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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thoughts about Game of Thrones, The X-Files, and Community

-I no longer regularly write posts about episodes of Game of Thrones, but I continue to regularly watch the series. The end of “Unbowed, Unbroken, Unbent” created a swell of rage across the internet because Ramsey’s rape of Sansa became about Theon’s torture of watching his almost-sister be raped. I usually disagree whenever fans and critics take moral offense to action in Game of Thrones, one of the most brutal and violent shows already before the latest rape scene. Hitfix’s Dan Fienberg made a clearheaded point about the major issue of the scene, which ties into a larger problem of adaptation, on the latest episode of Firewall & Iceberg. I read angry, angry comments rating the sixth episode the worst of the series.

Now, I think Game of Thrones may be the most overrated series airing. To quote Henry James, it’s a loose, baggy monster that more or less puts scenes together without a story. This latest episode again used a scene detached from the other stories to end the episode with—yet another instance of Benioff and Weiss caving to our ‘What Happened’ culture, and of creating conversation through shock value; however, I thought it a decent episode for this season. Am I morally vacant for not feeling anger, disgust, and resentment about the final scene of the episode? I don’t think so. Arya in The House of White & Black captured my imagination, though her exchange with Jaqen about her story, truth, and lies disappointed me. Dorne’s a disappointment; Jaime and Bronn are a fun pairing until one remembers what nonsense it is they’re involved in; I think Benioff and Weiss may write themselves into the ground with Littlefinger; the trial Cersei schemed for delighted me because I want Cersei to act relentlessly towards those she hates, and this storyline’s finally returning the character to her roots.

As for the Ramsey/Sansa scene at the scene: I’d write more about the choice to bring her to Winterfell in the story if I had not read A Dance With Dragons three years ago, and I had not a general suspicion about where the storyline will go and leave off in episode nine or ten of season six.

-So, I began watching The X-Files Fall 2014. My friend, the author of The Cheese Life blog, which you may read if you look to your right, let me use his DVDs to watch seasons 1-3. I watched season four on Amazon Prime, and four episodes of season five. I haven’t watched another episode in over a month. I wanted to watch the series because a few of my favorite TV writers received their start writing for the series. I really only wanted to watch Tim Minear’s episodes, but the completest I am thought it best to watch the whole damn series. I enjoyed David Greenwalt’s only episode. I still have a preposterous amount of episodes to watch, and two movies, before I finish the series. Of course then new X-Files will premiere after the NFC Championship Game in January. Reading, writing, and watching other TV shows interrupted The X-Files. I shall return to the show maybe today, if I can remember PS3 Network password (doubtful).

-I may review another season of Everwood during the summer and another season of Dawson’s Creek. Maybe I’ll write about a novel or short stories. I could re-name the blog “Jawn Foot” and review nights out with my friends, particularly the quality of conversation and such. I’m almost guaranteed to lose whatever momentum the blog gained since February or March.

-Community on Yahoo! Screen has mostly entertained me. I’ve laughed. Yahoo! Screen could work out various glitches. Apparently it’s unwatchable on consoles. I’m a subscriber to Harmontown. I’m a little closer to the workings of Community because he speaks about his concerns and insecurities about the new season. His worst fear about the season has come true at times but at other times it hasn’t. The latest paintball episode rocked. It inventively captured the best parts of the previous two paintball episodes, commented on doing a third episode, without suffering from being hacky or the problems of the third ‘gang lashes out at each other’ episode, which mostly stemmed from the newness of Frankie and Elroy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grimm "Cry Havoc" Review

If Grimm could maintain the pace, the intensity, the urgency, and the emotion of episodes during season’s launch and May sweeps it’d be a near-great genre show. Grimm bogs down in procedural storytelling for half a season, in between serialized episodes, and it’s fine because Grimm’s a procedural-based series. It’s a genre procedural in the style of ANGEL’s first season that never tried to repeat ANGEL’s evolution as a story. ANGEL abandoned the case-of-the-week formula in the second season and never returned to it. If the writers told a stand-alone case-of-the-week story, it involved and revolved around the characters, whereas Grimm’s writers develop short fairy tale inspired stories about characters that appear and will (almost always) never appear after the episode ends.

“Cry-Havoc” doesn’t have any of what drags down Grimm in mid-season. It carried the craziness from “Headache” and didn’t stop. Okay, it stopped during Renard’s scenes. Renard’s miserable Jack-the-Ripper sublot that lasted decades continued as two cops the viewer never saw before investigated the homicides. I’d like for those two to become active detectives in cases that Nick and Hank don’t reach first. Grimm could do a solid arc that challenged Nick’s role as a cop and as a grimm. Nick announced he wouldn’t be a cop as he tracked down Kenneth and Juliette. Wu, too, removed the badge. The end of the season, with the amazing and unnecessary reappearance of the FBI agent, may lead to an arc that challenges Nick’s dual roles in society. Who knows, though.

Kelly’s death motivated Nick. He used the badge in his search for Kenneth. Kenneth, an impressive villain and a far more active than Viktor or Renard’s brother, doesn’t last long against Nick. Their fight included Nick low-blowing the Prince—a first for a choreographed fight that I’ve watched, and I’ve watched many choreographed fights. I feel frustrated when an antagonist can battle a specialized and unique super-powered person for minutes. Nick basically owns him in the fight and finishes him off with a spear through the neck. Nick moved on to finding Juliette afterwards. Juliette spent much of the episode with the King and Diana. Juliette fluctuated between regretful and villain. Her possible last scene is confusingly constructed. Juliette left in the helicopter; however, the King’s thrown from the copter by Meisner. Juliette is nowhere inside the helicopter. Nick found her in his house. They converse about Kelly, Juliette’s role in setting his mother up, and Juliette seems apologetic and regretful.

Of course, the scene is bonkers. Nick strangled Juliette…and strangled…and strangled…and…. He didn’t kill her. Nick’s reluctance to kill Juliette turned Juliette into full-on villain. She hexenbiested out, slapped him around, threw him through the front window, and lifted her claw to finish the job. Trubel, after Juliette said “I’m getting started” or something along those threatening lines, said she’d finish it. Juliette took two arrows, one in the chest, and one near the neck. She seemingly died in Nick’s arms. Juliette turned once again from hell bitch goddess into sorrowful Juliette. Did she die? I think so. Kelly died off-screen, so Juliette’s on-screen death looked final. Could the writers have redeemed Juliette during season five? Yes. Her insane transformation during season four stemmed from Nick/Adalind, and her hatred towards the gang for bringing her into their crazy world. It’s an incomplete story.

I wonder will the King’s death mean the end of the narratively vacant Royals story. I don’t think so. The Royals have involvement in the story beyond the baby. If I recall correctly, they want the Keys. Viktor’s still around if Alexis Denisof ever returns. Whatever, though. Renard was uninvolved because of the stupid Ripper storyline.

Trubel’s a brutal badass grimm. Nick looked shocked after she shot two arrows into Juliete. No one knew she returned. The element of surprise allowed her to strike Juliette when she had Nick down and ready to die by her hand. I couldn’t be less excited by the return of Chavev, and even less excited that it was the cliffhanger. At least it may blow up Nick’s world and force him to choose between the Law and the law.

I’ll see in the fall.

Other Thoughts:

-That’s Grimm season 4. It was a mixed season. The end of the season was great. Most of the season didn’t hit a groove. Rosalee and Monroe were underutilized. I thought Bree Turner was awesome in the second half of the season.

-Renard and Hank used Kenneth to end the Jack the Ripper investigation. That’s fine. If Renard spent 15 episodes next season shifting uncomfortably while receiving updates about the case, I would’ve ate a bar of steel weekly.

-Will I write about Grimm next season? Most likely. I’ll spend my summer in seclusion atop the Besh Barmag Mountain in Azerbaijan contemplating the question of whether to write about season five of Grimm or not.

-Thomas Ian Griffith wrote the episode. Norbeto Barba directed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Vampire Diaries "I'm Thinking of You All the While" Review

And in the end Elena’s in a magic coma until Bonnie Bennett dies. 

Kai, that card. 

The writers couldn’t kill Elena off, because she’ll need to return for the series finale—whenever that may be. Next season? How will the show continue without its lead? I don’t know what the majority opinion is among the fanbase. I sort of write my reviews in isolation and never interact with other fans of The Vampire Diaries. One comment from a fan on a Hitfix article predicted disaster for the series next season. I think The Vampire Diaries will be somewhat more interesting and revitalized in season seven. It’s a creative challenge to write a story after the main character leaves the story. All that is in season seven. I’m not writing a season seven premiere review, am I? I’m writing a review for the season six finale of The Vampire Diaries—“I’m Thinking of You All The While.”

The first nine minutes of the finale was among the darker nine minutes I’ve seen in a network TV finale. Kai, recently returned from the 1903 prison world, murdered his sister and her unborn twins. Alaric cradled his dead wife in his arms. Afterwards, Kai jammed a piece of broken glass in his neck. The Coven died with him. His parting words to his family are about proving to his family that he is an irredeemable piece of garbage. Tyler helped Liv die without added suffering, which triggered his curse. Minutes later he ripped into Kai’s throat. A werewolf bite seemingly spells the end for a vampire. Kai, I should not fail to mention, drank Lily’s blood before his grand act of brutal mass revenge and returned as a witch-vampire. The werewolf bite is not the end for witch-vampires—yet another convenient magic rule in The Vampire Diaries—because Kai siphoned the wound shut using vampire healing as well as his infinite power resource.

Kai’s a damn worthwhile villain, though. The magic’s too much. It makes things too easy for him; however, the convoluted spell he did that linked Bonnie and Elena worked wonders for the story of Damon, Bonnie, and Elena. I don’t recall Damon wanting to kill any other character more than Bonnie Bennett. Maybe Jeremy. Damon killed Jeremy in the season two premiere. Elena told Stefan that night, “I hate him. I know he’s your brother, but I hate him.” Damon committed other bad, bad acts leading to and during his courting of Elena. The challenge of bringing Elena together with Damon was their past. The vampire transformation changed Elena’s character and brought her closer to her dark side, but that happened because of the sire bond. Their relationship stopped and started. One would think it better for the two to get together in the finale. Anticipation for a romance may exceed the depicted romance.

Damon and Elena struck me as a little forced. Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder played the hell out of it over the years, but their characters together never fit like Elena and Stefan, which was the zenith of romantic pairings in this crazy story. Elena’s memories returned after she took the cure--memories of Damon’s horrible, violent behavior that initially kept human Elena from Damon. It didn’t, though. The test became about Damon when he wanted to take the cure and live out his life with her.

Kai, that card, gave Damon the best chance to prove his love for Elena. Two seasons ago, three seasons ago, and definitely five seasons ago, Damon would’ve murdered Bonnie the very next second a Big Bad told him he couldn’t have Elena until Bonnie died. If Damon let Bonnie die, Elena wouldn’t forgive him. The early part of the season developed the Bonnie and Damon bond, trapped together in 1994, making breakfast, and shopping for more breakfast items in an empty store. Kai, angry at Kai for betraying him, links Damon’s love with Damon’s new platonic female bestie (no one replaces Alaric). Seasons of Damon treating Bonnie badly leaves doubt in the viewer’s minds about what he’ll do when Kai gives him a dying Bonnie. They shared a look before Damon left the wedding hall. Seconds later, Damon surprised Kai from behind and ripped his head off. Saving Bonnie means he loves his friend and he loves his girlfriend, i.e. he’ll wait however long he must for Elena to wake while Bonnie lives her life.

The last two acts of the season revolve around the characters’ farewell to Elena. The farewells are saccharine, referential, nostalgic, and saturated in Nina’s real-life departure from the series. For example, Elena asked Bonnie to float feathers for a final time, which Bonnie did in their first scene together; Damon and Elena repeated their dance from “Miss Mystic Falls”; Stefan and Elena went to the place where she told him why she didn’t want to be a vampire. Elena encouraged Matt to go for the badge; she urged Tyler to leave and find comfort in himself; and she promised Alaric would find strength in the future.

Of course, the best and most near perfect scene of the episode happened without Elena. She overwhelmed the scene. Caroline talked to Stefan about what it meant for him to watch Elena in a permanent sleep. They’re soulmates. Stefan agreed that they are soulmates. I wonder if the scene challenged Caroline Dries and Julie Plec the most. They couldn’t cheapen Stefan’s and Elena’s history, they needed to move Stefan towards Caroline by him stating he had moved on from Elena. Maybe it was the easiest scene they ever wrote in the series. I’ve written for years about the fraternal love of Stefan and Damon dwarfing their respective love for Elena. Stefan, in a wonderfully written monologue, told Caroline that Elena loved Damon—no one had loved Damon. Not his mother. Not his father. Not Katherine. Elena’s love for Damon allowed Stefan to love his brother again. His love for his brother meant more to him than the meaningful love he shared with her. Elena helped them find each other and love each other. That’s beautiful, my friends and my well-wishers. I would’ve liked Stefan confiding in Elena about the gift she gave him during their memory trip. Alas. Still a damn fine scene.

Season six improved upon a lackluster fifth season. TVD would benefit from a reduced episode order. Enzo bounced from useless story to useless story. Another character turned the switch off because there was time to kill. Kai was the best written and developed villain since Klaus. I know The CW ordered another full 22 episode order for TVD in 2015-2016. The story already jumped forward in time. Mystic Falls resembled Hill Valley. Matt drove through deserted streets. Damon stood on the clock tower, dressed like a goth scene kid. Ugh. That can’t be good.

Other Thoughts:

-Lily found her friends in the last act. Lily and Enzo bonded over feelings of abandonment and wholeness. Enzo, who would definitely join a doomsday cult, seems keen to fit within Lily’s crazy family. Presumably, Lily and her family contributed to Mystic Falls’ Hill Valley-esque post-apocalyptic squalor.

-I’d be remiss if I ignored Stefan/Caroline. Would I really? Stefan’s ready for Caroline when she’s ready. They had a moment lifted from a hack romantic comedy. Stefan told her he made of list of reasons why he can love her—a day after Caroline told him why she couldn’t love him.

-Michael Trevino won’t return for season seven. I think the other actors will return. McQueen, who is even more all chest, won’t return for season seven.

-I really wanted Jodi Lyn O’Keefe to return for season seven. I loved her fifteen years ago in mediocre teen comedies. Her death was among the top five most twisted in TVD. I rank ahead of her death Stefan’s brutal beheadings, Caroline massacring 12 innocents, one of Klaus’ atrocious murders, and I can’t think of another.

-I’ll miss Nina Dobrev. I began watching the series in summer 2010 for several reasons. I read great reviews of season one. I dismissed it as Twilight-lite. The second reason is Kevin Williamson. His meta-horror movie, Scream 2, blew my 11-year-old mind away. Scream, which I watched after Scream 2, also scrambled my brain in a good way. I began writing screenplays at age 11 and 12 because of Kevin Williamson. The third reason is Nina Dobrev, who is so pretty. I will watch TV shows for pretty girls. I watched Life Unexpected for Britt Robertson. I watched and reviewed The Secret Circle for her as well. Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley played one of the greatest fictional romances in a teenage melodrama since Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson in season 4 of Dawson’s Creek, and Gregory Smith and Emily Vancamp in season three of Everwood. I look forward to seeing her return to the series for its finale episode.

-That was season six of The Vampire Diaries, folks. I will write about season seven in the fall, which will mark my sixth season reviewing the series.

-Caroline Dries & Julie Plec wrote “I’m Thinking of You All the While”. Chris Grismer directed.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Grimm "Headache" Review

Grimm resolved the Jack the Ripper story in “Headache.” The silly accent belonged to Captain Renard, who had been possessed after dying, and being brought back to life by his mother, another hexenbiest who may be of use as Juliette continues her transformation to total villainhood, by the wesen Nick, Hank, Wu, and Monroe researched in the previous episode. The resolution of Renard’s blackouts, the bleeding out from the bullet wounds, and the reveal of who killed prostitutes in Portland, means that no longer must the viewer endure the aimless and seemingly purposeless flashes of Renard being shot, bleeding, waking up in pools, in the ball room at a Chuck E. Cheese, and covered in his own imaginary blood after jolting awake from nightmares.

The bulk of “Headache” resolves to cure Renard of possession. Rosalee and Monroe work on a cure, because that’s all they do. Rosalee’s less tolerant of helping people that try to kill her or Monroe. “Headache” began by continuing the cliffhanger that ended last week’s episode. Hank pushed Monroe out of the way of the bullet. Juliette left, satisfied by her attempted murder of Monroe, and Rosalee announces she’ll kill the bitch. Renard threatened her when possessed by Jack. The boys asked each other what they’d do if the cure didn’t work. Rosalee said, “You kill him” or something to that effect. I like that evolution for her character. If Rosalee becomes the character that doesn’t forget about another character’s past atrocities, whether possessed or no, character choices suddenly have more lasting import and consequence. Maybe Juleitte won’t re-join the gang.

Of course, I think, and would wage a hill of beans, that Juliette, after a redemption story during season five, becomes reacquainted with the gang. The Grimm writers have gone all the way writing her villainy. Juliette slept with Kenneth in Nick’s bed; Juliette sat still upstairs while the Royals’ henchmen attacked Kelly; Juliette took Diana to the Prince. The cliffhanger of the episode is Nick’s discovery of his mother’s head in a box. The fight between her and the Royals happened off-screen. The camera followed Juliette’s reactions. She was less total evil in that scene and more contemplative. I wondered what the director, Jim Kouf, told Bitsie before filming the scene.

“Headache” moved at a fast clip. Trubel returned during the action-packed episode and even sliced off the head of one of the Royals’ henchmen. Her return is convenient unless Nick, or someone else, tipped her off about Juliette. Trubel did her thing: she investigated, watched, observed, and had enough to tell Nick that something bad seemed imminent. Soon, though, Nick’s a shell-shocked mess, screaming “No!” over again after finding the more-than-likely fake head of his mother inside the box. The Royals had been a non-factor since forever, comparable to gnats, annoying but insignificant. Nick, the hero of the show, never had consistent motivation to fight the Royals. Now he does.

Season 4 has been hit or miss. That’s true of all their seasons. Kouf and Greenwalt always deliver during finale seaso, though. The last two episodes of Grimm have been good, entertaining, engaging, and I look forward to next week.

Other Thoughs:

-“Headache” reminded me a little of ANGEL and Buffy. Greenwalt’s former two shows wrote in demons that hitchhiked from another dimension.

-Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt wrote “Headache.” Kouf directed. I haven’t seen Greenwalt direct an episode of television since “The Girl in Question.”

About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. Since that ended, and I wanted to continue writing about TV, it became TV with The Foot. I write about my life in the other blog.