Monday, February 28, 2011

The Chicago Code "Cabrini-Green" Review

Each episode title of The Chicago Code is related to some piece of Chicago history. In "Cabrini-Green," Cabrini-Green has a personal tie with one of the central characters of the show--Ronin Gibbons. Last week, the show made a conscious effort to show how bad a guy Alderman Gibbons really is. This week, the episode delved into the personal story of Gibbons. He grew up in the Cabrini-Green projects with a great view of Chicago. As a boy, he dreamed of all he could do in the city of Chicago. When the Alderman ignored his father's calls about a mistaken tax notice, Gibbons decided to run against that Alderman. He won and he eventually made Chicago his own.

Gibbons' story was the best part of the episode, and I'm beginning to think that the show might not want to arrest Gibbons quite yet for his corrupted ways. The man came from the same streets as the gang that sent a message through a gun-wielding 15 year old named Michael. A complex villain is the always the best kind of villain after all. The gang sent the message because Gibbons became too multi-ethnic for their liking. Instead of keeping the heat off of them, Gibbons instead protects Killian and the Irish mob.

Gibbons and Teresa share similar goals for the city of Chicago. Both are powerful people but, of course, they're complete opposites. While Teresa struggles to keep her cops on her side, Gibbons has so many people in his pocket that I doubt he can keep track of them all. Both characters want to cleanse the streets of Chicago. Gibbons reveals this goal during the closing narration of the episode, after we see the dead body of Little Monster (the thug who hired the "hit"). Teresa, of course, wants the cleanse the streets of the corruption and crime that destroyed her parent's lives. The characters come from the same essential foundation. Both were inspired at a young age to change Chicago by circumstances in their lives. The difference between the two is exemplified in Gibbons' scenes with Michael.

Gibbons has the charges against Michael dropped. His assuring conversations to Michael's mother about the future are designed for Gibbons to figure out which gang wants him dead. Gibbons' interest in Michael exists only for the press and his own personal reasons. Troubled kids from the 'Hood aren't a high priority for Gibbons. Michael even questions Ronin's motives--he did try to shoot the man after all. The delivery of a beautiful flat-screen television and an XBOX 360 only makes Michael more untrustworthy. The television and video-game console are calculated gifts--a way for Gibbons to get Michael to open up about the truth. Indeed, when Michael wonders whether or not Gibbons will murder him, the Alderman soon discovers the man and gang behind the "message" because he turns the conversation around entirely using his excellent diplomatic skills. Not long after, Gibbons takes care of the problem.

Every word, every gesture and movement is calculated by Gibbons. One assumes he knows exactly how many times his eyes blink in the morning. Gibbons will be a hard man to take down because, as Teresa explains, the city of Chicago hails him as a hero for shooting a 15 year old boy. He's the ultimate politician. Words are truly weapons for him. He managed to kill the gang member before the cops discovered who put the hit out on the Alderman. His tracks are covered. And, also, Delroy Lindo plays the character so well that even I would struggle to believe the man's capable of what he's actually capable of.

In the B story (or maybe it's the A story), an anonymous person planted explosives in a medical lab. Later, the person planted explosives in a karaoke bar which used to be something else. An old radical leftist group in Chicago used to bomb buildings in the 70s and the current bomber's following what the mastermind (Dr. Argyle) of the attacks planned during the 70s and, apparently, boasts about in a book he's written. The story connects the theme of the episode (one's connection to one's past and the sins of our future to use a Minear-ism). The bomber is the child of two parents whose lives were ruined by Dr. Argyle. The sins of the bomber's parents became the sins of his future (and, well, present) and Argyle couldn't escape an arrest after all of those years (in case I didn't beat the theme over your head). The past continues to motivate Gibbons and Teresa. The case-of-the-week was all about the past.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode. The case-of-the-week was more ordinary this week than last week. Delroy Lindo knocked the episode out of the park for the second week in a row. He's quickly stealing the show from Jennifer Beals and Jason Clarke.

Tim Minear and Jon Worley wrote the episode. I forget who the director is and imdb.com doesn't have the actual director listed for "Cabrini-Green" so my apologies.

Other thoughts:

-I’d like to thank Shawn Ryan for convincing the writer(s) of each episode to answer questions every week. Tonight, I had the privilege of chatting with Tim Minear briefly on Twitter. Minear is one of the great TV writers.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

How I Met Your Mother "A Change of Heart" Review

"A Change of Heart" felt so lazy, like the writers couldn't be bothered with for the writing period of the episode. Maybe a hiatus for the show was nigh as the writers broke the story for this episode and they pulled a Philadelphia Flyers (which means they essentially no-showed the game before a multi-day break). I might've audibly groaned when the doctor gave Barney a heart device to measure his beats because I knew exactly where the story would go and it's no where good. Maybe the majority of HIMYM fans enjoyed the episode. Maybe they enjoyed the continued development of Barney. If so, these fans probably swear by forgettable romantic comedies because Barney's arc is straight out of Romantic Comedy 101. How I Met Your Mother earns more critical praise than other sitcoms for its attention to detail its interest in long-form narratives; however, the show's more than capable of falling into lazy sitcom tropes and uninspired filler episodes (as the bulk of season five proved).

Predictably, HIMYM has hit a crossroads with Barney. Six seasons in, his womanizing ways have worn thin. During season five, the show explored Barney's emotional side when he and Robin became a couple. After a few weeks, the writers broke the couple up. Maybe Craig Bays and Carter Thomas felt like the coupling wasn't working or maybe the network disliked the coupling and suggested separating Robin and Barney. During their relationship, the audience learned more about the inner-workings of Barney the Romantic. Specifically, one episode (the break-up episode) featured a flash-forwardish device that allowed the viewer to see how Barney viewed he and Robin in the future (it wasn't good).

Barney essentially faces the same issues in "A Change of Heart" that he did during the early part of season five. He fears commitment. He hesitates allowing anyone into his life. In all honesty, his issues aren't very interesting or compelling because they're so clich├ęd. Alan Sepinwall argued last week that the arc would be far more interesting if Barney faced these feelings with Robin because we're invested in not only Robin but their coupling. Presently, Nora's an attractive British girl with a polite and friendly demeanor but she has no characters. I like her well enough but nothing separates her from any of the other female characters who've received a multi-episode arc with Barney. The A story with Nora follows the traditional beats of any bad rom-com. Barney lies to Nora about what he wants in an attempt to sleep with her. Eventually, he confesses that he lied but, you see, he lied about lying. With Barney's constant deceptions to people about what he truly feels, it's impossible to gauge how Barney actually feels about Nora.

Of course, the heart monitor exists (one of the laziest plot devices I've seen this season), which reveals what Barney truly felt--his heart skipped a beat when Nora arrived for their date. Later, Barney watches Nora eat breakfast with her parents as he imagines what it'd be like if he apologized to her and was honest. But he doesn't and he walks away. My instinct tells me that Barney will shed his womanizing ways when he meets his father and works out those abandonment issues.

Meanwhile, Robin considered buying a dog and then began dating a man who acted like an actual dog. The B story had some funny moments like the gang (sans Barney) high on "sandwiches" and the pun-a-thon in the bar. But it wasn't enough to save the episode because the Barney story was garbage.

I assume the show won't return with new episodes until April since February sweeps is over. "A Change of Heart" was a definitely the weak episode of recent string of good ones. As popular as NPH is, a Barney-centric episode usually fails to deliver.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Friday, February 25, 2011

Man Vs. Wild "Cape Wrath, Scotland" Review/Recap

Bear Grylls returned to the United Kingdom for the second episode of season six. He and his crew took on the harsh terrain and climate of Cape Wrath, Scotland. What followed was one of the most quiet and subdued episodes of the series thus far--maybe even the most quest and subdued episode. Pastoral music played as Bear camped in a boat shelter. Bear spoke about Scotland with glowing adjectives. He described the conditions of the areas as "pristine." In every episode of Man Vs. Wild, Bear takes a few minutes to appreciate the landscape and the place he's in. In "Cape Wrath, Scotland" it was the entire episode. On the rugged mountains, Bear admired the developing clouds creeping over the peaks. On a summit, he overlooked the whole area--a stunning view of bright green fields and rugged cliffs. It was a refreshing change of pace for the show. Bear offered survival tips as he always does but I doubt the majority of people would survive in Cape Wrath based on this episode because it's more like a love-letter to the region than a survival guide, which isn't a criticism of the episode. On the contrary, it's one of the best episodes of the series.

-Bear's first challenge involves a life raft and the treacherous open North Atlantic Ocean. The seas of Scotland are among the most dangerous seas in the world because of its swells and tide-changes. Bear begins the episode by showing the audience how to survive in the cold, rough waters. All one needs is a life raft and the current of the sea to be on your side. Bear suffers sea sickness as he waits for the current to bring him to the coast. Eventually, he reaches the coast. On shore (which is only a damp rock), Bear converts his life raft into a dry kit then he begins his quest to find rescue.

-After his fun in the water in the beginning of the episode, Bear realizes that he needs to navigate the water yet again to be where he wants to be. Before diving into the icy waters of Cape Wrath, Bear makes a wet-suit from the skin of a dead seal. Bear explains that the body will become exhausted within an hour in such cold waters and the swimmer will become unconscious and soon drown. Since he doesn't have an actual wet-suit, he figures the skin of a dead seal will be good enough. Indeed, the wet-suit works impeccably. It protects his core body temperature from decreasing rapidly. If you're ever going to submerge yourself in below freezing water for an extended period of time and a dead seal's within sight then you know the skin of it can save your life.

-The coolest part of the episode is the journey along the estuary. An estuary is "a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea." Estuaries will always make for exciting television if it's in Cape Wrath and high tide is nigh. Now, Bear swears that he had no idea when the tide would change but he's surrounded by a crew that knows these things. Why bother going into an estuary if high tide won't come? It became an exciting race to reach the other island before he and the camera crew were engulfed in water. Man Vs. Wild is a television show after all. Last week, I read The AV Club's review of the "Arizona Sky Islands." Unsurprisingly, I disagreed with large portions of the review. The reviewer criticized aspects of the show that felt 3-4 years late. The reviewer hadn't gotten over the revelation that Man Vs. Wild isn't as natural a show as Survivorman was, that Man Vs Wild manipulates situations so Bear can demonstrate survival techniques. Once again, it's a TV show. The Estuary sequence felt like a planned bit because it probably was planned. It's television. Such planning doesn't make the scene any less exciting or cool. The quickness of high tide was astonishing. Bear and the crew turned around once the water became too high.

-Bear climbed a lot for the second week in a row. He made his way into the valley and decided to break for food and rest. He came upon a small lake, built a dam and placed a net to capture fish. For an unknown period of time, Bear disturbed the water in hopes the fish would swim down-stream into his net. He told a story about a spider who kept falling from the web but the spider never quit. Bear related to the spider in this instance. The scene resembled last week's bow-and-arrow attempt. Eventually, Bear had two small trouts. He used a battered boat for shelter, found insulation and built a fire.

It was a low-key affair. Bear found rescue as he always does at episode's end. The fun of this episode was seeing the Scottish terrain, the North Atlantic waters and Bear's obvious love for Scotland. Next week, Bear returns to a jungle. Jungle adventures are always fun.

THE HULU EPISODE OF THE WEEKEND



THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "The House Guest" Review

Photo Credit: listal.com (I wrote about a paragraph comparing a scene to Cruel Intentions...that's why the photo is here plus the photo is fantastic)

The truth doesn't really set anyone free in The Vampire Diaries.

In "The House Guest," various characters wanted to tell the complete truth to another character. Bonnie confessed her feelings about Jeremy to Elena. Caroline revealed her true nature to Matt in order to save his life. Damon experienced harsh truth when Katherine confessed she chose to save Stefan's life rather than his. Katherine confessed her reliance on the people she once tried to murder during various points in the season because she wants to kill Klaus and live in peace. Alaric's the only character who refuses to tell the truth to the person he cares about the most. Unfortunately, for him, his skeleton in the closet arrives at Elena's door AND Jenna ANSWERS said door. Uh-oh.

The importance of truth is the main theme in "The House Guest." Thankfully, there are zero characters left who remain in the dark, which only opens the storytelling more. This episode moved many pieces of the narrative into place for the endgame of the season (the final six episodes in other words). More characters were killed. It's astounding how fearless the show is on a weekly basis and how much story the writers have left to tell in the second season. Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec and the rest of the writing staff never short-change the audience with forgettable villains. Earlier in the season, I complained about how lame Elijah was then Elijah became a badass villain. If only every series currently in production took as much care with developing interesting villains then it'd be a happier place.

The werewolves, the father-son warlock duo and Elijah figured to be involved in the endgame of the season because audiences in America have been conditioned to that kind of structure. Shows dangle various cards throughout the season but the writers won't unleash the full deck until the end of the season. The werewolves and the warlock/Elijah arcs were very important in the grand scheme of the show. Elijah and the warlocks informed our heroes how to kill Klaus. The werewolf arc provided needed character development for Tyler. Now, the pieces are set for the final act of season two. Besides a few so-so to bad episodes, the second season of TV has been a clinic in excellent storytelling.

"The House Guest" continued TVD's streak of insane oh-my-goodness-THEY-JUST-DID-THAT. It's the funnest show on network television, friends and well-wishers. Stefan and Bonnie tried to arrange a deal with Jonas and Luca to work together to kill Klaus and rescue Britta. Jonas rejected the deal and tried to resurrect Elijah with the help of his son (because they only trusted Elijah to successfully kill Klaus). The plan backfired (literally). Damon and Katherine figured out the psychic witch attack and handed it. Luca died. Jonas went crazy with revenge so the vamps needed to take care of Jonas as he was a wild card and untrustworthy. In his last seconds, he gave Bonnie her powers back and instructions for how to kill Klaus.

The first half of the episode had weird tonal issues. The girls-night-out felt like something out of the fifth season of Dawson's Creek--right down to Caroline singing. Meanwhile, Damon, Katherine and Stefan were involved in dark supernatural activities. After Luca burned to death, the episode cut to a five minute scene that featured a cheering Mystic Grill, Caroline's singing debut, uninspired CW-montage full of characters gazing meaningfully at one another and equally unoriginal romantic reunion between Caroline and Matt. The second half of the episode cleaned up those tonal issues as it became a chaotic display of supernatural insanity but every now and then the series reminds someone like me that they are a CW show pre-dominantly watched by pre-teen and teenage girls.

Overall, "The House Guest" delivered an awesome viewing experience. New episodes won't air until April 7 so the end of the season is nigh.

Other thoughts:

-Damon's seemingly emerged from his emo phase. The truth that Katherine wanted him dead over Stefan didn't send him searching for the first helpless girl he could find. Damon simply found out where the witch massacre site is, exchanged the information with Stefan and kept Katherine in the dark.

-Why bother with a scene in which the characters comment on how they never go to school? Why does Stefan continue to attend high school? He's over 100 years old. No one cares about the high school aspect of the show.

-I wonder if the director, Michael Katleman, instructed Nina Dobrev to play her final scene as Katherine in the episode like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions and Mia Kirschner in Not Another Teen Movie (well Mia's just imitating SMG in that movie) because Dobrev essentially copied Sarah Michelle Gellar as Katherine tried to seduce Damon. Ian Somerhalder even channeled Ryan Phillippe during that scene. The point: Katleman might be obsessed with Cruel Intentions. Maybe it was a weird foreshadowing of Isobel (portrayed by Mia Kirschner) return to Mystic Falls.

-Caroline Dries wrote the episode. Michael Katleman, of course, directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top 5 Episodes of the 2010-2011 Television Season So Far

The 2010-2011 television season has about 2-3 months before every series goes on hiatus for the summer. Thus far, it's been a rather lackluster season for television overall. The best new series of the season got cancelled after averaging the viewership of the Fox Soccer Channel (that's not true but the viewership for Terriers was atrocious). I had nothing else to write about on this Wednesday night so I've decided to compile a top 5 list for the Best Episodes of the 2010-2011 season. I could've dived into random thoughts but no one wants to read that (because no one reads those posts).

Without further ado, here are my seven selections for the best episodes of the 2010-2011 season (i promise that Terriers and Community won't dominate the list):

5. "Pilot"--The Chicago Code--Written By Shawn Ryan--Directed By Charles McDougall

Perhaps it's premature to place the "Pilot" in the top 5 of best episodes with the many, many episodes that have aired this season. Of course, I'm only an independent blogger with zero access to press screeners so I cannot watch everything. I write about mostly everything I watch except for a few shows like Community. The majority of the shows I watch haven't been memorable either so when something like The Chicago Code "Pilot" comes along and captures my attention and imagination immediately then it deserves a spot.

Cop dramas and procedurals are among the least interesting shows on television for me. The 2011-2012 television season, by the way, boasts a potent lineup of high concept, interesting and intriguing shows with very few procedurals. I felt hesitant about TCC even with Shawn Ryan as creator because procedural cop dramas aren't my cup of tea; however, TCC proved it won't be an ordinary cop show. Critics have thrown around The Wire comparisons loosely (now Wire fans don't get enraged because TCC really isn't The Wire but Ryan shares David Simon's interest in more realistic, fact-based storytelling). The storytelling feels richer and deeper than the majority of procedurals. I actually care about the characters on The Chicago Code, which is rare this television season because I'm not invested in most of the characters in the various shows I watch.

Everything one needs to know about the world of The Chicago Code is in the "Pilot" episode. It's tremendous.

4. "Brave New World"--The Vampire Diaries--Written By Brian Young--Directed By John Dahl

You're damn right The CW vampire show produced one of the best seven episodes of the 2010-2011 television season. "Brave New World" is the second episode of the second season. The episode tells the story of Caroline's transformation into a vampire. What I like about the episode is its portrayal of someone becoming a vampire. The show presented some cool ideas about a vampire's nature in Caroline's world. Unlike other vampire myths, the person retains their soul when they become a vampire. The trick to TVD vampirism is control. Control is everything. Caroline's lack of self-control drives the A story of the episode. She's responsible for a few dead bodies. Damon wants to kill her because he perceives as a problem while Stefan wants to teach her control. Caroline's experience resembles any ordinary teenager though---intense emotions, self-control issues etc. After all, TVD uses the supernatural to tell more intense and visceral stories about growing up.

"Brave New World" is so well-done. The script's fantastic. The direction's terrific. Candice Accola's tremendous as she conveys all of the emotions Caroline feels during the episode. Please watch the episode on Amazon OnDemand. You won't regret the $1.99.

3. "Epidemiology"--Community--Written By Karey Dornetto--Directed By Anthony Hemingway

Critics have complained about the Chang-Shirley hookup becoming a pregnancy storyline. They have their reasons but they're mostly poor. They disagree with the decision to place an important plot point in the middle of a zany, insane episode about students-becoming-zombies. Now, I've written a more lengthy rant about the critics opinion about Community so I won't write much more about the critics opinion that particular plot point. The Chang-Shirley hook up is one of the highlights of an amazing episode. This episode aired three days before The Walking Dead captivated America. The episode gives each character plenty of great stuff, and the best episodes of Community are when the episodes work as ensemble pieces, utilizing each actor efficiently.

Dean Pelton's the MVC of the episode. He accidentally orders rancid food for the Halloween party. His Abba playlist (mixed with personal reminders) never get old. Plus, he locks the student body in the school once the zombie takeover begins. Community is the best series on television.

2. "Ring A Ding-Ding"--Terriers--Written By Angela Kang--Directed By Billy Gierhart

This is the episode that completely hooked me on Terriers. My review for the episode was re-tweeted by the man himself Shawn Ryan. It features a massive emotional gut-punch that completely caught me off-guard. The episode explored the inner anguish and pain that Hank experienced every day. The scene between he and the poor sick woman with a cheating husband is devastating. Of all the scenes during the 2010-2011 season, their scene is the absolute best. It's impeccably written, acted and directed. As an aspiring screenwriter, I've wanted to write something as good as a single LOST episode. Well, writing a scene as powerful as this scene is another goal of mine. The episode blew me away with the depth of emotion the characters experienced. Friends and well-wishers, watch Terriers once in your life. You will not regret it.

1. "Hail Mary"--Terriers--Written By Ted Griffin & Nicholas Griffin--Directed By Ted Griffin

I promised that Terriers and Community wouldn't dominate the list but Terriers was so bleeping good. "Hail Mary" is a pitch-perfect season and, unfortunately, series finale. Every show runner should aspire to write as good a finale for their show this season as Terriers did. The episode wraps up the season-long arc, the personal arcs and closes on a scene that represents the spirit of the show perfectly. One day I'll buy the writers of the show beer for producing one of the greatest seasons of television.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Ordinary Family "No Ordinary Proposal" Review

The last few weeks of No Ordinary Family episodes were like mirages in the desert. Imagine the viewer as someone stranded in the desert, desperate for water. Now, I've never been nor will ever be desperate for outstanding NOF episodes but, at the least, I'd like the show to suck a little less than it has for most of the season. The last 2-3 weeks featured mediocre to average episodes which are improvements considering the first ten or so episodes of the series. Of course, one of the episodes in the last 2-3 weeks absolutely sucked during the first half. Tonight's episode reminded me of the show's lazy roots and its disinterest in substantial storytelling. "No Ordinary Proposal" confirmed the lack of direction the season had as...well...lack of direction (and I assume the writers room threw things on the wall early in the season, hoping they stick and now they're like Homer Simpson with his eyes closed, trying to eat pie (which means the writers have some vague idea of what they want the show to be but they hope like hell they won't crack their skull trying to reach their destination...they're failing)).

"No Ordinary Proposal" didn't abandon its serialized elements but those serialized elements that made the last two or so episodes mediocre to average felt somehow weaker. Dr. King continued exposing Sylar II's past to Katie and Stephanie, especially after he and Katie's engagement. The Powells learned about the mind-wiping ability Sylar II possesses. The revelation ended with Sylar II on a bus, a broken man and losing his powers rapidly (gee I wonder if he'll leave the series for good as tragic antagonist...a cautionary tale for addicts of any kind in the show's mind or ABC's collective mind). Of course, Sylar II left town before Stephanie could witness the success of her synthetic anecdote to the super serum.

Dr. King continued to make bold statements about characters that came from left-field. Last week, the writers seemingly decided willy-nilly to have Dr. King in love with Stephanie. This week, he referred to Sylar II as his son--or like a son because he's taken care of Sylar II since the age of six. Obviously, Dr. King has delusions of grandeur. The development of super serum and the power he leverages with such a concoction makes King feel invincible and unstoppable. He remains an enigmatic character and we've yet to understand why he makes declarations to supers about why they cannot hurt him. Nevertheless, his delusions of grandeur include a complex problem that JJ solves. His plan, or his company's plan, is under wraps but I'll make a wild prediction that involves nothing less than the end of the world because every superhero series or movie devotes its final act to the prevention of the end of the world.

Dr. King's quiet insanity is a problem too. On Dollhouse, the writers devolved Boyd into nothing but a crazed lunatic with delusions of grandeur. It made him a less memorable villain as well as more cartoonish. King's probably going to become cartoonish by the end of the season--as silly as The Penguin during the first volume of Batman the Animated Series. Dr. King enlisted JJ's villainous teacher to blackmail JJ into solving that complex problem which only adds to silliness of Dr. King's role as antagonist in the series. I'm positive that JJ could've reported his teacher's blackmail to the principal but this is No Ordinary Family--the same damn show that featured JJ performing complicated surgery. It seems like NOF wants Dr. King to be the HRG of this series but Dr. King's on track to make the Worst Characters list.

Meanwhile, the show brought back Jim Powell's useless case-of-the-week. The show added a personal wrinkle to the B story by directly involving Daphne's boyfriend's father. Chris' father became crippled two years ago. Chris steals the serum from the Powells after discovering the serum cures anyone of anything. Soon, Chris' father is a bonafide super villain. You see, the serum amplifies anyone's core (something anyone watching the pilot figured out during the pilot) so the criminal in Chris' father existed throughout his life became amplified along with his physical strength. The pursuit of Roy is of no consequence. The story exists to show the audience what the serum actually does (again the "Pilot" made it clear...this series isn't exactly a James Joyce novel). Also, the B story brings Chris and Daphne closer together. They exchange I Love Yous.

NOF has a troubling history of social commentary. For instance, in one episode, Jim doubted a white upper-class family was capable of committing crimes because they're white and upper class. Roy will return to his life as a cripple once the serum leaves his body. With the serum in his system, he becomes a dangerous criminal and the show uses that fact to justify the decision to let Roy return to life as a cripple. Such a fate is just cruel. The legal system exists for folks like Roy.

Meanwhile, a bullet that hits Jim ends up in the gut of a teenager. Jim feels responsible but he learns from the mother that the bullet saved her son's life. The doctors discovered a small tumor during surgery that would've never been detected until it was too late for the boy.

NOF has an old testament way of rewarding its characters and punishing its villains. I'm not sure if that's the best storytelling technique either.

Overall, the episode was typical NOF. I disliked large portions of it. There were some interesting scenes. But the episode return to NOF form.

Other thoughts:

-This was episode 16 of the series so the end is near after the next hiatus. Season 2 doesn't look promising.

-Anthony Michael Hall portrayed Ron Minor. He won't win any Emmys for his performance.

-imdb.com doesn't have factual credits for the episode so I cannot list the writers or director like I usually am able to do.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

The Chicago Code "Grills, Chase & Baby Face" Review

On Twitter, someone asked Shawn Ryan whether or not the third episode would show Gibbons as a bad, corrupted man because, in the first two episodes, the writers (through Teresa) only told people that Gibbons is the chief problem in Chicago. Ryan assured the questioner that it'd be rectified in "Gillis, Chase & Baby Face." Indeed, the episode belongs to Delroy Lindo's Alderman Ronin Gibbons. We see firsthand how Gibbons leverages power in Chicago and that informs the audience about how he became as powerful and influential as he currently is. Also, he's not a virtuous man.

Gibbons appointed Teresa as the city's superintendent because he believed he could keep the woman in line; he believed that she would abide by what he says; however, in the face of more and more pressure from Colvin, Gibbons decides to push back. He realizes that she won't cop to corruption or allow her force to be bought. Aware that the police department has a morale problem (morale problem is putting it lightly), Gibbons goes straight-for-the-heart with Gibbons. Teresa's new Chief-of-Staff experiences the same negative feelings as the rest of the force does towards his boss. Hampton, the chief-of-staff, understands Colvin's desire to arrest Gibbins so she can clean up the city that ruined her parent's marriage and her father's life. Hampton approaches Gibbons about a deal. Hampton proposes to keep Gibbons ahead of the Colvin curb if, in exchange, he receives an off-the-books monthly stipend. Teresa's stunned when Gibbons presents her with the recorded audio. If she wants to shut down the construction area then he's going to address the media about the police corruption problem.

The A story gives Delroy Lindo and Jennifer Beals plenty to work with. Both are terrific throughout, especially Lindo who plays Gibbons like a smooth serpent. The unspoken stand-off between the two powerful individuals is a snapshot of the current situation in Chicago. Gibbons wields the ultimate power. Teresa cannot hope to bring the man down when she can't even keep her own officers in place which is, essentially, what Gibbons expresses during his meeting with Teresa about Hampton. Soon, one of Gibbon's men (appointed by the mayor) becomes Teresa's new chief-of-staff. He is Lt. Kelly and, a few scenes before, he assisted Gibbons in planting child pornography in Killian's garage (Killian's a powerful force in the Irish Mob) after Killian threatened Gibbons' power. In the final scene, Teresa states how wrong she was about Gibbons with Kelly and Jarek in the room but she and Jarek will continue their attempts to bring down Alderman Ronin Gibbons. The task is just harder now.

In the B story, Jarek's place within Colvin's life has jeopardized his relationship with his fellow police officers on the street. The case-of-the-week involves a paranoid bank robber who shot both of the individuals who assisted in the robbery. The case itself is secondary to what happens within the police force as they try to catch the bank robber Robbins. Jarek calls for back-up when he and Caleb prepare to arrest Robbins; however, no one responds to the call because officers have chosen to freeze Jarek out because they suspect he's feeding Teresa a list of names for her to fire from the police force. Moosekian led the charge and the decision backfires because Jarek's forced to kill the suspect. Moosekian's plan nearly resulted in the death of a little girl. The story shows how fragile and fractured the police force. Again, how can Colvin expect success when her police officers don't have one another's backs on the streets?

The Chicago Code's 3-for-3 thus far. The "Pilot" remains my favorite episode but the last two episodes have successfully expanded the show's scope. The various battles for power or respect or against the corruption are immensely interesting and I look forward to the rest of the season.

Other thoughts:

-The chase in the teaser was expertly shot. It was full of energy, intensity and beautiful shots of the city of Chicago.

-Liam continues to walk a delicate line as an undercover cop. While he swears that his line is secure, anything he heard from the Irish Mob usually brings cops to the pub a few hours later. Eventually, one will suspect someone of wearing a wire. Liam also seems quite twitchy for an undercover cop.

-Isaac and Vonda's first day as part of the Organized Crime Department is spent giving tickets to construction workers. The task no doubt motivates Moosekian to stage his public protest to Jarek.

-An ad for Terriers can be seen during the train sequence. Ah Terries...what a show.

-Davey Holmes wrote the episode. He's a former member of The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. Guy Ferland directed it.

WATCH THE EPISODE

Monday, February 21, 2011

How I Met Your Mother "Garbage Island" Review

How I Met Your Mother is, in some ways, about destiny. After all, Ted will eventually meet his wife. "Garbage Island" reminds the audience of this overarching theme. The episode's also about expectation and purpose. Fans wondered what the point of the Ted-Zoey relationship is. Tonight's episode openly admits that Ted-Zoey isn't the relationship that romantic dreams are made of. Ever since the introduction of Zoey, I wondered how her presence in Ted's life would push him towards the mother. I expected the relationship to be handled the way the writers confirmed they'll handle it at the end of the episode, considering the show went out of its way to document the fates of Wendy the Waitress and Meeker, and how they became a couple. Two throwaway scenes in the episode eventually came together in the final act to bridge the themes of the episode. Seemingly insignificant moments are more significant than any one can appreciate in the present moment. Indeed, in the A and B stories, the characters won't fully appreciate their moments until they're older.

Ted and The Captain spent time with one another in the episode as the Captain struggled with losing his wife to another man. In a crazed moment for The Captain, Ted assured him that he'll find a woman he's truly compatible with, that his separation from Zoey will eventually benefit his life in ways that he cannot imagine. The Captain settled down, absorbed Ted's words and he believed them to be true. Later, Ted told Zoey that he felt guilty about stealing her from The Captain. Zoey told him to not worry about it. The relationship has no chance of succeeding on the foundation upon it was built and it won't succeed. Ted tries to tell Wendy and Meeker how he met his wife but they're in a rush so the story isn't told. Sure I'm interested in how Ted-Zoey ends but I'm more interested in how this will push Ted towards his future wife at the mysterious wedding.

Ted could've conveyed Marshall the same message as the one to the Captain and it would've had a similar impact. Marshall continues to struggle with the death of his father. More importantly, Marshall sort of hates himself for never becoming the environmental lawyer he promised his dad he would be. Marshall expected his purpose in life to be grander and more noble than his current position as a corporate stooge with GMB. He resists sex with his wife because he fears being stuck at GMB for the rest of his life. Maybe the death of his father is the first step in Marshall's career transformation from corporate stooge to environmental lawyer (I'll even guarantee it is). One of the worst moments in Marshall's life will eventually result in the most important change in Marshall's life.

Destiny, as they say, can be a bitch but HIMYM assures the audience that destiny will yield wonderful things for each of their characters. I really enjoyed "Garbage Island" because I dig this kind of storytelling. The episode had some funny scenes (well any scene with The Captain). It had heart. It had flash-forwards.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Useless Episode of Boy Meets World--"Brotherly Shove"

Boy Meets World absolutely abused retroactive continuity (retcon) during its seven seasons. But, really, what should one expect from the scribe of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers? The man (Michael Jacobs) was given absolute gold to work with following Halloween 4. Instead, he made Jamie into a mute and introduced the most annoying kid character in the history of modern film. The mess that BMW eventually became is in no way a surprise once one remembers who created the series. Now, I've watched the entirety of Boy Meets World many times in my life. In the last several months, I watched the entire series three times alone. During that span, I wrote my own version of the sixth season of show because it is a train-wreck.

The problems the show had creatively are vast, especially during its final two seasons. Each and every episode of the final two seasons feels like the writers are actively giving up. Every familiar trope in the sitcom bag of tropes gets used. Characters are assassinated willy-nilly. Feeny essentially disappears. Again, Jacobs had gold with William Daniels (who once acted alongside the wonderful Audrey Hepburn) and they wasted Daniels' talents during the sixth and seventh seasons. Worst of all, the writers are addicted to retconning their characters. Sometime between the second and third season, the show decided to make Cory and Topanga into life-long soulmates who fell in love at the age of two in a sandbox; however, Cory had minimal interest in the girl during the first two seasons. In fact, Wendy made more of an impact on Cory's life than Topanga. Regardless, the decision was made and we were forced to believe stories we knew weren't true about the soulmates. In the interest of boosting ratings, BMW introduced Jack Hunter, Shawn's half-brother. WHAT?!? Of course, the show retconned Shawn's character nearly every season.

In the seventh season episode "Brotherly Shove," the show performed a massive retcon of the Cory-Eric relationship (this episode inspired tonight's write-up). Again, the show had retconned the relationship between the brothers before. In the third season finale, Cory and Eric are at-odds because Eric's leaving for college. Nevermind the series didn't bother to show any of this emotional built-up in Cory. I'd argue the relationship between Cory and Eric was good during the third season. Eric was most present in his younger brother's life during the third season.

"Brotherly Shove" comes out of left-field from the show. Remember, the seventh season sacrificed all creative integrity when the writers assassinated the character of Eric Matthews, so they're walking on thin ice throughout the season. The Matthews family and their friends treat Eric like a mentally handicapped child (these damn writers even retconned the fact that he worked in his father's store so the episode could tell a story about Alan not believing in Eric). Unfortunately, the writers portray Eric as such. "Brotherly Shove" is an exception. His eccentric behavior disappears because of the subject matter. The characters confirm Eric's temporary normalcy, explaining that he's "well-rested."

The issue between the two brothers: Eric feels like Cory cut him out of his life a long time ago. Cory sends Eric over the edge when Eric learns that their father wanted the sons to clean out the garage together, and Cory didn't bother to tell Eric. The problem, the brothers never had a strained relationship. During the fifth season, Eric tells a tertiary girlfriend character about how much he enjoys spending time with his brother. Indeed, the brothers spend valuable time with one another. Of course, both have their own lives. Before "Brotherly Shove," no actual evidence of a strained relationship exists within the show. Sure, Cory resisted Eric being his best man for the wedding but his entire family resisted Eric as the best man. Eric eventually becomes the best man but the whole chain of events are so surreal and absurd that it's simply wrong to expect the audience to attach any emotional development in the characters because of the events.

The two parter--"The War" and "Seven The Hard Way"--aired a few weeks before "Brotherly Shove." In the two-parter, neither side wants Eric because they're all massive d-bags. Now, one could argue that the rift Eric refers to during "Brotherly Shove" began in the episode; however, if Eric's not neutral then Plays With Squirrels doesn't exist. Eric's plots are always played for laughs during the final season--except in "Brotherly Shove." When Eric and Cory briefly reminisce about their past moments with one another, the show avoids anything from the actual show. Topanga informs Cory that he used to worship his brother, that she and Shawn used to be envious of the two but that never happened in the show. The majority of the conflicts for the characters on the show came from contrivance rather than the characters themselves, which reeks of lazy storytelling. BMW just invented various conflicts. The School of Joss Whedon states that conflict must come from character, not plots. But, again...Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.

What's the point of "Brotherly Shove"? The writers give the episode such importance but nothing changes after the episode. In fact, the following episode is the dreadful "As Time Goes By" so it just gets worse. The only lasting thing from the episode is the damn retcon. Like every other episode of the season, besides the Plays With Squirrels scene, the episode is a waste of time (yet I've watched the seventh season three times in less than a year). But, AGAIN, Boy Meets World is an ABC/Disney sitcom. Specifically, it was part of the TGIF lineup so complaining about the lazy storytelling is a waste of time. There's a reason sitcoms had an extended dead period---sitcoms aren't exactly rewarding television experiences. As beloved as BMW was, it was ordinary as the other late 90s sitcoms.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK



THE HULU EPISODE OF THE WEEKEND

Friday, February 18, 2011

Man Vs. Wild "Arizona Sky Islands" Review/Recap

The sixth season of Man Vs. Wild premiered last night on Discovery. After five seasons worth of episodes, does Bear Grylls have anything left to teach the audience about surviving in the wild? The man has been in the toughest deserts on Earth. He's been in the coldest places as well. The show even placed Bear in a post-apocalyptic urban area. Bear Grylls confronted 200 elephants in Africa and scared each and every one of them away. He fought crocodiles for food. Bear tried catching a shark to eat. In Siberia, he transformed a wolf carcass into a toboggan. I trust that Bear has more insane tricks up his sleeves. Remember, he buried himself beneath twelve feet of snow despite the possibility of suffocation if an error occurred.

Bear Grylls seems like the Bodhi from Point Break (except Bear isn't a fictitious character). Bodhi sought the ultimate ride and the perfect wave. He believed in only "upping the stakes of the game." Bear Grylls will only the up stakes of his challenges now. I mean, the normal hiker who gets lost in the wilderness won't be able to do most of the things Bear Grylls. Bear has imparted the essential survival skills to the audience. The man will continue to impart basic and essential survival skills; however, his challenges will remain designed for a man who climbed Everest twice. I have no complaints at all. Man Vs. Wild is the best when Bear's doing crazy things and eating crazy food. Now, let's dive into "Arizona Sky Islands."

-Now, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, treacherous deserts aren't new for Bear Grylls. In a past desert episode, he urinated on a shirt and wrapped it around his head to keep him cool. The heat in the Arizona desert reaches 128 degrees during the day and can sink as low as -40. Bear plans to find water as quickly as possible. Before he reaches the desert ground, he jumps out of a helicopter in one of those wind suits that allows people to glide in the sky at extreme speeds. On the ground, the search for water continues. Bear reminds the audience how important water is. Ideally, in the desert, one should drink plenty of water but mother nature makes one work for water in the desert. Bear studies the ground for moisture. Eventually, he reaches a long patch of clay. Clay, Bear tells us, retains more moisture than sand so he begins digging. Soon enough, Bear reaches damp clay. He gathers a clump of the dirt, removes his sock and uses the sock to extract water from the dirt. In the past, Bear used his shirt. Later, Bear finds a spring of stagnant water. He warns the audience about the dangers of drinking stagnant water. After cooling off for a minute in the water, Bear uses an actual emergency filter to drink from the spring. These emergency filters are part of pilot safety packs should fighter pilots go down in foreign countries. With the filter, they can keep themselves hydrated even if their water source is dangerous.

-"Arizona Sky Islands" featured plenty of climbing from Bear. His chief goal is to ascend the small mountains in the desert for cooler air and the chance of water. Of course, one needs to climb other surfaces to navigate around the desert. Usually, Bear uses his hands and feet to climb. Near the end of the episode, he reaches a tricky surface to climb. Naturally, he uses his rope and a rock as his anchor to move across the gap between the surfaces. Of course, he needs to set the anchor into place on the surface in the distance. Like any one would, he builds a bow-and-arrow similar to the ones the Apache Indians used to hunt to launch his anchor onto the distance rock surface. Bear never reveals how many times he failed to accurately shoot at the surface but he preached patience because the bow-and-arrow takes skill and practice for accurate shots. Once he successfully sets the anchor and travels across the gap, he finds the potential for rescue rather quickly.

-At night, he made camp in the woods. Bear told the audience that mountain lions hide the animals they kill so Bear quickly finds one of the mountain lion's prey tucked into a tree. On his way to camp, he finds bear poop and decides to develop another plan once he's eaten. A night in the woods with neighboring bears, mountain lions and jaguars is too dangerous. Instead, he uses his old parachute to suspend himself fifty feet above the ground as his shelter--the dangerous predators can't get to him. Bear describes how relaxing the shelter is until he remembers how high from the ground he. Sometimes, during the night, pebbles fell onto his foreheads so he worried about the possibility of his anchor loosening. Every person must remember how much of survival is a mental game. Bear needed rest and energy for tomorrow so he separated himself from those thoughts.

-My favorite part of the episode is when Bear discovers wreckage in the desert from a small aircraft. Bear explains that drug smugglers from Mexico will use such aircraft to transport drugs through the desert. Bear improvises with the parts to develop a Parachute-car so the heat of the day won't zap him of his energy. We see comical images of the parachute dragging Bear through the desert as he tries to hook the chute to his "car." For a little while, the car works until...well...it doesn't and he crashes. But Bear's happy that he eliminated a small part of his hike during the desert day.

Overall, "Arizona Sky Islands" was a fairly ordinary episode of Man Vs. Wild, Nothing too extreme took place. He mostly climbed thing, ate a scorpion and then found civilization by the end of the episode. But it's great to have Man Vs. Wild back on a weekly basis.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "The Dinner Party" Review

The rant I promised last week won't happen. In fact, I ate most of my words from the few sentences of last week's review. I declared that the filler episodes arrived after a few plot heavy episodes. I declared that the Stefan flashbacks would essentially be Angel's back story. Oh how I wrong I was. "The Dinner Party" confronted the Elijah/Originals arc with great intensity. Also, the only similar thing between Stefan and Angel is their used-to-kill-people-for-fun back story (but even TVD were apologists for Stefan, insisting that he killed for his own survival and I don't buy that). "The Dinner Party" is yet another example of how entertaining and awesome the show can be on a weekly basis when it ignores the various love triangles between characters; however, the theme of love drives the show and each of its characters.

Stefan and Lexi's relationship is the complete opposite of Angel and Darla. When the blond-haired Darla entered his life, she influenced over a century of horrific violence and pain for Angel until gypsies cursed him with a soul. When the blond-haired Lexi entered Stefan's life, he had inflicted pain and suffering on innocent people because he was consumed with his vampirism. Lexi wanted to show Stefan how different things could be, how good vampires could be with love in their lives. Oh yes...love--he most powerful four letter word in the English language. I couldn't help but flashback to the final episodes of LOST when love became such a powerful theme in the show. TVD has similar ideas about the saving power of love. Certainly, Stefan's life changed when he met Lexi and he allowed himself to love others again. Once upon a time, he walked along a battlefield feeling nothing for the fallen soldiers. In "Brave New World," Caroline struggled with the intensity of her emotions in her new life as a vampire. In TVD, vampires simply feel more than human beings. Without words, during Lexi and Stefan's final scene, she conveys the message that he'll feel love more than he ever has in his life now. Such love drives him to protect Elena's life. Damon, meanwhile, never properly dealt with the guilt and anger he felt. Lexi warned Damon that he couldn't escape such feelings. Maybe he killed Lexi last season because she was right (maybe the episode actually explained why he killed Lexi...I wouldn't know because I haven't seen most of the first half of season one). Love is the most important emotion for each of the characters. Damon's a loose cannon because he lacks love and Stefan's as selfless as he is because of love.

Aside from love, the number one question the episode asked was, 'can an Original vampire be killed?' The answer is yes and no. Following Elena's confession that she plans to die to protect her friends, the Salvatore brothers quickly developed a plan to kill Elijah using the weapon John Gilbert gave to Damon. Gilbert's the least trustworthy person in the small town of Mystic Falls but Damon decided to use the weapon without researching it. Luckily, Elena read in her ancestor's journal about how the weapon would kill any demon who wields it. Soon, the episode morphed into its own type of J. Walter Weatherman situation in which Elijah never actually died because the dagger must remain in the heart of the Original. For the murder attempt to succeed on the third try, Elena stabs herself in the gut then she stabs Elijah with the special dagger. Following her brave act, Elena demands to be in the loop more if they want her to fight for her life. Elena should've stated how she always fights for her own safety as well as friends but she didn't because then Stefan's story about Lexi wouldn't matter as much as it did.

The temporary death of Elijah (it's temporary because any one who pulls the dagger from his heart brings the rock-and-quarter throwing vampire back to life) releases Katherine from the cave. While Jules and Elijah were decent antagonists, Katherine's the greatest antagonist of them all. Vampires are obsessed with her. Everyone else hates her. Unfortunately, as fun as she is, the character usually causes the return of love triangle angst amongst Damon, Elena and Stefan; however, more layers of Katherine have yet been pealed so the final seven episodes of the season should be fun.

Meanwhile, Jeremy failed to keep the sparks between he and Bonnie lit. Luca's father burst into the Gilbert household and removed Bonnie's powers after what she did to Luca. Alaric continued to lie to Jenna about his supernatural activities. John got his ring back though after promising Alaric to ease Jenna's mind about Isobel and whatnot.

It's impressive how quickly the writers go through story. Equally impressive is how much story they have left to tell in the second season alone. Elijah died after imparting some useful knowledge to Damon. There are certain historical landmarks that Elijah wanted to see. Chances are these landmarks became major settings during the finale.

Overall, "The Dinner Party" was great even with the lack of Caroline. Andrew Chambliss wrote the episode. Marcos Siega directed it.

Other thoughts:

-Why would Damon trust John Gilbert with anything? Last season, Damon unsuccessfuly tried to murder Gilbert. This season, Gilbert obviously wouldn't help Damon out of the goodness of his heart. It was fun to see TVD get sort of sitcom-ish when Stefan raced towards his phone after discovering new information about the magic dagger.

-I considered writing about "The Dinner Party" with dash points (since I don't use bullet points) because much of the episode revolved around action and scheming. Sure the plan to murder Elijah came from the characters care for Elena (that theme of love) but much of the episode was devoted to characters being badasses. Also, is Andrew Chambliss the Steven S. DeKnight of TVD? The man usually writes action-packed scripts. DeKnight, for anyone uninformed, was the king of the fight scene in the writers room for ANGEL.

-Elena and Stefan didn't have a dull weekend. First, Brady and Tyler tried to kidnap the girl and kill Stefan. The next night, Elijah tried to kidnap Elena and kill Stefan.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Movies That Should Become Television Shows

Throughout the history of television, networks have made movies into television shows. Some have been successful (Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Friday Night Lights (well that comes from a book then a movie)) while others have been complete failures (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids The Series AND Back To The Future the animated series). Certain shows exist betwixt successful and terrible like The Mighty Ducks animated series. Now, I have an active imagination. Wednesday's become the black hole of television for TV With The Foot. It used to be the night of LOST (before last season's change) but now I watch nothing but sports on Wednesday evenings (and I prefer sports to television so it's fantastic). Unfortunately, the lack of TV leaves me searching for ideas to write about each and every Wednesday. One such idea led me to ask myself, "which movies would work as television shows?" I compiled a list of movies that would work as television shows. I guarantee nothing about the quality of each individual movie's transition to quality storytelling on a weekly basis for an entire season. Discuss amongst yourselves the potential of each movies-as-TV shows after I argue for each movie's potential as a television show.

LET IT BEGIN:

AMERICAN PIE

Yes, indeedy! The 1999 sex comedy that captured America's hearts and minds. American Pie follows four friends who make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night. Sexual hijinks ensue. Now, the majority of networks tinker with whatever movie they decide to turn into a television show because the story needs to work for many hours rather than 120 minutes. Eugene Levy's character only had a few scenes during the first two American Pie movies before Levy became a center-piece for the awful direct-to-DVD sequels (and American Wedding). The amount of tinkering involved depends on whatever network picks American Pie the Series up. If MTV picked the series up, I'd imagine most of the core story would remain. Maybe Eugene Levy gets a larger role in each episode (and I have no doubts Eugene Levy would jump on the opportunity to star in American Pie the Series).

Each episode of the series would follow a rather simple formula. Jim Levenstein would get most of the A stories because he's the nerdiest, most awkward character in American Pie. Oz would get stuck in the wet-blanket arc of the season seven or eight minutes in the pilot episode while Finch would be relied upon for a Kramer-like role among the friends. The essential beats of the movie would remain for the first season. Nadia would be the hard-to-get girl that Jim nearly gets during sweeps periods. Kevin would continue to be a clueless yutz around Vickie. Each episode would be self-contained. While the show would gain the attention of the PTC, the underlying message throughout would be how sex is meaningless without someone the character loves.

The series would most likely get cancelled after two episodes. I imagine MTV hiring Mark Schwann (of One Tree Hill fame) to develop and run the show. McLovin would portray Jim.

INCEPTION

Inception confused the majority of America despite the fact that the story wasn't complicated at all. Would Inception as a television series stand a chance? If the show got picked up by a premium channel then yes. If cable or network suits got their hands on Inception, the show wouldn't stand a chance. Inception's rather easy to adapt into a television show because Nolan structured the story so well. Cobb's a complicated character with enough issues to tell multiple season's worth of stories. The man doesn't play by the rules either. He operates on the fringe of ethical behavior. The supporting characters are developed enough to carry their own show. The inter-personal dynamics of the characters would be more interesting than the generic inception-of-the-week story (not every episode would be about inception because one has to save that finales). The format of the series would be serialized with self-contained procedural-type episodes. Each episode, Cobb and his team are hired by someone to go into the mind of another person. The types of stories the show could tell are limitless. Inception would be a character piece first and foremost. The series would have time the movie didn't have to delve into each character's back stories.

Of course, I'd let Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse develop and run the show. I'd let Jack Bender have the same job as he did on LOST. It'd be tremendous.

THE FACULTY

I'm sure The CW would make any TV show that Kevin Williamson wants after the success of The Vampire Diaries. What if Willamson wanted to flesh out his 1998 movie The Faculty? The actual movie fits more into TheWB model but, unfortunately, the network went away several years ago. Willamson could condense the movie into the pilot and go from there. He has experience with a story that forces humans and various supernatural folk to live within the same, small town. Willamson once said he prefers telling stories about small-town life because he grew up in a small town. I see no reason why he'd have to depart from the small-town dynamics that made his other two shows successful. Of course, such a series would risk comparisons to Roswell--a show that featured aliens and humans living within the same town. So maybe the show doesn't even make it through development before network execs decide that The Faculty won't work as a hour drama. But television's not exactly concerned with original storytelling based on how many procedurals exist on television. I envision The Faculty as more Buffy than Roswell. A group of teenagers who fight people in their community who become aliens. It'd be a coming-of-age story. It's an unoriginal idea but The CW's not so proud that they'd pass on it.

LITTLE GIANTS

The 1994 football comedy about children who play football for Rick Moranis. The last time Rick Moranis starred in a movie that was developed into a television series it was a complete and utter disaster. I fully expect Little Giants to fail as a sitcom on ABC Family. The heart of the story would be the Moranis and O'Neill characters and their families. Each episode, the Ice Box would consider leaving Moranis' character's football for her Uncle's successful team. These episodes would end with valuable lessons about fatherhood, father/daughter relationships and family values. The football scenes would be terribly shot, terribly coordinated. The characters would be one-dimensional and each episode would feel like the writers consulted a Writing The Generic Sitcom book. But it would star Hornswoggle McMahon as Moranis' assistant coach and The Big Show as the Ed O'Neill character. Moranis would be replaced Dustin Diamond.

If you have any movies to add to the list then please comment with your idea. I'll probably have more in the future but the above four seems like enough for one night.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Ordinary Family "No Ordinary Powell" Review

Sometimes new television shows take some time to find their identity. Joss Whedon's one of the best show runners in television history but three of his four shows stumbled out of the gate. ANGEL and Dollhouse relied on procedural storytelling during the majority of their respective first seasons. When each show found their own identity, they become amazing television shows. While I highly doubt that No Ordinary Family becomes amazing (and I doubt the show even receives a second season), NOF is beginning to suck less on a weekly basis. The reason is the newfound interest in serialized storytelling.

This newfound interest in serialized storytelling has temporarily eliminated the weakest part of the show--the procedural stories involving Jim Powell. For the last few weeks, the show hasn't introduced tertiary characters who Jim feels compelled to stop or save. The writers learned that the strongest storytelling comes from the main characters--the ones that the audience cares about. The central arc of the season (Dr. King and his super powered experiments) moved as quickly as the NFL's investigation of Brett Favre and Jenn Sterger. If you're a regular reader of The Foot then you know that I've complained about the snails-pace of the central arc. Imagine my surprise during "No Ordinary Powell" when the show decided to significantly advance the arc.

Victoria, the shape-shifter, returned to the show after a bye week because Dr. King learned that the Powells possess super powers. Intrigued, Dr. King enlisted Victoria to learn more about what Jim and Stephanie were capable of. Now, No Ordinary Family manages to be terrible even during this recent string of average episodes. Victoria's various shape-shifting into members of the Powell family and George are mostly annoying. We're treated to pointless scenes in which one member of the Powell family questions Victoria (who, of course, has shifted her shape into a Powell family member) and actual character relays information that the audience has known about since the "Pilot" to Victoria. The scenes are designed to cause anxiety in the audience since we know that Victoria will use any piece of information she learns to harm the Powell family. Unfortunately, the scenes feel like lazy exposition for any potential new viewers. After all, Dr. King's master plan is to experiment on the Powells so the potential for danger only occurs after we learn that Dr. King lusts after Stephanie. Dr. King wants Victoria to eliminate the man.

Tim Minear, while commenting on his Dollhouse episode "Omega," stated that the evil person in network television usually is defeated by episode's end. Naturally, Victoria doesn't stand a chance on an ABC show airing at 8PM with families watching; however, there is something unsettling about the Jim-Victoria fight. Throughout the episode, Victoria merely looked like people. The episode neither mentioned nor showed Victoria gaining the abilities of the people she decided to look like. As soon as she fights Jim, the writers decided to let the audience know that she possesses the same super strength as Jim because she looks like him. NOF needed to because the idea of a man with super strength finding a woman without any powers is messed up and I don't entirely buy the sudden revelation that Victoria had Jim's abilities because she looked like him. But, of course, Jim lost his powers temporarily after Victoria kissed him with Steph's kryptonite-like lip gloss. Regardless, this wasn't a highlight for NOF in my opinion.

Meanwhile, Joshua became an ally. Katie accidentally told Stephanie about Josh's secret and, soon, the Powells knew his history with Dr. King. Stephanie vowed to create a serum which would return Joshua to normalcy (I won't be surprised if Joshua becomes a tragic figure by season's end though). Joshua revealed that Dr. King barely registers as a powerful figure in the experimentation of this serum. Apparently, the corporation is large and powerful (I knew the show would enter into Heroes territory eventually).

Also, JJ successfully solved a murder case in hopes Natalie would reunite with him once she had closure regarding her mother's murderer. I'd describe the plot as the most absurd JJ story but the kid performed surgery earlier in the season.

Sonny Postiglione & Ali Adler wrote the episode. Terry McDonough directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Chicago Code "Hog Butcher" Review

The Chicago Code moves at a blistering pace. If the series can maintain the momentum and speed of the first two episodes, The Chicago Code will become the second best new series of the season (with Terriers forever in first). "Hog Butcher" told a very effective story while dealing with the usual business of a second episode in a series--reinforcing the concept, the world of the show while planting more seeds for different arcs for the rest of the season. The series trusts the audience tremendously with the amount of story and information in one episode.

Superintendent Teresa Colvin has made many enemies during her six months as Superintendent. The pilot ended with the death of Antonio. Jarek and Caleb spend the majority of the first half of the episode attempting to tie the murder back to Gibbons--the man who built the empire of corruption in the city. While the pilot provided some idea regarding the vitriol some officers have for Teresa, "Hog Butcher" shows how deadly a pissed off officer's mouth can be. The officer whom Teresa tore down in front of the office ran his mouth at a members-only club for police officers, firemen and select city workers. Dom, the drunken/rantful officer, had no idea how influential his words would be to two aspiring cops upset with how Colvin's changing things in Chicago. During Dom's interrogation, Jarek and Teresa engage in a heated conversation about how things get done in Chicago. Jarek emphasizes the importance of keeping the cops on their side in their fight against Gibbons. If she can't do that, how can she truly change the city when those who swear to protect it no longer will for their superintendent?

The dilemma Teresa faces isn't new territory in police dramas or any kind of drama involving people with power. Inevitably, anyone with the most power will face all sorts of people who attempt to destroy the one with power. Shakespeare relied on this kind of storytelling because such storytelling produces great drama. Dom's accidental involvement in the death of an officer informs the audience of the climate that exists in the CPD. The revelation that Jarek sat in the same bar with the same people who probably issue drunken threats to Teresa informs the audience of the climate that exists in the CPD. The A story has a powerful conclusion. Dom walked into that bar angry then became eventually drunk because Colvin destroyed years of his service to Chicago in one conversation. Teresa learned that Dom's productivity dropped drastically because he became an alcoholic after years of drowning himself in liquor to forget what he's seen on the job. Dom kills the man who took his words too seriously.

The lesson, Teresa needs to heal the rift within her own department before she worries about Gibbons. Gibbons, after all, has the most power in the city. Gibbons deliberately puts Teresa in a position in which she'll need to ask Gibbons to provide Antonio's family with death benefits just so Teresa understands who remains the king of Chicago--and so the audience understands why our band of noble cops won't take Gibbons down immediately.

The second half of "Hog Butcher" revealed more about the characters as well, particularly Jarek. The death of Antonio reminds him of his brother's death. His niece becomes upset during a dedication ceremony for Antonio upon seeing her father's memorial star. Jarek tells a sister of the church that he wants to find his brother's killer and kill him. We learn that Jarek drinks six times a week and has a terrible relationship with his son in addition to sleeping with ex-wife despite being engaged to another woman. The man has issues to work through.

We also learned more about the determined and devoted Isaac who grew up in the Chicago ghetto, eager to become part of Chicago's most powerful gang (the police). He put an Irish mafia member in bars for drug possession and earned a spot on the Organized Crime unit with Bram from LOST (last seen getting impaled by Smokey). The teaser of the episode reintroduced the history between Colvin and Antonio for any new viewers.

Overall, "Hog Butcher" was a really good episode of television. I'm a fan of every character. I'm interested in the potential cases. Great series thus far.

John Zinman & Patrick Massett wrote the episode. Clark Johnson directed it.

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How I Met Your Mother "Desperation Day" Review

I'm surprised a concept like Desperation Day didn't enter into the How I Met Your Mother world until the sixth season. It seems like a concept Barney would've introduced in the first season when he was a more authentic womanizer. In the sixth season, while the man still womanizes, he's much more inclined to fall for a girl romantically than ever before. Perhaps the reason for the introduction of Desperation Day was done because of Barney's character growth. As much as he mocked the "desperate" single women he encountered on February 13, Barney essentially projected his feelings of loneliness onto those women. While Robin's friends succumbed to the lure of a Valentine's Day date, women such as Robin and her cute British friend Nora know who they are and what they want--being single on Valentine's Day doesn't bother them. Such longing wouldn't be a stretch for Barney who, in the past, loved Robin. Maybe I read too much into the concept of Desperation Day and its place in the timeline. Barney's womanizing act is getting old though. Hopefully, Barney's first Valentine's Day date is a sign of things to come. Hopefully Nora doesn't disappear like any other guest star involved in a zany Barney store. Hopefully, like his two buddies (Marshall and Ted), Barney grows up.

Speaking of Marshall and Ted, both try to cope with their own individual realities. Marshall hasn't left Minnesota because he claims his mother needs his help. Lily decides to visit to help her husband and mother-in-law; however, she discovers that Judy has been taking care of Marshall. Marshall has struggled to move on past his father's death. It'd be lazy if the series decided to use the hiatus for Marshall's grieving process. It's important for the audience to witness Marshall's mourning period because he experienced the most life-changing moment of his life (until the birth of his child). In Minnesota, Marshall tried to return to a simpler, happier place in his life when his father was alive. No matter how hard he tried, Marshall couldn't ignore the reality that his father was gone. He told Ted a story that represented the father-son relationship--it was an image of a snowy night in Minnesota and of the security Marshall felt with his father around. Even though he's a married man in his 30s, Marshall has to figure out how to live without the security his father provided by just being a phone call away.

Marshall returns to New York by the end of the episode so he can return to his normal life, which essentially concludes this arc for Marshall. Craig Bays, Carter Thomas and the other writers handled the arc rather well for a network sitcom. They devoted necessary time to the days and weeks following the funeral--the period which is the hardest after the death of a loved one. I don't recall many sitcoms delving into that period. Most devote two parts to the death of a character before seamlessly returning to the comfortable sitcom formula. Jason Segal was terrific throughout the arc as well.

Meanwhile, my criticisms of the Ted-Zoey relationship were rather premature because the episode slowed the relationship down for the characters to contemplate the situation they're in. Ted's entering into a relationship with a recently-separated-soon-to-be-divorced-female while Zoey's entering into a relationship not even two months after the end of her marriage. Both characters behaved in neurotic ways throughout "Desperation Day." Ted brought a carry-on bag to Zoey's. Zoey freaked herself out when she invited Ted over for sex with the euphemism of "bake cookies." Ted ran away to Minnesota for a few hours until he realized he must confront realities of the external circumstances in his relationship. Zoey decided she wanted to be with Ted. Ted felt comfortable with Zoey. In my opinion, the relationship is absolutely destined for failure because Zoey has too much baggage and Ted's far too neurotic. Their relationship will resemble the New York Islanders franchise.

Overall, I enjoyed "Desperation Day." Every story worked well tonight. There were some sweet moments throughout like Lily/Marshall at the end and Nora and Barney at laser tag.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts on Valentine's Day-themed episodes, TVD, Parks & Recs, Man Vs. Wild

Credit: buffyworld.com

During this week, seemingly every network sitcom unleashed its yearly Valentine's Day episodes. I didn't watch many of these themed episodes because I don't watch many sitcoms; however, I'm usually a fan of any Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Valentine's Day even if they're terrible. Since today is Random Thoughts day, I figured I'd write about some notable Valentine's Day episodes along with a few other random thoughts.

-I wrote about the teaser of Buffy's second season Valentine's Day episode last week. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is the only Valentine's Day episode in the seven seasons of the show. Xander tries to cast a love spell on Cordelia in an attempt to overcome the humiliation of being dumped by her. Of course, she only dumped him because her popular friends made fun of her relationship with Xander--the message of the episode, for Cordelia anyway, echoes Polonius' infamous words to Laertes when he says, "To thine own self be true,/and it must follow as the night the day/Thou canst not then be false to any man" but Cordelia doesn't read Shakespeare.

The love spell fails to work on Cordelia; however, the spell works on every other girl in Sunnydale, which causes problems. Between the mobs of women who are aggressively obsessive with Xander, he hurts Willow in the process who doesn't need a love spell to love Xander. She loves him but he doesn't love her. It's a thing.

Xander never takes advantage of the love-spell struck women. When Buffy tries to seduce him, wearing only what she's wearing in the picture above, Xander refuses to take advantage of her. Buffy thanks him after the spell lifts. Also, Cordelia breaks free of the Cordettes to be with Xander because she's always done what she wants. Her own display of independence terrifies her, though, as she realizes her friends probably won't speak to her.

It's a funny, light-hearted episode about love and the importance of individual. It's actually one of my favorite Buffy episodes.

-Everwood produced a Valentine's Day episode during its first season. For anyone unfamiliar with the series, Everwood followed the Brown family who moved to the town of Everwood, Colorado following the death of their wife/mother. In "My Funny Valentine," the various characters deal with their relationships and romantic feelings for people. Andy struggles with his romantic feelings for the traveling psychologist portrayed by Jane Krakowski. Rose accuses Harold of not loving her like he once did. Irv suffers a heart attack. Ephram and Laynie have a date much to Amy's envy.

Andy's the central focus of the episode because he lost his wife less than a year ago. The man deals with his first Valentine's Day without Julia as well as romantic feelings for another woman. In the Act One, Dr. Trott asks Andy if he'd do anything differently, more special, on Valentine's Day if he had the chance. He and Trott sleep together on Valentine's Day, and he leaves her because he had a sort-of panic attack. He doesn't understand why he left though until he apologizes the next morning. Dr. Trott suggests that he write everything down he never got to say to Julia, which he does because he's trying to find peace.

The episode focuses on love in its various forms. How does a married couple retain the spark of their early years together? How does a recently married elderly couple deal with the knowledge that one of them will eventually have to live without the other? Amy, a teenage girls, talks with Ephram about love becoming easier as they age because she's a girl torn between her former comatose boyfriend and the moody Brown kid. Everwood was always an honest show so each storyline's deal with honestly. The characters communicate openly and honestly. Irv and Edna, the newlywed couple, decide to enjoy each moment they have together for as long as time allows. Harold makes a grand romantic gesture for the sake of his wife who longs for adventurous romance though he readily admits he prefers their quiet, middle-aged life but he loves his wife and will indulge her on the most romantic day of the year.

I don't actively seek Valentine's Day episodes because many of these episodes follow the same formula. I prefer Halloween episodes. Two shows I watched regularly (Buffy and Everwood) brought interesting storytelling so I wanted to take some time to celebrate both episodes.

-As a new viewer of Parks and Recreation, jumping into the third season has been interesting. Last night's episode, "Ron & Tammy--Part 2" was the best episode I've seen of the show thus far (I've seen four). Without any knowledge about Part 1, I had no idea what to expect from an episode with "Part 2" in the title; however, I had high hopes because Megan Mulally was great in Party Down and Ron Swanson's usually comedy gold. It was a brilliantly insane episode. I love insane comedy pieces. I like to make insane comedy shorts with my friends and we've made some insane comedies so "Ron & Tammy--Part 2" was in my wheelhouse. If only the show abandoned the documentary style because I don't understand its connection to the show. Why is a camera crew following the employees of Pawnee Parks and Recs? Why are the employers openly critical of their bosses? Sometimes, the device feels like a lazy way to sell jokes. The documentary style frustrates me so much on The Office that I quit watching the show two years ago. I avoid repeats of the show as well because of the documentary style. I'm not afraid to jump off the Parks & Recs bandwagon; however, I would return once every year if Ron & Tammy episodes became a once-a-year episode.

Also, Tucker Gates (in the top ten of Best TV Directors currently) directed the episode. Brilliant work from both Gates and the episode's writer.

-I didn't write a paragraph about the theme of lying in last night's awfully-titled episode "Crying Wolf" (the episode itself is decent). It was such a slam-dunk paragraph so I decided to write about the theme of fear because it seemed like the most important part of the episode but the writers believed in the theme of deceit and lies so much that "Crying Wolf" is the title. Lying has no consequences in the episode. Stefan gets mad at Elena for failing to tell him the truth about Elijah's deal. Jenna and Alaric will engage in some dramatic nonsense because of his lies to cover up his activities with the supernatural inhabitants of Mystic Falls. Caroline lies to Matt to protect him but it's nothing more than melodramatic teenage relationship stuff. If the episode couldn't convey its most important theme of the night strongly, maybe "Crying Wolf" is a failure.

--On Fridays, beginning next week, my Man Vs. Wild recaps/reviews return to The Foot. I had great fun writing about each episode during the summer. The fifth season was one of the show's strongest. I'll never forget Bear fighting a crocodile for a shark or Bear swimming with sharks as traveled to another island. He was insane last season. I have no idea what's in store for season six but it should be good.

-For the hell of it, here are my EPL (English Premier League) picks for this weekend's games--Manchester United over Man City (1-0); Draw between Aston Villa and Blackpool (2-2); West Brom over West Ham (3-2); Arsenal over Wolves (2-0); Newcastle over Blackburn (3-1); Liverpool over Wigan Athletic (1-0); Draw between Birmingham and Stoke (1-1); Tottenham over Sunderland (1-0); Draw between Everton and Bolton (0-0); Draw Between Fulham and Chelsea (0-0)

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "Crying Wolf" Review

Photo Credit: The CW

I wondered how long the werewolves vs. vampires "war" would continue because everyone knows that werewolves are lame. How would the writers of TVD convince the audience to fear werewolves who threatened the safety of our favorite characters? Well, rather than fear the werewolves, the writers simply made the werewolf characters irritating and annoying. Thankfully, the war has ended for the time being after the vampires completely destroyed a group of werewolves. While I doubt we've seen the last of Jules and Tyler, I hope the writers quit trying to convince the audience of how threatening and terrifying werewolves are. Even with a full moon, werewolves are lame.

"Crying Wolf" obviously dealt with the werewolves in Mystic Falls. Besides that, Elijah returned, Elena and Stefan went to the lake house for a weekend get-away while Bonnie (with the help of Jeremy and Caroline) got answers from Luca about he and his father's involvement with Elijah. The episode was transitional as well as a semi-conclusion to one arc that seemed destined to never end. We learned more about Klaus and Elijah's plans with Elena and the moon stone as well as more about Luca and his father. While the episode dealt with "macro" issues like the curse of the moon stone, much of the episode belonged to small moments between characters.

Elena returned to the lake house for the first time since her parents died. As soon as she arrived, a flood memories engulfed her, and she began taking in the memories of the house and thinking of her future. Elena's well aware that Elijah plans to kill her when the time for the sacrifice arrives, which she's okay with because she wants to protect the people she loves more than herself. Stefan objects to such martyrdom, emphasizing that she's barely begun her life while he and Damon have lived for many, many years. Elena's sacrifice isn't heroic, it's tragic according to Stefan, and he has a point. Elena behaves like someone who expects to die. She and Stefan converse about the importance of good memories. Elena especially wants positive memories to remembered by. Amidst the quiet moments, Stefan and Elena discover a secret room with another Gilbert journal which might contain ample information about a solution to Elena's looming sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Tyler's driven by his desire to reverse the person/werewolf he's become. The only reason he follows Brady and Jules into dangerous suicide missions with vampires is because he wants to break the curse of the moon stone so he never turns into a werewolf again. Later, when Brady's dead, and he's aware that Elena must die to get what he wants, he apologizes and receives a hug from the self-less girl because Elena understands how scared Tyler is. She understands how his fear influences his poor decision-making.

The majority of the characters in The Vampire Diaries are scared of something happening to them, besides Elena which is why she stands out. Every werewolf, besides Jules and Tyler, dies because of their fear of the vampires breaking the curse. They associate the broken curse with their collective deaths as a supernatural species. Meanwhile, Katherine spent hundreds of years on the run and ruined people's lives because she feared death. I could continue with examples but I assume you, the reader, understands the point I'm making about the characters in the show and their motivations. Now, Elena isn't exactly the only one whose more concerned about those she loves than herself. Luca and his father work for Elijah because he promised to return them Luca's sister in exchange for their assistance in breaking the curse of the moonstone. If I'm betting a man, most of the characters learn selflessness when they put their lives on the line to defend Elena's life.

Besides the supernatural business, the episode spent some time with the characters personal lives. Jeremy and Bonnie kissed. Caroline tried to apologize to Matt for cancelling their plans but she had a difficult time dancing around the fact that she was locked in a cage while being shot with wooden bullets. John Gilbert planted seeds of doubt in Jenna's head about Alaric. You know, if John Gilbert wasn't so damn truthful, I'd compare him to Iago. Unfortunately, the comparison doesn't work because John manages to be deceptive and deceitful while using the truth.

Overall, "Crying Wolf" was a good episode--not the best and not the worst. It successfully concluded some issues while setting up one or two filler episodes before the intensity of the season-long arc begins again. Brian Young wrote the episode. David von Ancken directed it.

Next week's episode seems exactly like "Amends" from Buffy but without the Christmas setting. We shall see if I'll rant about the similarities between Stefan and Angel. I probably will.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mr. Sunshine "Pilot" Review

Photo Credit: ABC

Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, while promoting his newest show Mr. Sunshine, Matthew Perry described LOST as the greatest thing ever in entertainment. Such compliments for LOST will earn one's a show a review in The Foot. I soon remembered that Jorge Garcia and Allison Janney have roles in the show so sitting down to watch the show then write about it made its way into my evening plans (and the Sixers game ended one minute before the pilot aired which is good timing). Of course, if Matthew Perry didn't compliment LOST, I would've written about the premiere of Mr. Sunshine because there are no other TV shows to write about (I won't get to see the FNL Series Finale for at least 2 or 3 months).

Critics compared Mr. Sunshine to Cougar Town in their reviews because the series is built around Matthew Perry. Apparently, Cougar Town became a stronger show when the writers focused less on Courtney Cox. In the ten minutes I watched of Cougar Town, the series resembled Scrubs without the medical setting (but that's for another blog post). Mr. Sunshine, on the other hand, doesn't have Bill Lawrence so the Scrubs comparison isn't apt. And I have no idea whether or not the show would work better without the central focus being Matthew Perry's Ben.

Ben manages The Sunshine Center, an arena which hosts hockey and basketball games as well as conventions and circuses. Ben's surrounded by quirky individuals like his boss, Crystal (Allison Janney), her son Roman (Nate Torrence) and his newest secretary Heather (who lit a man on fire). Ben's involved in a sexual relationship with the marketing director, Alice; however, his best friend/enemy Alonzo (James Lesure) is sexually involved with the same woman. Of course, Ben and Alice are merely friends-with-benefits until she wakes up alone in his apartment, unable to find her underwear. She decides she needs to enter into an actual committed relationship with Ben or the friends-with-benefits arrangement must end. Also, Ben's celebrating his birthday so his 40th birthday combined with his reluctance for a committed relationship places Ben at a crossroads. Does he want to be alone for the rest of his life or does he want to share his life with someone else?

Mr. Sunshine isn't the most original sitcom in the world. The "Pilot' episode felt like Matthew Perry and his two co-writers read a beat sheet for the stereotypical sitcom pilot, copied it, wrote a script, bribed or blackmailed the ABC executives to greenlight the pilot and then further bribed or blackmailed ABC to pick it up for the a fall or mid-season premiere.

Nothing stands out in Mr. Sunshine. Crystal's the zany, crazy border-line racist owner of the arena whose humor is derived from such border-line racism. Her subplot involves her donation to a multiethnic charity. Ben worries that she'll offend the charity and end up in the papers. During the course of the episode, Crystal works out a racist jingle while Ben sighs heavily and shrugs a what-can-i-do-she-is-quirky shrug. Meanwhile, Roman (her son) needs a job and he spends the day with Ben. Roman barely sees his mother, seems sheltered and incapable of possessing good social skills; however, a smile never leaves his face and he's seemingly comfortable no matter what conversation he's in the middle of like Alice's plea for she and Ben's friends-with-benefits set up to be something more substantial. Later, Ben recognizes Roman needs a healthy relationship with his mother after he realizes how selfish he's been with Alice's feelings.

The zany plot-of-the-week involves a circus possibly performing on ice that won't melt. Jorge Garcia guest stars as the man in charge of the ice-melting. If Ben was such a good manager of the arena, shouldn't he know that ice isn't melted in arena? Shouldn't his workers understand that the ice gets covered by wood and kept cool underneath the hard surface? I assume the writers opted to ignore such facts for the sake of comedy. The ice story, of course, concludes with one of Crystal's worst nightmares coming to life--clowns with axes. Absolutely terrible, friends and well-wishers. Absolutely terrible.

Mr. Sunshine, essentially, asks the viewers to follow the journey of Ben as he attempts to become a man who cares about other people as well as a man a woman can depend on for more than sex. Raise your hand or reply in the comments if you've seen such a main character in past sitcoms. Ben makes progress in the "Pilot" when he offers to be Alice's friends because he wants to be involved in her life. Also, while he tells Roman that he doesn't care about his non-relationship with his mother, he makes sure Roman and Crystal are together by the end of the episode.

Mr. Sunshine breaks no new ground. It's a mindless half-hour of television. The show's not terrible--it's simply mediocre. ABC promos will try to sell the show as clever, funny and the best new comedy of the season and it's not true. I dozed off during portions of the episode. Put that in your promos, ABC.

About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.