Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Southland" Returns With “Phase Three": Come Along For The Ride

My "Southland" sneak peek came in this folder, which opened up to reveal Cudlitz and McKenzie giving me a stare-down.

I was very lucky to get a 15 minute sneak peek of the March 2 premiere of a new episode of the TV series ”Southland”, a show foolishly tossed aside by NBC but wisely picked up by TNT. My double-secret access pass came via USB drive, packed in a nifty little folder that when opened, showed a photo of fan favorites Ben McKenzie (as Officer Ben Sherman) and Michael Cudlitz (as Officer John Cooper) in a squad car, with a voice telling me there was a “211 in progress” and that somebody got shot, just as if I were listening to the police radio.

I won’t tell you every detail that I saw in the preview, but I think it’s only fair to give you some information in order to make sure you watch the show on March 2 with the new episode “Phase Three”. The feeling that viewers are riding along with the police has been preserved, and this is one thing that drew me to "Southland" and got me hooked from the start. Some of the information here may be spoilerish so if you don’t want to even have the remotest hint of what will happen, don’t read any more. (OK, you’re probably all still here!)

Tom Everett Scott fans, don’t fret, Detective Russell Clarke is alive. Whew. But, he’s not back to work, which means that Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) will get a new partner, something that makes her less than thrilled. (I suspect Prison Break fans will enjoy her new partner.) The police officers are getting a bit of a lecture on how we “live in the digital age” and they are always being recorded, with a video of Dewey going off the deep end (from an earlier episode) in his squad car as the example. Since we seem to see videos on TV of police officers behaving badly more than we’d like to see, this is probably good advice for any police squad in the country. Violence is an issue that rears it ugly head with someone being chased and gunned down in their car. Sherman and Cooper encounter the usual type of routine problems while patrolling, and with Dewey in rehab, Officer Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis) seems to be stuck riding with another officer who eats like a slob on the job and seems to treat her like his private chauffer. He’ll make some real trouble for her – and the Southland cops – later. Detectives Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) are helping to track down an old man who seems to have gone missing. These things all sound like simple “day in the life” of police work, but if you’ve seen "Southland" before, nothing is always as simple as it seems.

So, be sure to watch the new episode of “Southland: Phase Three” which airs at 10:00 PM ET on TNT. TNT will also be re-airing the episode at 1:00 AM that night, so there should be no excuse to miss it. TNT will also be airing the episodes originally aired on NBC during the day on March 2 leading up to the brand new episode, a perfect chance to see these episodes if you haven’t already. “Southland” is great drama, and, unlike some crime dramas like the CSI franchise that are mostly glitz with little substance, "Southland" feels real. Make sure that you come along for the ride.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

24 “Day 8 12AM to 1AM” A Disappointing Hour

It’s hard to believe that ”24” (Fox) has already reached the doldrums. I suppose that not every episode can have that “edge of your seat” feeling, but I would have liked to see SOME life. Not much happened in this episode to change the feeling that we’ve been though all this before in many “24” days past.

We open as Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is trying to get Bazhaev (Jürgen Prochnow ) to get his son Josef (David Anders) to bring the nuclear rods back. Bazhaev, the once tough guy, practically rolls over and asks Jack to tickle his tummy, and vice versa, because Jack is able to get Bazhaev immunity – along with his son’s – in a nanosecond, as long as Josef brings the rods back. Josef is finally convinced to do so, and right at that moment is shot by a man who is with Farhad (Akbar Kurtha). (I know, so many people, so many names to remember.) Lucky for Josef he drops his phone and leaves the line open, which helps Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and the others at CTU help find Josef’s location. Chloe is also able to identify one of the voices from heard on the open line (using voice recognition) as Farhad, so they know he is involved.

Jack, meanwhile, is coming in with Bazhaev and phones Chloe so he can get patched in to Renee (Annie Wersching), who is in medical. He wants to be sure she keeps her story straight that she killed Vladimir in self defense, and also indicates he cares for her. I find myself thinking that this is a relationship that has zero chemistry and has no chances of working anyway because people usually involved with Jack end up dead or in serious trouble, sometimes both. But when Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) is told by the While House - Ron Weiss - to question Renee on the mission failure, Hastings has no choice to let in an investigator named Smith from the Department of Justice to question Renee. When Smith pressures Renee, saying that it looks like her stabbing of Vladimir 15 times could look like revenge for his attack on her while Renee was attacked by him when previously working undercover, Renee looks trapped.

Since the people at CTU are inept, when Jack returns to CTU with Bazhaev, he goes to the medical area and quickly disables a guard and enters the room to stop the interrogation and get Renee out. Renee tells Jack it is too late, but he pins Smith against the wall, his hands on her neck, and asks how she could do something like that to Walker after all she's sacrificed. Clearly, Jack is unable to communicate without violence, but even so, this behavior seemed a little out of place and over the top. Is it because Jack!Is!In!Love? He doesn’t get far with Renee; he gets nabbed and tasered as he stepped out of the room. Nice going Jack.

Back to the fuel rods, where Samir decides he is going to use the rods for a radiological bomb in the US, and Farhad pretends to go along. with the change in plans. He uses an excuse to get help with their new plan, then disables on of Samir’s men. Farhad takes off, injured himself in the process. Lucky he has a phone and gets to CTU to get help, and promises he will tell them everything they need to know if they get him out of there. He apparently can’t tell them exactly where he is as the complex he is at is so big, but CTU is on the way. Meanwhile, Samir goes off with the rods, telling one of the guys to stay there to find Farhad.

After Hastings and Jack argue about the Hasting handling of Renee, and after Jack basically tells Hastings he’s worthless, Hastings wants him out of CTU. When Hastings hears about Farhad, and since he can’t find Cole, he gets Owen to get Farhad out of there. When Jack makes a side comment about Hasting’s action, saying the problem is more complicated than he thinks, Hastings asks for Jack's input and then agrees to leave Renee alone if Jack stays to help on a full-time basis: "I want you in with both feet," Hastings says, and Jack says "Deal."

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, Dana (Katee Sackhoff) is not at her CTU post. She is out in her car, with a gun, is following Wade and his pal Nick, intending to shoot them. Her CTU fiancé Cole (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is also away from his job and is now tracking Dana. He catches up with her as she is approaching Wade's van with her gun. Cole stops her and demands explanations, shocked that she has a gun and shocked – shocked I tell you! – that she appears to want to use it to kill. Of course, when she tells him her story of her past and that her name is really Jenny Scott, Cole takes the gun and approaches the van. Cole looks like he is going to kill them, but instead uses the gun to threaten Wade and Nick. Wade folds like it is laundry day, but Nick will not go so quietly. Cole thinks he has their gun, but Nick has another gun and goes after Cole, that is, after he stabs Wade. When Wade screams a warning to "Jenny," Nick shoots at them but Cole returns fire and gets Nick. Meanwhile, Wade dies with Dana cradling his head. I am sure Cole is touched (not).

The episode also contained the usual pouty, cranky faces from Chloe, and the usual meddling from Arlo (John Boyd) who, after fueling the fire with Cole about Dana, seems to be sending opposite signals, something that not only annoys Cole, but annoys me as well. It’s just another case of CTU workers looking like incompetents. I’m also very disappointed in the overall acting this season and character development in general. Jack Bauer is still in what seems to be in a constant, barely restrained rage; Chloe is still the same pouty brat, but now we add Arlo, the meddling brat; Hastings is the designated “leader of CTU who is worthless because he’s not a leader like Jack Bauer”, therefore, he never makes the right decision; the terrorists are always turning on each other; and we have a s storyline that seems to have nothing to do with the terrorist plot. I feel like I’ve been here before, and I think we have in many of the previous 7 seasons of “24”. There is nothing new to see here, and, as a result, the series is losing much of its excitement and drama. I still hope that this day of “24” begins to have real purpose and the drama returns. It can't be too soon.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost “The Substitute” Recap and Review

Photos rrom ABC

Things are becoming a little clearer in this episode of Lost “The Substitute.” Or are things getting more complex at the same time? It seems that the island may need a new caretaker or protector, and those key people on crashed Oceanic flight 815 are the prime candidates. Well, this is the story if you believe the “new” John Locke. The episode was filled with symbolism. One example is where Locke asks Sawyer to climb down the steep cliff. Is he asking Sawyer for a leap of faith? Or, was that ladder built by Jacob, to imply the biblical “Jacob’s Ladder” which is supposed to go up to heaven or spiritual fulfillment, and is Locke taking Sawyer in the wrong direction? The other notable symbolic scene is when Locke and Sawyer reach the bottom of the cliff and enter the cave to find one white and one black rock on a scale, Locke throwing off the white rock which tips the scale to the black rock. Is the white rock Jacob and by Locke throwing it off (as he killed Jacob), does he think the scales are now tipped in his favor?

Of course, the biggest reveal are the names and numbers – the names of Oceanic flight 815 written on the walls of a cave on the island. Again, if you believe this John Locke, these people were all somehow unknowingly directed by Jacob to come to the island, somehow making them all end up on the flight which crashed on the island. But the real issue here is who are we to believe? Clearly Richard Alpert has serious doubts about Locke’s motives, and believes Locke is there to kill them all. Locke, on the other hand, seems to think that the island is nothing special and that he just wants to get off of it. Is he motivated to find a “substitute” protector just so he can get off the island? Or, as Richard said, does he just want everyone dead, maybe wanting the island for himself? I find myself wondering if Jacob cwas able to get off the island to affect the lives of certain people in order to get them on to the island, why couldn’t Locke get off to do the same? Are the lives we are seeing living in the time after the successful flight of Oceanic 815 the lives that they would have lived had Jacob not “touched” their lives? And how do we really know that Jacob put those names on the walls of the cave, could it also have been the man in black who seems to have “claimed” Locke’s body?

Another nagging question is why Sawyer could see the same young boy that Locke saw, but that Richard was unable to see. Could that boy be a younger version of Sawyer, or does the fact that Sawyer saw him mean Sawyer really is special somehow?

While this whole series revolves around the island, Locke seems think that this is just some sort of joke, and it’s just a “damn island.” It made me a little concerned that after watching t his series all along, that it may turn out to be a story about a nothing island. But, as Locke said "but you are so would be a shame to turn back now."

Episode Recap:
This episode again covers two timelines, one in Los Angeles, after the successful flight of Oceanic 815, and on the island in some sort of “present” time. In his timeline in L.A., John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) is in a wheelchair, having problems getting out of his wheelchair-enabled van, having the lift jam. He falls out of the chair when he tries to roll it off the jammed ramp. His fiancée Helen (Katey Sagal) helps him up after he falls to the lawn, the sprinkler system also kicking on. Later, in the bathtub, he discusses the wedding with Helen. who also encourages him to pursue the free consultation offered by Dr. Jack Shepard. He later gets fired from his job by his boss Randy (Billy Ray Gallion) because Locke was sent to Australia on business and then didn’t attend any of the business functions, instead using the time for a personal matter, of which Locke refused to explain to Randy.

In the island timeline, we see the island from the perspective of the smoke monster, which drifts through the island. Suddenly Locke is in those same places. In one, he is taking Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) down from his trap and finds that Richard wasn’t given any information from Jacob on what was really going on. Locke and tries get Richard to join up with him but Richard refuses. During their discussion, Locke sees a blond boy, his arms bloodied, standing in the distance, but Richard sees nothing.

Meanwhile, Ben (Michael Emerson) and Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) are inside the base of the large status, Ilana questioning Ben about the death of her men and finds that Jacob also has been killed and his body burned in a fire reduced to ash.. She takes some of the ash and puts it into the bag. She tells Ben that Locke is a “recruiting.”

Later, Locke comes upon Sawyer (Josh Holloway), who is in his Dharma cabin, drowning himself in alcohol in order to cover his grief over Juliet’s death. After Locke tells Sawyer that he (Locke) is dead, Sawyer drinks to Locke, saying “Here’s to being dead.” Sawyer seems indifferent that Locke is there, saying he knows that he is not John Locke as Locke was scared even when he was pretending not to be scared and the man in front of him is not scared. Locke asks Sawyer what if he knew he could answer the most important question of the world? When Sawyer laughs and asks what question is that, Locke says the question is why is Sawyer on this island? When Sawyer cites the plane crash and other calamites that got him on the island, Locke tells him that is not why he is here, and if Sawyer comes with him he can prove it. Sawyer decides to go along.

Back in the other timeline, Locke is carrying his things out to his van and his ramp access is blocked by another huge vehicle. He tries to open the ramp but it jams again as the other car is blocking it. It seems it is Hurley’s (Jorge Garcia) car, who reminds Locke that Locke could have parked in a nearby handicap spot which would have given Locke plenty of room to use his lift. Locke also finds that Hurley own the company from which Locke was just fired, and Hurley introduces himself as Hugo Reyes. Locke tells Hurley that Randy had just fired him, and Hurley refers to Randy as a “huge douche.” Hurley tells Locke he also owns a temp agency and gives Locke the phone number, telling him to call it and use his name to get another job, adding that things will work out.

Back on the island, the group at the statue leave for the temple at Ilana’s urging, but Sun (Yunjin Kim) wants to first bury Locke's body. Ben asked Ilana why she brought Locke's body to the statue in the first place, and she tells him that the people there needed to see the face of what they're up against. When Ben questioned her as to what would to stop the Man in Black from changing his face again and Ilana said, "He can't, not anymore. He's stuck this way," referring to Locke's face. When they carry the body to the burial area, while standing over the grave to say a few words, Ben admits that he murdered Locke.

While Locke and Sawyer walk in the jungle, Locke sees the young boy again, but much to Locke’s surprise, Sawyer sees the boy too. Locke chases the boy and then trips. The boy comes up to Locke and tells him that Locke knows the rules, “You can't kill him." As they boy moves off, Locke screams back "Don't tell me what I can't do." Meanwhile, Sawyer held back and Richard comes out from hiding and tries to get Sawyer to come with him to the temple. He tells Sawyer that Locke isn’t going to tell him anything and Locke wanted to kill everyone. Locke approaches and Richard takes off. Sawyer asks Locke if he ever caught up with the kid, and Locke asks "What kid?"

Back in his timeline in L.A., Locke is at Hurley’s temp agency and when he gets frustrated at the dumb questions the interviewer is asking, he asks to see the supervisor. The supervisor is Rose (L. Scott Caldwell), who tries to bring Locke back to reality with his job expectations by explaining her own terminal illness with cancer. She wants to help him find a job he can actually do.

On the island , Sawyer decides to point his gun at Locke, asking Locke "What are you?" Locke tells Sawyer that he is trapped, and has been for so long he doesn’t remember what it is like to be free, He tells Sawyer to just go ahead and shoot him, but adds, "but you are so close, James, it would be a shame to turn back now."

Back in L.A., Locke makes a call to Jack’s office, but has second thoughts and hangs up. He admits to Helen he was fired. The doorbells rings, and it’s Oceanic returning his lost luggage, which Locke asks Helen to open, displaying his knives. He tells her about his “walkabout” that he had planned there, but they would not let him go. He is sick of imaging what his life would be out of his wheelchair, adding "because it's not going to happen" and he didn't want Helen to spend her life waiting for a miracle, "because there is no such thing." She disagrees, saying that there are miracles, but the only thing she was waiting for was him, and she tears up the business card from Jack.

On the island, Locke has taken Sawyer to a cliff that he expects Sawyer to climb down with him. A reluctant Sawyer finally begins the climb down, but has multiple ladder problems, with Locke saving Sawyer from falling. When they get to the bottom of the cliff, there is a cave with a scale inside, a black rock on one side of the scale, a white on the other, the scales in balance. Locke picks up the white rock and hurls it into the ocean, and when Sawyer asks that that was about, Locke says it’s an “inside joke.” When Sawyer asks if rocks on a scale is why they are here, Locke lights a torch, leads him into the cave, and lighting the rock, telling him THAT is why they are there, the torch illuminating an area where names are written on the rock – some are familiar names from the Oceanic flight – and there is a number assigned to each name. Many other names on the wall have been crossed out.

Briefly, back in L.A., we find that Locke seems to be happy working as a substitute teacher in a school. He goes to the teachers’ lounge, where Ben is there, introducing himself as “Ben Linus, European History."

Back in the cave, Sawyer is looking more closely at the names, seeing "23 Shephard", "8 Reyes" (when Sawyer asked what the 8 meant, Locke said, "I don't know, Jacob had a thing for numbers.”), "4 Locke", "15 Ford" , “16 Jarrah“ and “42 Kwon” (Locke is not sure if it means Sun or Jin). Locke tells Sawyer that he must have met Jacob sometime in his life, and that Jacob has been “pushing” Sawyer to the others, as a possible candidate to take over the job of protecting the island. Locke tells Sawyer that Sawyer has three choices: do nothing and see how it plays out and maybe his name will be crossed out (as Locke crosses off his own name); accept the job and become the new Jacob, and protect the island. Locke admits it’s protecting it from nothing, as “that was the joke, there's nothing to protect it from, it's just a damn island, and it will be perfectly fine without Jacob or you or any of the other people whose lives he wasted”. The third choice, was they just go, Locke saying “We just get the hell of this island. We never look back," adding they can do it together. When he asks Sawyer if he is ready to go home, Sawyer’s quick answer is "Hell yes," as the episode ends,

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

24 “Day 8: 11PM – 12AM” Same Old, Same Old

Photo from Fox

At the 11th hour of the day, but only the 8th hour of the season, ”24” (Fox) is falling into the predictable pattern – Jack gets tortured, Jack kills people, CTU employees act like idiots. This weak episode made me wonder if we are seeing the last season of “24” as the series seems to be running out of new ideas, and is filling time with what seem like wasteful, uninteresting side stories.

In this episode, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is being tortured because Sergei Bazhaev (Jürgen Prochnow) wants to know how Jack knows about the nuclear rods, and he also thinks Jack is a cop. Jack, bound and hanging from a pipe, can handle being subjected to electrical charges, among other things. Of course we know that Jack will escape, and, despite the fact that he has been given the electrical charge several times, he is able to easily knock his torturer off balance and use the same electrical charger on him – all while Jack is still bound. Jack manages to break the pipe off and get free, just in time for his torturer to come to and be subdued by Jack for the last time. Of course, Jack is able to steal a phone and make a call to CTU so they can track his location and send help. After a shootout where Jack gets everyone but Sergei, Jack manages to evade several shotgun blasts from Sergei and then knocks him out with a table under which Jack was hiding. The police and CTU get there within a nanosecond, as CTU is only 5 minutes away. How (typically) convenient!

Meanwhile, Dana (Katee Sackhoff) finds that Wade (Clayne Crawford) and his pal are going to blackmail her in to continuing to help them steal tons of money. Since there is always someone at CTU who has to act like an idiot, Dana will continue to do so, and uses an excuse to leave her post so she can deal with Wade. Arlo (John Boyd ) is on to her that something is off, and she realizes that she has to tell her fiancé Cole (Freddie Prinze Jr.) something. When she attemps to do so, Cole gets interrupted to do actual work (!) and Dana never finishes telling him her secret before she goes after Wade. I find that I am less than interested in this storyline than ever and feel badly that they’ve given Katee Sackhoff such a pathetic storyline. Let’s not forget that Freddie Prinze Jr.’s acting skills leave much to be desired, made worse by his bland facial expressions, and any scenes he has with Sackhoff seem lifeless.

Renee Walker (Annie Wersching), who went off the deep end and murdered her contact last week, is back at CTU and Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) has Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) get her report and then take the nutty Renee off to medical. Renee Walker is the only character this season who has kept up the drama, often adding that element of shock and surprise. Renee wants to help find Jack, but wisely CTU doesn’t seem to want her kind of help now.

President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) is still at the UN, doing pretty much nothing except waiting. Same for President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), whose only action seems to be a tiff with his daughter Kayla (Nazneen Contractor ) who is upset that Hassan is having her lover Faroush, a key aid to Hassan, held. Boredom with this story is building quickly.

Back at Sergei’s place, Jack uses Sergei’s grief over killing his terminally radiated son to get Sergei to tell them the location of the rods. Sergei does, only after getting immunity from the President of the United States, handled via a phone call that also seems to be easily set up within a nanosecond. Bad news for them, it seems the rods are not were Sergei thought. Sergei’s son Josef (David Anders) went rogue after helping to bury his brother killed by his father, and has absconded with the rods, hoping to complete the deal with Hassan’s brother Farhad (Akbar Kurtha). Josef appears to have left his dead brother Oleg’s gold cross and chain at the scene where the rods had been held – along with a few dead guards – and now Sergei knows Josef has them.

It seems that Dana has now left CTU and is armed. She appears to be hunting down Wade, likely with the idea to shoot him and his pal dead so they can’t reveal her past and the help she gave them in their recent robbery. Back at CTU, the busybody and meddling Arlo, who has been hinting to Cole that something funny is going on with his fiancée Dana, shows Cole some surveillance photos of Dana talking with another man. I find that I care even less about this story line, and have come to the realization that the people at CTU are a sorry bunch. Cole asks Arlo to trace her calls, a great use of CTU time seeing that there are nuclear rods on the loose.

While we see Dana waiting in her car, with a gun, outside the strip club where Wade and his buddy were partying, we also see Josef speaking over the phone with Farhad about finishing the deal with the rods. Thankfully, the episode is over.

Usually, most side stories in "24" occurring in tandem with the main crisis du jour seem to fit in later somehow. But in previous seasons, those side stories seems to at least be somewhat interesting. So far this season, I am already bored with Dana’s self made drama, and have no interest whatsoever in Hassan’s daughter and her disagreement with her father. In fact, I have no interest at all in Hassan or anything going on at the UN right now. The only person who seems to show some promise is Renee Walker, but I don’t think it’s enough tp keep the excitement level up. While I plan to finish out the season, right now I'm at a point where, after this season, I don’t care if Jack Bauer comes back for another day.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost “What Kate Does” Flirts With Boredom

Photo from ABC
It was bound to happen. After last week’s two hour exciting season premiere of Lost (”LA X Parts 1 and 2”), the episode “What Kate Does” was a bit of a snoozer and seemed to drag. Still, it provided just enough drama to keep the main story moving, even though it wasn’t as gripping as the season opener.

The episode focused on Kate (Evangeline Lily) but thankfully it wasn’t completely about Kate. In the timeline on the island, along with Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), Kate follows Sawyer (Josh Holloway) when he decides to escape from the temple, Kate saying she can convince him to come back. But she has other motives, taking off and separating herself from Jin and the 2 other people from the temple that came along to get Sawyer. She catches up with Sawyer in the home he and Juliet used to share while working for the Dharma Initiative. The scene stealer here was Sawyer, who showed both his love for Juliet and his consuming grief over her death. It may have been one of Josh Holloway’s best scenes in the series. Meanwhile, in the other timeline back in Los Angeles, Kate has commandeered a taxi by holding a gun to the driver and keeping the passenger, a very pregnant Claire (Emilie de Ravin), in the back seat. When the taxi driver exits the taxi and takes off, Kate takes the wheel and refuses at first to let Claire go. But later she does, taking Claire’s travel bag with her. Kate makes a stop at an auto body shop and gets her handcuffs cut off for $200, and when she goes to change her clothes, she rifles though Claire’s bag and finds baby clothes and a large stuffed animal (a killer whale). These baby things gives Kate second thoughts and she goes back to pick up Claire to take her to her destination – the home of the people who are set to adopt her baby.

But Claire is in for a shock when she gets to the house – Kate accompanying her to the door – and finds that the adoption is off because the couple who was going to adopt is no longer a couple. Right on the doorstep. Claire goes in to early labor and Kate accompanies her to the hospital. While the doctor – who also is the creepy Ethan (William Mapother) from the island - administers the necessary drugs to slow down or stop the labor, Kate stands by Claire, seeming to care what happens. When the police come looking for Kate in the hospital, Claire covers for her and Kate makes her escape.

Back on the island at the temple, the leader of the temple people, Dogan (Hiroyuki Sanada), isn’t thrilled that Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is alive, and Sayid’s gunshot wound is almost completely healed. Dogan puts Sayid through what Sayid is told is a test, but it looks like torture. It is interesting that Sayid is the one being subjected to torture since he himself was a torturer. Things get weirder when Dogan wants Jack (Matthew Fox) to give Sayid a pill that Dogan says will “cure” Sayid of his “infection” and will prevent the infection from spreading. Jack mistrusts Dogan and, after taking with Sayid, takes the pill himself, much to Dogan’s shock. Once Dogan forces the pill out of Jack’s mouth, Dogan admits it is a poison. By the way, Dogan also speaks in English to Jack, telling Jack that speaking in his other language and needing translations helps to separate him from the people he leads. Dogan also tells Jack they were trying to kill Sayid because he believed Sayid had been "claimed," the closest English translation for Dogan’s foreign language word for it. When Jack asks "By what?" Dogan explains there is a darkness growing in Sayid and once it reaches Sayid's heart, everything he once was would be gone. When Jack asks how Dogan can be sure, Dogan tells him it happed to Jack’s sister (Claire).

Elsewhere, Jin, who is off on the island by himself, the two guys from the temple, Aldo and Justin, catch up to him and attack him, and as Jin tries to run off, his leg gets caught in a trap. As it appears Jin will be shot, gunshots ring out and Aldo and Justin fall to the ground. Jin looks up to the direction of the gunshot, and sees Claire standing there, very much alive and looking like a blonde version of (Danielle Rousseau) – and the episode ends.

I am not quite sure what I was supposed to get out of this episode. Are we to think that Claire has turned to some sort of dark side? If so, why would she be helping Jin? In the other timeline, Kate is still running from the law, but in this timeline is she guilty of what she is accused? And who exactly are the good guys and the bad guys on the island – are the temple people on the good side or the bad, and who can be trusted? And this is exactly what makes Lost a great TV show, despite the occasional lackluster episode – it keeps viewers guessing.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

House “5 to 9“ A Day In the Life of Cuddy, And It’s Not Pretty

Photo from Fox

The episode of House(Fox) "5 to 9" takes a different approach by centering around a day in the life of Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). After watching, I found that I had even less respect for Cuddy, which may not have been the intent. It also seemed to be a horribly long episode that seemed to have a horribly predictable outcome, and only confirmed to me that Cuddy is in over her head.

This episode tries to portray Lisa Cuddy as a woman in an executive position with a young child and a new boyfriend trying to juggle her personal life, while at the same time trying to keep Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital running like clockwork. She doesn’t seem to be doing very well in some cases. She gets up at 5:00 in the morning to begin an exercise/yoga routine, but her morning gets trashed fast when the baby is sick and Lucas (Michael Weston) comes home after a stakeout wanting a quickie. Of course, Cuddy, who is already late for work, shows where her priorities are by opting for the quickie, apparently not being able to go one morning without one, even if she is late for work for a critical meeting. (More on this meeting later.) She also ignores an emergency page from House. Let’s not forget that she’s a doctor with a sick baby, so she passes the kid along to the nanny to deal with it. I don’t buy her later worry for one minute when she tries to repeatedly check with the nanny on her child – after all, she’s a doctor and she shouldn't seem to fall apart with worry so easily with a what seems like a simple illness with her child. (I found it slightly creepy when, after Cuddy is unable to reach the nanny, she finds that Lucas "accidentally" took the nanny's phone AND he turned off the phone at home. )

Once she gets to work, House (Hugh Laurie) confronts her about not answering the page, saying he wanted to talk to her about a patient he had wanted to give malaria to as part of treatment. He also tells her he was with Lucas on the stakeout and had bet Lucas he could stop them having sex with his page. This should be a clue to Cuddy that both House and Lucas are jerks, but since we’re talking Lisa Cuddy here, I am sure that thought will be forever lost.

She also finds that a pharmacy employee has been stealing ephedrine, and seems to take the soft approach with her at first, telling her she won’t report her to the DEA but she will fire her. I find myself wondering why, after all the problems she had with House’s drug issues that Cuddy doesn’t seem to want to report the woman. I suspect that Cuddy was more afraid that it would reflect badly on her if word got to the DEA. Things get a lot worse when Cuddy is told the woman has been stealing ephedrine in large quantities for a long time, likely to make meth. Cuddy asks to have the woman brought back in, and I wonder why on earth would a fired employee want to return to see Cuddy especially since she was stealing so much? When Cuddy puts the screws to the woman, the woman proceeds to threaten Cuddy with outing her relationship with House and all the related problems that goes with it, and Cuddy backs down for a while. This of course implies that the woman may have actual leverage, which, in my opinion, was a mistake on Cuddy’s part. But lucky for Cuddy she has a boyfriend who is a private eye and Lucas had previously given Cuddy a fake flower with a recording device in it, and Cuddy manages to get the woman make a complete admission. Now Cuddy has something to give to the DEA when she turns in the woman. Now, in the real world, what would a real hospital administrator do, you know, one without that convenient live-in PI?

Cuddy also has to deal with few other things that day: a patient who wants to get a prescription for breast milk as treatment (she denies him), a chief of surgery who is having a long standing pissing match with House, and a patient who wants to sue because they reattached his thumb. Cuddy handles the cancer patient poorly, barely looking at his file before she turns him down. Mind you, turning him down may have been the correct thing to do but there was something about the fact that she didn’t seem to bother to even verify his medical issue that bothered me. The animosity with the chief of surgery and House evolved into a fistfight of sorts, something that in most companies would result in immediate suspension of everyone involved. Not at PPTH, where things go on like nothing happened. No wonder everyone at the PPTH act like children! She also meets with the man suing the hospital and his lawyer, without a hospital attorney present, which I thought was unwise and unrealistic. Even though PPTH is a smaller hospital, I would think that for their own protection, they would never allow any hospital official to meet with someone suing them without their own counsel present. She does get bitchy at the end of that discussion, telling the man and his lawyer the hospital expects to get paid and will take his house if need be. Nice.

But now, the issue with the big meeting. Cuddy had been in long negotiations with a medical insurance company, and she makes a final offer to the rep demanding a 12 percent increase in reimbursements or she will not renew the contract and will announce that fact at a press conference that day. Of course, he calls her bluff. The PPTH board tells her that she’d better get the contract renewed – they need it to survive – and if she doesn’t, she’s out. It seems that at PPTH, decisions get made in a vacuum, with Cuddy not having a real staff that she can review her decisions with, relying on House and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) for advice. I’ll admit that I don’t know the exact hierarchy of the management structure of a hospital, but I would think that the head of the hospital would have some sort of staff meeting with department heads to review the options? Not here, where Cuddy has to think things out in a stairwell and ask the question WWHD (What Would House Do?). She tries to pressure the president of the insurance company, and he calls her bluff too, sending his rep in to offer Cuddy an 8% increase. She holds firm for the 12% and lets the contract lapse. Lucky for her, this is the thing that brings the insurance company to offer her the 12% amount, and Cuddy whoops with joy in the lobby. Did you expect anything else?

After her hectic day, she ends it cuddling in bed with the baby and with Lucas. Apparently she has forgiven him for his bet with House and with discussing their sex life with House. She clearly doesn’t see the lurking creepiness in Lucas, which only confirms to me that, like in her dealings with people like House and Lucas, Lisa Cuddy goes through life with blinders on.

It’s nice that they attempted this “change of pace” episode, but in my opinion, if the intent was to paint a flattering picture of Cuddy, I think it did the exact opposite for me. I would expect far better from someone in her position. She seems to have no checks and balances in place and no control over the people that work for her, creating an environment where someone can steal drugs over a long period of time and doctors who have physical fights without any repercussions. It also seems she is so desperate for a family life that she is wiling to overlook some serious warning signs with Lucas, who seems more and more like the scheming House every day. Let’s not forget the special appearances of Cuddy’s cleavage, which maybe subconsciously she thinks she needs to expose routinely in order to get the attention she needs. All in all, “5 to 9” only highlighted the fact that Lisa Cuddy is overseeing a very dysfunctional hospital, and she may be partly to blame for allowing that environment to thrive. Hopefully, we won’t be getting another view of another day with Cuddy any time soon.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Fringe “Jacksonville”: When Worlds Collide , Trouble Follows

All Photos from Fox
The winter finale of Fringe (Fox) “Jacksonville” certainly delivered the excitement as promised. It also seems that Dr. Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) secret about his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) is out, and this can only spell trouble. Too bad it ruined Olivia’s potential hot date with Peter. Anna Torv was fantastic in this episode, conveying a whole range of emotions – contempt and anger toward Walter, fear, anticipation at having a “date” with Peter, and then finally, shock at seeing Peter with the telltale glow. Of course, John Noble did his usual excellent job of being Walter Bishop the scientist, and then Walter Bishop, the loving father who would do anything for his son.

As the episode opened, my husband commented immediately that “Manhattan” was spelled wrong – it was spelled as Manhatan. A clue right out of the chute that we were likely opening in the “alternate” universe. Things get weird quickly when an architect’s office - working on plans for the “New Pentagon” with people who are surprised to have “real coffee” - is destroyed by an earthquake and we see bodies morphing together in strange ways. The Fringe team is called in to investigate and when Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) shows them into the building, we see many bodies that appear to be fused with other bodies. They find one survivor who appears impaled - or morphed - on a large steel beam. The man tells them that there were many tremors before the earthquake and dogs were howling. As there had been no reports of tremors in New York, the team is perplexed. As Walter questions the dying man, he asks him what seem like odd questions considering the man’s condition. But one question tells them something is not right – Walter asks what building were attacked on 9/11 and the man says the Pentagon and the White House, which brings quizzical looks from the Fringe team. As the man dies, Walter opens the mans shirt and finds another head protruding out of the man’s body – his own head – and it also howls and dies.

OK, that was weird.

Walter realizes that they are really inside two buildings – one from the current universe and another from the alternate. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) says this is what William Bell warned her about, and what the mysterious man Newton was trying to affect.

As Astrid (Jasika Nicole) blanches at having to help Walter autopsy the man’s weird looking body, Walter tells her instead to examine some of the contents of the man’s office. She finds a coin with Richard Nixon commemorated and a model of a double-decker car. Walter suddently realizes what will happen next. Olivia also finds a surveillance photo showing of Newton outside the building two hours earlier disguised as a construction worker. Meanwhile, Walter is frantic and calls Peter and demands he and Olivia return to the lab, where he tells them of a similar experiment he did in MIT years ago. It ended with a car being impaled or fused on a statue, no one else at MIT being able to quite figure out how it was done. Walter tells Olivia and Peter that the car came from the alternate universe to replace the mass they sent over, and, using the data from that first experiment, calculates that within 35 hours, a building will be pulled from their universe into the alternate within 35 hours to balance things out. They have to identify the building and get it evacuated before that happens. Walter tells Olivia that she has the power to identify the building as, from his previous experiments on her as a child in Jacksonville, she could detect a glimmer or glow before the object is pulled over. But he has to take her back to Jacksonville where they did those experiments when they used the drug Cortexaphan. Olivia gets permission from Broyles, who decides to get Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) from Massive Dynamic involved in helping to identify the building.

When they get to the boarded up center – William Bell bought the facility and then closed it up – Walter takes her into a room with objects from the alternate universe, hoping Olivia will see the shimmer and be able to pick them out. No luck. He has no choice but to administer the Cortexaphan. As he and Peter set things up for Olivia, Walter warns her that she will face an obstacle while she is under stress. As the drugs begin to work, Olivia’s mind is taken to a wooded area which suddenly turns dark and foreboding, and she sees a young girl cowered at the base of the tree. As she moves to protect her, the girl tells her that her name is Olive, and Olivia knows she is seeing herself as a young child. Olivia tells her she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to, but soon the girl is gone, then reappears with terrifying eyes, shocking Olivia and scaring her back to reality. Walter thinks that now she will be able to see the shimmer, but, to his dismay, no luck. She’s livid at Walter for the experiments he did on the children, including herself, and calls it abuse. But he realizes that she’s missing the fear and terror she had as a child during the original experiments, and, upon reflection, Olivia realizes she is not afraid of anything any more.

Back in New York at Massive Dynamic, everyone is working to identify which building will be taken, looking also at seismic activity. Peter suggests they try to identify building with the same mass as the original building that was affected. They get down to 147 possible buildings but Walter says it’s time, Broyles realizes there is nothing they could do because it would set off a panic.

In another area of Massive Dynamic, Olivia tells Peter she is upset that she failed. He tries to reassure her and looks at her somewhat tenderly, then appears to be moving in for the BIG KISS. But she pulls away, and says she’s scared – scared enough that she thinks now she can see the building. She races to the window and looks at the skyline and sees a glimmer.

As she races in her car to identify the specific building, she helps Broyles and the Massive Dynamic team narrow down the location and begin to evacuate the building. She gets to the exact location just in time to catch the building beginning to be pulled out, the suction almost taking her and another man with it. They hold on and find that after it’s all done, nothing is left but an empty hole.

Afterwards, back at the office, Broyles tells Olivia they are explaining the event as a scheduled demolition, knowing the conspiracy theorists will have a field day with that. He also asks her what triggered the ability and she said it was just time.

Later, Peter tells Walter that Astrid is coming over to keep him occupied while Peter takes Olivia out for drinks. Walter is thrilled that Peter is going out with Olivia. As Olivia gets ready for her date, she lets down her hair and seems very happy. But it’s short lived, as, when she arrives at the Bishop residence and first sees Peter, he has that telltale glow and glimmer, and she knows very well now just who Peter really is and where he comes from. As Peter steps away momentarily, Walter, who has correctly read Olivia’s expression, begs her, "Please don't tell him."

Oh yeah, there is going to be trouble.

While viewers may wonder why Olivia didn’t see Peter’s glimmer when he first moved in to kiss her and she suddenly realized she felt fear, maybe it wasn’t quite enough fear at that moment for her to see it. Maybe she was more distracted at worrying about the people in the building to turn her fears toward Peter. But what triggered her to see it when she arrived at the Bishop household? I suppose that her anticipation and fear over the “first date” situation may have turned her ability up a bit. The question now is – what will she do with this information and will she stay silent as Walter begged? Now that Newton seems to have pulled off his experiment and managed the two universes to “connect”, it makes one wonder why he chose this building in particular for his experiment. Was there something in it that he wanted or was it just a random choice? And now that Olivia has her power to see things from the other side, and she knows Peter is from there, will her power stay turned on all the time and will she always see Peter with that glimmer? If it stays on all the time, what else – or maybe even who else - will she see that has crossed over? How will this change her relationship with Peter? Will she ever be able to forgive Walter as to why he brought Peter over regardless of the implications of Peter’s absence from the alternate universe, and for the tests he conducted on her? Astrid made an astute comment early on in the episode how hard it was for those people on the other side to suddenly have people “disappear” on them – was that also a clue that she knows what Walter did and this was her editorial comment on the issue? As Walter brought Peter over from the alternate universe, and as Walter knows that that transaction meant something had to go back to replace that “mass”, did he trade off the original Peter to die over there as a child? If not, what, or who, went over to replace Peter? There are lots of questions to be answered and we will all have to wait until April 1, 2010 when Fringe returns to continue with the mystery.

Promo for April 1 Fringe Return

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lost: LA X Parts 1 and 2: Confusing, Compelling, and Commercials

Photo from ABC

The much awaited beginning of season 6 of Lost (ABC) started with a literal bang, and it was easy to find oneself lost after watching for only 10 minutes. One thing that wasn’t lost was any commercial time, this premiere being worse than any NFL football game, packing only a few minutes or actual action between tons of commercials. And although there was plenty of confusion to go around, both episodes were compelling to watch. I found myself wondering in all this confusion how many tiny little details of the show were blowing right past me. But the very last line of the second hour sums it all up – “What happened?” Despite the fact that there is more than one time line being covered here involving the same people and at various places (the plane, the temple, the hatch, the statue), it’s easy to get confused. One theme seems to come out front and center, and it was the other key line in the show, that nothing is irreversible. It appears the bomb may have set the original timeline back on track, maybe on the course it was originally supposed to take. But why do we still have some of those same people navigating both the good and the evil forces that lurk on the island? Another burning question is will we be continually bombarded with such a heavy load of commercials in the remaining episodes of this season? Lost may be a great show to DVR to watch at a later time because of the heavy commercial breaks, something I am sure advertisers hate to hear. Commercial overload aside, these two episodes of Lost were highly entertaining and pulls viewers in, wanting more.

It’s difficult to recap these two hours, seeing that we seem to be observing more than one timeline, but I’ll try my best. At the end of last season, in 1977, Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) had fallen into a pit after Jack (Matthew Fox) dropped the nuclear device in it, which failed to detonate - meaning the energy hole would remain open. Juliet manages to beat on the device with a rock, and suddenly, the screen is bathed in white light. Did the explosion seal the energy hole and put them back on their original timeline before the crash of flight Oceanic 815? It’s hard to tell at first, as we see a timeline where Jack is on the plane, along with fellow Islanders Hurley (Jorge Garcia ), who now calls himself the luckiest guy alive, Boone (Ian Sommerhalder), Claire (Emilie de Ravin), Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim ), Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Rose (L. Scott Caldwell) and Bernard (Sam Anderson ), Kate (Evangeline Lily), and the paralyzed John Locke (Terry O’Quinn). Even Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) is there, which adds to the mystery, as at the time of the original crash, Desmond was on the island, spending all this time making sure that he pushes the button to keep the island’s pent up energy from exploding out. The flight is affected by severe turbulence, but no crash occurs. Has the nuclear explosion sealed the hole, the thing which original caused the crash of Oceanic 815, and put the timeline back in place, with minor changes? Was Desmond on Oceanic 815 because he didn’t need to be on the island to continually push the button as the energy hole never formed in the past? And Jack seems to find Desmond somewhat familiar, yet doesn’t recognize any of the others who also were on the island with them.

But wait, viewers can’t assume things too quickly, as we also see some of those same people who are on Oceanic 815 are still on the island. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Miles (Ken Leung) are there in what looks like the aftermath of a huge explosion. They seem to be in the same place they were when the explosion occurred, but the question is WHEN are they? The surroundings seem to place them sometime after their original arrival on the island after Desmond blew up the station. And, despite the fact that Juliet, who fell into the hole and detonated the bomb, surely had to be killed in the process, why is she found barely clinging to life in the bottom of the pit, where she seems to die again in Sawyer’s arms? Hurley, Jin, and Sayid, who is bleeding to death from a gunshot wound, are nearby. As Jin runs to the exploded pit where the rest of the survivors are, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) makes an appearance to Hurley, telling Hurley he (Jacob) is already dead, and gives him instructions on how to save Sayid’s life by taking Sayid to the temple and that Jin would know where that was. Hurley also has to bring the guitar case that Jacob had given him.

While on the subject of Jacob, he was killed by Ben (Michael Emerson), on the instructions of Locke. Or, is it really Locke? It seems that Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) is also on the island along with a group of others, who show others waiting outside, including Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), that the box they are carrying contains Locke’s body. The “other” Locke is in the base of the remains of the giant statue with Ben, and when Ilana’s men come in with guns, Locke turns into the black smoke monster we saw in the first season of Lost. Before being killed, one of the men sprinkles a circle of some sort of sand or dirt around him which seems to have protective properties, but the smoke monster uses his power to cause something to drop onto the man from above, knocking him out of the circle and allowing him to be killed. The smoke monster kills all of the intruders, save for Ben. Locke apologies to Ben for him having to see him that way. Another question arises, though: Is Locke also the mysterious man in black who has the long time conflict with Jacob? It seems that they aren’t able to take any direct action against each other to harm the other, but Jacob, before his death, comments that it seems that “Locke” - aka the smoke monster and maybe the man in black – has found a loophole by having Ben do the killing for him.

Confused yet?

Things get more complex when we see Oceanic flight 815 is flying over what looks like our favorite island, but it seems to be sunk deep in the water. Jack saves Charlie who was choking on a bag of heroin in the airplane bathroom, Kate (in handcuffs) escapes the federal marshal after they get off the flight, Jin gets into a customs problem which is compounded by the fact that neither he nor Sun speak English, and Jack finds that his father’s body was not on the plane and they don’t know the whereabouts of his coffin. Jack also meets Locke while Locke is also trying to track down his luggage containing his knives, which the airline also seems to have lost. When Locke tries to assure Jack that they only lost his father’s body, not his father. Jack inquires about Locke’s condition, who says it is irreversible. Jack tells him he is a spinal surgeon, and that nothing is irreversible, offering him a free consult.

Meanwhile on the island, Sawyer forces Miles to get a reading off Juliet’s body (as Miles can get messages from the dead) to find out what Juliet was trying to tell Sawyer before she died. Miles finds that Juliet wanted to tell him that it worked, but Sawyer seems confused at this statement.

Jack, Kate, Jin and Hurley find a cave or tunnel and carry Sayid inside, but are quickly captured by another group of people and are led to the temple. One of the people there looks like a flight attendant from Oceanic flight 815. They appear to be ready to kill the Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Jin, but when Hurley mentions that Jacob sent them, this gets their attention. When he’s asked to prove it, Hurley tells them he was told to bring the guitar case, which they find does not include a guitar, it seems to be a large ankh of sorts. The leader of the group breaks it open and finds a note. The leader then asks for their names, and after they give them, with Jack giving Sayid's name as Sayid is unconscious - the leader decides to let them live. Hurley asks what the paper said, and the leader's right-hand man responds that "The paper says that if your friend there dies, we're all in a lot of trouble."

As they take the group inside the temple, there is a bubbling pool from what looks like a natural spring, and their captors are concerned because the water looks murky brown. Even the leader is puzzled at this, but they still take Sayid into the water, face down, with a hourglass marking Sayid’s time under water. Despite the protests from the Jack and the group, it appears that the leader is ordering Sayid to drown. The leader tells them Sayid is dead.

Still confused?

Back at the airport, Kate manages to elude the security team and the federal marshal and jumps into a cab, which is already occupied by Claire, and orders the drive, using the gun she got from the marshal to motivate him.

Back at the temple, while Jack is despondent over Sayid’s death, Sawyer, who, along with Miles was also captured by these same people, looks at Jack with hatred, holding Jack responsible for Juliet’s death. Hurley gets called in to meet with the leader and when the leader asks when Jacob would arrive, Hurley tells them that Jacob is dead. This causes shock and alarm as the leader and his group race to set up protection, including sprinkling some sort of material along the perimeter. They also send up a flare, and it becomes evident they are trying to warn others AND to keep something out of the temple area.

Back at the statue, Ben realizes that this new Locke used him to kill Jacob as he could not do it himself. But the new Locke tells him he knows what the thoughts of old Locke were when old Locke was killed, and it was that he didn’t understand why Ben was killing him. He tells him that old Locke was the only one who felt his life on the island was better than the one he left, but, unlike the old Locke, the new Locke wants to go home.

Richard Alpert sees the flares in the air and turns to see new Locke emerge from the statue with Ben next to him. Locke tells Richard saying it was "good to see you out of those chains” and takes a swipe at Richard, knocking him to the ground. He tells the rest of them as they stare at him that "I am very disappointed in all of you!" As he picks up Richard from the ground, he walks past the body of old Locke, lying on the ground.

At the temple, as Jack is going to be forced to be taken to the leader, Hurley calls out to Jack in shock, and they all stop and turn to see Sayid moving then sitting up, very much alive, asking "What happened?"

My sentiments exactly.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

House “Moving the Chains” Moves In The Wrong Direction

Pranks take center stage in House “Moving the Chains, ” while, as always, the patients seem to take a back seat. Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) also decides to have a little “fun” with Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) when House decides to hire Foreman’s brother Marcus (Orlando Jones), who was just released from prison. The episode was silly and ridiculous on many levels.

I usually like to get the patient of the week out of the way because the formula is always the same – patient gets ill, House’s team is called in to diagnose, they screw up several times, and House figures it out. There was really no change in this formula in this episode, where the patient was a football player, Daryl (Davon McDonald ), trying to make it to the pros. He gets into a rage on the field, after beating on his own players he begins to take is rage out on himself. He’s concerned that his hospitalization and treatment will mean he will miss his big try out event and will miss a chance at the pros, of course, House saves him in time by finding a tiny melanoma on his foot which is causing his body to react badly. A dull case.

There is also a secondary patient, a soldier whose tour of duty was technically up but he was being redeployed The problem is his wife is having a baby and he doesn’t want to go. He fakes symptoms to House and of course House is on to him. Realizing he has to take more drastic action to get out of the tour of duty, the soldier shoots his own foot. House continues to call the soldier’s bluff, and when the toe gets infected and would require amputation, House tells the soldier missing his little toe is not enough to get the soldier out of the army. House seems to plant a suggestion that if the infection was left alone and spread to more of his foot more would have to be removed. At the end of the episode we see that the soldier has apparently followed House’s suggestion, as the soldier is being wheeled away, missing his foot. House seems to look at the soldier with shock, as if House never thought the soldier would take it so far to get out of being deployed. I am sure by now that House should already know that you shouldn’t plant ideas in the minds of desperate people, but I guess House totally blew that one, seeing that he seemed uncaring to the soldier’s situation. I am not saying House should have played along with the soldier’s first ruse, only that he should have gotten the psych people involved once the guy shot at his own foot. This could have not only helped the soldier get out of his tour, but also prevented an unnecessary amputation.

The episode’s main focus was two-fold: House and Wilson being pranked, and House trying to help Forman mend fences with his brother Marcus. I suppose in the fantasy world of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, House can just hire anyone at any time for any reason, and lucky for him Foreman’s brother, who just got out of prison, is the perfect man to be hired as House’s assistant. Since I have never worked in a hospital, I wonder if it would really be that easy for someone who just got out of prison to get a job in a hospital. But since this is PPTH, we know that reality isn’t always their strong point. Foreman, of course, is quietly apoplectic about this turn of events, and while Marcus continues to feed House more private details about his brother to House, the friction only worsens. It’s made worse by the fact that Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) really seems to care less about it or about Foreman’s concerns, after all, Cuddy has no backbone when it comes to House. When Marcus makes the mistake of telling House that their mother died a few months prior, a secret that Foreman kept to himself, House uses this information to further humiliate Foreman. But House’s plan all along was to make both Marcus and Foreman hate him equally enough that they would find it as the common point that would bring the brothers back together. Orlando Jones did a great job in his role, too bad it was wasted on such a ridiculous premise.

The battling between roommates House and Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) takes a bit of a turn when House decides to use the oversized bathtub off Wilson’s bedroom, and Wilson apparently has told House it was off limits to him. When Wilson orders House not to use the bathtub again, Wilson later comes home to find an opossum in it. Wilson, of course, accuses House of putting the opossum in there, adding that the animal ruined the tiles in the bathroom and left it’s “droppings” all over the place. House denies he did it but House isn’t buying it. Later, when House uses the bathtub again, he reaches for a grab bar to get out of the tub, and the grab bar breaks off the wall, cutting House in the face and causing House to slip back into the tub. My first reaction was that Wilson would never do something this dangerous, so right away I suspect someone else is behind the “pranks.” When Wilson denies doing it, House also later comes to the conclusion that someone else is involved, saying that the opossum was also likely meant for him and not Wilson. When House suggests they stay up all night in the kitchen and wait for something to happen, the indoor sprinkler system goes off, soaking everything, including their huge TV set. Wilson knows House would never do anything to damage that TV, and they both begin to really wonder who is doing all these things.

Of course, the minds of viewers already has figured out that it is likely Cuddy's man Lucas (Michael Weston), or at least someone having to do with the condo which Wilson got by outbidding Dr. Cuddy. But House and Wilson remain somewhat oblivious, that is, until, in the cafeteria, they walk right past Lucas without even seeing him, and Lucas just so happens to stick out his leg in order to trip House. This, coupled with the grab bar problem, shows that Lucas isn’t just pranking, he wants to hurt House. It seems Lucas wants to retaliate for House stealing the condo from Cuddy – even though it was Wilson that really did it. Lucas also tells them that if they retaliate, he will tell Cuddy that they were the ones that took the condo of her dreams away from her. But Lucas’ mean behavior takes an even more creepy turn when he is openly discussing the matter with Cuddy, who knows full well that House and Wilson are living in that condo, and she seems to have accepted the matter just fine. Lucas plays dumb with her as far as who is playing all the pranks, and of course the bubble headed Cuddy is oblivious to his real involvement and the fact that she and her daughter are living with a lying, mean, creepy guy.

Are they now trying to make Lucas seem like a wacko creepy guy by displaying his jealous, angry, and hurtful side so viewers will wish Cuddy wasn’t with him? In my opinion, they didn’t need to go this far because I never liked Lucas to begin with, even when House first hired him as a private investigator. The character has been a nuisance at best, and his relationship with Cuddy laughable. They didn’t need to do anything to make viewers not like him, the could have just had him disappear after his usefulness to House as a private investigator ran it’s course, you know, like after the first episode in which he appeared. I would like to think that House and Wilson would care much more for Cuddy than to worry what she would think if she found out they bought the condo, instead leaving her, and her child, to live with a guy capable of such mean and hurtful behavior. And do House and Wilson think Cuddy is really that dumb and oblivious that she wouldn’t already know that they moved and where they moved to? I can’t believe that all of them would be so stupid. But clearly the writers must think the viewers are dumb if they expect them to buy this whole turn of events. Hopefully, they will find a reason for Lucas to disappear quietly, and maybe take the whole Lisa Cuddy drama thing with him. It seems the more this series involves Lisa Cuddy in the story lines, the more the series lowers the quality of the story lines, and the whole series is dumbed down because of it. If anything, “Moving The Chains” just moved me in the wrong direction.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Southland Reboots on March 2, 2010 on TNT

It was a sure sign that the people in charge at NBC had lost their marbles when they canceled the new series Southland, and fans (including me) weren’t afraid to speak out about the loss of the show. It was wonderful news when it was announced that TNT was picking up the series where NBC left off. Over the last few weeks, TNT has been re-broadcasting the episodes originally aired on NBC, and on March 2, 2010, they will start up with the all new episodes.

Missing in action in the video tease below is Tom Everett Scott, who played Detective Russell Clarke. Those of you who already saw Southland on NBC know that Clarke was shot point blank at the very end of the final episode shown on NBC. Since Clarke's work partner Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) mentions in the video tease that she has a new partner, played by “Prison Break” alum Amaury Nolasco, I have to assume that Clarke is either dead or incapacitated. But, fans should not despair, as many of the other cast members are back, most notably fan favorite Michael Cudlitz, who returns as Office John Cooper, the gay cop who is addicted to pain killers. Cudlitz was, and still is, tireless in his effort to keep the show in the forefront with fans, and he just may have been a key piece in helping to save this show.

Southland will be up against some stiff competition, for example, CBS’s “The Good Wife” ( a show that I think is no more than average at best), and, at the end of March, Law & Order Criminal Intent on the USA Network. Hopefully TNT will re-air the new Southland episodes more than once that night, as they often do with The Closer, so people like me who already DVR two shows will be able to catch it.

The video tease below should make fans excited for these new episodes, and hopefully will even entice new viewers to give it a try. If the new episodes are anything like the first season on NBC, viewers will not be disappointed.

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