Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NCIS “Reunion” Boring Case, Ziva Reunites With Team

Photo from CBS

The one thing about NCIS (CBS) is that by the time the NCIS team has worked through a case, you find you really don’t care about the case at all. In fact, by the time the murder case was solved, I realized that I still wasn’t sure who did it and why, because I was so distracted by events surrounding Ziva’s (Cote de Pablo) return to the NCIS team and the dumbed down script. I also can’t tell you who the murderer was because I actually fell asleep watching the last five minutes of the show, that’s how disinterested and bored I became.

Ziva has always annoyed me, and every time she seems to be going off the show, I hope and pray that she doesn’t return. Of course, I know that this is not going to happen any time soon, seeing that the show seems to have gained in popularity over the last year and I can’t see anyone wanting to mess with that success. Still, after all the time she’s been in the United States, she still seems to talk like Commander Data from Star Trek The Next Generation, who couldn’t – or should I say “could not” - use contractions. This can get on anyone’s nerves after a while.

It seems that the NCIS team – that is, besides Special Agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) - is unable to function properly without Ziva. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) behaves in such an immature and juvenile fashion, and Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) is so spineless, that Ziva’s replacement hands in her resignation after only working there a very short time. Yes, she has them pegged.

But the episode falls into silliness quickly when Abby (Pauley Perrette) berates Ziva and then welcomes her back all at the same time, in a scene that I found to be too staged and too overdone. I enjoy Abby but sometimes she seems like a total idiot, and this was one of those times. Likewise, the scene where DiNozzo has to go to the bathroom and Gibbs makes him hold it until Gibbs has the information he needs from Tony was probably one of the biggest scenery-chewing scenes in the history of the show. It was hard to watch, that’s how bad it was. Weatherly can really ham it up, and this time it was too much.

Another ridiculous scene was when Tony goes to meet a suspect and that guy is conveniently shot, then conveniently drives his car (he was already dead, which I guess makes it DWD – “driving while dead”), weaving around the street and then conveniently hits the phone booth where Tony was waiting to meet him. How did that car manage to drive all over and then hit the phone booth squarely where Tony was supposed to be is beyond me.

Ziva decides to approach Gibbs directly about returning to her job, walking right into his basement and….wait, how does Gibbs get those boats out of there?….she gives him a gift of a chisel and then talks to him about returning to the team. He tells her she has to convince NCIS Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), the man who rarely blinks. She meets with him and he is unsure of her loyalties so he makes her undergo psych testing. To make a long story short, she gets back on the team.

This episode seemed to be written to appeal to viewers in the 13-18 year old range. Maybe this is the demographic they are trying to grab, and if so, they did a bang up job. But the episodes of NCIS that I enjoy the most are those with a little less overacting and fewer scenes where the character such as Tony and Abby act like juveniles. This is one “reunion” that should have been avoided.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

House “Epic Fail” Epic Boredom

Photo from Fox

Greg House (Hugh Laurie) is trying to get his life back together after his stint in rehab in last night’s episode of House (Fox), “Epic Fail.” There was nothing particularly memorable in this episode, despite the fact that a lot had happened. After last week’s episode (“Broken”), which was full of angst and drama, “Epic Fail” almost seemed to drag. Maybe part of my problem is that so much time was spent on Foreman (Omar Epps) and “Thirteen” (Olivia Wilde), a couple that seems to have no real chemistry, well, except now maybe the kind of chemistry that blows up.

What happened in this episode? Here’s a list of events:

1. House quits because he doesn’t want to come back to the place that he thinks drove him deeper into drug use. He undergoes more therapy with Dr. Darryl Nolan (Andre Braugher) who tells him to find a hobby to take his mind off the pain in his leg. House tags along with Dr. Wilson’s (Robert Sean Leonard) in his cooking class. As driven as he is, and now even more so to distract him from pain, House becomes a great cook but he is almost obsessive about it. But the pain is still there, so House, currently living with Wilson, goes back to his old place and finds a bottle of pills hidden in a shoe. Doe he take some? We don’t know, bit his pain is suddenly gone. Compounding the matter is when Wilson rigs up the toilet so he can capture some of House’s urine to test for drugs, and Wilson is foiled when he and Cuddy find that House is on to them and substitutes dog pee. (We don’t want to know how he got dog pee.) Nolan tells him maybe he needs his job at the hospital, telling House “The only thing worse for you than going back to diagnostic medicine is not going back." As if anyone really expected House would stay away.

2. Foreman begs Cuddy to let him take House’s position as head of diagnostics, and Taub (Peter Jacobson) and Taub now report to him. But Taub quits, saying he came there to work for House. My guess is once House comes back, Taub will want to un-quit.

3. Foreman and Thirteen work on the annoying patient of the week, who is admitted into the hospital because his hands burn and because he heard the genius House works there. Yes, sure, let’s give this guy special attention for a non life-threatening illness. But since House isn’t there, Foreman, Thirteen and Taub plunder through the case, with the patient making matters worse by getting people from the internet involved. After the doctors ridicule people getting and giving medical advice over the internet, it turns out the Thirteen gets the real diagnosis from someone who submitted their diagnosis on the internet. We find out later that this person was Greg House. No surprise here. By the way, the patient had Fabry disease, and I found that I could care less.

4. Foreman and Thirteen, now that the relationship is boss and subordinate, have a little friction develop between them. (Snore.) They seem to patch things up and then Foreman surprises Thirteen when he fires her to save their relationship. Yeah, now that relationship is going to work (note sarcasm).

5. Somewhere in this episode we see Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer); two characters that used to be far more interesting but have been woefully underused in the last few seasons. Since it is no secret now that Morrison will be leaving the show part way through the season, I think this series should seriously consider adding another doctor who actually has some spark because, outside of House and Wilson, nobody has it right now. Too bad they killed off Amber (Anne Dudek).

6. Comic relief was when Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) came to visit House at Wilson’s and an Asian woman speaking Chinese (I think) comments that Cuddy dresses like a whore. She said what I and many other fans have been thinking for the past few years. I was nice to have that validated.

While this episode wasn’t horrible, it offered no drama and as a result, I failed to care about any of the characters, with the exception of House. I think that fans all know that Foreman will never be a great diagnostician like House and it is getting rather repetitive seeing Foreman not measure up every chance he gets. But I am not sure that Foreman's plight is the “Epic Fail” to which this episode refers. I wonder if House has fallen off the wagon. I would like to think that he hasn’t, but honestly, this failure of Foreman’s can hardly be considered epic. Hopefully once House gets back into the swing of things, things will get back to normal for him. But what is normal for House may not be what is good for House, and this could spell trouble.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Mad Men “Seven Twenty Three” Bad Day For Don Draper

Don Draper – Is That Dick Whitman looking back at him?
Photo AMC

Last night’s excellent episode of Mad Men “Seven Twenty Three” speaks to a significant date in the life of Don Draper (Jon Ham). What leads up to it makes it so, and it seems that everyone is compromising themselves to varying degrees during these few days.

The episode was more about Don’s important date. We are given a glimpse of the events leading up to the day, when the show opens with Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) waking up in bed with another man whose face we can’t see; Betty (January Jones) laying on a fainting couch in a beautiful frock; and Don is walking up on the floor of a motel room and he’s been beaten.

Peggy’s days leading up to 7/23 involves getting an expensive Hermes scarf from Duck as an enticement for her to come to work for Grey. Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) also got cigars, but he is sending them back and urges Peggy to do the same with her scarf. Peggy hates that Pete comes into her office and tells Pete he is infecting her with his anxiety. But Pete has good reason to worry as he thinks Duck is just trying to use them to strike back at Don, who helped force Duck out of Sterling Cooper. When Peggy calls Duck to tell him she is returning the gift, he invites her to the hotel where he is meeting with Hermes and tells her to sop by at 6 to meet them. She doesn’t intend to go, but things change when she later finds an excuse to approach Don and brings up the Hilton account he just landed and asks to be involved. He rips her, asking her what else she wants from him, saying she is always in his pocket, adding he resents her pretending to have something for him to sign off on something when she just wants something like a raise or an office. He wounds her even further by saying r there is not one thing that she's done there that he couldn't live without, saying she's good but she needs to focus on getting better and stop asking for things. She comes close to tears, and saying she is sorry, she leaves.

Later, she arrives at Duck’s hotel room, too late to see the Hermes people, but she comes in to have a drink with Duck. But he then comes on to her, and they wind up in bed, and this is the man we saw her waking up in bed with that we saw at the beginning of the episode. One is forced to wonder if Duck really was as attracted to Peggy as he told her, or is this the way he found to get at Peggy so he could get back at Don? I suspect that Duck’s motives have nothing to do with an attraction to Peggy.

Betty’s days start with an interior designer showing her and Don the changes she made to their living room. Late, she has a meeting there with the Junior League, and the issue on the table is a new 3 million gallon water tank that is planned for their area, and they are worried it will ruin the natural beauty of their area and destroy property values. The want to get the Governor’s attention on the matter, and Betty remembers meeting someone from the Governor’s office (she met him at Roger’s party in the episode ”My Old Kentucky Home” ) and they find his full name of Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley), who is an advisor to the governor. She calls his office and he calls right back. She tells him about the issue and they agree to meet at a local diner on Saturday. He seems to be taken with her, and Betty seems to be trying to hide her attraction. He tells her he will look into the matter but makes no promises. When they walk out of the diner Betty says she feels faint, but it is probably her attraction to Henry. When they pass a furniture store, Henry points out a fainting couch and explains that Victorian women used it when they become overwhelmed. Betty, worried that this is a small town, rejects his offer for a walk to her car, and they shake hands instead. Roger later calls under a false premise and spills the news to Betty on an issue with Don’s contract, and she and Don fight about the contract (more on this later). We then find that Betty has purchased the fainting couch and moved it into the living room, to the horror of the interior designer. It seems to me that Betty is getting restless and unhappier with her marriage, and Henry Francis may be just the ticket.

Don’s day is the most complex and ends the worst. He arrives to work late to find the office abuzz as Conrad Hilton (Chelcie Ross) is waiting in his office, sitting in Don’s chair. He lectures Don on Don not having family photos or a bible on his desk. He tells Don he wants him to handle the New York area Hiltons, and his method of contact with Don will stay the same, but he can’t say the same for the lawyers. Of course, since Don has no contract, he is called to meet with Bert Cooper (Robert Morse), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), and Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) where they tell him the lawyers for Hilton insist on Don having a contract. Don pushes back, and seems upset that they are not pushing back with the lawyers for him. They offer him a three-year contract with a signing bonus and tell him to take it home and think about it.

What Don seems to be thinking about at one point is not the contract, but Sally’s teacher Miss Farrell (Abigail Spencer). The kids are all in the park getting ready to see the eclipse of the sun as it skirts the area. Miss Farrell is showing the kids and the dads there how to set up their “camera obscura” which are cardboard boxes they cut out to allow them to view the eclipse safely. When Don strikes up a conversation with Miss Farrell, she assumes he is hitting on her, because she says they all do it. He puts on the innocent act. When she walks off to look at the eclipse with one of the kids, Don stares right at it, the only thing protecting his eyes are his sunglasses

Back at the office, Roger comes in and quizzes Don about the contract, and tells him all they need is a letter of intent. When Don isn’t responsive, Roger leave and asks Don if he simply doesn't want to do it here or just not at all. When Roger leaves, Peggy walks in, and using needing his signature as an excuse to get in to see him, she asks about the Hilton account and this is when Don demeans her. Keep in mind that Don met with some of the account guys earlier and they also brought up the issue, one has to wonder why Don is being so prickly with Peggy – Don’s sexism is coming out.

Roger then makes that phone call to Betty under a false pretense, and then tells her about the contract issue with Don. Betty is annoyed with Roger and hangs up on him. Later, she rips Don about why he didn’t tell her, and he takes the drink he just poured for himself and walks out. While he is driving, drink in hand, he picks up two young hitchhikers who ask to be taken to the nearest motel. They say they are going to Niagara Falls to get married, as they heard a married guy wouldn’t get drafted for Vietnam. Don continues to drink, and they offer Don “reds” – Phenobarbital – and he takes two of them. They arrive at the hotel, and Don parties with them by drinking while the two of them make out. Don hallucinates, seeing his father sitting in the corner of the room with a rocker and his jug of whiskey. When Don seems to get drowsier, they couple wonders why the pills haven’t knocked him out yet, and the guy strikes Don on the head, putting him out cold. Don wakes up on the floor, bloodied, and finds a note from the couple that essentially says they robbed him but left him his car – and one dollar. How nice of them.

When Don walks back to the office, face swollen and with a bandage on his hose, he says he was in a fender bender. When he walks into his office, Bert Cooper is waiting for him, sitting in Don’s chair. He tells Don a story, saying that Sacagawea carried a baby all the way to the Pacific Ocean, and it thought it discovered America, adding that Don has been standing on someone's shoulders. Bert is annoyed with Don, saying that they brought him in and nurtured him like family, and now is time for him to pay them back. Bert pulls out the contract and asks a bombshell of a question: "would you say I know something about you?" Don knows that Bert is on to his real identity of Dick Whitman, so Don answers Bert that he would. Bert uncaps the pen, saying, "then sign" adding, "after all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing this contract anyway?" Don signs, but insists that he doesn't want any more contact with Roger Sterling. The date on the contact is 7/23/1963.

It seems that Peggy is literally sleeping with the enemy. One has to wonder, is she doing this to get her foot in the door with Duck, or can she use what she finds out from him to get the advantage – and Don’s appreciation? Is Betty playing with fire with Henry Francis and will he expect more from her in exchange for his help with the water tower? And now that Don is in to Sterling Cooper for 3 more years, will he feel even more trapped and will his behavior get more erratic? What will the office be like if he refuses to have contact with Roger? And what about the over-controlling Conrad “Connie” Hilton? Will he be the best thing that ever happened to Don, or will he smother Don with his overly conservative, narrow views? And if Bert knows about Dick Whitman, who else knows, and will this come back to haunt Don in the near future? I believe that Don’s days where he could look at the sun with little worry are over. Not only is Conrad Hilton and Bert Cooper sitting in his chair, so is Dick Whitman.

Mad Men episode video recap

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Friday, September 25, 2009

ABC's "FlashForward": An Uncertain Future?

Photo from ABC

I had high hopes for the new ABC series “FlashForward” . It seemed like an interesting premise: the entire world loses consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, and while unconscious, many people have visions of their future.

But the premiere episode “No More Good Days” left me wanting. It also left me with a lot of questions, not necessarily questions that the show creators would want me to have. The big glaring problem is if the whole world was unconscious for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, things would be in a bigger mess that the episode seemed to indicate. It seems that life for the most part almost went on like normal for the main characters. For example, there didn’t seem to be any crisis at the hospital with patients flooding in or doctors flooding out to care for others on the street, yet we see injured people everywhere. The issue with the hospital seemingly being little affected by the massive event was something I could not get past.

Another issue I couldn’t resolve was the FBI’s behavior. They seemed to treat this like a normal everyday issue with a normal sit-down meeting about what caused it to happen. Frankly, I would have expected them to be out on the street helping law enforcement. Yet, we are let to believe that main character Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) was given the lead on such an immense issue, just because he felt his personal “FlashForward” vision tied into the event. Sorry, but an event of this magnitude would have people at the very highest level of office probably running point and calling the shots. It seemed that Benford’s boss Stan Wedeck (Courtney Vance) washed his hands of the matter far too fast.

Another nit pick was that I had a hard time getting my arms around how much time had passed as the episode progressed. If I recall correctly, toward the end of the episode a woman commented about going through a huge number of security camera footage to find one lone person that didn’t seem to be unconscious in that 2-minute time frame. How did she get the video feeds so fast and be able to look through as much of it as she said in what seemed like a short time?

The episode also was a little choppy as it introduced characters. I think I may have preferred a 2-hour episode where for part of the first hour, we got to learn a bit about the people, and the second hour, they began their efforts to pick up the pieces and find out why the event took place. They crammed far too much into that one hour that it seemed to take any mystery or drama out of the reveal that they had a shared vision.

The cast itself seemed wooden, the only one seeming to fit his role was Courtney Vance, who always does authority figures well. Joseph Fiennes was a disappointment, his acting wooden. If he is going to be the lead in this effort to understand why this event took place, I may get bored looking at his somewhat stony and unfeeling facial expression.

Bottom line – a show I was excited about watching I now have some serious concerns about it's survival. I will give it one or two more episodes. If I see more of the same issues I saw in the pilot, it will be off my viewing list, and that’s the vision I had watching FlashForward.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NCIS “Truth or Consequences” Restores the NCIS Team

Photo from CBS

Season 7 of NCIS (CBS) opened with an episode titled “Truth or Consequences” which featured both truth AND consequence, plus a heavy dose of flashbacks. Let me go on record to say that flashback sequences are being used far too much in TV drama these days. For me, they are starting to lose their dramatic impact. (Maybe ABC has the right idea with their news series “FlashForward” since they will be going in the other direction.)

I have been a fan of NCIS for quite a while, but not a regular viewer at first. This series seemed to start hitting its stride in season 5, which I think was the first season after executive producer and show creator Donald P. Bellisario was ousted from the show. That was a good thing, as there were rumors that Bellisario was too controlling and creating too much friction with the cast, primarily with Mark Harmon (who I call “the franchise”).

In this new episode, Special Agent Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is in Somalia, bound to a chair in an interrogation chamber. He’s been beaten badly, but his pretty white teeth look very intact. He seems to be in the same chair where we last left Ziva (Cote de Pablo) at the end of the sixth season. Tony is being injected with a truth serum and is questioned by the terrorist Saleem (Omid Abtahi) about his mission, who he is working with, NCIS, and Ziva. Tony tries to be evasive in his answers but eventually begins to spill some information. We also later see that McGee has also been captured and is laying, bound and also injured, on the floor.

It is this interrogation sequence with Tony that give us the flashbacks, as Tony recalls the previous months, that took place after Ziva did not return with the NCIS crew. Tony seems to have mixed feelings' he misses Ziva but tells his boss Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (who Tony referred to as a “functional mute”) that he and Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) want Gibbs to allow them to hire a replacement for Ziva. Gibbs gives them permission to do so, dumping all his applicant files on Tony. Of course, Tony is Tony and he only wants to hire a woman – which coincidentally happens to be the gender of all the applicants in the pile. While Tony is screening candidates in the only sexist way that Tony seems to know, he still is distracted by the fact that Ziva has never made any further contact with him or the team.

The issue gnaws at him, and Tony finally approaches Gibbs and wants permission to go find Ziva. They believed she went back to working for her father and Mossad, and they become worried when they hear that the ship she apparently was on was lost at sea. This is distressing to the team but they want to press on for answers. The seem to get a lead as to who was responsible when Abby (Pauley Perrette) helps Tony and McGee to make the connection on the ship’s manifest that will help them track the terrorists – it’s one personal item that the terrorist wanted: Caf-Pow, which also happens to be Abby’s favorite beverage. (I find myself wondering if someone will eventually market the stuff for real.) Gibbs convinces Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) – guy who I swear almost never blinks – to let them go after these terrorists.

When Tony spills the information to Saleem that the Caf-Pow was what led them to him, Saleem throws it to the ground. But he then brings in another captor who is wearing a hood, and sits the person down in front of Tony. When he removes the hood, it is Ziva, very much alive. Saleem asks them to chose – one them will live and one will die. But Tony tells Ziva that they have a plan. Later, when Saleem returns and holds a knife to Ziva, McGee makes his move and uses his body to knock Saleem off balance. When Saleem pulls a gun on McGee, Tony taunts him and saying that they basically have him where they want him. Saleem is doubtful since Tony is bound and has no weapon. Lucky for Tony, McGee, and Ziva, Gibbs is waiting from a perch outside, and she shoots and kills Saleem. This triggers a full assault on the camp, and the team is saved. (You expected something else?) They return to NCIS headquarters to the applause of the rest of the office.

While I felt the start of the episode was a little plodding (too much one on one with Tony and Saleem) and outcome of this episode was predictable, it was enjoyable. The weakness with NCIS is that I think it has focused far too long on middle-eastern terrorists, which becomes repetitive after a while. The episodes I enjoy most are those concentrating on actual naval crimes on their home soil, and less on terrorism cloak and dagger. The series strong point is it’s cast, which has characters that have well formed personalities and behaviors, and also have great chemistry. (I haven’t watched the NCIS LA episode as yet so I can’t comment yet on whether they have the beginnings of the same cast dynamics.) The writers also do a great job in coming up with the witty lines that fit in well with each character’s personality.

NCIS continues to gain in popularity and I’m happy that it is getting the attention it deserves. This episode was a good start to the season and I’m glad they have the team back together again.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CSI Miami “Out of Time” A Giant Cheesefest

The Sunglasses: A Star is Born
(photo CBS)

After watching last night’s two hour season premiere of House “Broken,” the season premiere of CSI Miami (CBS) felt more like a comedy. The episode had more cheese than Wisconsin.

The episode involves the CSI team working to find Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) who had collapsed somewhere in an area the looks like the glades. Horatio Caine (David Caruso), Calleigh (Emily Procter) and a team of police frantically search to find him, and despite the fact that this is Florida and the glades, both which contains lots of alligators, the team walks through the watery area without concern of a gator attack.

When they find Delko, he has collapsed in front of what looks like a roadside emergency call box. When a helicopter spots him, the team rushed to his air and an ambulance is called. As Eric is rushed to the hospital, with the obligatory “We’re loosing him!” line, the flashbacks to the beginnings of the CSI team in 1997 begin. Of course, the spot where Eric was found seems to have a special memory of a case which helped to bring Eric to the team.

My problem is that I am not quite sure whose flashbacks we are seeing. Are they Horatio’s? Are they Eric’s? Are they memories of the assorted cast? It seems that in some of the flashbacks, only certain people were present, including quite a few seems with Jesse Cardoza (Eddie Cibrian), a new cast member to whom we have not yet been introduced in the present time. So whose memories are those?

We learn that in 1997, Calleigh is way too happy, perky, spunky, and horribly saccharine. Frank (Rex Linn) has a little more hair - but not much – and a 1980s moustache. There are phone ringing with bells, which in my opinion were already long gone for the most part in 1997. Eric is working for Flagler Tow. Alex (Khandi Alexander) is working as a medical examiner. Natalia (Eva La Rue) is working for the Feds. Horatio has a partner nicknamed “Sully” (Brad Leland) who is the stereotypical fat, annoying, jump to conclusions cop. There is no CSI team, and forensics is just a small room with one guy seemingly running the operation. There are no flashy glitzy special computer effects in forensics and I don’t recall seeing a computer in forensics, despite the fact that they were very prevalent in 1997. Horatio has slightly longer and fluffier hair, he isn’t wearing dark colors, he already stands with his hands on his hips, he already speaks in a soft whisper, but most importantly, he has NO SUNGLASSES. Yes, this is the episode where we see Eric make his valiant search for the perfect pair of sunglasses. I’ll spoil you now – he gives Horatio the pair towards the end of the episode and they have polarized lens with a titanium frames. They will soon take on a life of their own.

Horatio's team forms while working a case of what seems like a domestic murder at first blush but turns out to be murder at the hands of the gardener. Horatio doesn’t believe the husband killed his wife, and uses whatever meager tools he has to prove his point. At one point, though, the suspect seems shocked that he hasn’t seen some of the methods that is being used in this investigation, and my response is that this guy hadn’t likely been watching Law & Order all those years, where basic forensics were commonplace.

Jesse Cardoza spends what seems like half his time spraying a luminol –like substance all over the house where the murder was thought to occurred. I wondered, what made the area with blood light up in blue if he didn’t use a darkened room and an ultraviolet light as they use now? Did he have an extra special spray he was using or extra-special glowing vision glasses? Also, we are given the impression that in 1997 the entire criminal justice system, including the prosecutor Evan Talbot (Denis O'Hare), were unconcerned about the actual evidence and getting their man, and only Horatio had the desire and the smarts to get to the real facts and expose the real murderer. (This is what ultimately gets Horatio his job as head honcho of the new CSI team.)

Of course, Eric wakes up at the end of the episode and sees the whole team standing in his room. He offers a weak smile and Horatio is happy that Eric is alive, hopefully to supply him with more sunglasses for years to come.

This episode provided zero drama and frankly I think they could have done without the whole flashback scenarios. I never really cared about how the team came together, and nothing happened in this episode to make me care even more about them. The show still seems to be catering to the lowest common denominator when it comes to plot and dialog, and the flashback sequences and frequent use of split screens were feeble attempts to inject suspense and drama. I find myself wondering why I continue to watch this show. I suppose that something can be so bad that it still entertains. I can tell you one thing; I think I’ve had my month’s supply of cheese in this one episode.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

House “Broken” And Then Rebuilt

In this season premiere of House(Fox), titled “Broken” we pick up where last season left off. House is in a detox program at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital to get him off his Vicodin habit and hopefully stop his hallucinations. Overall, I thought that this was a long episode and seemed like every moment of it crawled. Normally this would be a bad thing, but in the case of this episode, I think it heightened the sensation that House felt – he wanted out and every second in the facility seemed like an eternity to him. While the only regular besides Hugh Laurie in this episode was Robert Sean Leonard with his brief appearance as Dr. Wilson, the episode still provided an interesting group of characters that served as the backdrop for House’s own healing.

House, even while in detox, still wants to be the doctor and diagnose and fix everyone. But the ugly and destructive side of House comes out loud and clear when he seems to torment his fellow patients and doctors alike. Dr. Nolan convinces House that he can’t just be a fixer all the time, and he also can’t continue to deflect the problems if he wants to get better. House’s tantrums take a very serious turn when he manages to talk his way into getting a car, and takes the car and one of the other patients – Steven - on a joy ride and to an amusement park. Sure, House has fun and makes sure Steven has fun. But House seriously misjudges Steven’s issues and House’s day of play actually reinforces Steven’s delusions, and Steven takes a flying leap off a parking garage, almost killing himself.

House also strikes up a relationship with a married woman, Lydia, whose sister in law Annie is a patient there, and this relationship leads to a quick sexual encounter. Making things worse, once her sister in law shows improvement, House finds that Lydia is moving to Arizona with her husband to follow Annie to her next level of therapy. House is very hurt by this and feels pain and expresses his pain to Dr. Nolan. Of course, these are the magic words that the doctor is waiting to hear and he sets House free.

While the episode seemed long, it was completely worthwhile, if only to see House realize his grave error with Steven, his amazement with Steven desire to help Annie and her recovery, and House’s pain with Lydia leaving was well worth it. Somehow, I think House has changed a little, and now that he has the drugs out of his system and can feel real physical and emotional pain, I think we may see a more nuanced Dr. House this year. I am sure the caustic sarcasm will still be there, but somewhere deep inside, I think the feelings he has recovered will not be able to be buried so far deep again. It looks like a fresh start for the show, and hopefully will bring new challenges for televisions favorite cranky doctor.

By the way, it is a travesty that Hugh Laurie did not win an Emmy.

Here’s a recap – I tried to cover the high points of these two hours so I apologize if there are any gaps:

The episode starts with House going through detox. Since detox is not pretty, let’s skip those details. House thinks once the drugs are out of his system he can just walk out of the hospital. He finds that Dr. Nolan (Andre Braugher) wants House to go into their long-term facility to address larger issues that seemed to surface with house after the death of his father and two colleagues. Dr. Nolan makes it obvious that he won’t approve House to go back to practice medicine until House complies.

House checks into the Long term ward 6, and meets up with Dr. Beasly (Megan Dodds). He also gets a roommate called “Alvie” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who talks a mile a minutes and gets on his nerves. It doesn't take long for House to pick up on the other problems of the other patients and call them out on their issues, earning him a trip to the padded cell. He creates a stir when he makes the patients realize that the hospital is forcing them to play ping-pong with no paddles and no net. He gets the patients all riled up until Dr. Nolan comes in and says House is right. He tells House he is a natural leader and may be able to do some good down there.

During group, House steps away from the session and looks out the window. He sees Dr. Nolan stepping into a car with another woman, and his curiosity is piqued. When Dr. Beasley halts the session and asks House what scheme is planning, he tells her he does have something planned. Of course, it’s blackmail. Later, he cooks up a scheme with Alvie to get Alvie checked into a separate area where he can get access to Nolan’s schedule. When Alvie fakes crazy and gets access, he only sees a large “X” on the calendar for the appointment, no name. This mean House must take another route to get the information, and hatches a plot to fight with Alvie so they would both be drugged and taken to another ward where House could get to a phone and call Wilson. Of course, neither of them swallow the pills so they can stay alert and make the call. But when he calls Wilson to ask him to track the license number of the woman’s car that picked up Nolan, House finds that Nolan already called Wilson and warned him that House was cooking up something and House would probably call him and ask for his help, but Nolan wants House to get better. Wilson won’t help him out this time. House has no choice now except to cooperate.

House starts to cooperate and racks up good behavior points. He continues to not swallow his meds.

He comes back to the piano room where the woman who can’t speak - Annie (Ana Lenchantin) is here, and her sister in law Lydia (Franka Potente) is playing the piano. He strikes up a conversation with Lydia and they seem to hit it off. Lydia thinks that Annie is trying to communicate by bobbing her head to the music, but House says Annie is bobbing her head to her pulse.

House gets quizzed by another doctor, Dr. Medina (Andrew Leeds), who says he is curious because House is having no side effects from meds and his story and Alvie’s about the fight isn’t adding up. He insists on a urine test. House seems to have planned for his, as someone else is waiting in the stall who provides the sample for House. The doctor later apologizes for doubting House when he sees the test results. Then, this same doctor tries to convince the patient Steven - who also calls himself the Freedom Master (Derek Richardson) - that he is not a superhero by asking him to move the piano. He then brings up the fact that Steven’s wife is dead and Steven couldn’t save her. Of course, Steven goes nutty and a “code grey” is called and Steven is taken away.

Later, House is disappointed when he hears that it’s Susan that is going home, not him. He also asks where Steven (AKA Freedom Master) is, and he goes to his room, where Steven is clearly drugged. House is irritated with the staff because Steven is out of it and he had been functional before. House gets pulled into Nolan’s office and House is angry that they screwed up Steven. He suggests to Nolan that he allow him to go out on an outpatient basis because he can cope. He admits he hasn’t been taking his meds and he fooled the tests. Nolan asked him to lick his hand, and House tastes sugar. Nolan tells him that House was improving too fast so they switched him to a placebo. House has been outmaneuvered.

But things take a weird turn when House manages to talk Lydia into letting him drive her car and also to take Steven along. When House admits that he is stealing her car, she steps out and lets him go. House and Steven head to an amusement park, where he and Steven get on one of those things that allow you to rise up on a column of air as if you are flying (I can’t remember what they call them!). The bad part is that this only seems to reinforce to Steven that he really does have superpowers and can fly. When he and House leave the park, Steven stands on the ledge of the parking garage. House yells for him to come back off the edge, but Steven jumps, nearly killing himself. Later, Dr. Nolan arrives at the hospital and rips into House, saying House doesn’t care about anything and he reinforced a sick man’s delusions. He tells House he is going to have him transferred, but House asks him not to, admitting he is sick.

In a therapy session with Dr. Nolan, House is not sure where to start. Nolan asks him what is on his mind and what does he want? House wants to get better, whatever that means. He also wants to be happy. Nolan suggests SSRIs to start, but House doesn’t want to change who he is. But Nolan says he is miserable, and wonders if House is worried about loosing his edge. Nolan says House needs to trust him, and House takes the medication.

When Alvie realized House is taking meds, he says they broke House. House says he already is broken.

Nolan stops by later and asks House if he connected with any other patients. Nolan wants him to trust people.

Later and elsewhere Nolan takes House to a hospital party and suggests he try to open up to strangers. House strikes up a weird conversation with a man and tells him that he is gay and points out Nolan as his lover and psychiatrist. He later tells a woman that his is a philanderer, and then gets her to lie to Lydia about what he just told her. But he later bonds further with Lydia, who opens up to him about her sister in law. She kisses him as they say goodnight. She thinks this is just two people having fun. It seems House has made a real connection with someone.

Back in therapy with Dr. Nolan, House talks about Lydia kissing him, and that he knows she is married. House deflects some of the discussion and asks about the woman in the parking lot. House wants to talk about Nolan, and says Nolan has no personal items in his office because he has no personal life.

Visiting time arrives, and Lydia comes to see House. He asks why she kissed him. He begins to play the piano for her, and they see Steven being wheeled in, and it breaks the mood. Later, Nolan and House talk about him seeing Steven being wheeled in and House continues to deflect. Nolan says House caused Steven pain, does that mean House has to suffer equally? He says he needs to move on and to apologize to Steven. House later approaches Steven but Steven is catatonic.

Dr. Beasley comes in to group and announces in two weeks they will have a talent show - a fun way to work on their therapeutic issues. House gets annoyed when Dr. Beasley asks Steven what he can do. House gets frustrated and sees a music box in the office and says that he things Steven needs it in order to help Annie speak. House gets agitated when then won’t just let him into the locked office area to get it, claiming he is not psychotic. He gets them to open the room and get the music box, and he hands it to Steven, saying he knows that Steven wanted this so he could help Annie to speak. But when Steven still refuses to speak as well, House grabs his face and orders him to speak. Dr. Nolan comes up and breaks up the session, telling House that he is just trying again to just fix things.

Later, Lydia brings House sheet music (Dvorak) and when House ask her what this is she says it’s just two people having fun. But House thinks someone will get hurt, and he says goodbye.

Back at group, House seems agitated an annoyed again and tries to disrupt the process. Someone comes in and gives House a day pass from Dr. Nolan, as Nolan wants to see him. House finds himself in a hospital room with the doctor’s father, who seems to be in a coma. House tells him that it’s over and that Nolan just wants someone to tell him it is OK. Nolan tells him he doesn’t need him there to play this game. But House pulls up a chair and sits with him.

Back at the ward, Lydia is there, crying. House apologizes for pushing her away. She says she is not crying because of him, it’s because she is pathetic. He offers her his hand and she takes it and she hugs him. He hangs up his cane and they begin a slow dance, turning in a circle, in the silence. They then find themselves in another room and it leads to sex. House seems to have a look of mild regret.

Next comes the hospital talent show. When Alvie freezes during his performance, House helps him fill in the blanks. Alvie tries to get House to come up to the stage, and the group claps. House begins to rap with Alvie and seems to be having fun.

In session again with Nolan, he tells Nolan things are good. Afterwards, he goes to Steven and says he is sorry, he was trying to prove a point, and it put him in a dangerous situation, it was his fault. The nurse calls out for med time, and House moves to wheel Steven over. But they see Annie standing there, and House backs up the Steve’s wheelchair. Steven hands Annie the music box, and she opens it, and after hearing the tune, finally speaks, saying thank you. Later, Lydia arrives and House tells her he has a surprise for her. He takes her hand and leads Lydia into the room where Annie is playing the cello. Needless to say, Lydia is happy with tears.

Next, we see Annie’s farewell party. House is upset that he is not the one who is being released, and makes his feelings known to Nolan. Nolan says Annie is going to a rehab facility in Arizona. . House asks for an overnight pass, and Nolan allows it when House asks him to please give it to him.

House drives to Lydia’s place and her son answers the phone. Lydia comes up to the door, and she tells him her husband has an office in Phoenix but that have felt tethered here. He doesn’t want her to leave, and she apologizes for not saying goodbye. After touching his face, she says he has to go and closes the door.

Back at the hospital, House tells Nolan Lydia left and he is lost. Nolan tells him he is going to write the letter to the medical board to get his license back. House recognized his own pain. He tells him to get his sleep and tells him tomorrow he can say his goodbyes. House gets his wish – his goodbye party, where he gives Alvie a hug, and then slams his face into his farewell cake.

As House walks out of the facility and then waits for the bus, Alvie watches from his window. He decides he wants to take his meds – he wants to get better. And House gets on the bus and seems to have a peaceful contended smile as the bus pulls away.

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Mad Men “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” And Doesn’t Walk Out

This episode of Mad Men , “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” provided probably one of the more interesting twists that I have even seen on television, with some dark comedy to go along with it.

The backdrop of the show features Sally (Kiernan Shipka) who has suddenly become afraid of the dark. It seems that since Grandpa Gene died, and baby Gene was born, she seems terrified of the baby. Betty (January Jones) tries to work through Sally’s fear by buying her a Barbie doll (a dark haired Barbie, by the way), but Betty seems cold and uncaring in her delivery of the gift, which she tells Sally is from her baby brother. Sally doesn’t buy that it is actually from baby Gene, and later, we see that she apparently has thrown the doll out the window, as Don (Jon Hamm) finds it in the bushes when he arrives home. After bringing the doll back in to Sally’s room – where she is sleeping with a nightlight on – Don and Betty are alarmed to hear blood curdling screams coming from Sally ‘s room. She has seen the doll is back, and I think she suspects that a ghost has returned it to her room. When Betty seems cold to tending to Sally’s issue with her grandfather’s death, Don takes matters into his own hands and tries to console Sally that there are no ghosts, and that the baby is not some sort of reincarnated Grandpa Gene as Sally seems to think. Betty seems colder that liquid nitrogen to Sally, and I sense that Betty has some very deeply rooted animosity towards her daughter.

But the big news and the focus of the show was the visit from the head honchos of Putnam, Powell, and Lowe to Sterling Cooper’s office. Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) tells Don he thinks they may be coming to offer Don dual responsibilities in NY and London. It is also the last day for Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks). Everyone wonders what will be happening, and the secretaries also wonder how they will work Joan’s farewell party into all of this.

Joan, however, has bigger issues on her hands, when her husband Greg (Sam Page) comes home after an evening of drinking, and he lies when he tells Joan he called her about coming home late. She calls him on his lie, and digs deeper to find out what is troubling him. It seems that Greg did not get the position of chief resident of surgery, and he was also told that his hands have no brains. He will never be a surgeon. He tells Joan she’d better keep her job, but she can’t renege on her resignation. He tells her to find another job. Joan reminds him that she loves him for his heart, not his hands. But one can see that Joan clearly has regrets about quitting her job at Sterling Cooper.

When the people at PP&L arrive – Saint John Powell (Charles Shaughnessy), Harold Ford (Neil Dickson) and Guy Mackendrick (Jamie Thomas King), they tour the office and only meet briefly with Don, Bert, and Roger (John Slattery). In a meeting with Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), they inform him he is being promoted and sent to Bombay, not welcome news to Pryce. The big reveal comes when they sit down with the key staff members and show them the new organization chart, with Guy on the top rung. Guy will be the new CEO. Don, as creative director, will report to Guy, as will Bert, and the account people Ken (Aaron Staton) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). Harry (Rich Sommer) also reports directly to Guy, and the others note (after the meeting) that Harry was the only person who got a promotion out of all of it. Roger’s name is nowhere on the list, and when he makes note of it, Guy brushes it off as a simple mistake and says Roger is still part of the group. Roger's ego is obviously bruised and he actually seems worried for his job.

Later, when they call the office together for the news, Guy turns it into the farewell party for Joan, and she is in tears. Meanwhile, Don gets a mysterious call that Conrad Hilton wants to meet with him, and they agree to meet in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria. Don goes there to meet him, and finds that Conrad Hilton is none other than the “Connie” (Chelcie Ross) that he made a drink for, and had an informal conversation with, at Roger’s party a while back (the episode was ”My Old Kentucky Home”) . Connie wants free ad advice from Don, and a reluctant Don looks at the ad, which contains what looks like Jerry the mouse from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry.” Don doesn’t think people would want to see a mouse associated with a hotel (my thoughts exactly). When Don says he would like to have a chance for the Hilton account, Connie seems disappointed in Don, telling him he expected him to reach higher. Don tells him that it’s like a snake that is starving; if they eat too much to fast they could choke.

Meanwhile, back at Sterling cooper, Smitty (Patrick Cavanaugh) revs up the John Deere riding mower that Ken brought into the office the day before, after landing the John Deere account. Smitty seems a little drunk. He lets Lois take the wheel and drive it, and she steers it right over the foot of Guy Mackendrick and then runs into a window wall from an office. Blood spatters everywhere, and Guy shrieks in agony. Joan is the only one to take quick action and place a tourniquet on Guy’s gushing leg, likely saving his life. Later, Roger deadpans to the group that Guy lost his foot tight after getting it in the door.

Don’s meeting with Connie is interrupted by Joan’s call informing him of the accident, and he rushes to the hospital. Joan’s dress is bloodied, but they manage to share a laugh when Joan says that she imagines Guy felt great when he woke up that morning. The PP&L people come out and thank Joan for her work, offering to reimburse her for her dress. They also tell Don that Guy is out, because you can’t have a man who has no foot or can’t walk lead the agency. Everything will stay status quo for now.

When Don gets home, he is faced with Sally’s terror over her inability to cope with Gene’s death and the birth of a new baby Gene. Yet Don seems to calmly roll with the punches. As Bert Cooper said earlier in the episode, a good ad man lets the little things go so he can get what he wants. In a way, Don seems to be able to also know what things he can change and what he can’t. With Sally, he can console her and help her recognize that there is nothing to fear. With his work life, while the company reorganization took place, he continued to have business literally drop into his lap, showing that he still can move on even as the company changes. He certainly doesn’t need Sterling Cooper to drum up business, but they certainly need him. And with Guy out of the picture at top dog, and with Don likely landing the Hilton account, Don may be in the catbird seat, both feet intact.

As far as Guy, although he literally walked into the ad agency, he didn’t walk out. It was probably one of the most surprising twists on a show that I’ve seen in a while – I expected someone to crash the John Deere, not to maim someone with it. This is why I think that Mad Men is probably the best drama on television these days – for which they were also recognized last night at the 2009 Emmys. Let’s hope this show has many many years ahead of it.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Fringe Returns With “A New Day In The Old Town”

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) clearly established itself as the new X-Files, both with a quick TV screen view of a soon to be victim watching Mulder and Scully on television, plus the reference to the “old “X” designation“ during Agent Broyles’ (Lance Reddick) hearing about the future of the “Fringe” division. Also like the X-Files, it seems a shape-shifter (as with the “alien bounty hunter”) has been added to the show. It feels good to have an agency that investigates the weird.

The only annoying thing about this episode was that they seemed to move between Boston and New York a little too quickly, and I admit that I was starting to get a little confused as to where they were at times. Otherwise, it was an action packed hour where I didn’t even mind that they were showing a lot more commercials than they had in the show’s first season.

Despite the comfortable and familiar story elements, and the similarities to the X-Files, the Fringe season premiere does not disappoint. It provides many new mysteries: Where or when was Olivia when she visited William Bell and what did he tell her? What is she looking that is hidden and why can't she remember? Why are the shape-shifters looking for this object? Will Walter’s switch with Peter when the real Peter died years ago catch up with him, and with the Greek “code” between Peter and his mother help expose Walter’s switch? Will Charlie’s impromptu story to Olivia about his own shooting be the thing that ultimately exposes him as the shape shifter? What exactly is Jessup up to and what does she really know? It looks to be a great second season.

Here’s is the recap:
The show opens with a car accident in New York City – and it looks like Agent Olivia Dunham’s (Anna Torv) car has been involved. But she’s nowhere to be found. A man who seems to have caused the accident walks away from the scene, bloodied. He manages to buzz his way into an apartment building, and finding another man in the hall, proceeds to force him into his apartment (where the X-Files are on TV) and overpowers him, killing him. He then proceeds to take over his identity, morphing his face. The FBI agents, on the scene of the accident, are perplexed as it seems the driver of the black SUV is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and his scientist dad Walter (John Noble) are grocery shopping, and Walter is insisting on making custard for Peter's upcoming birthday, which he says Peter loved as a child. Peter indicates that he never liked it. Peter then gets an alarming phone call. Before you can say “transporter beam” Peter and Walter arrive at the scene of the accident where Olivia's SUV is still there. It seems as if nothing has changed to the scene from the time of the accident to their arrival. (My husband wants to know how they got there so fast, with the accident scene staying the name. They can’t be that slow to wrap up a accident scene in NYC.) FBI Agent Jessup (Meghan Markle) is on the scene, and while she talks with Peter, Walter plays around with the controls inside the SUV, and when an alarm in the car goes off, and the engine revs, they stand back as the car goes silent. But their quiet is pierced when Olivia comes flying through the windshield and onto the street. Later, as they rush Olivia into surgery, she is unresponsive.

Outside the hospital, Special Agent Broyles stops Jessup and tells her she will be reporting a random traffic accident, case closed. Jessup argues, but Broyles explains to just sign the report. Needless to say, her curiosity is piqued.

Back at the hospital, a doctor tells Peter that they are unable to restore brain function in Olivia, but Walter thinks the situation is relative. He busts into the operating area to examine her, and she is being kept alive with machines. Walter is crushed and apologetic as Peter looks on.

Later, Peter is sitting alone in a bar, drinking, when Broyles joins him. Broyles tells Peter that he has been called to Washington DC and was told that their failure to deliver any usable results is unacceptable. They're shutting down the Fringe Division. (It reminds me of Fox Mulder's words, “They’re shutting us down, Scully." Déjà vu anyone?) Meanwhile, at the New York Federal Building, Agent Jessup is trying to access the Fringe files.

When Peter gets back to the hospital, Olivia’s sister Rachel (Ari Grayor) is there and Peter consoles her. She tells him Olivia liked him. She also tells him Olivia has a living will and she will be disconnecting life support the next day. Peter enters Olivia’s room to say his goodbyes, and as he leans over to her, she opens her eyes, speaks in a foreign language, and screams. Later, she knows who she is and seems to have her brain functions back, but her memory is fuzzy. She says she was trying to get somewhere and someone was trying to stop her, but she went anyway. She says there is something important she has to do and their lives may depend on it. She tells Peter she needs her gun.

At the Federal Building in Boston (these people get around quickly I tell you), Peter is looking for Broyles, and is told he is in Washington. Peter gets the cold shoulder and when the security woman asks for Peter’s ID, she takes it and shreds it, saying it has been revoked. When more security comes, Agent Jessup appears and says she will take over with Peter. While they drive off, Jessup says that the skid marks with Olivia’s car didn’t make sense, because it appeared Olivia was speeding up, not slowing down, when the accident occurred. The driver of the other car was George Reed, from Lexington. She also wants to know more about the Fringe Division. They get to Reed’s house and break down the door, but he’s dead. When Walter gets on the scene, he says the man died from a virus and wants to take the body with him to his lab,. He is excited like a kid with a new toy when Jessup allows it and when he gets to drive along with the body.

The shape shifter who took over another identity come into an old electronics shop and makes a request for a specific typewriter model. When he is told that the model doesn’t exist, he presses the shop owner who seems to know who he is, and he gives him a key to the back room where the typewriter is sitting. On this typewriter, the man types his report, saying his target was terminated. When he looks into a mirror next to him, he percieves invisible fingers typing out a response that his mission was a failure, that the “meeting occurred” and "target still alive." The man requests new orders, and is told to interrogate the target, "Then kill her."

Peter walks into the lab with Jessup, introducing her to the Fringe division, and explains that Walter used to work there on government projects.

Meanwhile, Olivia’s work partner Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) talks with Olivia at the hospital. When she says he is fine, he counters with a story about him answering a domestic disturbance call with his partner who was later killed by the woman, who then also shot Charlie. He knows Olivia is not fine. She can’t recall what happened to her, and can’t even load her own gun.

Back at the lab, Walter is performing the autopsy on Reed while he tells Astrid (Jasika Nicole) how to make custard. Walter's shows Peter the inside of Reed's mouth, where they find three markings, like stab wounds, on the roof of his mouth. He recalls a previous experiment, and shows them a videotape of an experiment, where a woman, with many electrode-like objects on her head, says she saw a man with a machine with three nails that went in the mouth, saying he is from another universe. She describes exactly what we saw the man in the car crash had done before he took over the other man’s identity. She adds, "They can look like any of us."

Back in the hospital, Olivia tries to load her gun, fumbling, and is unsuccessful.

In Washington DC, Broyles faces a government hearing committee, who references the former “X designation” and calls the Fringe Division "indulgences" in the budget. Broyles is annoyed with their flippant attitude, saying that sometimes the threat is "unimaginable" and they should be thankful Fringe Division is there. They are unmoved.

Outside the hearing, Broyles meets with Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), who also doesn't want Fringe shut down. She kisses him and tells him to continue to do what he always used to do, that is, "save the day."

Elsewhere, Peter and Jessup follow up on another body found with three holes in its mouth, which was found two blocks from the accident site. They think whatever it is on the loose is still trying to accomplish its goal. Peter races back to the hospital to see Olivia, thinking that she is their goal. Outside the hospital, the shape shifter is lurking and he startles a nurse.

Later, that same nurse checks on Olivia and begins to ask her questions about her memory. Olivia can only remember pieces, and thinks she was on her way to meet someone, but doesn’t recall whom. She remembers something is hidden, and the nurse pushes the issue a little too much. But when she’s satisfied Olivia doesn’t know what was hidden where, the nurse jumps on the bed and attempts to strange Olivia. Olivia tries to fight back and use her gun, which drops to the floor. As Peter and Jessup race to Olivia’s aid, Jessup shoots the nurse twice in the back, but the nurse jumps out the window that is several stories up, and runs to the basement below. Charlie picks up the chase. When the nurse surprises him, dropping from the ceiling in the basement near the incinerator, Charlie shoots. When Jessup and Peter arrive, the nurse is dead and Charlie is standing over her body. Peter takes a device presumed to aid in the shape shifting, which was on the floor next to the nurse’s body.

Later, Peter brings Olivia a huge bouquet of flowers, and tells her that Walter suspects the nurse was a "shape-changing soldier from another universe" and he thinks that's where Olivia went. Peter deadpans that "Do you think it's a bad thing I can say that out loud and neither one of us thinks I'm crazy?" Olivia tells Peter about feeling that something is hidden, and Peter says Walter will figure it out. Peter asks about the Greek she spoke when regained consciousness, repeating the words. He says it is what his mother used to say to him every night before he went to bed, and it translates to "be a better man than your father." He says it was like a code between them, to keep the people he cares about close. When Peter moves to leave, Olivia asks if it's true they're shutting them down, and he says no.

Later, Peter gives Broyles the broken shape-shifting device as proof he can use for the committee. Peter seems to be determined to force the issues, saying that they're calling the shots now. Meanwhile. Jessup types notes into a computer that seem to reference the Bible, closing a Bible, which sits on her desk.

When Peter returns to the lab, we hear a groan – was it the cow or Walter, I wonder – and he finds Astrid, Walter, and the cow waiting with birthday custard. Still in the hospital, Olivia finally loads her gun. In the hospital basement, we see Charlie pushing a load of laundry toward an incinerator. But that’s not just laundry; we see Charlie’s body being pulled out and being tossed into the incinerator. It seems who we now know as Charlie is really the shape shifter.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Birth of the Cool: Horatio Caine’s Sunglasses

No, this isn’t about jazz legend Miles Davis’ recording. This is about the crime fighter some people love to hate, Horatio Caine (and the actor who plays him, David Caruso). People always wondered how Horatio got his sunglasses, which seem to imbue him with magical superhuman powers of deductions. In a way, Horatio is like the reverse of Clark Kent/Superman, when Clark must remove his glasses before he can appear as Superman.

Well, wonder no more. CBS has supplied a sneak peek of Monday’s (September 21) season opener of CSI Miami where the story behind the “sunglasses of justice” is revealed. A warning to sensitive eyes – this video is rated “MH” because it includes a “man-hug” with Caruso and Adam Rodriguez, who plays the departing Eric Delko. Be prepared: I suspect that next season, the sunglasses will have taken over the show and will be given top billing, and, after asking for a salary of $250,000 per episode, CBS will then decide to drop all scripted programming in lieu of running a talk show with David Letterman every night.

Enjoy the video!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Jay Leno Show: Unoriginal, Uncompelling, Uninteresting

I know I said I wasn’t going to watch The Jay Leno Show. I was never a huge fan of Leno on the Tonight Show, so I didn’t watch that very much. But, I felt it only fair that if I was going to be critical of the move the NBC made by eliminating scripted shows in favor of the daily Leno show, I should at least watch one to see if it confirms my feelings. It did – I stand by my opinion that I think this move is not a good one in the long run for NBC.

After watching his first installment, I imagine that there will be a lot of tweaking and changing going on in the coming weeks, so maybe it will be worth another look about 3 months down the road – assuming NBC keeps it that long. After all, the network really painted themselves in the corner the minute they committed to 5 nights a week for this show, which is probably 4 nights too many.

His opening monologue didn’t strike me as being anything new or different than his Tonight Show monologues. In fact, Jay seemed too stiff and rehearsed in his opening comments on his new show. I am not sure what I expected – I think I expected no monologue. I found myself wondering how much Jay will be stealing the thunder of his later counterparts Conan O’Brien and the lifeless Jimmy Fallon by covering all the funny bits from the news for the day before the other two get their crack at it? Why watch Conan and Jimmy later to get their same take on the same news? If Jay’s show does well, it may bode bad news for the other two. One thing I was glad to hear Jay acknowledge his own feeling about his show promos when he said, “Let me explain what’s going on…This is not another annoying promo, this is the actual show…I apologize for my face being all over the place.” Yes, it was a tad much, wasn’t it? NBC was shameless in taking every chance they could to promote this new show, including numerous mentions on the Today Show.

The car wash number with Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band went on too long. It was funny for a short while, then it just made me want it to be over.

Enter Jerry Seinfeld, who admitted that, like me, he was also perplexed as to why he was asked to be the first guest when he hasn’t done a show in something like 11 years. Mind you, I watched Seinfeld a lot and always liked his show, but I am not sure if he would have been my first guest. While he and Jay talked, it seemed like they were both shouting in order to make sure they were being heard to audience in the cavernous studio, and their “interview” seemed too rehearsed and stiff. Again, nothing compelling to see here.

Leno’s faked Obama interview was also not a new concept, and I sense there will be some discussion today on "The View" about Jay referring to those hosts as the “loudest, shrillest voices.” This was another segment where the joke got old quickly and I felt it dragged on too long.

Jay also brought on the jerk of the day, Kayne “It’s All About Me” West, giving Kanye even more publicity for his rude behavior at the video awards show from two days ago. Jay asks the money question: “Let me ask you something. I was fortunate enough to meet your mom and talk with your mom a number of years ago. What do you think she would have said about this?” Kanye gives a long, long pause where he seems to be getting choked up, before he answers with what seemed to be a non-answer, saying he needs to take time off. Poor baby. He needs to grow up, but I don’t see that coming any time soon, since this is not Kanye’s first time around getting in trouble when opening his mouth. But Jay got what he wanted – the key sound bite from his show to be replayed on other networks. He and Kanye really are two peas in a pod when it comes to self-promotion. Kanye then went off to perform with Rihanna and Jay-Z, a musical number that wasn’t too bad but again it seemed to go on too long.

Jay finished the show with his funny headlines – umm, shouldn’t headlines be toward the “head” of the show and not the end? Jay used to do these on the Tonight Show, maybe he thought by moving them to the end of the show it would be more edgy and show how much the show is different from the Tonight Show. Personally, if he keeps this segment – I think it should be dropped – he should move it to the beginning and hopefully only do it once a week or so, if even that often.

A note to advertisers – since I recorded the show on my DVR, I passed through all your commercials.

If I had to grade Jay’s first outing, I would have to give it a C+. It was just average. There was nothing compelling to see, nothing new and different, nothing worth tuning in every night at 10 PM to watch, especially when there are other shows that are much more interesting to watch on other networks. It’s not even worth recording on my DVR and taking the time to pass over the commercials. Unless there is a major improvement, NBC better be thinking of a fall back position and getting new shows ready for that time slot next fall, if not sooner.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Mad Men “The Fog” Makes Things Clearer

Photo from AMC

This episode of Mad Men “The Fog” brought the birth of the newest Draper, Eugene Scott, on June 21, 1963. Betty seemed to slip into a dream-like fog during her delivery, and we may have seen how her state of mind will unfold after the baby is born. Somehow, I sense that Betty will have issues with depression after the birth of the baby, as she seems mentally to be going off a cliff. Her true feelings about Don seemed to be coming out in her drug induced haze and delivery of the baby. But Peggy and Pete are far from being in a fog, both seemingly very clear as to what is going on in their work lives. Peggy senses that she has to stand up for herself if she wants to get what everyone else has. Pete, on the other hand, becomes more worried that he is being set up for failure.

The episode begins with Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty (January Jones) meeting with Sally’s teacher, Miss Farrell (Abigail Spencer). (By the way, Miss Farrell is the woman who, in the episode ”Love Among The Ruins” was dancing around the maypole with Sally and other children at a picnic, and where Don seems to have been lost in thought while watching her dance.) The Drapers were called there because it appears Sally has been acting out, and the behavior is not typical. When Miss Farrell asks if anything has changed at home, Betty tells her of her father’s death. This seems to have an effect on the teacher. When Betty excuses herself to go to the bathroom, Miss Farrell talks with Don and asks if Don can understand about Sally’s grief. He does. When Betty returns, she says she wants to put all of this behind her so when the new baby comes things can be perfect.

When Don gets back to work, he enters a meeting that Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) is having with the staff where he is scrutinizing expenses. When Don hears Pryce nickel and diming every expenditure, he gets up and leaves the meeting.

Kinsey (Michael Gladis ) is talking with Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) about the Admiral TV account, and Pete realizes that sales of the televisions are up in urban areas –“great jazz cities” as Kinsey calls them – and Pete realizes that it may mean more black people are buying them. Harry enters their session and agrees with the conclusion. Ken (Aaron Staton) comes in, bragging how well things are going for him and then leaves.

Later, Don is in his office and Pryce enters, continuing the discussion about expenses, but Don pushes back, saying that Pryce needs to loosen up if he wants the people to be able to do their jobs and for the firm to make money.

While Pete is working on the Admiral TV account, he gets a phone call from his Uncle Herman. It turns out to really be Duck Phillips (Mark Moses) inviting him to lunch, telling him it won’t be a waste of time.

When Don gets home, the phone is ringing and he answers it, and it’s Miss Farrell, who is apologizing for her pushing so hard at the meeting. She’s drinking while she is talking to Don. She tells him that her own father died when she was 8 years old and could relate to what Sally was going through. When Betty calls out for Don, he quickly terminates the call, telling Betty it was no one on the phone. It turns out, though, that it’s time for the baby to be born. Don seems momentarily rattled and mentions he needs to get his keys, and Betty calmly points out they are in his hand.

When they get to the hospital, the nurse tells Don his work is done, and sends him off to the solarium to wait. As Betty is being wheeled off, she sees a janitor mopping the floor that looks like her father, and calls out to him, perplexed. When Betty has trouble with the pen to fill out the form, the nurse helps her complete it, asking when she last ate and if her water broke Betty calmly gives her the information, and tells her that her water never breaks.

While Don is waiting, he strikes up a conversation with another man who is also waiting for his wife to deliver. Dennis Hobart (Matt Bushell) is upset with a nurse (Yeardley Smith – who is the voice of the animated Lisa Simpson, by the way) because he hasn’t gotten any information about his wife’s status. She tells him it is a breach and apologizes for him not being told. Hobart works at a prison, and he brought a bottle of (I think) Johnny Walker with him. He and Don share a few drinks while the pass the time. Don sees an ad in a magazine for a car and rips out the ad. Hobart later tells Don that all the people in prison blame their parents for how their lives turned out.

While Betty is being readied for delivery, she hears another woman screaming in childbirth, and Betty’s face gets a slight look of dread. Later. when she is being prepped with drugs and it seems painful for her, she gets more upset when she finds her regular doctor, Doctor Aldridge, won’t be available. He’s at an anniversary dinner with his wife at Mama Leone’s. (By the way, I ate there when I went to New York on a class trip in 1969.) Betty wants her own doctor, but she begins to drift off and dream or hallucinate. She is walking down a tree lined street – frankly the scene reminded me a lot of the old movies where someone walked on a treadmill being filmed in front of a filmed backdrop. A caterpillar drops in front of her and she catches it in her hand, than then seems to squish it. Later, Betty struggles with the nurse, saying she didn’t want this and comments about Don’s whereabouts, asking if she has been with him. They give her Demerol and she drifts off again.

The nurse tells Hobart his wife had a boy, and she is in recovery, having lost a lot of blood. Before he leaves, he tells Don that he knows Don is an honest guy. He also promises to be a better man, asking Don if he heard him. Don says he did.

Betty seems to be fighting the delivery and then sees herself walking in the hospital hallway, which turns into her home. She sees the janitor mopping the floor and sees that it is her father. He tells her he misses her, but that he had to go. She asks if she is dying, and he tells her to ask her mother. Betty’s mother Ruth (Lou Mulford) is at the kitchen table, a black man seated in front of her. She tells Betty to shut her mouth or she will catch a fly. Betty tells her she forgot her lunch pail. Her father, mopping the floor with blood, tells her she is a housecat, and that she is very important and has little to do. Her dream image slowly fades, and she wakes up in a hospital room with the baby, Don telling her it is a boy when Betty seems to think the baby is a girl. She calls the baby Gene, saying she wants to name him Eugene (after her father). Don tells her they don’t have to decide that now, but she calls the baby Gene.

When Don gets back to the office, it is filled with baby gifts. Roger (John Slattery) calls him and tells Don that it seems all work has stopped while he was gone, and tells Don that Betty had the baby, not Don. Don is miffed as he was only gone one half of a day.

Elsewhere, Pete arrives for his lunch with Duck and sees that Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is also there. She says she did not know Pete was also invited. Duck tells him that he knows that they had something going between them, and then dangles the opportunity for new jobs to work at Grey Advertising, where Duck now works. Pete seems offended at the thought, but Peggy seems to be interested, much to Pete’s surprise. Pete leaves, and when Peggy make a move to leave as well, Duck tells her that she also is talented and she should strike while the iron is hot, adding that she's a freewheeling career gal with great ideas and that this is her time.

When Pete gets back to the office, he takes the chance to talk to Hollis (La Monde Byrd) , the black man who operates the elevator. Pete wants to know about Hollis’ choice for a television, but Hollis tells him black people have more to worry about now than just TV. When Hollis says he barely watches TV, Pete says that he doesn’t believe Hollis doesn’t watch baseball. Pete reminds Hollis that he is just doing his job by asking these questions.

Betty sees Don and the kids waving to her from the hospital sidewalk as she watches from her window, holding the baby. Later at night, Don is making a snack – it looks like corned beef hash with an egg – Sally (Kiernan Shipka), comes in and the share some food and some talk about eggs and chicks and chickens. Sally tells her that Miss Farrell says everything will be fine, and Don says then it must be true.

The next day when Don goes to get Betty, he passes Hobart and his wife in the hall, and he smiles at him, but Hobart looks back with only a slight smile, saying nothing.

At the meeting with the Admiral TV people, Pete and Kinsey pitch the idea of targeting the “Negro” market by placing ads in publications like Ebony and Jet, which cost far less and will give them more coverage. They suggest integrated ads, and one of the execs says that is illegal. Pete tell him it is not, but they aren’t happy with the proposal, saying it’s not worth having a conversation about it, saying maybe blacks are buying the TVs because they want what whites want.

Meanwhile, Peggy comes to Don’s office bearing her own baby gift, commenting that no one asked her to go in with the others. She talks to him about wanting equal pay for equal work, and that a law was passed to make sure that women are treated equally. But Don says the timing is bad, seeing that he has to fight with Pryce over paper clips. She tells him she only gets paid $71 more a week than her secretary, and Don implies they need to hire a cheaper secretary. But Peggy continues to push, saying that she does better work than Kinsey, and that this is not a good time for her, it costs a lot to live in Manhattan. He has everything – and so much of it - and she wants the same things that he wants and has. When he asks what she wants him to say, she coldly says that she doesn’t think she could be any clearer. When Pete sees her leaving Don’s office, he panics, thinking she told Don about their lunch with Duck. When she is evasive about what she said to Don, he gets ever more rattled, saying what she does affects him as well.

Later, Pete is reamed royally by Bert (Robert Morse) and Roger about the Admiral account as Admiral doesn’t want anything to do with the “Negro” market. But after Pete leaves the room, Pryce seems side with Pete, saying they should be looking at that market with someone, from someone not from the US he thinks there is potential.

When Betty and Don arrive home with the baby, Francine (Ann Dudek) is there to help. Apparently Carla has to leave to be with her family. Sally and Bobby (Jared S. Gilmore ) meet their new brother, Eugene Scott. Francine asks Betty how it went, and Betty said it was like a fog. Later, while everyone is asleep, the baby begins to cry, and Betty gets out of bed. She walks down the hall and stops, listening to the baby cry, and then she continues to walk as we fade to black.

I found this episode to be rather intense, with a look inside Betty’s state of mind. While she appears to be cold and stoic, inside she seems to be riddled with self-doubt about her marriage and carries a lot of baggage about her parents. Her catching the caterpillar – which usually turns into some sort of butterfly or moth – and then seeming to gasp far too tightly in her hand seems to indicate that somewhere along the line Betty feels that she can’t be what she wants to be. Or, it could mean that she wants to dish out to others what she felt was handed to her in life. Either way, there may have been more information about Betty in her dreams and hallucinations than we’ve seen from her in reality. Somehow, I don’t see things working out well for her as the season goes on.

In an indication of how times have changed, every time Pete or someone else used the word "Negro", I found myself cringe. It's important to remember that this term, while not acceptable now, was very commonly used then. I also found it interesting that while Peggy was fighting for equality, it seems that Hollis, the elevator operator, wants a piece of that life too. It will be interesting to see how this show portrays those issues as it moves ahead in the years.

Video Recap of Mad Ment “The Fog”

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mad Men “The Arrangements”: Fractured Families

Sunday’s episode of Mad Men “The Arrangements” was centered on family issues. For Peggy, it was moving away from her family and into Manhattan. For Sal, it was continuing to keep his sexuality in the closet and away from his wife. For the Drapers, it meant a death in the family. For Don it also meant watching out for someone else’s family. It was a relatively benign episode on the surface, but I sense events here may have lasting effects on some of the main characters.

First, it’s Betty’s father Gene (Ryan Cutrona) who seems to be stirring the pot. He allows the underage Sally (Kiernan Shipka) to steer the car, while Gene keeps his foot on the gas. Sally seems to be enjoying the experience. He later bonds further with Sally over eating ice cream in the kitchen. With Betty (January Jones), Gene brings out his information on his final arrangements and wishes, much to Betty’s discomfort. She doesn’t really want to know about these things, calling his desire to push it on her as selfish and morbid. Gene later gets on Don’s (Jon Hamm) nerves as Gene is examining a box of his own keepsakes from the war, and hands Bobby (Jared S. Gilmore) a helmet from a Prussian soldier with a bullet hole in it that Gene claims to have made as he shot the soldier. It is somewhat sad to see that the helmet is very small and fits easily on Bobby’s small head, implying that Gene killed a soldier that was no more than a child. When Don tells Bobby to take it off and Gene tells him to leave it on, the conflicted Bobby seems frozen in what to do. Don solves the problem by taking the helmet off Bobby’s head and removing it from the room. It certainly seems that Gene senses that something is coming and he needs to be sure that he is not only remembered, but that Betty is prepared for his eventual death.

Meanwhile at work, Don seems to be having concerns that Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) has landed a big, gullible fish in Horace Cook Jr. (Aaron Stanford), who wants to go all out to promote Jai Alai. Pete knows that this guy is dumb enough to go for a costly campaign. Despite the fact that Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) seems happy with Pete, Don realizes that Horace’s father Horace Sr. (David Selby) has connections with Bert Cooper, and he suggests they confer with Horace Sr. before contracting with Horace for a sport and a cause that Don seems to (correctly) think that won’t amount to much. Horace Sr. isn’t happy with his son’s plans, saying they are “gibberish.” He indicated when they set aside the money for him for him when he was a child, they had no idea what kind of child he would be, but he basically gives them the go ahead to proceed to allow Horace Jr. to sign the contract. Don and Peter later have dinner with Horace Jr. who seems as pumped up as ever about his Jai Alai venture, saying that he has a dream if giving his father a gift of a Jai Alai team for his 75th birthday. Don reminds Horace Jr. that the fortune his father gave him was not just about money, it was about his future, and thinks Horace can do better. Pete blanches at this comment, but Horace Jr. thinks Don is just using a sales technique. Horace tells Don that if Jai Alai fails, it will be Sterling-Cooper’s fault.

The next day, with the contract signed, Don walks into the office that used to be Burt Peterson's and the guts are playing around with the Jai Alai equipment, and in doing so, Don breaks the glass in the ant farm. He quips that they should just bill the kid for it. Later, we see Joan spraying ant killer all over the area.

Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is also looking to move to Manhattan and away from her mother and sister. She knows the news will not go over will with her mother. Peggy places an ad on the company bulletin board that only elicits a hoax call from one of the secretaries who was egged on by Kinsey (Michael Gladis ) and Ken (Aaron Staton ). Peggy feels humiliated and later removes the ad, and while doing so, Joan (Christina Hendricks) calls the ad “unfortunate” and adds it sounds like stage directions from an Ibsen play. Joan gives Peggy some tips on how to write and ad, and where to put it, in order to get a better response. I found it interesting that Peggy can write an ad for selling products, but can't seem to write an ad which is supposed to be selling herself. After an ad rewrite, Peggy quickly snags a roommate, Karen Erickson (Carla Gallo). I guess that there really wasn’t much to the vetting process in those days because Peggy seemed to take the first person that approached her. Peggy then sets the stage to tell her mother about her move, buying her mother a new console TV set to soften the blow. Peggy’s mother sees right through the attempt to buy her willingness to let Peggy go. Upset, she tells Peggy that she will get raped. When Peggy makes a move to kiss her mother, she turns away.

There is both good news and bad news for Sal (Bryan Batt). Don gives him the chance to direct the “Patio” commercial, based on the Ann-Margret “Bye Bye Birdie” theme. Sal is thrilled. But later that night, when Sal’s wife Kitty (Sarah Drew) comes into the bedroom with a new negligee and begins to make overtures to Sal, he rebuffs her. When she asks him what’s been wrong with him, he blames his preoccupation with his work and the “Patio” campaign. Sal proceeds to go through his own recreation of how the ad will look, and in doing so, paints a picture of a stereotypical gay man who seems all too comfortable performing a woman’s musical number. (I enjoyed it immensely.) Something in the look it Kitty’s eyes may indicate that she has come to the same conclusion about Sal.

Later, after the finished commercial is shown to the clients, Sal gets the bad news that the clients don’t like it. It’s exactly what they asked for, but they call it a failure. While Sal and Ken are dismayed, Peggy smirks with glee, seemingly trying to hold back saying “I told you so” to her colleagues. After the clients leave, it’s Roger (John Slattery) who states that the problem is that the woman in the commercial is not Ann-Margret.

While this is going on, Sally is outside the Draper home when a police car pulls up, and a police officer informs Betty that Gene is dead, having collapsed while standing in line at the A&P. Betty knees buckle, but she maintains her composure as the police officer enters the home to go over what they should do with Gene’s body. Sally, on the other hand, is rocked.

Back at the office, Sal comes in to see Don to accept whatever consequences Don will dish out for the failed Patio ad. But Don gets a call from Betty informing him about Gene, and Don tells her he will be right there. Before he leaves the office, he reassures Sal, telling him he is now a commercial director, and when Sal thinks Don is just saying this, Don says he’ll know when he hires him again. Sal is relieved.

Later, in the Draper’s kitchen, Don and Betty, Betty’s brother William (Eric Ladin) and his wife are at the kitchen table, with Sally listening as she sits under the dining room table. When the adults share a chuckle, Sally goes off the deep end and completely looses it, chastising the adults for laughing when Gene is dead and will never be coming back. Betty is intolerant of Sally’s feelings and dismisses her, telling her to go watch TV. Don looks at Sally with the “placate your mother” look, and Sally goes to watch the news. The news story she catches is the one of a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire in a protest, and Sally stares at it with a detached gaze. Later, Don gets out of bed, still fully clothed, covers Betty, and checks on Sally, before walking downstairs alone.

While this episode wasn’t one of their best, my opinion is that it will serve as a foundation for the development of much deeper stories. With Sally, she seems to be a child that is just waiting to boil over. With her stealing from her grandfather the week before and learning a hard lesson from it, now her beloved grandfather is dead, and she feels she is the only one who cares. We may be seeing a rebellious child being formed. Sal seems liberated, with his fears of being stuck as an animator being somewhat put to rest when he was given the chance to direct a commercial. He also may feel somewhat freed by the fact that although Don knows Sal is attracted to men, Don is still giving him a chance to grow in his job. Sal’s big problem now will be trying to keep his wife satisfied, if he even will want to. Peggy seems unwilling to be held hostage by her mother’s emotional blackmail, and seems to have her move to Manhattan rationalized. Peggy wants to be liberated from her family and grow as an individual, and seems even more intent on creating a new image for herself and break out of her uptight image. Is she just breaking out of one persona to jump into another one that she hasn’t completely thought through?

Along with her expanding girth from her pregnancy, Betty seems to be growing even colder and more distant. She wants to avoid any discussion of her father’s death, and now that it has happened, she seems to not be showing any outward emotion about the issue. Betty is the complete opposite of Sally, with Sally erupting like a geyser and with Betty becoming more like a glacier every week.

Don appears to be developing more of a conscience, which is not something that is welcome in his industry. Still, Don gets his point across about the agency suckering in Horace Jr. for an expensive campaign for an idea that they all seem to agree is folly. They still go ahead with it, but at least Don can say that he raised the red flags. Of course, Jai Alai never became a very hot sport in the United States, so we all know that Horace Jr. is in for a fall. The question is, how much will he be able to get away with by blaming Sterling Cooper? We can only stay tuned to find out.

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