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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking the Week Off

     I apologize I didn't post this notice sooner, but I am taking the week off.  I will try to post 2 or 3 articles on examiner.com, but there won't be any here this week.  Any articles on examiner will make their way over to here by next week.  Things are very hectic this week at my other job, and since May sweeps does not start until next week, I felt this was a good time to take a break.  I will return by Sunday or Monday for many-times-per-week commentary.  Thank you for your patience!

~Jerome Wetzel

Monday, April 26, 2010

Party Down parties on

     Starz's comedy from Rob Thomas (the Veronica Mars creator, not the rocker), Party Down, has returned for a second season as of this weekend.  If you do not have Starz, you can stream the show if you have a Netflix subscription, or find it in other sources online.  The premiere was called "Jackal Onassis Backstage Party", as the catering crew was working a concert, backstage.  Almost the entire cast from season one returned, saved for Jane Lynch, who is now starring on Glee, and was missed.  Word is, Lynch will return in June when the team tackles her wedding.  But she has been replaced by Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), who did a fine job.

     Things have changed since season one.  For one thing, Henry (Adam Scott, who will soon be joining Parks and Recreation) has taken over as team leader, and seems just as committed to running the business as his predecessor.  Gone are Henry's slacker ways, as well as his attitude that the job is temporary.  Former boss Ron (Ken Marino, Reaper, Veronica Mars) has seen his dream crash and burn, and by the end of the first new episode, is seeking employment once again from the catering business.  Will he be working under Henry, or will they be fighting it out for head honcho?

     Casey (Lizzy Caplan, True Blood, Cloverfield) has also returned, fresh from spending most of the past year doing her stand up comedy on a cruise ship.  The failed relationship between her and Henry made her first job back awkward, to say the least, and will surely continue to be so.  This is made worse by the fact that Henry is now dating uber-tough competitor Uda (Kristen Bell, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Heroes, who will be returning later this season).

     Kyle (Ryan Hansen, Veronica Mars) seems a little cost without Constance (Lynch), but perhaps there was just too much going on already in this episode, and so he was the one slighted.  Roman (Martin Starr, Freaks and Geeks) was not, however.  He got to dress up as the Satan-worshipping musician whose party there were catering.  And Kyle still got girls more easily than Roman, who only got Ron's semi-girlfriend.  The rocker himself, who wanted to be a normal guy for one night, hence the hijinks with Roman, was played by Jimmi Simpson (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and was very funny.

     If you haven't seen Party Down, it's worth checking out.  The complete first season is still available on Netflix streaming, so that's how I recommend getting to the episodes, rather than shelling out for a DVD or a network that you may not watch otherwise.  In Lexington, both Netflix and Starz are available.  Call your cable company or subscribe at netflix.com.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Horrible Turn not so horrible

     I may be a tad behind the times, but I discovered only yesterday that there was a prequel out (since November 2009) to Joss Whedon's (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firely, Angel) awesome Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  Called Horrible Turn, the prequel is not official, and does not involve any of the same actors or crew.  Or even actors and crew who have been involved with TV or movies.  However, unlike most fan-made spin-offs, it is almost as good as what it is seeking to emulate.  The production value and professional look are at least as good as the original, it's a bit longer, and it pays homage to not just it's source material, but also other Joss projects.

     Horrible Turn is the story of a teenage Billy Buddy (Tyce Green), working in a garage laboratory on plants, and pining for Australian exchange student Katie Kitty (Kristin Massa).  So that explains why Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, Doogie Howser) wanted to create a new Australia!  Billy still has a best friend, this one named Wade (Dominic Difelice), though he had enough similarity, including the water-based name, for me to assume that Wade will eventually become Moist (Simon Helberg,The Big Bang Theory).  The biggest difference is that his lab partner, Kenny Hammerstein (Jacob Buras), who is, by the way, the best part of this prequel, is hated by everyone for his holier-than-thou attitude and giant ego.

     Then Billy discovers that the newly formed Evil League of Evil is creating havoc, and calculates that the next target will be his high school math competition.  Billy has invented a potion to make everyone like each other, and tasks Hammerstein to drip the stuff into the ventilation system.  Hammerstein decides he would rather drink the whole thing himself, making himself instantly beloved by everyone, and completes the transformation to Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, Castle, Firefly).  Of course, Billy gets everything wrong, and, burned, decides to become an evil genius instead of helping people.

     Among the references to the original are appearances by Bad Horse and Dead Bowie, similar news casters, an Australian girl chorus that resembles the Bad Horse Chorus, and familiar parts of costumes.  The humor, music, and plot arc are also close.  A truck says "Dahlhaus" on the side, a reference to Joss's last series, Dollhouse, and the rival math team is from a school called Serenity, and there's a character on them team named Felicia Night.  The best part may be that Johnny Snow (Christian Haile), only mentioned in Dr. Horrible, is a fleshed out character who worships Hammerstein and hates Billy.  Stay tuned through the credits for more Johnny goodness.

     Hopefully, Joss will include the actors at least in any upcoming Horrible sequel, of which there is sure to be, lending legitimacy to this wonderful project.  Also, it would be smart to cast Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld, Family Guy) as Johnny Snow, to further connect the two, since Haile came across as a young Warburton.  You can watch the entire Horrible Turn for free online.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Damages drowns in blood

    It began three years ago.  Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) stumbled down a dark street, blood on her hands and clothes.  It was quickly renewed for not one, but two more installments.  Now, after a trio of breathtaking seasons, the series may be at an end.  Currently, FX is in talks with DirecTV to split the cost of continuing Damages, but whether that will happen is still up in the air.  Why does such a critically acclaimed, award winning show have to struggle so hard in the ratings?  Perhaps it is the serial nature of it.  But it's well worth the time.


     This year's major case centered around the Tobin family.  True to form, twists kept coming left and right in the final hour and a half finale.  After the suicide of Louis (Len Cariou) in an earlier episode, it was a bit of a surprise to watch his wife, Marilyn (Lily Tomlin) jump to her death.  Beautifully filmed, I didn't even see it happening until she hit the water with a splash.  But will Carol (Ana Reeder) get away with murder?  It appears so.  For now anyway.

     Speaking of getting away with murder, it was wonderful to see Frobisher (Ted Danson) finally get arrested for paying someone to murder Ellen's fiance two years ago.  I'm sad that Wes (Timothy Olyphant, who now his own FX series, Justified) had to go down, too, but it proved the kind of man he is, and that he loved Ellen.  It would be fantastic if they could get back together at some point in the future.  Despite their dark deeds, the bad guys on Damages are frequently shades of gray, and I almost felt sorry for Frobisher, since he turned his new leaf and all.  Almost.

     Turns out, Joe Tobin (Campbell Scott) was really the villain, and the man who murdered beloved character Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan).  Because of that bastard, if the show gets a fourth season, long time third-star Donovan will not be able to return.  Or maybe he will.  Dead characters frequently prop up on Damages, among them, Zeljko Ivanek's Ray Fisk, for which he won an Emmy.  Ray popped up as recently as this week to haunt the people left behind.  But not in a cheesy way.

     I would be remiss if I did not praise Martin Short for the brilliant way he handled the serious drama, as opposed to the comedy that I am used to from him.  Also, Glenn Close is a true star, and proved once again how she can handle entire ranges of emotions in just her eyes, without speaking a word.  Her character may be one who deserves to be taken down more than any other, but you still root for her and care for her.  This season's plot concerning her son, Michael (Zachary Booth) allowed her to show yet more layers to Patty Hewes.

     Please, FX.  Find the money.  Give Damages another season.  To do otherwise would be criminal. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Desperate Housewives's mystery a little anti-climatic

      Last night, ABC's Desperate Housewives solved a major mystery, possibly.  Julie (Andrea Bowen) was strangled and almost died last fall, but the person who attacked her was never caught.  While most theories went towards the familiar, or the new family in town, the revelation of a strangler last night may have been the answer to the long-running mystery.  Next week's preview promises a serial killer on the lane.  But if the same guy who killed Irina (Helena Mattsson) did attack Julie, the question is, why?  There was motivation for Irina, but we haven't seen Julie talk to the boy.  Besides, I couldn't even find the actor's name that played him.  He wasn't yet added to imdb, tv.com, or other sources that I checked.  So who really cares?

     Luckily, some of the other plots are getting much more interesting.  I don't think Sam (Sam Page, Shark) is even Bree's (Marcia Cross) stepson.  His tricky ways to discredit others almost cost Bree her livelihood.  Did he do it just because he was jealous of the family he never had?  Or, like I said, is he not really related, and has other dark reasons for trying to sabotage her?

     Mike (James Denton) got himself into some big trouble, going into deep dead and having his truck repossessed.  How did that happen?  We haven't seen him do anything that cost a ton of money, but he told Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) that this had been going on for the past year.  Obviously, there is more to this subplot, and hopefully it won't be long before those answers come.

     This year's newbies on the block are close to having the lid blown off all their secrets.  Patrick (John Barrowman, Torchwood) has arrived and looks to be considering a kidnapping after deciding not to kill Angie (Drea de Matteo).  Fans of the former Sopranos star, though, don't get too relieved.  Rumor on the net is that she will bite the big one before the season closes.  It's too bad.  With the probable eminent departure of Katherine (Dana Delany), Angie would be poised to actually stick.  Seems the block just can't bring itself to permanently add a fifth desperate housewife to it's clique.

     Saddest of all may be the breakup of the gay couple, Bob (Tuc Watkins, One Life to Live) and Lee (Kevin Rahm, Judging Amy).  It was great to see the pair get more screen time and development this season.  I hope Lee comes back to Bob soon, and isn't gone from the show for good.  I was also not pleased with talk of them moving away.  That may still happen.

     Of course, all the plot twists can be witnessed by tuning in to Desperate Housewives Sunday nights at 9pm on ABC.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hugh Laurie directs flawless House episode

     Monday's House episode, "Lockdown", brought a rare treat: a look at Hugh Laurie's directing talent.  Split into five parts, separate, but alternating back and forth between them, it was a masterpiece.  Am I exaggerating?  That's up to personal opinion.  But it was a wonderful story, brought back a central character, and was framed around poignant moments with each of the central characters.  Plus, there was no central medical mystery!

     The least important story was the one that framed them all and allowed the others to happen.  In a clever twist of the trapper-in-an-elevator staple, Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) had to put the hospital on lock down to find a missing baby.  At first, her story seemed horrific, as perhaps the step-son of the new mother did something to the defenseless new arrival.  But there was an elegant simplicity in the complicated medical issue behind it all.

     The best humor came from Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde), who were in the hospital's fancy cafe.  A rousing game of truth or dare, in which Thirteen told almost no actual truth, led to some interesting revelations and bad behavior in Wilson, a side of him not often seen.  It also set the stage for further plot as his new love interest, mentioned here, will soon be joining the cast.

     Foreman (Omar Epps) and Taub (Peter Jacobson), who certainly don't always get along, had a much more interesting experience.  How did House, who was nowhere near the file storage basement, prank them?  Bonding over getting high, punching each other in the face, digging up confidential secrets about each other, the two seemed to be drawn closer by the experience.  It also showed that, while flawed, both are very interesting, remarkably good characters.

     Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) himself spent his time with a patient.  In a semi-continuation of his therapy episodes, House sees a reflection of his tortured soul, and a possible future for himself.  The two come to an understanding.  House is always best when exploring the complexities of the title character, and these scenes delivered some of that, delightfully understated.

     Last, but certainly most anticipated, was the return of Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), who arrived to serve her husband, Chase (Jesse Spencer), with divorce papers, but wound up having sex with him.  Unlike other shows, however, it does not seem to be a harbinger for a reunion of the duo.  The base truth of their relationship came out, in a way that made you wonder why you hadn't already figured it out on your own.  Brilliant.

Betty comes to an end, sans the Ugly

    Last night marked the series finale of a fantastic four year story.  ABC's Ugly Betty, after scoring high enough ratings to move off of Friday nights, was abruptly and unfortunately canceled shortly thereafter.  What makes the cancellation seem criminal was that Betty's current season was shortened by two hours, giving the show's team even less time to tie everything up.  They managed to, but only by rushing and packing plot thickly into the last few hours.

     True to Betty style, everyone got a happy ending in "Hello Goodbye".  Amanda (Becki Newton), in the course of a mere three episodes, got to know a man she realized was her father, and he was glad to be in her life.  Marc (Michael Urie) didn't officially get a promotion, but it seems like he'll be a major creative drive for Mode magazine from now on.  Speaking of Mode, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), the show's resident villainess, not only turned over a new leaf, but got her heart's desire in both her career and her personal life.  Hilda (Ana Ortiz) was married to a man who treated her right and bought her a home in Manhattan, much to her son Justin's (Mark Indelicato) delight.  Justin found acceptance of himself.  And even Ignacio (Tony Plana) being left alone seemed happy about it, glad to see his daughters do something with their lives.

     Of course, the title character daughter, Betty (America Ferrera, who turns 26 on Sunday, what a crappy birthday present!) got her dream job and moved across the Atlantic to London.  And new more stylish glasses, to match her better wardrobe and braces-less smile, as she has slowly been transformed away from ugly duckling by the time they filmed her swan song.  Though she revisited a couple of the men who stirred her heart over the years, in the end she was left single.  Sort of.  Although it had to be quick, Daniel (Eric Mabius), her boss of the last four years, came to realize his feelings for her, quit his job, and moved to London, too.  He didn't try to stop her from fulfilling her potential, the sole man who only ever wanted her to bloom.  It was perfect, and thankfully the writers didn't rush that, merely teasing at the beginning of the relationship without getting into it yet.

     Sadly, there were some glaring loose ends that just couldn't be tied up.  Most involved the Meade family.  Alexis's (Rebecca Romijn) absence was glaring, nor did Claire (Judith Light) have time to figure out her new family situation to my satisfaction.  I hesitate to hope for a feature film, chances seeming slim, but surely there could easily be happenstance enough to get the entire cast over to Britain and do a fitting follow up?

     As the picture faded out, the title appeared on the screen, and then the Ugly faded away, leaving only Betty.  That would be the name of the dream movie in my mind.  Given the constraints, it was the best finale fans could have hoped to have seen.  The sadness comes with the knowledge of such unfulfilled potential.  The show, not Betty herself.  She got hers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life Unexpected ends season (series?) in an unexpected way

     One of the charming new treasures of this television season has been the CW's Life Unexpected.  With a mere thirteen episode run, it came to an end last night.  Sadly, it has not yet been picked up for a second season, so what we watched may have been the end of the story.  Gladly, it that is it, there was closure for most of the major story lines.

     Central to this final episode, titled "Love Unexpected", was the love triangle between Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), Cate (Shiri Appleby), and Ryan (Kerr Smith).  It's been brewing for awhile, as in the pilot, though Ryan proposed to his co-anchor and girlfriend Cate, the child she gave birth to a a teenager resurfaced and she fell into bed with the kid's father, Baze.  Had this been a two hour romantic comedy, Baze would have broke in and stopped Ryan and Cate's wedding, leaving the family intact, and the third party to sadly go away.

     But this is television, and after thirteen episodes of getting to know Ryan, it would have been hard to see him rejected and sent packing.  So though Baze did rush into the chapel, he was too late.  And besides that, Cate seems happy to be married to Ryan.  The unexpected ending fit the show perfectly.

     The child in the middle of all this drama, Lux (Brittany Robertson) realized something, too.  Ryan made her understand how any child of a broken family feels, and her friendship with him has been one of the high points of the series, and the reason it would have been tragic for the series to follow the conventional formula.  Sure, she wanted to get her mom and dad together, and he understood that.  But eventually she seemed to realize that matters of the heart aren't so simple, and that there is more to it than a child's longing.  Beautifully handled.

     Lastly, the writers made time to Baze to reconnect with his own father (Robin Thomas).  It was a plot that simmered for a little while, and erupted in this final episode.  It helped the viewer understand Baze, and gave him some sort of triumph, even if he didn't get the girl.  The slow and seemingly natural relationship, with plenty of setbacks, has been one of the most moving stories in the show.

     Hopefully the CW will grant this show another season.  It deserves it.  But if not, it certainly brought some unexpected joy into my life.

Brothers & Sisters does the time warp



     ABC's Brothers & Sisters returned from a short hiatus for a two hour episode this week, and there were plenty of surprises.  The episode was called "Time After Time", and for the first hour and twenty minutes or so, we got flashes of the siblings in their younger days.  Specifically, when most were in their teens, on a night that rocked the family and changed their lives.  The thing is, none of the kids knew what really happened that night until this episode, and the really big twist was not obvious.  Unfortunately, most of the casting of their younger selves felt false and pretty off base, the one exception being Sarah (usually played by Rachel Griffiths).  And those long ago scenes were far from the best ones in the episode, though some of them were slightly fun.

     The story changed Kevin (Matthew Rhys), as he was the one that did the very bad thing.  Accidentally, he pushed a guy, and paralyzed him for life.  Nora (Sally Field) covered up the entire thing, providing for the boy, but lying to her children.  Now we know what the mysterious Dennis York (Peter Gerety) was holding over Nora to try to force her family to sell their shares in the family business, though we still don't know why he wanted them so badly.

     On the topic of this season's mystery, much was developed in that, as well.  The budding friendship between Nora and Holly (Patricia Wettig) is fun and sweet, and was taken to whole new levels as they teamed up to break the law and figure out what their deceased mutual lover was up to back in 1973.  Instead, they did discover what their two children were up to.

     The show's couple who has faced the most obstacles also found time in the jam-packed two hours to take a huge leap forward themselves.  Poor Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp), after having their beach wedding interrupted months earlier, eloped, only to find their mothers bust in on their secret honeymoon.  To make matters worst, moments later other family, and then the police, showed up, and the aforementioned women were carted to jail.  That has to go down as one of the worst honeymoon's ever.  And they took it in such good humor.

     It was a wonderful episode, with all the best elements of Brothers & Sisters, a fast pace, and plenty of story development.  Brothers & Sisters regularly airs Sunday nights at 10pm on ABC.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Tudors fourth season begins with LOTS of steam, and more than a bit of mean

     Showtime premiered the fourth and final season of The Tudors last night.  The drama centers on King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his six wives, of which he is on his fifth, Katherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant), as this year begins.  But though his wife is 17, and they are having plenty of intercourse, they were far from the only ones.  Seymour's (Max Brown) wife has taken up with a new consort, and cast newcomer Thomas Culpeper (Torrance Coombs) tries to work out his feelings for the new queen by raping a peasant woman.  Yes, The Tudors went there.

     Speaking of Culpeper, The Tudors every years seems to drop a few characters who previously appeared in the theme song, and then add a few more, without warning.  This is jarring if you are new to the show, as you may wonder what happened to Sir Francis Bryan (Alan van Sprang), who, according to Wikipedia, was around throughout all of Henry's reign.  However, longtime fans may remember Sir Anthony Knivert (Callum Blue), who disappeared after season one, and may not be surprised.  I realize there are only a certain number of characters that the drama can accommodate in its limited time frame, but it's still a disappointment.

     However, it is one of the few disappointments of a very exciting, sexy series.  Among the good news this year is that Princess Mary (Sarah Bolger) is now full-time, and so will be seen much more often, including her instant clash with the new queen.  There also seems to be a war brewing, promising more action than usual for the series.  Add to that news that all six queens will appear in a dream sequence sometime this season, presumably as King Henry goes mad, and there is much to look forward to.

     In the meantime, the show continues the political backstabbing and frivolous sex that it is famous for.  Last night's episode did not disappoint, and it seems the show will go out the same way it came in: steamy and evil.

     The Tudors airs Sundays at 9pm on Showtime.

Treme a study in a delightful, resilent neighborhood

     Treme, is a neighborhood in New Orleans of less than a square mile and with a population of a little less than 9,000, or so the U.S. Census in 2000 counted.  Considering what the area has been through since then, it may be considerably less right now.  And that's what HBO's new series, Treme, shows viewers.  Beginning three months after Hurricane Katrina, the place is a near deserted, dilapidated mess.  Yet, residents are starting to trickle back in, and a few never left.

     One such couple is Toni and Creighton Bernette (John Goodman and Melissa Leo).  Toni sued half the cops in town, but is only hated by some of them.  In the pilot, she goes well out of her way to help a friend locate her missing brother, not seen since the storm.  Goodman is back in fine form as Creighton, and his rants at the media provide a necessary levity, as well as a show of strength.  Equally profane is rule-breaking and borderline criminal Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn, in his first series regular role), but he is still very likable.

     The major focus, though, seems to be the music.  Wendell Pierce plays Antoine Batiste, an incredibly talented trombonist, who seems to find gigs easily enough, but is still living hand to mouth.  Pierce also starred in the series The Wire, which was created by David Simon, who, along with Eric Overmyer, has also served up this show.  I did not watch the previous one, but in just eighty minutes I can see why they wanted to keep working with Pierce.

     Another colorful character returning to town is Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters), an Indian chief who wants to bring his tribe back to the neighborhood.  In the meantime, his own house destroyed, he has taken up residence in an abandoned local bar.  One can't help but wonder what will happen when the owner returns.  Or perhaps he or she won't.  Many residents did not.

     It is a large cast, and I can't pinpoint specific plots for each character.  Yet, the city and its spirit seem to be captured wonderfully.  It was a fantastic pilot, with plenty to draw viewers back.  The music is what really sells the series, with local musicians from the area popping up to grant authenticity.  I look forward very much to the rest of the season, and I don't usually say this after a pilot, but years to come.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tina Fey hosts best Saturday Night Live of the season

     In a year of mediocrity, Tina Fey (30 Rock) returned to her old stomping ground on NBC's Saturday Night Live last night and proved that the show can still deliver.  With an opening monologue that featured a brief cameo from comic legend Steve Martin, Fey knocked it out of the park from the get-go.  She also was allowed to flex her Weekend Update chops, returning to the desk alongside the man who now has her former job, both as anchor and head writer, Seth Meyers.  Of course, no Fey episode would be complete without the character that brought her back to the show a number of time in the last few years, Sarah Palin.  The Sarah Palin Network, a new station being launched, featured a number of hilarious ideas, including Palin playing a parody of Fey on 30 Main Street, and her husband Todd solving crimes in the big city while riding a snow machine.  It was funny enough, I wish it were real.

     The success can't all be credited to Fey, as talented as she is.  The opening featuring Fred Armisen as Barack Obama going over this year's Census form made me laugh harder than anything in recent memory.  Although the questions were not the same ones featured on the actual census, they played to every right wing eccentric's fears, asking where the firearms are kept and when the residents would not be home.  The SNL version also queried several sexual topics, and asked which members of the household did not support the health care overhaul, so that they would not receive care in the inevitable shortage to come.

     Also of note was Jason Sudeikis's portrayal of The Devil during Update.  It seems even the ruler of hell objects to what priests are doing to young children, and how dare they claim that He had anything to do with it.  Top tier comedy.

     The low point, unfortunately, was the musical guest.  Sudden teen sensation Justin Bieber performed his own numbers decently, but stunk up a couple of sketches.  Particularly, the one where he had a number of lines as a student that a teacher, played by Fey, was in love with.  Bieber was required to sing several parodies of his own music, which he performed not very well, and with no emotion.  He also was incredibly lame on the dialogue.  It begs to question, is his voice polished by computer and every live performance is lip synched?  Or does he just practice certain things many, many time until he finally gets them right, and did not have time to do it for SNL?  Either way, tween fans would probably object strenuously, but Bieber stunk.

     Fey will soon return as part of a 'Women of Comedy' episode on Mother's Day Weekend with Betty White and other SNL alum.  Saturday Night Live airs Saturday nights at 11:30pm on NBC.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is it the end of the line for Bones and Booth?

    If you watched this week's special 100th episode of Fox's Bones, "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole", you might be thinking that you wasted five years investing in two characters who will never get together.  That might be a logical conclusion, based solely on the conversation between Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel, whom I hope will one day be my sister-in-law. :)  Just kidding.  I know Zooey is married) and Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz).

     The good news, however, is that you would be wrong.  There was a very important clue for the sharp-eyed with good memories.  Just before the conversation took place, the camera planned over a quote: "Nothing happens unless first a dream."  ~ Carl Sandburg.  In last year's season finale, Booth dreamed that he and Brennan were married.  Could I be wrong about the meaning of that quote as used in this episode?  Sure.  But I'm not wrong about the producers talking to Entertainment Weekly and revealing that they aren't done with the pair.

     That aside, it was a fantastic episode.  Getting the revealing parts of their first case together gave their relationship a whole new understanding, for the viewer, as well as for poor Sweets (John Francis Daley).  It was wonderful to see Zach (Eric Millegan) back in the lab, and to see the team come together.  Loved the old hairstyles.  The only part that felt forced was the inclusion of Cam (Tamara Taylor).  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not longer a Cam hater.  Like most fans, I've come to accept her as a valued part of the team.  But she didn't need to be in the flashback, and it didn't feel genuine.  What would have been better would have been to see Bones's old boss from season one, Dr. Goodman (Jonathan Adams).  Where was he in this saga?  Not managing his employees?  At least mention him!

     Bones, the best crime show on television, owing to the development of a group of very interesting characters, has already been picked up for a sixth season.  Here's hoping they get another one hundred episodes!

     You can find Bones on Fox Thursdays at 9pm.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Make It in America makes it

    HBO's freshman series How to Make It in America finished an eight episode first season with the finale "Never Say Die" this past Sunday.  I wasn't impressed with the show when it first premiered, but I watched most of the season marathon-style in one afternoon, and quickly became quite hooked.  The major complaints I had about the pilot, that it didn't explore side characters, and that the point of the series wasn't cohesive, were addressed quite well early on, and though it did still border on the art world, fashion, of a sort, did take center stage.

     Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) remain the main characters that the audience will root for.  Going into the finale, I became incredibly discouraged on their behalf, thinking that they had lost forever their shipment of t-shirts, the first sale of their fledgling company.  Had that been the case, I don't think I would have been as happy as I turned out being, and it was just one hit too many for the struggling pair.  Sure, they are going to have plenty of bumps in starting a company, but to take away that may have killed their dream before it even really began.

     Rachel (Lake Bell), Ben's ex, also ended up with almost as much plot as they did, although she was left in kind of the opposite situation, leaving a successful job to strike out on her own.  I don't really believe Ben and Rachel belong together, and it didn't feel like that's where they were going, even though they slept together again.  I hope that I'm not wrong.

     Perhaps the most interesting character, though, turned out to be Cam's cousin Rene (Luis Guzman).  An ex-con, turned CEO of an energy drink supplier, he was introduced as a villain loan-shark, and he was the source of several of Ben and Cam's troubles.  However, Rene had a code of honor, and he was trying to go (mostly) straight.  His conversations with the local priest, which appeared very sincere, were confusing, awkward, and comical, all in a good way.  When the series continues, as it has already been picked up for a second season, he is the one I most want to see developed further.

    HBO will surely rerun the series, so if you missed it, I highly recommend catching it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chuck changes the entire game, though not in Lexington

    I won't rehash my complaints about Lexington's WLEX18 NBC.  You can read them here.  Needless to say, Lexington residents were cheated out of a truly memorable, game changing episode of NBC's Chuck.  I urge you to immediately go to hulu.com or nbc.com to catch up, as you are going to want to watch it before reading the rest of this article.

     Last night's Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Other Guy", reported to be one of the best of the series, lived up to the hype.  And that's not to be taken lightly, even though this is the third time in recent memory that I could have stated the last sentence and been right.  The show that started out only o.k., but found it's footing in season two, has somehow taken itself to yet another new level and is staying there.

     For one thing, balance has been restored.  With the gripping conclusion of Agent Shaw's (Brandon Routh, Superman Returns) plot, he is gone from Team Bartowski, and not only is Casey (Adam Baldwin) fully back, but there is a new member.  Recently brought into the the secret circle, Chuck's (Zachary Levi) best friend, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) is now in completely!  Casey coming back seemed inevitable and necessary, but the fact that he will be taking Morgan under his wing and making another geek a real spy will send shivers through every fan of the show.


     Bigger than that, though, is the coming together of Chuck and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski).  It has taken nearly three years to get them to couple status.  First, she couldn't be with him because he wasn't a spy.  Then, she thought that he was too much of a spy, believing he had killed someone.  When she found out that he hadn't, it looked like she might finally get with Chuck, but the pair would never be on equal footing.  However, by Chuck finally killing someone who was trying to kill her, she can overlook the darkness that will surely be seen in him, and be with him as an equal.  Both are spies, neither like to kill, and it will probably take a lot for Chuck to kill again.  However, in the only way it could have gone down, she loves him for taking another man's life.  Brilliant writing!

     Last night also brought back my favorite guest star, who seems to be in every great action series of the past decade, Mark Sheppard.

     Chuck is off the air for three weeks, but when it returns, we will get to see Casey training Morgan, Chuck and Sarah together, the return of Chuck's father (Scott Bakula, Men of a Certain Age), and even Anna Wu (Julia Ling) coming back for Morgan!  Chuck airs on NBC Mondays at 8pm.

Monday, April 5, 2010

WLEX18 drops the ball majorly with storm coverage

***This article ran on examiner.com's Lexington, Kentucky site and was about a local issue.***

    It is currently 9pm and Lexington residents could be marveling at what was reported to be the best episode of Chuck of the season.  Instead, it left many people stewing and frustrated at the way WLEX18 NBC aired their programming tonight.  At least twice (then I stopped watching), commercial breaks aired intact, then there was several minutes of weather coverage, before a brief couple of minutes of Chuck, and then more commercials.  It was impossible to follow the story, as so much of it was cut out.  But, of course, not those advertisements!  My star review rating is for the network, its behavior, and its policies, not Chuck.


     Yes, there was a serious storm in Kentucky.  However, the scrolls at the bottom of the screen were plenty.  In 2010, most of us have cell phones and internet.  We can keep up-to-date with storms in our area, or any other emergency or breaking news in a variety of ways that do not interrupt beloved television shows.  I do not wish to be cold to anyone affected by the storm.  I certainly feel bad that they are facing it.  I am all for them staying informed, and that is why I hold no grudge for the scroll at the bottom of the screen, and even a map or logo in the top portion.  But there are much better ways for local networks to handle their coverage than to usurp series that viewers need to catch every week to stay up with the story.

     I called WLEX to complain, and the phone was answered by an extremely rude woman.  Her favorite line was "people may die".  They might, although I hope they don't.  That is definitely far more important than Chuck.  I don't disagree.  However, apparently WLEX doesn't believe it is more important than a commercial for cars or soda pop.  And the station had no answer for why they wouldn't air their news during those scheduled breaks.  After several minutes keeping my cool and trying to reason with the woman, just to find out if they could rerun the episode, or pass a message to management to change their policies, she continued to be incredibly rude and dismissive.  I then e-mailed the station.  Will that help things?  Probably not, but I urge you all to do the same, and then maybe it might.

     WLEX Lex18 NBC: 859-259-1818       E-mail: news@lex18.com

     By contrast, the local affiliates for Fox and the CW didn't even run a scroll.  If this storm was so bad, why were two other local networks not even covering it?  I did not check ABC or CBS, as their programming wasn't being recorded by my TiVos.  Please, WLEX18, join us here in this century, this decade.  And get someone with class and people skills to answer your phones.

Friday, April 2, 2010

On the Fringe

    Last night, Fringe returned to Fox with a very special episode called "Peter".  Almost all of it was set in 1985, where we saw a young Walter Bishop (John Noble) lose his son, Peter (usually played by Joshua Jackson), and how he dealt with it.  It was a very emotional story of a father's loss, and his fight to stop himself from loosing even more.  It showed how Walter's intentions were good, and that he never intended to kidnap the alternate Peter, only heal him and return him to his own world.  On that level, it fully succeeded.

     Bigger than that was what the episode established in the Fringe mythology.  Not only was Nina Sharp's (Blair Brown) injury explained, but also what cause the cracking between the universes in the first place.  Everything that happens now, all of the bad, mysterious deaths and frequent attacks from the other side are Walter's fault.  It is why he is such a tortured man, why he had to be put away in an institution.  It even got the Observers involved in a more active way, and revealed fully the special connection between Walter and one of the bald man in particular, now established to be named September (Michael Cerveris).  Further, it set Peter up for something great, as he "has to live".  But why?  It revealed so much that it felt like a spectacular season, or even series, finale.  Yet, it wasn't.  It was just the kickoff for the third of the season still left to air.

    Besides how important the episode was, there was also much fun and whimsy included by the writers.  The theme song was completely redone, to show that fringe science in 1985 included things like in vitro fertilization, stealth technology. and laser surgery.  The music and graphics were also redone to fit the time period.  Plus, a knowledge of things that were supposed to be, but didn't come about were in evidence.  For example, Eric Stoltz (Caprica) was originally going to star in Back to the Future, and he did, in the other reality.  It makes me wish we would launch some zepplins again and let them dock at the Empire State Building, as intended.

     John Noble, who had proved his acting chops previously, did a fantastic job letting the subtextual elements of the story unfold without being over the top.  His reverse aging makeup was fully believable, and he truly has created a memorable character.  Blair Brown didn't do as well, but perhaps she was just given nothing to work with.  Introduced was Peter's mother, Walter's wife, Elizabeth (Orla Brady, Shark).  The real shame in the whole thing was, despite ample opportunity, William Bell (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek) never showed up, and he should have been there in several key spots, in my opinion.  Instead he was 'in Europe'.  Is there another story there?  I certainly hope so.

     Fringe airs on Fox Thursday nights at 9pm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Breaking: Lost canceled, finale won't be filmed

      Several sources within ABC confirm that Lost has been canceled, effective immediately, due to low ratings.  This was supposed to be Lost's sixth and final season, with fans getting the answers to the mysteries they've been waiting six year to find out.  Instead, despite massive hype, ABC doesn't feel the ratings are worth it to film the very high-budget series finale that was planned.  And so, they've scrapped it all together.

     What killed Lost?  Well, while lots of people are watching it, Lost's viewers tend to be younger.  Hence, we tune in on DVRs and online.  Unfortunately, those numbers don't figure into the ratings.  Only people who watch it live are counted.

     And what about all the various plots that have not been tied up?  Fans of Lost are nothing if not rabid, and how will they react to being cheated out of the final answers the show has to offer?  Only time will tell, but expect large write-in campaigns, as well as demonstrations.  This may go down as the biggest mistake in network television history.

     The show runners, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, have been asked for their opinions, and both are deeply disappointed, but say that their hands are tied.  A feature film may be considered down the road, but not for at least give years, per contracts that both signed with ABC Productions, which does not make movies, and so can't reap the financial benefits of such a move.

     It is a sad, sad day for television.
And if you are still reading, cheer up.  Happy April Fool's Day!

V: Welcome to the Cheese

    This week's installment of ABC's V, the first after a very long hiatus, was called "Welcome to the War".  Unfortunately, it felt a lot like the pilot, where there might have been a grain of something good in there somewhere, but it was well hidden.  The first episode of the series was very similar, however, the other three episodes aired last fall were quite good.  That means to me that the show may be good again in the next few weeks, but I wouldn't guarantee it.

     What really didn't work for me was the recruitment of the mercenary / terrorist, Hobbes (Charles Mesure,Crossing Jordan), over to the small resistance cell four of the characters have formed.  While he seems to be a very tough man, he allowed Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost) to call in his location to the FBI.  Then he went with Erica and Ryan (Morris Chestnut) back to the church, though they had offered him no payment for his services.  The resistance then tried to appeal to him on a personal level, which, of course, they should have been smart enough to see wouldn't work.  Lastly, Ryan showing Hobbes that he was a V alien won him over very suddenly.  The whole thing seemed a bad joke, and poorly written.

      Also, why hasn't Erica come clean about everything to her son Tyler (Logan Huffman) yet?  She knows that the V are bad news, that they are extremely dangerous.  Sure, she knew they were watching her in that final discussion scene, so she didn't want to let on, but if she were smart, and her character is supposed to be, it's time for her to grab Tyler, tell him the whole truth, and go underground.  Otherwise, her son could easily be lost to her.  So why is she dragging her feet and avoiding telling him?  It's less dangerous to let him hang out with the V then to bring him in the loop?  I don't think so.

     I'd also like to mention that Father Jack (Joel Gretsch, The 4400) was stabbed by a specialized V weapon, which did not look like a typical knife.  But the V doctors who healed him didn't notice this?  Really?  With all their sophistication, they couldn't spot damage from an unearthly weapon?  Because I also watch Bones, and they can do that right now, with current earth technology and expertise.

     What the show did do well, though, are the V themselves.  Anna (Morena Baccarin, Serenity) is chillingly cold as she sets events into motion.  At the end, where she mates and then kills the male, shows the true colors that have been boiling barely below her visage.  Equally wonderful and emotionless is her daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoot, Smallville).  Lisa handles Tyler perfectly, and between the two, it is clear that we are dealing with a very different race from humans.  If only the human characters showed the same realness and depth.

     V airs on ABC Tuesday nights at 10pm, and has eight episodes left in the series first season.