like the one belonging to the murder victim once before, and apparently the watch was a gift from his company. Jane recalls other people he did consultations for that may have had that same watch, specifically one consultation for a woman whom he told her husband was not happy and was having an affair. To make a long story short, she left her husband and he fell on hard times, and the man killed in the bomb had fired the husband for poor performance. To top it off, in one of the more obviously plot twists, the man that Grace was seeing – Dan (Gene Farber) was the son of that man and woman. For me, the minute I saw him with Grace and then having the text message come in shortly thereafter, that he would have something to do with the whole case. And when he showed up at the CBI office to see Grace, he should have just taped a sign to his back that said “mad bomber.” When Rigsby asks to talk with Dan privately, they go into the men’s room and Dan seems to play nice, but then he beats up Rigsby and leaves him on the floor, unconscious. He returns to Grace and asks to meet the psychic detective, so she nudges Jane awake from his nap on his couch. But when Grace’s phone rings and it’s Teresa telling her the name of the person they thing is the bomber – it’s her boyfriend – it’s already too late, and he pulls out a gun and threatens Jane that he will shoot Grace in the head. It seems Dan is a little peeved that he lived a great life before his parents’ divorce, but after Jane set those wheels in motion and his mother divorced his dad, things turned sour quick. He cuffs Grace and has her help lead Jane out of the building into the parking lot, with a gun on them. When the security guard asks some questions, Patrick hits Dan and they take off with Grace, and Dan shoots the security guard. Again we turn to the ridiculous when Jane is able to run and escape from someone when he is blind and really doesn’t know exactly where he is. Even more incredible is that he tries to convince Grace he can drive them out of the mess as long as she guides him, which only causes them to crash into many cars. Lucky for them Teresa arrives and shots Dan, saving Jane and Grace from getting shot, not to mention a whole bunch of cars in the parking lot from total destruction. Grace and Rigsby have a nice reunion in the men’s room, and maybe now their relationship will move forward. And, like magic, Jane realizes he has his sight back. Now isn’t that a miracle?

It’s a shame that this show took the core of a good story and completely cheesed it up and made it so ridiculous that it would have been better off as an episode of CSI Miami, the gold standard for cheesiness. The only edge that The Mentalist has right now is it’s star, Simon Baker, designated as TV’s sexiest man by TV Guide Magazine. I’ll admit, he is a lot prettier than David Caruso.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CSI Miami “Flight Risk” Have Airsickness Bags Ready

Image from CBS
Don’t bother watching CSI Miami (CBS) “Flight Risk” if you haven’t done so. The whole episode is a crime scene. The episode is about a murder of a flight attendant on an aircraft. Her bloody body is found as it spills out onto the baggage claim carousel. As the investigation continues, there are so many things that are so incredibly ridiculous that I my forehead is black and blue because I smacked my head so much in disbelief.

The obvious: How can a woman carry and dump a body into an area where passengers are sitting and have no one see her do it? I can’t believe that the air marshal was the only one sitting in that whole first class area, or that when he left his seat that it left no one else in the area to see the other flight attendant drop a body into an access panel in the floor. Next obvious question, how does a flight attendant - on her own – stuff that same body into some baggage on her own? Lucky for her, there was a bag with what looked like sporting equipment in it so she could fit the body in there. What would she have done with the body if there weren’t a big enough bag in there?

Even more hideous was the sugary daydream scene where Eric (Adam Rodriguez) fantasizes that he and Calleigh (Emily Proctor) are flying first class somewhere. It gets worse later when Eric is examining luggage tags to try to match handwriting on a stalker letter to the flight attendant with one of the passengers, and Calleigh arrives and she makes her lovesick eyes at Eric. Excuse me; I must get my airsickness bag.

If there is anyone out there who knows all there is to know about airplanes, please tell me that the “Romper Room” is really just a CSI Miami invention. Please tell me, please. And if they do exist, what do they really call them, because ‘Romper Room” just has such a weird connotation to it.

And isn’t is just amazing that Horatio’s (David Caruso) weird spawn - I mean son – Kyle, – who seems to have had no previous works skills, can now be working in the morgue and actually seems OK with touching a body? When he casually lifted up the stewardess’s dead hand I thought that was odd. He also didn’t seem to recoil at the thought of them doing a sex kit on the body. Kyle seems a little to eager to learn about working with dead bodies, it kind of icks me out a bit. Where IS my airsickness bag?

Was Ryan’s (Jonathan Togo) comment to Boa Vista (Eve La Rue) about Eric and Calleigh having some sort of "thing" an attempt to make Boa Vista jealous, or was Ryan just a little peeved about the relationship himself? Personally, I find Calleigh very unattractive as she seems so stiff and cold, and Eric a little too naïve and immature, and even more childlike since his shooting. What an odd couple. I am also not sure if someone is getting a little heavy handed with the hair straightener for Boa Vista, because I don’t think her hair can get plastered any closer to her head.

Sadly, they seem to be cutting back severely on the Horatio one-liners at the beginning of the show. I wonder if the writers were running out of ideas, or if they just got tired of the ridicule. But without the Horatio one-liner, it seems like the opening scream is such a waste!

So unless you have a strong stomach – a very strong stomach – or have an ample supply of airsickness bags handy, I’d tell you to stay away from “Flight Risk.” It is guaranteed to nauseate.

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House ‘Here Kitty” Fit for the Litter Box

Image from Fox
The title of this blog may make one conclude that I thought this episode of House(Fox), 'Hello Kitty" was cr*p. I didn’t think it was horrible, but it wasn’t one of their best.

The story surrounding the patient of the week was interesting enough – a woman felt she was going to die because a nursing home cat, who correctly predicted the death of several nursing home residents by laying beside them, had decided to lay down next to her. Since she took that to be a sign she was next, she decided to fake an illness to gain admission to the hospital. Doesn’t she know that House usually nearly kills his patients before he cures them? That alone would give death kitty a reason to lay beside anyone who is nutty enough to believe it cold predict his or her death. What was horribly silly was that when the episode opened, before Dr, Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) brought death kitty patient into the examining room, that House (Hugh Laurie) had constructed an elaborate race car track inside the room. Now really, that was quite a stretch, even for House.

After Taub (Peter Jacobson) correctly concludes the patient is faking, House decides to find a reason to keep the patient in there. He conducts own test with death kitty, who seemed to predict the death of one of the hospital’s coma patients. By the way, didn’t that seem like a lot of coma patients for what seems like such a small training hospital? I wonder if all of those people in comas were at one time patients of House. After all, he nearly kills a patient each week, I wonder how many wind up in comas? Anyway. the patient eventually begins to develop real symptoms of something, and after quite a few pointless tests and some tests that actually help, like using a pill camera, they discover she has a problem with her appendix, the one place the pill camera couldn’t go. Death kitty was only laying down next to people who were warm, some had fevers, some had warming blankets, and the patient of the week was likely warm from her illness.

Behind all this, we see Taub finally getting up to his ears with House, especially after House asks him to clean out death kitty’s litter box. After meeting up with someone who he thought he knew from the past that offers him a job after Taub twists his arm, Taub gives his notice. House chides Taub that he will be back, and sure enough Taub has to return to work the next day when it turns out this so-called friend who he really didn’t know was just a scam artist. Luckily Taub hadn’t given him any money to invest in his scam venture.

In addition, we also get House trying to play with Kutner’s (Kal Penn) head, by bringing out every superstition he can think of. Kutner is trying not to let this bother him, although House does catch Kutner walking around a ladder rather than walking under it. When death kitty blocks Kutner’s exit from House’s office, Kutner exits out the door leading outside, leaving it open for death kitty to also leave that way as well. House’s immature response the next day is to pretend he is also getting ill, and he spits up what is supposed to look like blood all over Kutner, but House admits it is cranberry juice. Kutner later gets back at House by peeing on his office chair and leading House to think that death kitty did it. What kinds of people are at this hospital anyway? The only person with any semblance of maturity is Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard).

Thankfully we got very little Foreman (Omar Epps) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) in this episode. But we still got too much of Cuddy, and it seems that we can’t go one episode without having some of her anatomy being thrust into our faces. I think this show is being written by 14 year old boys.

The one star on this show who deserves an Emmy for this episode was the cat. It was perfectly cast and very well behaved, even despite the scene where House tries in vain to stuff the poor thing into a duffel bag. Any other cat would have been scratching and clawing. We need an Emmy category for animals, I say.

The only thing that was even remotely funny was House doing his impersonation of the James Bond villain “Blofeld” with the cat on his lap, and uttering the line “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die” – which is really a line of Goldfinger’s, not Blofeld’s, if I recall correctly. Like his diagnoses, even House can’t get his movie references right all the time.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Series Fraktacular “Daybreak” Part 1

All Photos from SciFi

The series finale “fraktacular” of Battlestar Galactica (SciFi) began this past Friday with part one of a three hour episode titled “Daybreak.” This last season, the series did a wonderful job of bringing the many years and many pieces of the puzzle together. While watching this one hour episode (which will lead up to the two hour finale on Friday, March 20 at 9:00 PM on SciFi), I found myself wondering what took them so long to bring in the back story of the Capricans before the Cylons destroyed their world. It added another dimension to the show that I had not seen in quite some time.

During the flashbacks, we discover that Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos) seems to be having his arm twisted to attend an event. Baltar is starting his fling with who we later know as Six (Tricia Helfer), while he tries to take care of his father, who seems to be a crotchety old man that Baltar treats like he’s unwanted baggage. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) is cooking a dinner for her beau, Zak Adama (Tobias Mehler) and is meeting his brother Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) for the first time. Lee later battles a pigeon that somehow got into his apartment. We also find that before Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) became president, she had a happy life with her two younger sisters, one of which is soon to have a baby. Sadly, she finds that her sisters and father were killed in a car crash by a drunk driver, sending Roslin over the edge for a while.

But reality soon sets in, and we see that in the present that Roslin is dying, and the Galactica is being evacuated. Baltar wants his people to have representation and argues with Lee, and Lee doubts Baltar’s sincerity, accusing him of never doing a selfless thing in his life. Kara is trying to figure out the meaning of the mysterious melody that her father taught her years ago and some of the Cylons hear in the heads, looking for a math solution. She and Bill Adama plug back in Sam (Michael Trucco) in order to get a clue from him. Afterwards, we find that Adama has decided that they have to go after Hera, since Sam gave them clues to her location. Hera – the first human/Cylon child - had been kidnapped by Boomer (Grace Park) and taken to Cavil (Dean Stockwell), who plans to study her body. Adama and Kara put a line of red tape on the floor of the deck and he asks for volunteers for the mission to save Hera. Those who want to go on what will likely be a one way mission are asked to stand on one side of the tape, and those that want to stay to stand on the other. It seemed that Baltar had chosen to stay, although it’s possible that he later crossed over the line.

There is one big problem, however. The Cylon colony where Hera is being held is located next to a naked singularity – a black hole. There is also only one viable jump point for the Galactica to enter there, and it’s well guarded.

This means that we are probably in for an exciting two hour finale.

I don’t want to over-analyze the little snippets of the lives we have seen of the Capricans during the flashback. Roslin clearly has no family left,she dying, and therefore nothing to lose, which is possibly why she tags along on the mission to save Hera. Lee’s pigeon could very well symbolize the eventual death of his brother Zak (a wild bird that gets into someone’s home has often thought to be the harbinger of death). Adama hated to be called on to attend something he clearly doesn’t want to, but now he is asking his crew to go on a mission which may cost them their lives. Baltar was a slimy schemer on Caprica, and can he really change and do anything that won’t benefit him? Will Kara find out the secret to all in the music, and find out how she seemed to have died and then come alive once again?

Hopefully, all out questions will be answered in the finale. I have to say that, even despite the season when the show just seemed to drag and go nowhere, I think I am sorry to see the it go.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

CSI “No Way Out” A Rare Dud

All Photos CBS
This week’s episode of CSI was somewhat of a rarity. It was a resounding dud, a complete 180-degree change from the previous week’s interesting Nick Stokes (George Eads) feature titled “Turn Turn Turn .”
“No Way Out” involves a case that later puts CSIs Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and Riley Adams (Lauren Lee Smith) in a hostage situation. On the surface, it sounds interesting, but I actually found myself becoming very confused about mid-way into the episode, and eventually fell asleep while watching it. (Good thing I set the DVR to record the show anyway).

There were several problems with the episode. I knew it was off to a bad start when we see a group of CSI entering, with guns drawn, what looks like a darkened warehouse and possible crime scene. I found myself wondering why CSIs would be entering a building in this manner, since it seemed as if it would be unlikely they would be entering a scene that had not been previously secured by police. My suspicions turned out to be correct when it was revealed this was just a training session. We learned that in this training session that they can call each other by the wrong names as code to tell them something is wrong. Right off the bat, I felt like I had just been robbed of five minutes.

They are then called to a real crime scene where a fight had broken out and a person from the neighborhood crime watch was shot and killed, along with a young boy who was likely shot by an errant bullet. And this is when I started to really lose the show. At one point, there were almost too many people involved in solving this crime that I couldn’t keep track of who they were pursuing. At one point, the entire CSI crew is looking over a giant enlarged photograph of the neighborhood where the crime occurred, and I asked myself, why would anyone spend the money to make a picture like that when the could have just blown up a digital image on a large monitor? It didn’t make sense to make such a large print. Then the dialog begins between them, which seemed to have been written in a manner that gave everyone a line or two. The problem is that all of this dialog was delivered with the excitement of a grade school student being forced to read lines of a play from a textbook to the whole class. It was stiff and lifeless, not to mention that it confused me as to who or what they were targeting in their investigation.

Then comes the even more ludicrous part. When Riley and Langston go back to a house to investigate, they stumble upon a ringing phone, which is coming from behind a closet wall. Langston finds a panel that he opens, exposing a doorway to a darkened basement. Rather than turn on a light, they use flashlights, with Riley, who is allowed to carry a gun, going down the steps first. When they see chemicals all over the place, they make what I think was a CSI blunder – they keep entering the basement and continue looking around. Shouldn’t their first call have been for backup and for Hazmat? I guess not. Even worse, Riley says later that Hazmat wants them to check it out first and tell them what is down there before they come in. Excuse me, but wouldn’t it make more sense for Hazmat to enter and area and make that determination – along with the proper protections and precautions – and determine how to handle it? It seemed very backwards to me. Of course, things go badly when Langston sees blood on the floor, and whispers for Riley to get out, as it seems there may be another hidden room. Instead of saying nothing and just pulling her out, he had to even whisper that he found blood, which seems to draw out a kid with a gun behind another fake wall, with a second kid injured in the room. (Lots of fake walls in drug houses, I guess.)

As Riley and Langston are held hostage, they convince their captor to let them work on the injured kid. Had it not been for Fishburne’s acting skills, the episode would have been a total loss. Smith’s overly stiff acting just sucked all the life out of what should have been an even more dramatic scene. The training session came in handy for Riley who called Sanders by her name in order to tip him off there was a problem at the scene. (I still felt like I lost five minutes from that training scene.) At the end, when everyone is saved – which was a foregone conclusion – they all stand outside and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) gives Langston a big hug, making me wonder why she didn’t also hug Riley, since Riley actually helped to save the day too.

Speaking of Marg Helgenberger, I am finding her to be looking scarier by the week. I hate to hone in on someone’s appearance, but she is looking too gaunt and her face is mask-like. Her hair is so straightened that it seems pasted to her head, and she is actually starting to look worn out. I think she needs to gain a few pounds and do something about adding some life to that hair to help brighten her face. OK, my shallow comments on that subject are over.

Fishburne adds an exciting air to the show, and brings a spark to every scene he is in, despite the fact that his character is low key by nature. Sadly, there are supporting players on the cast that are beginning to drag the show down - Eric Szmanda and Lauren Lee Smith are the two that first come to mind, but Helgenberger is also finding herself on the list of becoming tiresome. Maybe “No Way Out’ was an aberration and we can only hope that “no way” will it happen again.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heroes “Shades of Gray” Solid Boredom

Heroes (NBC) has ceased to become a must watch show for me. Why? Because each episode is just more of the same. Characters seem to waffle from being on the good side to the bad side, and vice versa, to the point that I don’t know if I care which side they are on. One thing is consistent though, I am starting to really despise Sylar and the constant evil that follows him everywhere.

This episode was somewhat bothersome to me as far as Sylar is concerned. He has been trying to track down his father, and finally meets up with Samson Gray (John Glover) who is living in a dumpy looking home. He has cancer and he’s dying. But, Sylar shows him he has the power to heal, and daddy decides he wants to take that power from his son. Well, not before daddy dear makes his son kill a poor helpless rabbit so he can stuff and mount it. But Sylar also finds that his dad has powers too. This fact doesn’t even interest me at all, because it seems the world is now filled with people with powers. The fact that daddy wants to kill his own son to get his power - saying his son will just heal back anyway -was predictable, as was Sylar being able to overtake Samson and leave him to die with his disease.

Of course, every show these days needs the evil controlling power hungry bureaucrat, and we get that with Danko, played by the always creepy Zeljko Ivanek. He wants to eliminate all the people with powers, and now Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) is having second thoughts about his involvement in this plan and with Danko's methods, especially after Danko sets up Parkman (Greg Grunberg) and wires him with a bomb. Nathan went from good guy to bad guy to good guy to I have no idea what he is now – just a man on the run, seeing that Danko tricked Nathan into showing his power of flight. And now that Danko knows Nathan has a power, Danko won’t allow Nathan’s daughter Claire (Hayden Panettiere) to continue to be protected. Nathan manages to get her out of her house before the nasty bad men in black with guns come to get her. This also means that Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), who thought he was moving up the ladder in the organization with Nathan, finds that he may be the odd man out again. I can’t help but be exhausted at trying to figure out which side Bennet is on, and I am not sure I care anymore.

One of the other flaws of the show is that there are too many main characters, and they just don’t give them enough coverage every week. In this episode, Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) didn’t get much face time, and I always find their characters very enjoyable. But, it also seems that they show them so sporadically that I frequently forget just exactly where they are in the story line, or what happened to them last time I saw them. There are a few other characters in the show like this as well, and it makes it harder and harder to follow the show, especially when they skip a week or two in airing new episodes.

Also annoying is that is seems that this series is answering no questions, only bringing in more complexity to the story. There is no “reward” for me by watching. I finish the show, and I feel like I am left with nothing. I may continue to watch through this season, but if I feel at that point there is nothing in it for me to continue, I won’t be back with the series if/when it returns for the new season.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

House: “The Social Contract” Is Honestly Good

All photos from Fox

This episode of House(Fox) “The Social Contract” attempts to bring the series back to its old self and away from the silly baby drama of late. The patient of the week was Nick (Jay Karnes), an author who suddenly can’t keep his mouth shut, with barbed, brutally honest comments coming out like he was channeling Dr. Greg House. But when his nose starts to bleed and he collapses, those with him realize something is really wrong. Of course, he ends up in Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, under the care of Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) and his staff. The team looks at the causes of Nick’s sudden personality shift, all the while Nick is dishing out comments to the group, such as doubting Kutner’s (Kal Penn) sincerity and mocking Taub’s (Peter Jacobson) nose. He also makes quite a few blatantly sexual comments to Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) in front of Foreman (Omar Epps). (By the way, for you shippers out there, I refuse to refer to these two as “Fore-teen). House, wanting to get his jollies, also makes sure that Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) arrives just at the time when Nick’s sexual fantasies are getting out of control, just so Nick can further spew out more of his sexual fantasies to Cuddy. It seems that this show is completely unable to go one episode without someone – usually House – objectifying Cuddy. I still don’t understand how someone who is supposed to be a professional woman in such a high position in the hospital – she has to remind House she is the Dean of Medicine – allows herself to be treated with such disrespect. They either need to make Cuddy into a respectable Dean of Medicine or just demote her so she can continue to allow herself to be demeaned and I can get along with my life.

The central issue with this episode, though, involved House and Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). Since House seems to be insanely concerned about anything that takes away his control over something, he gets worried when Wilson won’t go with him to see the monster truck show. After Wilson tells him that he has plans to play racquetball with Taub, the obsessed House goes into high gear and works to expose Taub’s collaboration in the lie. He gets Taub to get some information from Wilson on what is bothering him, and Taub suspects Wilson may be ill. But House gets it right, it’s not Wilson who is ill, it’s a problem with someone close to Wilson. We find out that it’s Wilson’s brother, who has been admitted to a psych hospital and given medication for a mental problem. Wilson also apparently has carried guilt for his brother being homeless, as years ago in frustration with his brother, he hung up the phone on him and his brother took off, without his meds. Eventually his brother became homeless. Wilson tried to find him once, and caught up with him by accident, seeing his brother homeless only adding to his guilt. Wilson wants to make amends, and he also wants his best buddy and sidekick House to be there at his side when he has to face his brother.

What was also great about this episode is whenever we get House and Wilson together, we usually get some great dialog, with Wilson usually getting the plum lines, like this exchange:

Kutner: No nasal cancer. And no marriage either if our patient keeps saying everything that comes into his head without regard for the consequences.

Wilson, to House: You led me to believe you were one of a kind.

This is the kind of thing that has been missing from the show for a while. This seemed like such a natural comment, not the forced funny that we’ve been getting as of late. It was like we had our old show back.

By the way, after a few misdiagnoses – after all, it wouldn’t be House without them -
House correctly identifies Nick’s problem as potter syndrome, which is causing his body to overreact to a fibroma. House tells the team to remove the fibroma and Nick will return to normal. And magically, he does, and Nick returns to his wife, who seems to have forgiven him for all the nasty things he said to her while he was ill.

But most importantly, House and Wilson have seemed to reinforce their bond of friendship. In fact, the next day after Wilson has met with his brother, House asks if he is okay, and Wilson tells him he will be seeing his brother again next week and he would like House to meet him too, and House agrees. So it seems Wilson needs House just as bad as House needs him. Wilson tells House the meeting with his brother was a little anti-climatic as they seemed like strangers. As they step into the elevator, House asks Wilson if it bothers him that he and Wilson have no social contract. Wilson says his whole life is one big compromise, and he tiptoes around everyone like they are made of China. He spends all his time analyzing the affects of what would happen as the result of his words. But he says House is a reality junkie; if he offered House a lie he’d smack him over the head with it – and let’s not change that. House says OK, but Wilson says no, that if he were implementing a social contract he’d say that, but only because it makes him feel better. House says it’s fun watching him torture himself, and Wilson asks him if he thinks things will work out with his brother. House answers no, but if it does go wrong, it won’t be Wilson’s fault. Wilson thanks him, and House says, “You really do like monster trucks.” Wilson’s reply, “Absolutely” as they leave the building together. Awww. Ok, it was a little sappy, but still it was good to see House and Wilson acting like best buddies again. Maybe there is still hope for this show after all.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lost: Not Sure About “LeFleur”

Photo from ABC.com

Last night’s episode of Lost (ABC) “LeFleur” was somewhat of a jumbled mess. It attempted to bring viewers up to date on what happened to those left of the Island after Locke (Terry O’Quinn) managed to get back to the “present” (whenever that is, right now I’m not so sure).

The episode followed Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), Faraday (Jeremy Davies), and Miles (Ken Leung). It flashes backwards and forwards and backwards and forwards and…well, you get the idea. At one point, I thought I was caught in some crazy time loop. It turns out that this group of Islanders finally stopped traveling through time as Locke managed to fix things, and they seemed to have stopped in 1974. Right before they made this final stop, we caught a glimpse of a huge statue of a figure standing on the Island. Too bad that is all we got is a glimpse, because that was the only thing in this episode that really grabbed me. I am sure that somewhere down the road this glimpse will have meaning.

Anyway, the Island was a different place in 1974, with the Dharma group seemingly settled on the Island, protecting their compound. We are also introduced to new characters – an annoying habit of this show. This seems to add unneeded complexity to an already confusing story. But as we see Sawyer and his group of Islanders navigate their new time – Sawyer taking the name Jim LeFleur in the process – we also see them years later as they seem to be fully integrated into the Dharma group of Islanders.

Sawyer also begs Juliet to put her doctor’s hat back on and help deliver the baby of new character Amy (Reiko Aylesworth), who is having trouble with the delivery. I found myself wondering – since Juliet clearly decided to stay on the Island when she was given the chance in 1974 to leave, what would happen if she remained there until she was brought to the Island much later in time? Did something happen to Juliet on the Island where she either got off the Island or died there before her other self came later? I think my head is exploding now just thinking about it.

Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) also shows up on the Island, apparently in 1974, and wants an explanation of how some of his men got killed. Sawyer takes a risk and takes ownership of the shootings, at the same time cluing Richard in that he knows all about what had been going on in the past. He tells Richard things that Richard and maybe only a few other people would have known, which seems to cut Sawyer and his group some needed slack.

Later on, we see that Sawyer/LeFleur and Juliet have become a couple. He says he isn’t pining for Kate (Evangeline Lilly) but maybe he really isn’t over her. The test comes at the end of the show, when Jack (Matthew Fox), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and Kate arrive and greet him. Sawyer looks happy to see Kate. But, the big question in my mind is – what year did this actually take place? There was much jumping back in forth in time that it seemed like it was only three years after Sawyer and his gang had stopped moving in time in 1974 – but I can’t be sure.

The most gripping moments in the episode, however, belonged to Jeremy Davies as Faraday, showing deep grief at the death of Charlotte, and then later, a jolt when he realizes that a young red haired girl he sees on the island in 1974 is none other than Charlotte, the woman he had just watched die.

So while I won’t say this episode was bad, it certainly had some drawbacks. Adding new characters doesn’t work for me as I think there are many issues that remains unanswered with just the main characters we have now. I didn’t like when Lost did so many flashbacks in prior seasons, and this episode and its flashing backwards, forwards, and probably sideways didn’t score any points with me. But now that everyone appears to be back on the Island, hopefully things will get more interesting.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“24” 6:00PM to 8:00PM: Flawed, Laughable, Seriously Awful

All photos from Fox

Usually sometime during the season of ”24”(Fox), something happens that is so incredible, so unbelievable, or so ridiculous that it is laughable. What is unusual is for the show to string two episode back to back that was filled with situations such as these. There are so many that I don’t even know where to begin.

The episode continues the story of Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) attempt to thwart a terror attack. When we last left him, Jack had managed to dig out a special data file from Dubaku’s injured body and had it taken it to the FBI in order to extract the names of the people on the file that were involved in the terrorism. He had met with Tony Almeda ( Carlos Bernard ) who told him the terror attacks weren’t over. Dubaku is in the hospital under the watchful eye of Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching). And then…the flaws begin to flood out to the viewers:

Tony and Jack are sitting in a car outside the White House for a long period, then Tony is sitting there alone in the same car for a long period. I can’t imagine that real White House security or Secret Service would have let someone sit there that long without question or investigation. I would imagine any car parked right outside the White House for more than 3 minutes would cause someone to be on alert.

Jack, despite the fact that he is under some sort of congressional investigation, manages to waltz right into the White House and seems to have complete access to anywhere within it. I know he is working with Bill Buchanan and President Taylor (Cherry Jones) is aware Jack is on the job, but still, there seemed to be no stopping him anywhere, he just waltzed right through.

Meanwhile, Renee is watching Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) in the hospital, and he seems to be recovering, but one of the doctors gets a phone call, which draws her away from treating Dubaku. During that brief period, someone dressed as a nurse approaches Dubaku and injects him with a drug, causing a reaction and Dubaku’s death. Since Dubaku’s accident was not a planned event, how did the terrorists get someone from their team to the hospital and in place, dressed in scrubs, so quickly in order to kill Dubaku? It seems to me they would have already had someone following Dubaku to the hospital already dressed in scrubs with a drug to kill him in hand. Impossible, I say.

Let's not forget the unrealistic speed in which Renee tracked down the license plate and location of the man who injected Dubaku in the hospital, and the speed that she was able to locate the vehicle which just happened to be parked at the terror groups double secret hiding place, where the car was registered. And why would one register their car to a location to where a terror attack group is making their plans? Renee phoned Agent Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling ) at the FBI and told him she found Juma (Tony Todd) and gave his location, but she couldn’t call him later to tell him she spotted him getting on a boat? Wouldn’t it have been easier for them to just get someone to track the boat, rather than have her leap on to it? And what kind of terrorists are these that they don’t even notice someone jumped onto their boat and is lurking outside, even when they begin to walk out onto the boat desk?

This brings me to the most ludicrous part of the show ever. Juma and his terror group manage to boat down what I assume is the Potomac River, jump into the river in wet suits, drill an opening into what seems like an access tunnel, and manage to take that tunnel right up to the White House. Let’s not forget they also have someone working on the inside who disables the double-secret laser beam security system, this same person also who seemed to have helped break part of the wall down so Juma’s team could get into the White House. This whole process - from boat, to drilling into the tunnel, from disabling the only security field in the tunnel system, and breaking down a wall, not to mention just the walk they would have to take from where they entered on the Potomac to the White House - seemed to take less than 30 minutes. Sorry, this is just not even remotely credible.

Even worse is that the White House Secret Service is completely obliterated, apparently the White House and West Wing is too big for them to hear automatic weapons firing so they can take action. And once it is clear that Juma is taking control, the man who seems like the lead agent decides to get everyone to pull back from the area, based on only Juma’s word that he had the President in custody. I don’t think that would happen in a million years; the agent would have demanded proof or waited for instructions before he pulled out. In fact, I would think a Secret Service person would put their own life first before they pulled out from protecting the President.

Of course, we need to have someone helping Juma from the outside, Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) and his assistant (played by Rory Cochrane, who looks like he’s put on a few pounds by the way). After all, it seems that every season of 24 needs to have a few traitors around. Which brings me to Ryan Burnett (Eyal Podell), the aide of Senator Mayer (Kurtwood Smith), whom Jack tortures in order to get information about the next terror attack. Despite the high stakes, the President seems to have suddenly gone soft, and stops Jack mid-torture, and has Jack taken in to custody. My question here is – do they really have a little jail in the White House? Somehow, I found that a little funny. I also didn’t quite understand why Jack didn’t take a frontal approach on the issue and allow Ryan to be exposed as a traitor, and why Jack had to “protect” Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) by holding him at gunpoint and then chocking him into unconsciousness. Why would bringing Bill in on the traitor in their midst so they could collectively get information on where the next terror attack was going to be not be the most logical step? Jack’s excuse for everything is that there is never enough time, but in this case, it seemed like seriously warped logic.

Of course, Jack manages to get the President into the lockdown room, which for some reason seems far far away from the Oval Office. In the meantime, everyone around Jack gets killed. Amazing, isn’t it? And while Jack is able to improvise to help prevent the terrorists from breaking the code in order to gain entry to the lockdown room, I found myself wondering - how did Jack know that by shorting out the door’s access panel that he would only cause the terrorists’ hacking attempt to be aborted, and not have it just open the doors? I suppose he had to do something, but it could have not worked out the way he intended. And it wouldn’t be 24 without a spineless, inept, or untrustworthy VP, as we got with Vice President Mitchell Hansen (Cameron Daddo), who won’t allow the FBI to take any action.

Meanwhile, Agent Pierce (Glenn Morshower) is trying to get the President’s daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden) to safety, and rather stay in some sort of air duct (how did they get in their so quickly anyway, and how big are those White House ducts that they can hold two people?), he decides to try to get a signal outside. Poor Aaron, he gets shot, and Olivia fails at getting out a complete signal and is captured. News of her capture causes the Presdient to fold like it’s laundry day and she makes Jack open the doors. Now Juma has control, and he tells the President to start preparing a statement – her last statement.

While it may seem small, it was also hard to believe that Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) deletes Ryan’s name from Dubaku’s file, and despite her computer expertise, she leaves evidence that a record had been there, something that the untrusting Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) manages to catch. Chloe gets taken into custody before a real catfight can ensue. Such a shame, really, it would have really topped off the show.

Anyway, this was probably the worst two hours of 24 that I have ever seen in the entire run of the show. It is almost of shark-jumping caliber. I don’t want this show to end up like CSI Miami, where I watch it for how bad it is, not for how good it is. I am actually ashamed that someone watching this show from another country would think that our White House could be so unprotected and our law enforcement agencies like Secret Service and the FBI are either so inept or so ineffective. I hope that the show gets back on the believability train next week, and if not, at least allow viewers to see a Chloe/Janis knockdown fight. That’s probably the only thing I would find believable at this point.

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