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Monday, May 31, 2010

100 Questions sparks a few more

     NBC's newest sitcom is 100 Questions.  Premiering last Thursday with "What Brought You Here?", it's a sitcom with a definite number of episodes already set: 100.  Each episode concerns one of the 100 questions a dating service asks our main character, and she gives lengthy answers in flashback.  Considering it's a summer series, it seems unlikely that it will complete it's goal, though to be fair, Seinfeld was a summer show.  So was the brilliant Better Off Ted, although it only got to run eleven episodes during the normal tv year.  But that's the problem.  If it is soon canceled, as it is likely to be, it won't hit but a few of the aforementioned queries.  If it miraculously gains momentum and is a huge hit, it will be expected to go well over 100.  So someone picked a completely wrong number on this one.

     The show itself is not bad.  It should loose the laugh track immediately, as that was definitely the most annoying part about it.  But it does have a fun cast of characters that seems a cross between Friends and How I Met Your Mother.  Charlotte (Sophie Winkleman) is the Brit at the center of the group, and the one telling the story.  Her friends include a slutty ditz, Jill (Collette Wolfe), heartbroken Leslie (Smith Cho), suave former-rich boy Wayne (David Walton) and geeky straight man Mike (Christopher Moynihan, the creator and writer of the show).  Each fits nicely in their little group of chums, though I suspect they may try a Wayne - Charlotte romance should the series continue.  I found funny qualities already in each character, and the actors can all handle the comedy.  Their dynamics was much more interesting than the plot unfolding, which is not a bad thing for a new series.  Even the match company guy, Andrew (Michael Benjamin Washington) adds his own humorous quips.

     I do wonder at the format.  It has not been made clear after only one episode if the flashbacks will be sequential or not.  I would argue for not, as it frees up the writing staff to be a lot more creative, however I doubt audience would be able to stomach it.  It would be too hard to develop a cohesive linear story of the characters, and that would seem necessary to build a fan base.  The audience has to care about who they're watching, and most people won't do that if they spend all their time confused about how each segment fits among the previous ones.  Unless the placement isn't important, and the jokes kick it up another couple of notches, and then they can do whatever they want.

     As far as summer shows go, this will probably be among the best.  If it aired during the regular season, I would likely rank it in the middle of the pack.  However, as I always say, it's hard to judge what a series will be by it's pilot, and that is all I have seen so far.  Please check out 100 Questions Thursday nights at 8:30 on NBC to find out the answers to the queries I posed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chuck explodes

     NBC's Chuck is a show that has changed their game time and again, in brilliant twists, to keep the story fresh and moving.  In this week's two hour season finale, "Chuck Versus the Subway" and "Chuck Versus The Ring: Part II", it was done again.

     First, let's deal with the comic relief.  With the destruction of the iconic Buy More, will the show just jettison it's three workers who have been on the outside of it all?  I think not.  They provided needed levity, and though two were framed for the explosion, surely they evidence will clear them.  That is one part of Chuck that I don't see changing, nor does it need to.  It's all part of the charm.  The store will surely be rebuilt in no time.

     The Ring, the nefarious evil organization bent on taking over the world, had infiltrated the CIA, and managed to discredit and arrest Chuck (Zachary Levi), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), Casey (Adam Baldwin), and General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy - why isn't she a main character yet?).  Chuck escaped with the help of his father (Scott Bakula), and after rescuing his friends, they managed to bring the organization to it's knees.  In two hours they defeated the villains that had plagued them for three seasons.  I guess it seemed a bit easy, but it was time.

     However, much more happened than that.  Shaw (Brandon Routh), who Chuck believed he had killed, murdered Chuck's father, and through his meddling, and an accident, Chuck's sister, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) was brought into the spy loop, now making the number of civilians involved equal those of actual spies, if you count Chuck as a spy, which he finally, fully is.  Said civilians, Ellie, Morgan (Joshua Gomez), and Devon a.k.a. Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) had to help rescue the real spies.  I don't begrudge Ellie finally finding out.  It will be a relief for Chuck and the others to not have to hide everything in their own little apartments any more.  However, per his promise to Ellie, Chuck now has to give up the dangerous life.

     Or does he?  The ending of the episode revealed that Chuck's father had many more secrets than we knew about, and it seems a large number of enemies will soon be coming after Bartowski and company.  And how Chuck's mother (yet-to-be-cast) will be a part of it is even more mysterious.  Chuck has already been granted another season, so be sure to watch for it's return on NBC next fall.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Idol screws up again


    It's hard to write a nice, balanced view of Fox's American Idol season finale right now, considering that two years in a row a real talent, who has stood head and shoulders above the competition, was screwed out of a win by stupid voters.  It's not just a popularity contest, people.  Pick the one who can sing the best for goodness sakes!  And by that, I mean Crystal should have beat Lee soundly, but like last year, the great singer got second place and the hack that appealed to the mainstream won.  But I digress.

     Much of tonight's finale was a 'tribute' to Simon Cowell, the judge leaving the show.  Though I put 'tribute' in quotations, as much of the look backs made fun of him more than honored him, he took it well.  It was like a roast where the guest of honor doesn't get to respond.  Now I'm not complaining.  It's fun to hate on Simon, even though he seems like a good guy.  Let's be honest.  He's the reason many people watch the show, myself included, and the series will lag next season without him, no matter who they get to fill his shoes.  Then Paula Abdul showed up, wasn't funny, but paid tribute to the man.  In a real show of class, though, his final honor was having many past contestants, including all of the past winners, sing to him.  He was moved by emotion, as many viewers likely were, and bid an almost tearful goodbye.

     One of the tributes did backfire on the show, and you wonder who had the bright idea to put it together.  While Dane Cook sang a song made up of some of Simon's more memorable insults, they brought a collection of bad singer on stage that Simon had insulted over the years.  Of course, one grabbed the microphone and tried to say his piece, with another soon trying to steal it back.  The whole thing didn't last long at all because the producers wisely cut to commercial.  You just can't trust rude, terrible people not trying to take fifteen minutes of fame on a national stage.  Go figure.

     Other than that, the show was made up of performances, mostly pairing this year's Idol contestants with famous musicians.  There were plenty of big names, and plenty of great stuff to watch.  For once, I didn't think they just drew out the finale too long, because there were so many great musical acts going on.  Kudos to that part of the show, at least.

     American Idol will return to Fox next year, but sans Simon, and with the way the viewers are voting so badly, it probably won't be worth watching, in this reviewer's opinion.  But we'll see.  I could be wrong.

Parenthood ties it all up


     Perhaps when the writers of NBC's new show Parenthood began working on the season finale, "Lost and Found", they weren't sure they were going to get a second season.  Or maybe they just don't believe in summer cliffhangers.  For whatever reason, though the entire Braverman clan will be back next fall, things wrapped up nice and neat by the end of this year.

     A big plot twist that has been playing out is the separation of grandparents Zeke (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia).  It's kind of like if William Walker hadn't died in the pilot of Brothers & Sisters, but his secrets had come out anyway.  Zeke hid financial issues and adultery from his wife, who finally got fed up and left him.  But though he had trouble expressing his emotions, Zeke still showed up in front of the rest of the family to serenade her.  And while that was the end of the episode, so viewers didn't get to see a true reconciliation, it left things in a good place between the two eldest members of the family.  I certainly understand Camille feeling invisible; I barely noticed her when the series began.  However, they both delivered great performances.

     Also wonderful, and the biggest departure from the movie of the same name, is the arc had by Crosby (Dax Shepard).  As the season wound down, the mother of his son, Jasmine (Joy Bryant) got a job in New York.  Even though they have begun dating and become like a family, she decided to pack up her kid take the opportunity across the country.  Though Crosby has known of Jabbar (Tyree Brown) for only a short time, the two of them have bonded instantly and solidly, best evidence when Jabbar asked if he could call him Dad this week.  Instead of trying to convince Jasmine to give up her dream, or risk loosing any momentum with Jabbar, Crosby decides to leave the rest of his family behind and go with them.  He is proving himself an excellent father.

     Perhaps the best thing to come out of a show with so many great aspects is steady work for two people already well established as television stars, Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night) and Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls).  Now rumored to be dating in real life, they play brother and sister Adam and Sarah on the show.  Their families were in conflict during the last couple of episodes, due to their daughters Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Amber (Mae Whitman) fighting over a boy.  On a side note, the two girls making up will make you cry if you have emotions at all.  Anyway, amid all the conflict, the two of them really shine.  Though it's still hard to separate them from past characters they've played, as their are plenty of similarities to be found, it's an absolute joy to see them every week.

     I apologize if this review just seems like a love fest.  That's because it is.  A talented cast, smart writing, and heartwarming relationships leave little to complain about.  There's nothing exactly like it on television right now.  If you haven't yet, please check it out when it returns next fall.

Family Guy something something Star Wars

     Fox's Family Guy ended their eighth season with the television premiere of a DVD they released late last year.  The episode was called "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side", and it was a spoof of the movie Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  It was a follow up to their previous effort based on the first Star Wars movie, and there will surely by a third to complete the trilogy soon.

     Was it really a true Family Guy episode?  No.  I enjoy their Star Wars parodies, though I wish they would do the far superior Star Trek films instead.  Yes, I am definitely on the Star Trek side of the age-old debate, but I'm not a Star Wars hater, and did enjoy the movies, especially the original three.  Anyway, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the show, does Star Wars pretty well.  There was enough of the original story to follow along, but it was much shorter, as was appropriate for a goof like this.  It was funny, and none of the jokes ran too long.  Fans of both franchises could enjoy the episode.

     Family Guy does three types of jokes particularly well: sight gags, racism, and references.  The best of the first category in this episode was probably Peter's (voiced by MacFarlane) nemesis, the Giant Chicken (Danny Smith) as Boba Fett.  It's always fun to see those to go after each other, and with Peter filling in for Han Solo, it made a good pairing.  The best racism gag was when Peter / Han commented that Lando was probably the only black guy in the universe, and Brian / Chewbacca (MacFarlane) said that he hoped so.  All of the other characters were appropriate offended, lest you think the series out to put down any minorities, which it doesn't do more than it puts down everyone else.  The last category was the best, though, as Peter and Chris (voiced by Seth Green) argued over whether Robot Chicken, a Cartoon Network series created by Seth Green, was still relevant.  Robot Chicken has also done Star Wars parodies lately, although theirs are short bits, rather than an entire plot.  Both series have been funny about it, but with two different approaches.

   So, the episode wasn't really an end to this past season of Family Guy.  If anything, that happened last week, although the show doesn't traditionally do big season-enders.  But it was a pleasant diversion for an hour.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big Bang makes a big bang

     CBS ended the latest season of The Big Bang Theory last night with the episode, "The Lunar Excitation".  It was exactly as funny as you'd expect from the show, which, while starting out strong, has only gotten more entertaining with age.

     One of last night's major plots concerned Leonard (Johnny Galecki) learning that there is a definite double standard for drunken sex with your ex.  It appears that her time with Leonard has changed Penny (Kaley Cuoco) for the better, in that she can no longer put with stupid boyfriends.  This is good, it shows her growth.  Unfortunately, a little alcohol sent her right back into her former geek's arms.  But it was a one night mistake, and she hurt Leonard a little bit bit all over again.  The two of them make a great couple, and the show did not suffer one bit from their relationship, as other series have.  I think the breakup is delivering good plot, too, but enough already!  Get them back together!  Don't make this a Ross / Rachel thing!

     Of even bigger implications, though, was when Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg) secretly signed up Sheldon (Jim Parsons) for an online dating service.  The result was the discovery of a female version (Mayim Bialik, who was sadly only in one memorable scene) of their neurotic friend.  One Sheldon even seemed to warm up to within second of meeting her.  What this will mean for the afore-assumed asexual scientist is anyone's guess, but it seems certain that Bialik will be returning to reprise the role next season.  Perhaps her eminent arrival was why the writer's split up Leonard and Penny.  I don't think Sheldon's roommate would handle being the single one in their apartment very well.

     The next season of The Big Bang Theory promises to be a good one.  Make sure you watch for it on CBS next fall.

How I Met Your Mother season finale review

     I apologize for the lack of catchy article title, but the show's lack of originality lately has me a little uninspired.  Don't get me wrong; last night's finale, "Doppelgangers", wasn't bad, though I think the doppelganger plot is pretty dumb.  I just expect something more from a show that used to have me consistently laughing out loud.  Anyway, on to the review of CBS's How I Met Your Mother.

     Robin (Cobie Smulders) had the best plot of the episode.  She has also shown the most growth over the range of the series.  As Ted (Josh Radnor) said to her, five years ago she never would have considered putting romance before her career.  It's sad that when she finally did, though, it backfired.  I am super glad that Ted's hair stopped them from sleeping together, and possibly dating again.  As they leaned in for that kiss, I was yelling "NO!" at the screen.  I loved them as a couple, but this would seriously stop Robin's forward momentum, and put the show back to something they've already done.  Good move, writers.

     While Robin has grown, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) has regressed.  He was finally at the point where he could have a sustainable relationship with Robin, and then they split up.  I understand that he had lost some of what made his character great, but that plays more to the issue of losing oneself, rather than if the pair should be together.  I'm looking forward to a Barney - Robin reunion, on more equal footing this time, with Barney keeping more of what makes him unique.  To the best of my knowledge, a reunion has not been rumored to be forthcoming, but I would be willing to start such rumors, if they would help at all.  In the meantime, let him try to make it work with someone else for more than one evening.

     Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) have decided to have a baby.  Like Barney, I have mixed feelings on this upcoming plot.  Although it has not been revealed when exactly this pregnancy would happen, this will seriously put the show in jeopardy of jumping the shark.  Should be handled correctly, it could be quite humorous, and even possibly be a rejuvenation for the show.  However, based on this past lackluster season, I worry that it seem a desperate attempt to lure viewers back.  I wish they would wait a little before a child actually comes along.  Perhaps they can milk some funny out the couple's failed attempts before going through with it.

     How I Met Your Mother has been renewed, and will return next fall.

The clock runs out on 24

        As the final seconds ticked out on the series finale of Fox's 24, there was a countdown clock rather than the one moving time forward, as has been the custom of the series.  It was appropriate, the "real-time" series finally coming to an end after eight seasons, nine years (there was no season the year of the writer's strike as producers did not want to deliver half a day).  Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Suthland) intonation of "events occur in real-time" was a welcome homage but back in the beginning of each of the last two hours, which was dropped long ago, and Kiefer's personal message to viewers was touching.  It is a series I will surely miss.

     The final moments of the show, as they should have, came down to Jack and Chloe's (Mary Lynn Rajskub).  Although Chloe was not part of the the original cast, she has appeared in the second highest number of episodes, after Jack, and has become a beloved character.  She has grown a long way since her annoying personality turned off viewers initially.  I think many of us agree with Jack that we did not expect her to be the one watching his back for the long haul, and yet, who else could have done such a great job of it?  Their show down midway through the finale was gripping, but their goodbye was one of the most moving moments television has yet to produce.

      Jack struggled more this season than any other with doing the right thing.  He always acted on his beliefs, even when they came into conflict with the law.  But as this season barreled towards a close, even fans such as myself found it hard to justify his decisions.  His cold-blooded massacre of many a Russian, because of their execution and cover-up of the assassination of his most recent love, Renew Walker (Annie Wersching).  Jack went into a dark place or revenge, and left the path of righteousness.  Yet, his video recording and his behavior in the last hour redeemed the hero in our eyes, though he will face a number of criminal investigations should the authorities ever catch up to him, which I assume will be the plot of the upcoming 24 movie, which while not guaranteed, is well on it's way to becoming a reality.

     One of the most interesting characters in the past two years was President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones).  After she turned over her own daughter to the cops at the end of last season, it was easy to believe that she stood for principals rivaling even the fan favorite 24 president, David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert).  Then this season she made the mistake of listening to former President Logan (Gregory Itzin), who has been one of the show's greatest villains.  While she had noble aspirations, she allowed herself to let the ends justify the means.  Thank goodness that she decided at the last minute to let the truth come out.  It will protect Chloe, if not Jack and herself.  She fully redeemed herself in my eyes, and I hope we will learn from the movie that she earned the sympathy and continued respect of the American people, even if she has to serve a short sentence.  Unfortunately, Logan, who got away with crimes before, did not succeed in taking his own life.  Hopefully he will rot in a cell for the rest of it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grey's Anatomy delivers best episode of the series, best finale of the year

     I waited to watch the season finale of ABC's Grey's Anatomy until I could watch it in one sitting, uninterrupted, since I heard it was going to be fantastic.  None of the hype did it any justice.  The two-parter, entitled "Sanctuary" and "Death and All His Friends" was arguably the best episode of the entire series thus far, and definitely the best season finale that I've seen this year.  It was adrenaline-packed, incredibly suspenseful, and emotionally draining.  The darkest moments were spread out over the episode, so viewers barely got a breather before being hit hard again.  Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) delivered one of her finest acting moments, and that's saying quite a lot.

     The main plot centered on a character we've seen a couple of times before, Gary Clark (Michael O'Neill, The West Wing).  Previously, Gary's wife had died at Seattle Grace Hospital, and he is out for revenge on the surgeons who he blames for her passing.  Namely Drs. Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), Webber (James Pickens Jr.), and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh).  When he doesn't see them soon upon entering the building, he begins by shooting at others.  Before the first commercial, two major characters are lying in pools of their own blood.  Remarkably, O'Neill played Clark sympathetic, even after he had done his worst.

     The group hardest hit were this season's recurring interlopers, the Mercy West transfers.  Reed (Nora Zehetner) was the first one shot, right between the eyes.  She was probably dead before hitting the ground.  Percy (Robert Baker) bled out a lot more slowly, making his death mean so much more.  By the time he had finally died, I wished he had been a part of the show longer.  April (Sarah Drew) should have been shot, since she was directly to blame for Shepherd almost losing his life, and hopefully she will soon resign following these traumatic events.  The fourth, Dr. Avery (Jesse Williams) showed coolness under pressure, and helped save Shepherd from Gary.  For those heroic deeds, his name should soon join the opening credits.  Unfortunately, Shonda Rhimes, the show's creator, wants to keep both surviving doctors.

     Unfortunately, those weren't the only people hurt by the tragedy.  Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) was one of the first to fall, but fortunately was kept alive by Sloan (Eric Dane) until they could get him out.  This complicated the Alex - Lexie - Sloan love triangle terribly, even more so when Alex called for Izzy (departed cast member Katherine Heigl).  As mentioned before, Derek Shepherd was badly injured, and only Christina (Sandra Oh) and Avery kept him from joining Reed and Percy.  Also tragic, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek's unborn child didn't survive the stress of the situation.

     Should you take from the above article that it was nothing by tragedy, there were a few bright moments, particularly at the end.  Richard Webber showed his true character, resisted turning back to alcohol after being sober for six months, and talked the shooter into ending his own life, sparing any further bloodshed.  Might he take his old job back as Derek recovers?  Hunt (Kevin McKidd) declared his love for Christina, and Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) reunited.

     Bravo to all involved for an amazing two hours of television those who watch it will not soon forget.

The Cleveland Show ends first year

     Seth MacFarlane's latest contribution to Fox's Animation Domination, The Cleveland Show, paid ample homage to it's origin, Family Guy, during last night's first season finale, "You're The Best Man, Cleveland Brown".  Yet, despite appearances by Peter and Quagmire (both voiced by MacFarlane), and someone calling Rallo (co-creator Mike Henry) "the black Stewie", the show definitely stands on it's own.  Sure, it's always nice when the shows crossover, when did on last week's Family Guy, but Cleveland is also it's own thing, and not just the black version of anything.

     Last night tied up one of Cleveland's (also Mike Henry) loose ends from his previous series: his wife, Loretta.  She died a few months ago, as addressed in another episode, and it was time to read her will.  It's nice that the show bothers with continuity such as this.  In it, she left everything she took from Cleveland in their divorce to their son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson), with one caveat: nothing was allowed to go back to Cleveland.  Which is too bad, because the generous boy shares the wealth with everyone else.  Cleveland, the poor, miserable, every-guy, who bad luck seems to follow, handled it better than he has plenty of other things.  Besides, he was distracted by the second plot.

     Cleveland's mother and father decided to come back to town and get re-married.  The best joke in all of that was when his mother called Cleveland his father's only son, and we got a montage of all the half-brothers that Cleveland has out in the world.  That could make for a successful spin-off all it's own, and when the writing starts to get stale, a never-ending pool of new characters to pull from.  But for now, the plucky Cleveland, not unlike Charlie Brown, as referenced in the title, took his lot in life and made the best of it.

     And that is why the show works.  Cleveland knows who he is, and he is an original character.  Joined by a slew of side characters who are rapidly growing on me from week to week, I can see why a second season was ordered before the first even aired.

The Simpsons are my Idol

     Last night on Fox's season finale of The Simpsons, "Judge Me Tender", Moe (voiced by Hank Azaria) became the judge of all things big and small.  This culminated in him joining another Fox hit, American Idol, for one episode.  Is it coincidence that this is the weekend just before the season finale of Idol?  I think not.  Though none of the Idol contestants were involved, at least all four judges and the host provided their own voices.  However, Moe has seemed to get quite a bit of screen time lately, and he's always a good time.

     The major subplot involved Homer (Dan Castellaneta) spending more time at home because Moe's bar was closed.  This drove Marge (Julie Kavner) crazy, as he was constantly getting in her way and screwing things up.  It was a real chance to see Homer try to be a man who likes to stay home and help around the house, and exactly why it's good that he doesn't.

     The Simpsons rarely brilliant anymore, if it ever was.  It's funny, and it beats a whole lot of shows currently airing on television.  It's a nice, comfortable old favorite that you can tune into and enjoy, but don't expect something new or groundbreaking.  The finale fit in that mold perfectly, and as long as the episodes stay status quo, they'll still keep their audience.  Myself included.

Lost finale leaves many viewers elated, confused

     ABC's Lost, arguably a significant cultural phenomenon, came to an end last night after six seasons with the two and a half hour long episode, "The End".  The ending was cryptic, as much of the show had been, and today theories are debated back and forth around water coolers and over the web.  Was the island real?  Did any of it happen?  Was it purgatory?  Where did they go at the end?  Why wasn't Michael (Harold Perrineau) at the church?  Why was Penny (Sonya Walger) there?  No one knows the answers for sure, and with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the show's creative force, taking a media break, no one is likely to know anytime soon.  But that doesn't stop anyone from trying to figure it out.

     The episode centered, as most of the series has, on Jack (Matthew Fox).  After taking up Jacob's (Mark Pellegrino) mantle as island protector, he gave up his life to save the island.  The series began with Jack's opening in the jungle, and ended with that same eye closing in death in the same spot.  Vincent the dog was there, too, making it a perfect bookend.

     I always thought Jack the too obvious choice for the job, and wanted to see Hurley (Jorge Garcia) get it.  I was not disappointed then when Jack handed the reigns to Hurley just before his sacrifice.  Even better, Ben (Michael Emerson) was chosen as Hurley's number two guy, giving him both a happy ending and a position he had always desired.  Though sadly we did not get to see how Hurley and Ben fared, it was revealed that they seemed to do a good job together.  Even more curious, what happened to the six survivors who left the island on the plane?

     In the alternate world, things ended in a much more satisfying way.  Each island dweller remembered their time during the series, though it seemed to have never happened in this reality.  It brought them together and reunited all the couples of the show, including ones separated by death.  Most notable was Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), which left Kate (Evangeline Lilly) for Jack, and prevented anyone from losing love altogether.

     Many of the major recurring characters and dead main characters appeared, all of them with their names added to the opening credits under "Starring", making for a lengthy list, and hardly leaving anyone to be listed as "Guest starring".  It ended with almost everyone important gathered together in a church, a bright light taking them on the next place.  Each had great moments in the finale, but unfortunately, I do not have time to touch on everyone in this article.

     My theory is that they all died in the original plane crash, and that the island was a way for them to sort out their flaws and learn to rely on one another.  Most of the main characters that died over the run had a breakthrough shortly before they passed.  Also, Christian (John Terry) said that they had created this place, and though he may have meant the church they were gathering in, I took it to mean the island and that world.  What cemented the theory for me was the grim shots of the lifeless plane wreckage over the ending credits, showing no survivors.  But feel free to make your own theories and debate them.  Until CUse and Lindelof come forward, that's all we can hope to do.  The only real mystery left without any hint was, what ever happened to Walt (Malcolm David Kelley)?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fringe unraveling

     The amount of reveal and discovery on the season finale of Fox's Fringe made it feel like a series finale instead of a season finale.  Perhaps the two-part episode, "Over There", was made that way in case the show wasn't picked up for a third season, which it has been.  Of course, the ending would surely have been different, were the show to be over.  As it was, it was an awesome two hours of television.

     Peter (Joshua Jackson) fled from Walter (John Noble) a few weeks ago when he discovered that his father had kidnapped him from other other reality.  Walter and Olivia (Anna Torv) discovered that Peter could be used to destroy their (our) universe, and their want to find him was increased exponentially.  So Olivia, Walter, and three humans with abilities like Olivia's crossed over to track down their missing comrade.

     Beside the obvious physical characteristics, the other universe is quite a bit different.  For one thing, there are huge pockets of energy and forces ripping at the fabric of their universe, and they have to be quarantined in amber.  Boston and Madison Square Garden, to name a couple, are no longer accessible.  The Statue of Liberty has been kept polished bronze.  The World Trade Center was never taken out by a terrorist attack.  Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) is still alive, and is still Olivia's partner.  And most striking of all is the other Walter Bishop.

     Walternate, as he is so cleverly nicknamed, driven by anger at the kidnapping of his son, has become a tyrannical Secretary of Defense, in charge of the Fringe Division that deals with this episodes.  All of this was cause by the original kidnapping act.  It makes you wonder how our Walter would have turned out different had William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) not taken out pieces of his brain.  Bell's self-sacrifice was regrettable, as he was such an interesting character, and having spent years crossing back and forth, surely had plenty he could have shared with our heroes.

     Of course, people tune in for the romance, and this episode delivered.  Olivia practically confessed her love for Peter, in her way.  I think that, more than anything, was what convinced Peter to return home, and what will keep him there.  However, we must depend on Peter to now save Olivia, considering that the real Olivia is imprisoned by Walternate in a small, dark cell.  I think he's up to the challenge.

The Ricky Gervais, er, Karl Pilkington Show


    HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show just completed it's first season.  Although the title has to be just to make marketing easier, I have no complaints about the rest of it.  It's one of the funniest things I've experienced, with or without the visual (it was originally released as audio only, but HBO added animation before they aired it).  Three men sit in a room and talk.  Well, Karl Pilkington talks.  Stephen Merchant, Gervais's long-time partner, laughs at Karl, and Ricky himself seems to frequently get quite angry.

     The topic for the season finale was "Freaks".  Basically, Karl talked about his favorite freaks, and eventually made a top five list.  One freak that was mentioned was a man whose head was on backwards.  To give you some idea of how things go, Karl brought up the man and described him, and then Stephen asks a reasonable question, in this case, if you were the man, would you rather walk forwards, and just try to turn your head, or walk backwards, where your head can see fine, but the rest of you would be messed up.  Karl answers with something totally unexpected and idiotic at whole new levels.  Karl's answer to the backwards head was that he would walk sideways, so no one would know.  At this point Ricky laughs derisively and calls him on the stupidity.

     It's hard to decide if Karl is for real or not, but after an entire season, I'm leaning towards Karl being genuine.  If not, he's a comic genius.  Now Gervais and Merchant, the brains behind the British The Office and Extras could conceivably come up with and write for such a ridiculous character, but it just doesn't feel like they are.  It feels like they've found this totally unique man and they just get off on talking to him.  Karl himself never gets angry or upset, he takes their comments and laughs with good humor.  He even allows his diary to be read on the show, which is perhaps the funniest segment.

     Also in this past episode, Karl was asked what he'd like God to say to him once he got to heaven.  After the necessary qualifying questions, of which Karl has plenty, his answer was about the same as you'd expect for anyone wanting a tour guide and an understanding of the place.  No deep understanding, new meaning, anything like that.  Karl just wants to know that basics.  He's a simple man, but the humor coming out of this show is anything but.  It's comic genius.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

30 Rock and roll

     NBC brought the latest season of 30 Rock to a close with a shocking development.  No, I'm not talking about the title, "I Do Do".  Nor any weddings, breakups, romantic overtures, or pregnancies.  Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), the best page ever, was fired.  He was actually bad at his job on purpose to avoid a promotion that would have forced him to move to L.A.  Surely, this will quickly be remedied when the show returns next fall, as the show could not possibly be the same without him.  Plus, the series has made him a star.  McBrayer wouldn't leave for real, would he?  Its doubtful.

     Liz (Tina Fey) did finally have some luck in the romance department, though.  Despite Fey stating in an interview that Liz would most likely end up with Wesley (Michael Sheen) in the end, she met the man of her dreams, played by none other than Matt Damon.  What are the chances a big movie star like Matt Damon would settle into a recurring character on a sitcom though?

     Interesting that I you should ask that.  Sheen has appeared several times already, and Jack (Alec Baldwin) has been juggling dating two women, Avery (Elizabeth Banks) and Nancy (Julianne Moore), both played by movie stars.  Though, it seems Nancy will soon be moving on, what with the surprise pregnancy of Avery.  How does 30 Rock get such big name recurring characters?  Because it's a hell of a witty show, with plenty of connections behind the scenes.  Fey and Baldwin have headlines a few films themselves in recent years.  It's led to something I never though I'd worry about on the show, or really, any sitcom for that matter.  Some of the central characters are in danger of being overshadowed by the guests.  It hasn't happened yet, but it's been close.

      However, that doesn't mean I want them to stop bringing in the big talent.  It adds some gravitas to the show, and they've all been, without exception, exceptionally funny.  And it's not just the A-listers that succeed.  Plenty of Saturday Night Live alumni have killed, most recently Will Forte (who is currently starring in the film MacGruber) as Jenna's (Jane Krakowski) boyfriend slash impersonator.

     30 Rock has already been picked up for another season and will return to NBC in the fall.

Fractured Bones

       Fox's Bones ended with a season finale more unexpected, and world changing, than any they have before, and that's saying something, after the last couple.  (Not many people really believed Booth (David Boreanaz) was dead after being shot two years ago).  No, this time, in an episode called "The Beginning in the End", most of the cast has gone their separate ways, to spend a year doing things away from each other.  Booth is heading to Afghanistan to train the troops, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Daisy (Carla Gallo) are heading to Indonesia.  That means Daisy and Sweets (John Francis Daley), who stayed behind, despite her urging, have called off their engagement.  Angela (Michaela Conlin) and Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), not wishing to break in Bones and Booth's replacements, have fled to Paris, France.  That leaves only Cam (Tamara Taylor) behind with Sweets.

     I was a little disappointed to learn that when Bones picks up next season, a year will have passed.  Sure, the show wouldn't work with everyone split up for an entire season, but at least give us one episode.  A few could have been better.  I only hope they'll be a few flashbacks.

     That is not to say, however, that things will not have changed.  The season premiere will begin with Booth and Bones at the coffee stand, as they agreed upon, however rumor is that at least one, if not both of them, will not be returning to Washington alone.  There will be one or two news recurring characters next season.  I'm guessing Booth will be the one with the girlfriend, as I really felt that Brennan was already feeling his loss in their emotionally charged goodbye.  I fully expect her to come back eager to be with Booth romantically, despite recently turning down his overtures, and, as is now typical in television, she will have to wait for him to be single again.  Perhaps Sweets and Daisy will be the happily reunited couple instead.  Unless Daisy brings someone back, and that could be some good plot, as opposed to just the frustration viewers will surely have with the lead couple.

     The others shouldn't be changed too much.  Sure, Hodgins and Angela will have settled in as a stable, married couple (I assume), but they can return to their work.  My guess is that Cam will be glad to have her best people back, though if the writer's are really smart, perhaps at least one of our main characters will not seem nearly as irreplaceable anymore.  For their job at the Jeffersonian, not the show.  I don't want to loose anyone else from this fantastic cast.

     Bones will return to Fox next fall.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Office snitch

     What can I say about the season finale of NBC's The Office, "Whistleblower"?  It certainly wasn't as big a deal as The Office's usual season finales.  Instead, it was a mostly understated story about how leaked to the press the problems with their new printers.  Answer?  Pretty much everybody.  Even former boss David Wallace (Andy Buckley in a hilarious cameo).  Though it mostly hurt Andy (Ed Helms).  But since Michael (Steve Carell) decided to take the fall and make the apology to the media, it appears that their boss is going to let it slide.

     And that was what was really going on.  There were some big developments, they just weren't as shocking or dramatically revealed as they had been in the past.  Sabre, the company that bought Dunder-Mifflin a few months ago and added printers to their paper stock, is clearly not going to be around long-term.  Kathy Bates, who plays Sabre owner Jo, has already lined up another television gig.  The printers are catching on fire and ruining the company's reputation.  It all clearly is a set up for a quick Sabre exit.  But whether that will mean a new corporate boss, or a return to the status quo of last year, is up in the air.

     Another big development slipped by, too.  Michael asked Jo to bring back the love of his life, Holly (Amy Ryan), to the Scranton branch, and my guess is that will be one of her last acts as their owner.  The show has long longed to return Holly to Michael's awkward arms, in some fashion.  Whether they will be lucky enough to get Ryan to sign on for a large number of episodes, or whether she just makes a quick appearance, surely the boat will be rocked.  Michael and Holly will have to end up together.

     Other news reports point to Carell planning on making next season his last.  I do believe the show can go on without him, though I doubt it will for long.  In the British version, Michael's counter-part David (Ricky Gervais) was fired about three quarters of the way through, yet continued to hang around the office pretty much every day.  It was sad and pathetic and I don't think that fans will stand for a similar ending to Michael, but he could, and his character likely would, still pop in from time to time, especially when he first leaves.  Does that mean Michael Scott may be making an exit by mid-year?  Perhaps to run off with Holly?

     Looks like we'll just have to wait and see.  Though something tells me that, unlike the British version, should Michael leave, it will be Jim (John Krasinski) left in charge instead of Dwight (Rainn Wilson).  They really are two different shows.

Did you hear the Gossip, Girl?

     I am ashamed that it has taken me four days, my longest delay this year, to watch and write a review for Gossip Girl's season finale, but I blame Lexington, Kentucky's Insight Cable, for not airing the CW in HD.  I am always battling a full TiVo at the end of the season, and as most of what I record is HD, I often neglect those non-HD shows so that I can free up space as rapidly as possible.  No matter.  It meant I got a seven episode Gossip Girl marathon last week, and it was amazing!

     The finale was called "Last Tango, Then Paris", and there was plenty of drama, especially in the game of love.  For one thing, Blair (Leighton Meester) and Chuck (Ed Westwick) cannot possibly be over.  Sure, Blair missed their fated meeting at the top of the Empire State Building, but the two are just so perfect for each other, and their connection runs so deep.  Chuck simply has to forgive her.  What excuse is better than rushing Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski) to the hospital so that she could give birth to her baby?  Speaking of Dorota, her plot has been top notch lately, not to mention the actress's ability to enliven the part.  Why is she not a series regular at this point?  And, quickly, back to Chuck, did they really expect anyone to believe that the gunshot, the season-ending cliffhanger, would kill him?  The show would not work without Chuck.

     Jenny (Taylor Momsen) has gone off the deep end.  She wavers back and forth between good girl and bad girl so often, it makes your head spin.  I have to say, I am actually looking forward to her not being around for awhile when next season starts.  I think that perhaps in the long-term she and Nate (Chace Crawford) would make a good couple, but he clearly hasn't seen her in that light yet.  She's lucky he has such a good, forgiving spirit about him, or she'd never get another shot with him.  But I'm thinking that she probably will.

     Just when I was getting used to Dan (Penn Badgley) and Vanessa (Jessica Szohr), they break them up.  Damn the show's writers, who can't let any couple stay happy for more than a handful of episodes.  Yet, I was already rooting Dan and Serena (Blake Lively) again by the end of the finale.  Too bad that reunion, while it will probably still come, will most certainly be delayed with the arrival once more of the wonderfully wicked Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg).  I'm still digesting the implications of that twist, if it's true.  With Georgina, you never know.

     Rumor has it that the show is trying to sign Trachtenberg full-time, now that her delightful show Mercy is canceled.  A silver lining in every dark cloud.  That would kick the show up another notch.  Not that it needs it.   XOXO.

Parks and Recreation and changes

        NBC's sitcom, Parks and Recreation, came to the end of this season last night with "Freddy Spaghetti".  It was sort of a tumultuous episode for the series, with a lot of changes going on in characters and jobs and relationships.  After a rough, short spring premiere a year ago, the show is arguably the most improved on the air this year.  This technically second season was hilarious, and while it's sad to see the end of a few thing, it's nice to know it's already been picked up for next season, even if it's not coming back in the fall with the rest of the Thursday night comedy lineup.

     Trouble began brewing last week when bad cop Ben (Adam Scott, Party Down) and way-too-happy good cop, Chris (Rob Lowe, Brothers & Sisters), state auditors, arrived to help the town's budget, and promptly shut down the government.  This week, Ben, despite an attraction to Leslie (Amy Poehler), decided that she was unnecessary and must be cut.  Her boss, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), who had delighted to the slashing up til then, went to bat for Leslie.  While all this was going down, Leslie was staging a concert in the former hole that she had gotten filled in, even though she wasn't actually working the job at that point.  It shows just how dedicated she is to Pawnee's parks and, well, recreation.  But somehow, the department will have to lose something, and we just don't know yet what it will be.

     The two interlopers are just the start of the casting shakeup.  Ben will be sticking around full-time next year, while Chris will be returning for at least six more episodes.  Also, Mark (Paul Schneider), as revealed last night, has taken a buy out, and the actor is said to not be coming park next season.  Other changes include Tom (Aziz Ansari) finally getting an awesome girlfriend, played by the lovely and funny Natalie Morales, and April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) kissing, only to have her walk out on him seconds later.  Not to mention who Ron is sleeping with, and who just found out.

     The series has also been thrown into slight tumult by the second pregnancy of star Poehler, and so is already filming while other shows are taking a break.  It's a fantastic little series that could about a parks department that could in a government that could not.  Please check it out when it returns to NBC next year.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

V is for Vicious

     What a ride the first season of ABC's V was!  With both a crappy pilot, and a crappy first episode back from the long, winter hiatus, it still managed to be good in succeeding episodes, leading to a wonderfully inventive and intense finale, "Red Sky"!  At least one significant character died, and though I expected it, it didn't take away from the pull of the moment.

     Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) is the most vulnerable member of the featured cell of the Fifth Column, of which the show partially focuses on.  Her son, Tyler (Logan Huffman) has gotten himself involved with a V, the aliens come to earth on a seemingly peaceful mission, but Erica knows better.  However, she feels she can best protect her son by keeping him in the dark, and now seems to be actively using him to help her terrorist actions.  I'm sympathetic to her plight and position in the F.B.I., charged with heading up the task force against the Fifth Column, but I certainly question her mother abilities.

     Also in Erica's cell is Ryan (Morris Chestnut), a former V spy who now works against them.  It was Ryan's girlfriend, Val (Lourdes Benedicto) who was the main character killed off, after giving birth to his half-human, half-V child.  Her death may be the biggest blow to the Fifth Column yet.  You see, V's don't have human emotions, initially, though they seems to be contagious.  And the cold, calculating Queen of the Vs, Anna (Morena Baccarin), is using Val's death to try to win back Ryan.  If she does, which was uncertain in this week's finale, he could be the most dangerous foe Erica and company have faced.

     Especially interesting is the character of Lisa (Laura Vandervoort), Anna's daughter.  Tasked with getting close to Tyler, and later, Erica, we viewers have gotten to see first hand how emotions can affect and change the V aliens, and Lisa seems to have swung the way of the Fifth Column.  In fact, before the exciting climatic events had finished unfolding, rebel V Joshua (Mark Hildreth) called her queen.

     The introduction of rival queens, fighting for the V species's allegiance, is just one of many things I am looking forward to finding out in the forthcoming second season of the show, a pickup I was pleasantly surprise to learn of.  Another is, what will become of Joshua, who was healed from his near fatal wounds?  And what will Ryan's hybrid child mean to both species?  Also, why did the sky turn red and what does it mean?

     Sci-fi shows don't traditionally do all that well on network television, with a few notable exceptions, and, provided this one can keep growing it's audience, it will be nice to see a new one work.

Modern Family ends simple and elegant-ish

     Last night was Modern Family's season finale, "Family Portrait".  When I had heard that the ABC show was going to Hawaii, I assumed it would be a terrible, big, over the top, season finale.  I was wrong on each of those counts.  The Hawaii episode was just as good as any other, and they didn't save it for the season finale (it aired last week).  Instead, the last episode of the show's freshman season focused on the family themselves, their interactions, and what they mean to each other.

     The main plot of last night involved Claire (Julie Bowen) trying to organize and execute the perfect family photo.  Of course, plenty went wrong, though nothing ridiculously so, with the possible exception of Mitchell's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) destruction of his home.  No, Claire just had to fix a broken step, which of course, despite her best efforts, she could not manage to do.

     Elsewhere, Claire's husband, Phil (Ty Burrell) ended up at a basketball game with his attractive step-mother-in-law, Gloria (Sofia Vergara).  The tension, from him, between the two has been downplayed all season, thank goodness, and hopefully their kiss on the Kiss Cam will end the subplot.  It was done well, though, with a comedy of errors and misunderstandings.

     There are so many great actors in this ensemble, that it's a shame not every one of them can have a great moment in every episode.  Sadly, last night's was Cam's (Eric Stonestreet) turn to sit out, but I couldn't end this article without mentioned that in a show of comedic heavyweights, he is at the top of the pile.

     Jay (Ed O'Neill) said it best when he told his grandson, Luke (Nolan Gould) that he never got the perfect family he dreamed of, but he was sure glad that he ended up with the group that he did.  The portrait taken after the mud slinging fight had ruined their nice, white clothes showed who the family was, and how they enjoy each other.  Perfect.

Cougar Town roars to life


    ABC's Cougar Town was (rightly) ridiculed when it first premiered.  It had a mediocre pilot, and a weird premise.  Yet, shortly after the first episode, it dropped the whole garbage about older women dating younger men, other than a token Cougar character, Barb (Carolyn Hennesy), who is funny, but not even a main character.  Instead, it became about a group of older, but far from old, friends that get together, drink, and have fun with each other.  It's a more relaxed version of Friends, and it's become one of the best comedies on television.

     At the center of the series is Jules (Courteney Cox), and everyone else seems to kind of orbit around her.  Her son, Travis (Dan Byrd), is staying close by for college.  Her ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt) is one of her closest companions, which seems to have become a staple of television.  What happened to bitter exes who never speak again?  Except that Bobby is such an essential, lovable character, that despite his immaturity, you sometimes wonder why Jules ever dumped him.  She has now moved on to Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who she began dating after less than a season of will they / won't they tension, certainly a fresh approach.

     Also in the cast are Jule's long-time best friend, Ellie (Christa Miller), and her new best friend and employee, Laurie (Busy Philips).  Although they initially clashed over Jules's affection, they are already reaching an understanding with each other.  Clearly, Ellie has had practice with divided loyalties, because her own husband, Andy (Ian Gomez), sometimes seems to favor Bobby over her.

     The thing about the show is, despite the already drastically reduced tension in the group, they all just seem to enjoy each other so much, that it makes you feel good to watch it.  For instance, in the season finale, "Finding Out", everyone is now in a relationship except for Bobby.  So they all go out of their way to throw him a party on the beach and make him feel better.

     The whole concept wouldn't work without the hilarious, spot-on writing by series creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) and the staff.  The sitcom is already rivaling the best days of his last project.  I honestly just have no complaints, except, of course, the title.  There are already online suggestions of other possible titles, as well as plenty of rumor that the network in considering renaming.  My favorite is The Family Jules.  Haha, get it?  But, whatever the title, Cougar Town is a true jewel.

     The second season of Cougar Town will air next fall on ABC.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Castle goes out disappointingly

     I have been a fan of Nathan Fillion for quite some time.  When I learned he was starring in a crime mystery-of-the-week series, Castle, I was disappointed.  He's so much better than that.  Having popped into the show a couple of months ago, having not watched it since the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised to see how witty and entertaining it was, despite the formula.  So I have been watching since, and this week's season finale, "A Deadly Game" was the weakest episode of the last few.

     The finale centered on a 'spy' that was killed during a 'mission'.  Those extra punctuation marks are present because it's all a game, except for the real dead body.  Frankly, I could care less about the murder Castle and his partner Beckett (Stana Katic) are working on.  I tune in for character development and interaction.  This week's case was just boring.  I know, I know.  It certainly sounds exciting, but it wasn't handled in an interesting way.  It kind of plodded along.  It's like there was more concern with how they would end this season with Castle and Beckett than there was about the case.  Which is fine.  That's what it should be.  Except it was done all wrong.

     A hallmark of these types of shows is the entire series-spanning 'will they or won't they?'  It's frustrating as hell and generally dumb.  It's been done over and over again.  Occasionally you'll run across a show like Bones that handles the situation beautifully, but it still wears on over time.  If you're a smart writer, you do it like Chuck or, it appears, House will soon be doing, and you put them together and go for it.  True, that has killed shows before, but to keeping the growth going and the show worth watching, it needs to happen.

     Castle started out ok with this.  Beckett dumped her perfectly good boyfriend (Michael Trucco) when she was about to lose Castle.  So far, so good.  Then out of nowhere comes his ex-wife and the two go off together, leaving Beckett alone and frustrated.  Terrible.

     Instead, the best part of the episode was between Castle and his daughter, Alexis (Molly C. Quinn), as she was about to move into some college dorm for a summer program, and he worried about the sort of things he did at her age without parental supervision.  It was clever, fun, and if the entire show was like this, it would be brilliant.  Capture that light-hearted banter, and Castle could have gold.

     Castle has already been picked up for a third season, and will return next fall to ABC.

Desperate Housewives stays calm, but delivers plenty of new mysteries

 
     A far cry from the plane crash from last year, the biggest (physical) thing to happen on this season's Desperate Housewives finale, "I Guess This Is Goodbye", was when Patrick (John Barrowman) blew himself up.  What a triumphant moment for Angie (Drea de Matteo)!  It showed just how tough and smart she is, and it really made me wish the show had found a way for her to stick around longer.  Her heartfelt goodbye to Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) was even more moving, and I was sad to see her leave.

     But there will be some new neighbors when Housewives returns to ABC next fall.  For one, though it was spoiled in online news reports, Paul Young (Mark Moses) is back, and back to stay, at least for a season.  It's hard to believe that his stint in jail for murder is already help.  Even better, it was recently announced that Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty) has signed on full-time next season, to help fill the void left by all the departing and already departed women, and she will not be connected to the big mystery of the season.  Don't be too disappointed about that.  Keeping her out of the immediate drama may allow her to stay longer, and she will surely stir plenty of waves.

     Back to the season finale, thank goodness Lynette (Felicity Huffman) was able to keep calm, and show her true compassion.  That ended as well as it possibly could have.  The show even had me feeling saw for Eddie (Josh Zuckerman), despite the atrocities he committed.  Any chance he'll get off on an insanity plea, and that, after a reasonable stay in a mental hospital, he could return to Wisteria Lane?  Call me crazy, but that could work, and be quite interesting.  He and Lynette had a really neat bond that was real, proved by her letting him hold the baby he just delivered while she called the cops.

     The secrets have already began swirling for next season.  Who took home a baby from the hospital that wasn't theirs?  What will Gaby do now that Bree (Marcia Cross) has confessed who killed Gaby's mother-in-law all those years ago?  Why would Paul even want to come back?

     Desperate Housewives will return to ABC in the fall.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The battle for The Pacific has ended

     HBO's latest miniseries, The Pacific, has come to an end.  As I commented on my twitter feed, once the bullets started flying, I had trouble telling the characters apart.  However, that did not hold true for all characters.  Some stood out.  And even if I didn't remember a good many of them as the ending credits rolled and told their stories, I was still plenty moved by the sequence.  I dare someone not to be.  Most of the soldiers depicted, as most soldiers who fought in the war, are now deceased.  But films like this one will surely keep the memory going.

     My favorite character was Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale).  I do have to say, I was sad that he didn't return to Australia and find the girl he was in love with there.  Sure, that would be more realistic in the movies than real life, but one of the other soldiers did it.  Leckie instead returned home, to continue writing for the local paper and marry the girl next door.  Very sweet, though not as sweet as my alternate ending.  Especially considering how his family treated him.  Oh, well.  It's hard to rewrite reality.

     I never did care very much for Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello), though he was most prominently featured at the end of the run.  I wonder what the real Eugene thinks of the show, assuming he's seen it.  I don't know why he wouldn't have, as his book was one of the source materials.  I am sure I will never understand his pain and what he went through, but he came off as kind of a jerk, before, during, and after the war, so it can't just be blamed on the experience.  He can be forgiven for his behavior at the end, then, but what about who he was in the first place?  I did feel bad for him, though, and his family, in particular, his father, was super supportive in the end.

     The third main character, and this one I didn't expect, so it hit me hard, was John Basilone (Jon Seda).  He was also a little bit too cocky for awhile, but he matured, and grew into an amazing soldier.  His quick courting and wedding was so wonderfully done.  When he died in combat, it was a shock, and a heart wrenching one at that.  I felt worst for his widow, of course, but I'm sure his entire unit took his death personally.  He was definitely a hero, re-enlisting and going back when he didn't have to.

     Kudos to HBO, and of course Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, for bringing us this awesome story.

Brothers & Sisters was riding smoothly until the crash

     I have some complaints about ABC's Brothers & Sisters finale, "On the Road Again", but first, let's start with the good stuff.  The Walker family mostly worked out their issues.  Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) seemed to be in a good place.  They have decided to spend a year apart, but, based on interviews I've read with the people that make the show, they'll be all right.  Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) was taking the dissolution of the family business pretty hard, but I'm sure that she'll recover.  Though are her kids ever on the show anymore?  Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) and Saul's (Ron Rifkin) restaurant looks to be the new business venture for the family, and I'm hopeful.

     Sadly, though, Saul has HIV.  I understand the explanation that he could have had it for decades without symptoms, but it seems to be stretching some already stretched believability.  When the series began, there was no hint of Saul's homosexuality, and it seemed to come from nowhere.  I am glad to see plot for Saul, when he is often left out, so I will forgive those mistakes.  I will also forgive the finding of water at Narrow Lake, though again, it seems very convenient, and a little cheap.

     Killing off Robert (Rob Lowe) was the best way to go, if he had to leave the show, though I'm still bitter about his departure.  It was also nice that it was done in an unexpected way.  However, the multi-car pileup, with so much of the family involved, was not handled all that way, and I am unsatisfied with it.  If Holly (Patricia Wettig) dies, I will be furious.  She is easily one of the most interesting characters on the show, and sorely needed.  I was sad to see her get so little screen time this week, but the series has been fairly good to her lately, so it can have a pass, for now.

     I am being this tough on Brothers & Sisters because it is usually such a good show, and I was not happy with the finale.  I don't feel it lived up to the show's usual standards.  I am not sure about how the reduced role next season of Kitty (Calista Flockhart) will bode, nor is it a good sign that only eighteen episodes have been ordered.  By contrast, this year saw twenty-four hours, and most drama series deliver twenty-two currently.  Next year will also pick a year after the events of this season, so perhaps that may give it a new injection of life.  I am simply concerned, and really hope that I one of my favorite shows bounces back soon.

The House falls in

      Fox's House finished it's sixth season with huge developments last night in the episode "Help Me".  If you have not watched the episode yet, please do not continue reading, as I do plan on discussing the shocking ending, including the scene cut from press screening copies, so I really will spoil everything for you.

     The episode began with a different atmosphere than normal, House (Hugh Laurie) giving Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) the book her ancestor wrote.  She seemed off, and the crisis of a crane collapsing sent them both rushing to a construction site, without time to discuss what was going on.  Going without the theme song, House, of course, quickly found a mysterious case, but as Cuddy would not allow him to return to the hospital, his case of the week provided only brief scenes for the rest of the cast, and took a back seat to the real drama.

     House found a woman buried in a collapse parking garage, and tried everything he could to save her leg.  He was his usual rude self, but found compassion.  That is not an unheard of story for the show.  What was going on here that made it more than that was his insistence to save her leg, he himself having been miserable for many years because of his own bum appendage.   Not only that, but in this case, House failed, as she ended up dying in the ambulance.

     This sent House spiraling down his dark, demented path once more.  Having been clean for a whole season, he ripped his bathroom mirror off the wall to find his hidden stash of narcotics.  At this point, only one thing could save him from falling off the wagon.  Cuddy.  Coming to him, revealing she had broke up with Lucas (Michael Weston), and declaring her love for him.  It's something fans of the show have been waiting a long time for, and his recent good behavior and maturity, well, relative to his past actions, have finally made him ready to be with her.  A setback would have destroyed all that, so in retrospect, the ending was obvious and timely.  And yet it was a shock.  What will this mean for the show, if Cuddy and House pursue this relationship?  How will it change him?

     Also, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) asked for some time off, her health seemingly declining.  Will she be House's next patient, or the next one to leave the cast?

     House has already been renewed for a seventh season, which will air on Fox.