Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Arrow "Dead to Rights" Review

There were two major surprises in tonight's Arrow. Some shows move cautiously, waiting for what feels like an eternity to move its main plot forward; some shows do not move cautiously. The shows that move boldly and fearlessly, more oft than not, endear themselves to me. So, Arrow's two surprises tonight were a great sign for consistently solid series that seems close reaching a consistently great status. The first season continues to share the structure of its big brother, the superhero film, as seen in Tommy's revelation tonight. Oliver experienced his lowest point when he ended up in the hospital, but he rebounded, because heroes rebound; now, he's facing a whole different problem, which is, his best friend can't face him now that he knows the truth.

Arrow brought it in its mid-season finale, and Arrow brought it again in its sixteenth episode right before its little hiatus before the final third of the season begins. Deadshot returns. Moira's plan to kill Malcolm moves incredibly fast. The question becomes will Moira's plan to kill Malcolm succeed. Villains don't die early in a story. No, villains die late, at seemingly the last possible moment. So, I didn't think Malcolm would be killed. Arrow's a solid series with great action and engaging characters in an engaging world, but it is not a show that takes risks; however, I thought about the possibility of Malcolm's death insofar as what it'd mean for the series, i.e. what stories his death would open. I've compared Arrow to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, but Tommy and Oliver's friendship reminds me of Harry and Peter's in Spiderman. The first half of "Dead to Rights" deals with Tommy's complicated relationship with Malcolm. Oliver tries to help Tommy forgive his father, for his own sake, because 'your dad is your dad.' Oliver holds a lot anger towards his father, but he still loves him. Tommy listens to his best friend, the friend he's trusted throughout his life, and attends his father's award ceremony.

The awards ceremony is where the Triad will kill Malcolm. Oliver spends much of the episode figuring out who the Triad want killed. Oliver killed the first assassin in the teaser. Once he learns the identity of the target, he rushes into action. Meanwhile, Tommy's getting closer with dear old Dad. The old wounds heal slowly; he looks on his father's speech and smiles. Tommy's painful past with Malcolm leaves his mind once Malcolm's shot by Deadshot. Malcolm had accepted an award that was given to him for his peaceful role in the city. For a few beats, it seems like Malcolm will die, and that his death will usher in Tommy as the villain; however, Oliver comes to the rescue as the vigilante.

The scene between Oliver and Tommy in which Oliver reveals that he's the vigilante is among the best scenes of the season. Tommy's yelling at Oliver to stop while Oliver insists he'll help save his father's life. Tommy wants one reason he should trust the hood. Oliver shuts off his voice modifier, takes off his hoodie, and says, "Because you always have." The scene's great because it shows how much Oliver cares about his friends and family. What he did for Malcolm Merlyn will bite him in the ass. What he did for Tommy will bite him in the ass. Later, Tommy asks Oliver if he'd ever tell him about his secret. Oliver, with watery eyes, replies, "No." Oliver broke from the hood persona because he could not separate the mission from his ability toc care about others. It is a decision that will haunt him. Tommy's put off by Oliver's secret. Forget about the good Oliver just performed for Tommy's father. Tommy remembers the killings when he was kidnapped and simply wants to know what happened on the island. Oliver won't say. Tommy learns Oliver would've never revealed his secret in any other situation.

While Oliver helps Tommy help save Malcolm's life, we in the audience remember Malcolm as The Dark Arrow and his promise to save the city by killing thousands within it. His specific plans remain a mystery. Oliver's inability to cut off his feelings from his mission will make for exciting television in late April/early May. Tommy doesn't treat Oliver as a hero, but, rather, as a traitor. Tommy keeps Oliver's secret for him, though. The episode ends with their friendship possibly broken as a result of Oliver's truth. The hood's heroics with the Merlyns seems to put Det. Lance closer to his identity.

The story doesn't just touch the Merlyns. Oliver returns to his hide-out to tell Diggle about what the assassin used in his attempt to kill Malcolm. Deadshot killed Diggle's brother. The news of Deadshot's return sends Diggle into silence as Oliver helplessly stands by. Deadshot seemed dead in the fall after Oliver put an arrow in his eye. We learn that he dies well. Deadshot takes his new eye and becomes more dangerous than ever. Deadshot is a nifty villain. Now it seems guaranteed Diggle will have some resolution before the season ends.

Meanwhile, Laurel runs into her mother, reluctantly. Laurel's not done much. It's notable that Katie Cassidy reacted the same way to Thea nonsense as she reacted to her mother's phone call. Laurel's mother has one piece of information she needs to know: Sarah, her sister, may yet be alive. For all of the action in "Dead to Rights," nothing much is resolved. Moira's in more danger for having ordered the hit on Malcolm. Malcolm doesn't know she's behind it yet. On the island, Slade and Oliver go to meet the monster coming to the island after spending ample time with a broken radio. Arrow's made their cliff-hangers worth the wait in the past. I don't see that changing when it returns on March 20.

Other Thoughts:

-Two excellent fights tonight, in the teaser and in the showdown between Oliver and Kelly Hu's character (I don't remember the character's name).

-I thought McKenna might connect the dots after Oliver left five minutes before she got the call about the award ceremony. Not yet.

-Glen Winter directed the episode. Geoff Johns wrote it.

-Arrow will return with new episodes on March 20.

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Go On "Ring And A Miss" Review

I was quite ill last night and chose not to make my head explode by writing my Go On review. Here are a few random thoughts about last night's episode:

-Ryan and Simone's relationship ended because Ryan couldn't commit to her. Simone promised to give herself to him if he promised he'd be about her and not Janie. Ryan couldn't make the promise. He wore his wedding ring on dates with Simone, and he'd call her Janie without realizing it. Simone couldn't be the void he needed to fill the hole Janie left; she wanted to live her own life. The Ryan-Simone relationship never really took off. Piper Perabo and Matthew Perry had passable chemistry. The characters came together in the most TV/Movie way possible. If you recall, Ryan couldn't stand her; so of course they slept together. It's something that'll happen again and again in sitcoms. Go On played up a loose connection with its A story and the 1980s film Sixteen Candles. I don't remember much about Sixteen Candles other than Molly Ringwald feeling down for the first two acts. Steven parked outside of Ryan's as Simone took off, and he played a song in Sixteen Candles that is connected to romantic longing. Ryan's situation was not connected to romantic longing but rather a struggle to move on into a new relationship.

The second-guessing and eventual re-commitment to Simone was rote. Ryan meets the typical fictional sad sack older bachelor who everyone thinks is living the life but is actually really miserable being single and alone. Huey, the sad bachelor, insists that Simone is perfect for Ryan. Huey's opinion is like Brick's opinion of love in Anchorman. Huey would've said any girl is perfect, like Brick pointed at any object and said he loved it. Huey's words are enough to send Ryan scampering away to San Francisco to win her back, to ordering Carrie to buy Simone-specific furniture for the house, because Ryan's afraid of becoming Huey. Simone won't go with him unless he's all about her, which he's not. Go On is about Ryan's journey back from loss, and the journey back from loss is hard.

Go On needed to tell this kind of story for Ryan because nearly every TV show tells this kind of story. Lauren and Steve meet him at his house after his failure to cheer him up. Ryan feels down, but Lauren beams about the progress he made. Simone represented a crucial step in Ryan's journey towards reaching a place of peace and contentment. Lauren insists Ryan feel proud. I'm not sure the effect of the arc will carry over. The story seemed inspired by Piper Perabo signing on for a few episodes and the writers having no other ideas for a well-known actress. Plus, this is a sitcom. Stories infinitely reset on sitcoms. Carrie and Ryan's little romantic beat a few episodes ago has been completely forgotten. Simone's probably already been forgotten by the 56 people that watch Go On weekly.

-Go On just needs to continue giving Brett Gelman good stuff to work with. Mr. K as a Mary Poppins-esque nanny for Anne was wonderful. Anne's kids are predictably disciplined and wound. Mr. K lets them have fun while Anne's at a deposition. Later, when her daughter, Abigail, cries, she's at a loss about what to do, because Abi doesn't want her; she wants Mr. K. The nanny storyline ties into Anne's loss. Her partner connected with children. Anne's trying to fill the void, but she's failing. Mr. K suggests she let go, have fun, and to quit trying to be two people when she's just one. Anne does let go and has fun with her kids. Mr. K leaves, saying his work is done.

-"Ring and a Miss" is an average episode of Go On. The B story elevated the episode. I thought the A story dragged the rest of the episode down. Go On can capture the process of grief well, but the Simone-Ryan relationship was way too traditional Hollywood.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Golden Boy "Pilot" Review

Golden Boy isn't different from any other police procedural airing on CBS. The look of the show is identical to Elementary and, even, Person of Interest. The New York setting seems to entice directors to use grey filters and sterile lighting. Scenes set in the police station are aesthetically unappealing. The majority of CBS dramas are a slog to get through. Hawaii Five-0 is less of a slog than the other shows--because of its beautiful Hawaiian setting--but it is still a slog nonetheless. So many of the stories, so many of its characters, and its beats, have been done before on television, and repeated for nearly three decades. Golden Boy's one character, Detective Dan Owen (Chi McBride), is a gruff lifer in the homicide unit who's just two years from retirement; another character, Arroyo, puts aside morality for his own interests; there's a third generation female cop whose back-story is reminiscent of The Chicago Code's own third generation female cop; and, finally, Golden Boy has its golden boy, Walter William Clark, Jr., who won't hesitate to bend the rules if it means getting what he wants. Yes, Clark and Arroyo seem like the same character. Clark possesses an admirable moral center that stops him from becoming Arroyo.

The central conceit of the show is introduced in a parable. Golden Boy's uses a framing device to tell its story. Clark is the police commissioner seven years after he saves the life of his partner. A journalist is writing a profile on him because he's the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City. The question the journalist wants to know, which in turn is what the audience wants to know, is: how? Clark recalls a parable his old partner told him seven years ago about the existence of two dogs living inside a man. One dog is good; the other bad. Whoever wins is the one that's fed the most. The journalist asks Clark to tell him his story, so the narrative goes back seven years. What the audience should really wonder is whether or not Clark's bad side got him to where he is. Which of his dogs did he feed the most in his ascent?

Clark's a hero when the story begins, having saved the life of his partner on a busy New York City street. The commissioner will grant him any assignment he wants. Clark chooses an assignment in NYC homicide. The department grumbles and looks down on him; they don't respect him; he puts his nose where his nose does not belong. Clark tries to flirt with the third generation female cop and is rejected. Owens saddles him with an 11 year old cold case that the cold case unit won't touch. Owens explains, "We're taking it slow." Clark's like a dog locked in a backyard. Younger dogs that can jump will jump the fence. Clark jumps the fence and gets the first big break in a homicide case, allowing him and his partner to join the case.

Of course, a dog on the loose usually gets in trouble. The dog's owner inevitably will yank it by the collar, scold it, maybe slap its snout so the dog will learn that what she or he did was bad. Clark can't touch the prime suspect in the case because of his civil rights; so, he plans to plant dope on him. Owens tells him that it's not a good idea. Clark reconsiders. The memorable cop characters walked a thin line between lawful and unlawful behavior. Clark's another variation of that kind of character. Clark fumes over his powerlessness to do anything to someone he knows is guilty of murder in the first degree, which as predictable a character turn as the beats of the episode.

Golden Boy offers nothing new in the police procedural format. The case-of-the-week is pretty rote and plays on the audience's predisposed ill attitudes about the rich. Each episode's case-of-the-week probably won't veer too much away from the case in the "Pilot." Golden Boy is another show that feels better suited for the big screen. It's not the first show with a premise that seems better suited for the movies. The long-form story of how one becomes the youngest police commissioner in NYC could be well-done if its elements weren't so borrowed and done before. Golden Boy feels like a movie Tom Cruise should've starred in the 80s or even James Dean in the 50s. Theo James resembles Dean, but he actually looks like the third Franco brother. James also has a sort of West Side Story character in his portrayal of Clark.

Now, Golden Boy should work in the long-term. Clark and Owens have a potentially fun partnership. Arroyo's going to be a nagging protagonist and that third generation cop is definitely going to have her own story about what happened to her brother. Also, its framing device gives the impression the writers have a plan for the series. Pilots are different in many ways from a typical episode of television, especially in its ending. Golden Boy drops quite a few juicy plot hints at the end of the episode. The "Pilot" isn't good enough to get me to stick around to watch Golden Boy hit the various plot points. Of course, it is usually worth any interested viewer's time to watch a second episode of the series, and maybe even a third. The second and third episodes give one a better sense of the show's identity.

Other Thoughts:

-Det. Owens is never going to reach retirement, is he? The Simpsons' had a character in its McBain films that announced his retirement was looming, so, naturally, as happens in TV, which The Simpsons parodied, the soon-to-be-retired cop dies. McBain holds his partner's body and yells to the heavens.

-Greg Berlanti is an executive producer. I feel like I see Berlanti’s name on TV everywhere. I haven’t enjoyed any of his work nearly as much as Everwood, though Jack & Bobby was a quality short-run series.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Weekend At Barney's" Review

Did you know How I Met Your Mother is through eighteen episodes of season eight? I couldn't be happier. Just six episodes remain until the lovely summer hiatus, then twenty two episodes, which is then followed by the blessed end. It'll be a wonderful day. I once bought a classic bottle of coke in Center City during my CCP days. I swore I wouldn't drink the soda until something wonderful happened. Something wonderful happened in 2006 when the New York Mets were eliminated by the Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS. I will celebrate the end of HIMYM. America's popular culture nightmare (one of many let's be honest) will end.

"Weekend at Barney's" goes wrong really, really early in the episode. The homage to the early 90s comedy classic is a bad start, even though Segal and Radnor have fun as the stoners; however, Barney's dreaming the scene. Barney dreams the scene because Weekend at Barney's was a play in the playbook. Barney misses the playbook. He burned it to show Robin he's a different man, and Robin bought it, because HIMYM doesn't respect its female characters. Robin listens to her fiancé whine about missing the playbook. Robin reminds him what he used it for and states her feelings of happiness for it being burned; that the last thing she wants is to see the playbook again, especially Barney using it again.

Barney uses the playbook again. The copy he burned in the climatic final episode of HIMYM for 2012 was a double. The real playbook was safe in his apartment. I hate this show. Barney takes the playbook out for use after Jeanette breaks up with Ted. Jeanette thought a spam e-mail titled 'Big Penis Orgasm' was written by a woman Ted's sleeping with on the side, so she destroyed Ted's belongings for a second time. Jeanette's erratic, unstable behavior is played for laughs because crazy women are crazy. The most jealous person on the planet wouldn't mistake spam for an honest message written by a human being, right? Jeanette states she only read the title and then went ballistic. While I'm sure adults in a consenting sexual relationship exchange e-mails with to-the-point titles, I'm not rolling with the joke just because HIMYM thinks Crazy Jeanette is a comedic gem. Ted wanted to take her to the wedding, but he cannot anymore. Barney uses the playbook to help him land a date for the Big Day.

The playbook is one of my least favorite running-gags in the series--the accompanying music, the disguises, NPH's narration, the endless plays that end exactly the same, etc., are what makes the playbook one of my least favorite running-gags in the series. Ted follows Barney's orders because he's a fictional character. Radnor's very good in the Barney role of the play; his lack of energy and engagement with the material is a character bit but I'd like to think Radnor's equally disengaged. Robin finds Barney mid-play in his apartment and then leaves crying. Barney follows her to the street, and he wins her back in the most HIMYM way possible. So, Robin's crying and wondering why her fiancé would use something that hurts her. For a second, NPH channels James Van Der Beek in Dawson's Creek, but he doesn't tell her what's wrong with her to justify his bad behavior. No, instead, he tells her he's a natural liar, that she signed up for it, and Robin fucking melts for it after Barney keeps presenting fake flowers he pulls out of his jacket.

Robin and Barney's engagement wasn't a magically romantic moment as many HIMYM think; it was Barney using manipulation, misdirection and deception to get what he wants. Barney's love for Robin, and Robin's role as one of the gang, separates the play from his other plays. Barney meant to sleep with girls and never see them again. Fans melted for their engagement, as I'm sure fans yelled at the TV for Robin to forgive Barney because he loves her. Seven hells. The playbook is later blown up by Jeanette, who's gone crazy over finding the playbook, which sets-up the tableau we saw, when Ted told his kids about the last girl he dated before he met their mother, of Ted sitting with his friends, surrounded by flames and personal items, swearing that he's ready to settle down.

Meanwhile, Lily attended an art gallery opening with Marshall. Marshall spends his time making puns about famous artists while Lily waits to meet the celebrated artist. Lily's afraid she won't meet him. Marshall's afraid he's lost his ability to be out-going. In HIMYM tradition, their fears are allayed neatly. Lily meets her artist; the artist makes the same puns about artist as Marshall; Marshall bonds with him, proving he's still out-going.

I'll just remember the Barney-Robin storyline, for all the reasons HIMYM won't want me to. Any time I think HIMYM will use Robin-Barney to depict an aspect of thirtysomething life deeply and meaningfully, whether it's the decision to marry, have a child, etc., I'm going to remember the cheapness of their romance and that it is meaningless. I know whenever there's a chance of a serious Barney, the writers will just put the big red nose on the character, and because they can't commit to the character's new self anymore than Barney can commit to the truth.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Stand by Me" Review

Ah, now I get how they'll tell fun stories about prom and graduation in the fourth season. I was worried.

"Stand by Me" is sort of a culmination of the series since season three's premiere "The Birthday." The final images of the show are of the Gilbert house burning to the ground. Elena's lost everyone she ever cared about in her life. The memories are too painful, so she burns the house of memories to the ground. Nina Dobrev's been spectacular through the near-four years of the show but she hasn't had many scenes that pierced the heart like the one in the penultimate act when she's basically mad with grief. Bonnie's returned from the isle of absolutely no fun to tell them the plan to get Jeremy and everyone else they've lost to supernatural deaths. Elena sits quietly, absorbing the information, her neck convulsing, and her eyes seemingly about to burst out of her skull. The phone rings. April's on the line, asking for Jeremy. Elena tells her that she's sorry, Jeremy's dead.

And then the she weeps to make less the depth of grief, only weeping deepens the depth of grief. She smashes pictures, kicks other items down, and pours gasoline around the house. Stefan and Caroline try to help her, but only Damon's bond with her can help her, only he can lift her from her sorrows and her unrelenting grief. Damon tells her to turn her humanity off. Elena turns it off. She's kneeling in the living room when she turns her humanity off; in just an astounding display of acting Dobrev switches from absolute grief to absolute nothing in a steady shot. Lance Anderson didn't cut from the scene, didn't use coverage. No, it's all in one take, and I'll admit to tearing up. TVD is incredibly sad when it is sad and watching the sadness on screen can get me feeling really sad for a couple of minutes, as is what happened when I watched "Bringing Out the Dead" last season.

The fourth season was always moving towards two plot points. Actually, no, that's simplistic. TVD's been moving towards a few plot points. The first is Silas and the cure; the second is Dark Bonnie; the third is Dark Elena. "Stand by Me" hits all three plot points. Silas is Firsting it up with Bonnie on the island, getting her to go dark, and Elena's switch is turned off, which means she'll be crazy for the next episode or three. Shane's explanation of Silas' supernatural identity probably will cause the frustrated TVD fans to pull their hair out as Silas is both a witch and vampire, depending on his mood. Silas wants Bonnie to use the power of expression, but the power's not complete. There must be more murders. Once the third massacre is complete, Bonnie will use the power of the massacres to break the veil between the real world and the other side, bringing back every supernatural creature that died. The plan is insane and a borrowed idea from an ANGEL episode in its final season (I'll get to that).

"Stand by Me" isn't about plans, whether it's stopping them or starting them--it is about saying goodbye, as many episodes of TVD are. The challenge of the episode is landing the crucial emotional beats for Elena. Jeremy's the last of her family to die. "Memorial" had a beautifully poignant ending about loss. Jeremy's death is handled differently; it can't be portrayed in a manner that's beautiful or poignant, because the immediacy of death isn't beautiful or poignant. It's painful, full of anger, and what-not. Elena turns herself off, which is what many people want to do: shut down, not feel, crawl into a hole and not come out 'til the hurt is gone. Genre fiction is able to actualize the deepest feelings of a human being. Maybe that's why I'm drawn to it. Shows with monsters, vampires, witches, werewolves, hybrids, slayers, etc., feel more human and true-to-life than many TV shows. "Stand by Me" is another instance of TVD using genre elements to realize piercing and penetrating parts of being human, feelings people can't express very well but go on in each one of us.

The use of Matt in the episode worked very well. He's lost a sibling. Elena's lost hers. He took her to the old stoner pit. Elena remembers Jeremy's rebel phase. The meaning is clear: the two characters are united in their mutual loss. Matt tells her that it's okay to hope but do not expect anything. Matt had to say goodbye to his sister again in "Ghost World." What he's doing is helping Elena reach a place where she can say goodbye. The goodbye is sad and fiery. Elena's totally alone for the first time in her life. I wrote in the past about my desire to see Elena totally alone and separate from the Salvatore brothers. It seems TVD's going to explore Totally Alone Elena. Damon explains his decision to compel her to turn her humanity off by pointing out she has no one left to care about. Caring about others is what makes people human; it's what makes these creatures of the night human: their ability to care.

"Stand by Me" is sad and devoid of hope, but it's a necessary chapter in Elena's arc. I'm looking forward to seeing how she emerges from the darkness. When she does, I think it'll be really moving.

Other Thoughts:

-So, which CW show will McQueen appear on next? I've watched a combined five seasons of Steven R. McQueen's acting. He's gone from scrawny kid on Everwood to ripped hero type on TVD. McQueen's not the greatest actor. He has one gear. He did well on TVD for nearly four seasons. The writers never seemed to know how to write for the character. He went from stoner kid to vampire hunter. The writers sent him to Colorado for awhile. He died alot and then came back. Jeremy's death and its role in Elena's turn was a responsible storytelling choice.

-Kill thousands to save a life was an idea ANGEL used in "A Hole in the World." Angel needs to choose between killing thousands to save Fred. He can't do it. Spike later observes that the hole in the well goes down, all the way, that there's a hole in the world. Indeed, Spike. I felt a bit annoyed by the similarities in this episode to "A Hole In The World." ANGEL's near and dear to my heart. TVD's not doing the same thing. Silas' plan is different. The similarities to The First from Buffy are much more notable. Bonnie's last scene with Shane seemed lifted from Buffy. The next scene in which Rebekah trips on Shane is not a surprise. Shane says one word to her: "Silas."

-Caroline called Tyler three times. He won't call back. Word is Michael Trevino won't be back for the rest of the season. I think the decision is poor since I wanted closure for the Hayley betrayal. She'll be back. Katherine worked with her to find the cure, per Vaughn's exposition. Vaughn, meanwhile, was left in the well to die.

-I had no idea how the Gilbert rang work. I did once, but I forgot. Maybe I should take better notes. Yes, better notes.

-The woman herself Julie Plec wrote the episode. Lance Anderson directed the episode.

-TVD returns with new episodes on March 14.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Arrow "Dodger" Review

I don't know which villains come from the comics and which are invented by the creative team. I assumed Dodger to be from the comics, considering the preview for last week centered on the arrival of Dodger. Plus, the episode got its title from the villain this week--Dodger. "Dodger" is a different episode from the recent string. Everything in the episode is broader, less focused on the island or Moira's dealings with Malcolm. The episode seemed interested in attracting more viewers to the show. Arrow's had a strong first season, earned a second season pick-up already; so maybe the people behind-the-scenes wanted to create an episode that'd attract fans of the comic who dropped out as well as fans of The Carrie Diaries, though the previews lacked a shirtless Amell, to my knowledge.

I enjoyed the return to the simple case-of-the-week format after a few weeks of intense focus on the central narrative of the first season. Felicity's new role in the gang was an easy way for new viewers to settle into the show and learn about Oliver's mission. No, he's not a blood-thirty vigilante without a moral code, as Felicity thinks. Early on, Oliver wants to scare the living hell out of someone who's on the list. Felicity won't let him, because she's afraid of what he'll do, even reminding him that he shouldn't make an orphan of the man's son. Oliver tries not to get angry. Diggle's firmly on the side of Oliver's in feeling annoyed by Felicity's behavior. Oliver reminds Diggle how he was when he joined Oliver's mission.

Oliver pleases Felicity by setting his sights on a criminal that steals expensive, rare antiques without actually stealing them: Dodger got his name from dodging actual dirty work. Hostages are used to steal items for him. Dodgers straps a bomb around the hostages neck and won't release them. Dodger's crimes fall under the altruistic label Felicity pushes Oliver to embrace. His mission needn't always be so violent and intense. Oliver seems to begrudgingly pursue the case. McKenna's working the case for the Starling City Police Department, and during a brain storming session at the diner Diggle pressures Oliver to ask her out. Felicity thinks Oliver could use McKenna to get leads about Dodger--that's what gets Oliver invested in the case.

Dodger's not a particularly violent villain. The only man he shoots in the episode is a rich criminal. Dodger killed a hostage in the past for not following orders, so he's not a virtuous villain. There's an interesting parallel drawn between the hero and the villain of the episode--the hood and the dodger. The parallels seem more like a wink-and-nod to Green Arrow devotees than substantial character study. Oliver's already seen his opposite in more ways than one--once against The Dark Arrow, and on the island with all that nonsense. Dodger's defeated by Arrow inevitably. A villain doesn't stand a chance against Arrow when his only weapon is snapping a bomb around a person's neck. Oliver's quick. Dodger tries to emphasize their similarities before the cops arrive, hoping to connect with the vigilante. "I only steal from the rich," Dodger declares. Oliver's response: "I'm not Robin Hood." The exchange is a nod to the old days when folk compared Green Arrow to Robin Hood; if you recall (you won't), I wrote an extensive intro in my pilot review about my friend's opinion that Green Arrow was Robin Hood. So, yes, I really enjoyed their final exchange. I wouldn't mind watching Dodger and Oliver facing off again in the second season.

Romance is a thing in "Dodger." Diggle takes his brother's ex-wife to dinner, in one the series' most bizarre plots. Oliver screws up with McKenna but is able to charm her by episode's end. My least favorite storyline involved Thea Queen. Let's be honest: Thea Queen has no definition. She was a rebellious drugged up teen in the beginning, a sober teen that made angry faces at Oliver for like six weeks, and now she's Laurel's assistant, learning how the other side lives. When her purse is stolen, and the thief eventually arrested, but even before that, it's apparent the writers introduced Thea's love interest. The CW must gives notes to show runners to put characters in relationships or else the character will cease to matter. It's a troubling trend on The CW. The Secret Circle (Remember that show?) defined its character through who they were with. TSC wasn't a good show. Defining a character through a relationship with another character does work, but it does not work in the way The CW does it. The signs were impossible to ignore: the thief looked like he was pulled from a modeling agency (he probably was), and he's given a name. At least the episode spared the audience of any Laurel/Tommy.

The most important plot involves Moira's request of an old family friend: kill Malcolm. Moira won't be a pawn or a puppet. Robert's dead, Walter's missing, and she got confronted by the vigilante. Moira's tired of cowering in a corner. She's rising up and fighting back. Oliver's like his mother on the island when he resists his instincts to help a beaten man, instead leaving him in cave beaten and bloody because he can't trust anyone he doesn't know. I like to compare Arrow to Shakespeare, so here's this: Moira's Volumnia and Oliver's Coriolanus.

Other Thoughts:

-Stephen Amell's smile to Detective Lance after he told McKenna she'd help him with the vigilante case was amazing. Amell reminds me of a certain actor who starred in a spinoff over a decade ago: David Boreanaz. The comparison is a compliment.

-I think the beaten man in the cave will be seen again. Oliver told McKenna he made tough choices on the island. The beaten man may never be seen again. The man may be representative of Oliver's growing distrust with anyone besides Yeo Fow and Slade Wilson. Slade Wilson, meanwhile, didn't do much except yell and heal from the bullet wound.

-Beth Schwartz wrote the episode. Eagle Egilson directed it.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Go On "Go Deep" Review

What is the meaning of life? Leo Tolstoy had a crisis over the mystery of life's meaning. He vowed to kill himself if he didn't find the Answer to the most important Question. During his spiritual and existential crisis, he began a short story he never finished in which a character wonders what he's so afraid of. A voice responds, saying, "It's me! Death!" That's a poor paraphrase. Now, the similarities between Tolstoy and fictional character Ryan King are non-existent. Tolstoy gave up fiction after he looked into the void and saw nothing. King gives up sports radio before he looks into the void because a woman told him to.

Ryan searches for a deeper something in life because Simone pushes him to. She happens to visit on the day Steve gives Ryan's order to read an ad on-air for a boner cream. Ryan doesn't want to. Steve illustrates the average listener for Ryan--a man in his late 40s with poor habits and trouble performing when it counts. Ryan won't read the ad, and he stages a walkout until the radio caves to his demands. His act of rebellion is spurred by Simone. Steve calls her Yoko Ohno. Simone doesn't get it.

Go On tackles the stereotype of sports radio and its listeners: that they're lonely and that what you see is what you get. Ryan follows Simone because he wants to be a man of substance, deeply involved not only with himself but also nature. Meditation classes teach him to enter the white void where Mr. K confronts the fear of death and emerge no longer fearful of it, where Simone finds clarity and peace; however, Ryan runs into his old coach, who wonders what the heck Ryan's doing with his life. Does he not realize he, someone without talent, gets paid to talk about people with talent for five days every week? Ryan runs back to the station.

Acceptance is the central theme of the episode. Accepting others as they are and accepting yourself as you are. Play-acting doesn't get the characters anywhere. Lauren asks the group to evaluate her job as group counselor. The returns are wonderful except for one low mark which Lauren takes to heart. Who could be disappointed in her? Ryan behaves as he does for Simone. He thinks she won't like him if he doesn't behave the way she does, which is why he tries to meditates, and why he walks out on the radio stations. King's a man with standards; he's not like the other low-bro drive-time radio hosts who slobber over naked butts and breasts, cheap wings and beer, and all that. Simone wouldn't love that man; she knows one line of Yeats that may not be a Yeats line at all, she is cultured.

The lesson, as always, which Ryan and Lauren learn, is to be themselves. Anne's the woman of wisdom in "Go Deep." Anne used to fake-liking her partner's favorite music, thinking her partner would love her more for it, forgetting that it wasn't shared tastes or anything that drew her partner to her but rather Anne being Anne. Anne gets complimented for being 'deep.' Anne doesn't try to be deep. She just is. Simone reveals she's exaggerating her epiphanies and clarity about life, which Ryan actually called her out on during their roof-top meeting, and Ryan happily returns to the airwaves, kisses the ass of the owner's son, and reads the ad for the boner cream.

"Go Deep" is a nicely put-together episode. The difference between "Go Deep" and an early episode is huge. The show has an identity, the writers know the characters, and I know the characters and the world better. The ratings have dropped for the show, but the quality's been sustained, consistent. The show's going to be completely detached from its premise sooner than later, which is okay--it's what happens on sitcoms.

Other Thoughts:

-For anyone wondering, Tolstoy returned to fiction writing. His post-conversion fiction never matched War & Peace and Anna Karenina, but he wrote remarkable short stories and pretty good novel. "After The Dance" is worth seeking out on the internet. It may be titled "After The Ball" on sites. The title depends on the translation. Tolstoy was a complicated and complex man. Ryan King is not.

-Bill Cobbs was terrific once again as George. We learned about George's past as a detective. Lauren and Yolanda ask George to help them in their search for the low evaluator. The mystery has a weak payoff. The highlight of the story is George's little monologue in the car, with Lauren.

-Go On managed to waste Timm Sharp. Timm Sharp's performance in Undeclared's flu episode is one of my all-time favorite comedic performances, on par with Aaron Paul's performance in 2000's Whatever It Takes. Timm Sharp portrayed the meditation instructor. After one scene, he disappears. Timm Sharp's funnier than most of the cast. Oh well.

-Terrell Owens has a recurring role as Ryan's temporary assistant. I missed the bit about why Carrie won't be around. In fact, I'm not sure a bit happened about Carrie going away. Owens sang his lines, and he smiled a lot. I wondered if he charmed Coach Reid by singing and smiling.

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The CW's Cult A Bit Of Retro Fun

The late 1990s, beginning with Kevin Williamson's Scream, were populated by movies that were about young people taking horror movies too seriously or urban legends too seriously; these movies offered insight into young America by studying its consumption of media and commenting on its consumption of America, either arguing for or against the media's influence on violent behavior. The CW's new series, Cult, which premieres tonight at 9PM, is about people who take a TV show way too seriously. Cult stars Matt Davis, who got his start in the sequel to Urban Legend where he portrayed twin brothers, as Jeff, an ex-Washington Post reporter, who gets caught up in the mystery of the show-within-the-show, which is also named Cult, after his brother disappears following a freak-out in a public setting about the show coming after him. Jeff didn't believe his younger brother, Nate, but he can't ignore the fact that something weird happened.

Creator Rockne S. O'Bannon seems acutely aware of what he's doing with Cult. A lot of Cult is a Meta/critical commentary on the audience watching, about its behavior and reaction towards a show, and where fandom becomes fanaticism. The show-within-the-show airs on The CW. The show-within-the-show uses the same design and music for its opening credits as the actual show we're watching. In fact, the "Pilot" begins with a tense scene in which a cop is trying to track down the leader of the cult, only for the dramatic ending to be revealed as the end of the episode-within-the-episode. Horror movies were the focus in Scream. Urban legends were the focus in Urban Legend. Fan groups are the focus of Cult. Fan groups have gotten more press in the last decade, especially whenever a fan group sends goodies to a network in hopes the goodies will convince the executives not to cancel their favorite shows, or when Everwood fans rented a Ferris Wheel, or whenever a show launches online content for fans to consume and they spend hours figuring out what's going on and how it's related and get so pissed when it's only tangential to the series. O'Bannon's thesis about fan groups' and the shows they love isn't unclear, as unclear as the series' signature line "Well, hey, these things just snap right off." One character remarks that shows don't go to air with executives, creators, etc., hoping for it to be a cult show because cult shows only become that after cancellation. Another character working for the show-within-the-show, Skye, is increasingly disturbed by the more intense fan sites she finds. Her producer ignores her concerns, so she takes to Jeff when he visits the set looking for answers about his brother. They become a team investigating Cult.

Cult captures the late 90s genre tone really well. Jeff spends plenty of time walking around his brother's apartment, watching episodes of Cult to find clues about what happened to his brother. Jeff watches the show for the first time as he fills up his car's gas tank. Billy Grimm, the fictional leader of the show, portrayed by Robert Knepper, talks directly to the viewer. Jeff shakes his head initially, but what he found superfluous and silly, what he dismissed as his brother's needless obsession, becomes much more as he seeks to find meaning in Billy's words about what happened to Nate. It's like the characters in Scream or Urban Legend using movies and the legends to anticipate a killer. Early scenes between Jeff and Nate seem like a homage to 1998's Disturbing Behavior, specifically the scene the night before Gavin's changed, when he's freaking out, and the next morning he's dressed like a prep boy. Jeff finds a picture of Nate dressed like Billy and furrows his brow. There are mysteries begetting more mysteries, all starting with Nate. The deeper Jeff gets into it all, the more bizarre, and yet believable, it becomes.

What's really going on in the show is only hinted at. "You're Next" is the pilot, after all. Pilots are designed to hook its potential audience to come back and become the audience. Cult has a few hookable elements. First, there's a mysterious executive producer who is the man behind the curtain, a mystery in the show that's probably an actual mystery, a place where fantatics of the show meet and share messages, an absolutely jaw-dropping Lucy Hale lookalike who just looks absolutely dynamite in a mini-skirt and she also looks menacingly at people when they're not looking at her while serving food and beverage at the fan place, an executive producer portrayed by Tom Amandes that may or may not be clueless, and so on. People can't be trusted, because of the show. Jeff suddenly views everyone in his town much differently. Cult's basically Disturbing Behavior-meets-Scream.

Perhaps there's a reason the show feels so similar to movies made over a decade ago. O'Bannon's pitch for Cult got rejected by The WB nearly seven years ago. O'Bannon probably had the idea in his head for over a decade. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are executive producers on the show. The duo are responsible for The Carrie Diaries and Gossip Girl on The CW. Schwartz made a name for himself with The O.C. Chuck was never highly rated but it was critically adored and beloved by fans. Schwartz and Savage could get a show that just shows leaves falling off trees for 41 minutes onto The CW's primetime lineup.

Cult's not going to blow your mind. Cult should appeal to a specific kind of fanbase, the kind of fans weaned on late 90s horrors and thrillers, the kind of fans who've gotten obsessed with genre shows, or fans that really like The CW's existing genre shows. Matt Davis is solid in any role he's given. Davis grounds his characters, meaning they don't get too high or low, and so he grounds the show in a way. What's going on in Cult is complete nonsense. The CW is apparently so popular that gas stations put the channel on for customers to watch during the minute it takes for the gas tanks to fill. Its shows are so watched that half of a town is fantatical about it. Again, though, Cult can be fun for a certain type of fan, one predisposed to this kind of entertainment.

Other Thoughts:

-The CW is running promos for the show. The network's twitter handle created hash tags for the show. The tag line for the show is: "Don't watch this." A small segment of the North American population watch The CW. The marketing department shouldn't have told people not to watch the show. People see an ad for The CW and probably make a mental note not to watch it. The tag line may get some people to tune in that otherwise wouldn't, but, still, it's a bad idea.

-Tom Amandes plays Gary Carter, one of the producers of Cult. He's listed as a guest star. I'd like for him to appear in as many episodes as possible. Amandes played the terrific Harold Abbott on TheWB's Everwood. I'm surprised he's not gotten more work since. Treat Williams is EVERYWHERE on TV these days. Where's the love for Tom? Better yet: Lenkov needs to hire Amandes, keep Williams around, and have them solve a crime in 5-0. Okay, I'm done.

-I remember Robert Knepper from his arc on Heroes. I feel like he's playing the same character on Cult. I'm also going to guess Billy Grimm is Steven Rae.

-I don't think I'll write about the series weekly, though I'll write about it every now and then.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, February 18, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "The Ashtray" Review

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas won't use their plan to introduce the mother at season's end and make the final season about the group's adventures pre-mother. The idea had legs, though. "The Ashtray" seems like a good example of what that hypothetical season could be like, i.e. the kind of stories the show could tell. "The Ashtray" uses the basic structure of many HIMYM episodes. One character begins a story, another character tells the same story differently, and a third character tells the true version of the story. Silliness happens in acts one and two. Sweepy clean resolution happens in act three, and everyone smiles, and fans can go to sleep happy.

"The Ashtray" is about Lily, but it takes nearly fifteen minutes for the episode's story to turn towards Lily. Kyle MacLachan's The Captain character makes a triumphant return. The Captain was the only highlight of the sixth season of the show. MacLachan took his character's silliness and ran with it. I never laugh during HIMYM episodes. The Captain got me to laugh. I'd like to think the acting had more to do with my laughing than the writing. Ted receives a phone call from The Captain. The Captain needs to speak with him. Ted worries the reason lies in the last time he saw him, which was at an art show where The Captain displayed furious anger over Ted stealing Zoey from him. Ted remembers The Captain pointing a harpoon gun in his face, mocking him, and making him swear to never steal his girlfriend again. Ted's side of the story manages to shoehorn in another date of his, a girl that starred in a commercial for boats. The Boats girl begins and ends with the commercial. Ted freaks out about retribution for dating the boats girl because The Captain declared her his one and only.

Ted's wrong, of course, in his telling of the story. Robin picked up the story and took the audience back to the beginning wherein we learn Ted and his date smoked pot before Ted went to the art gallery. I picked up my copy of Coriolanus as I'm in act three and the action is getting rather intense. Coriolanus should've bit his tongue, but those damn tribunes had it out for him since act one. Anyway, I read what I could while Robin told her version of the story. After awhile, the constant re-telling of stories gets old. I already wrote my compliment towards the show's respect for the oral tradition of storytelling. Robin remembers getting hit on by The Captain (which just roll with it everybody) and the events we saw happen differently than Ted remembered.

Lily's story is the truest. Ted was high; Robin drunk. Ted ate shrimp and wiped his hands on a waiter. Robin tried to hook up with The Captain throughout the evening. Lily stands by and engages The Captain in a chat about art when he arrives at the art gallery. One of the tricks of telling a good story is pulling back on the big moments and letting them be, like the way someone gardening lets what they put into the ground alone to grow. The silliness is around Lily's story but its centrality is Lily's opinion of herself. The Captain shows her a piece of art, which his art consultant considers a masterpiece, but Lily likes a painting of an elephant. The Captain dismisses her opinion because she's just a kindergarten teacher. Lily steals his expensive ashtray.
Lily's story is reduced to a simple relatable aspect of life: regret about not pursing the dream, instead settling on something and then realizing what you settled for is permanent. The dream passed the dreamer by. Lily's mad at herself for only being a kindergarten teacher and not following her dreams in having an art career. Marshall tells her it's not too late to pursue what she loves. Lily thinks it is. She's a mother and set in her life. Art passed her by. HIMYM's always told stories that related to late twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings. I think this story probably landed with a good chunk of the audience.

The Captain offers Lily a job to be his art consultant (because of course he does; this is How I Met Your Mother). She accepts it. Alyson Hanigan shined in her scene with Jason Segal. Segal spent much of the episode wanting to take a ride on The Captain's bus, so the turn in the final act was welcomed. Both actors are very good in serious scenes. Hanigan cries and does her best to make Lily's feeling an intrinsic part of her character, and Segal transitions easily from angry husband to supportive husband. It's nice to see the actors remember they're talented once every six months.

"The Ashtray" got me to laugh once, which is the first time I've laughed while watching this show in four years. Thus, the episode is a success. Bays and Thomas told a relatable story, threw in fun gags, one funny piece of acting from Kyle MacLachan, and basically left Barney out until they didn't. The absence of wedding stories for Barney and Robin was welcomed, as well as the absence of Ted and Jeanette. Indeed, the good times won't last. I will keep a copy of a novel or play for when HIMYM gets unbearable. It will. Indeed it will.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Revenge "Sacrifice" Review

Revenge showed the sailboat Amanda at the bottom of the ocean way back in its September season premiere. The series did this in season one and the payoff in February was worth the wait. I insulted the show way more than I complimented it during season one, but the payoff to the shooting on the beach during the Fire and Ice party was impressive. It felt planned whereas every story in season two feels unplanned. Conrad's going to run for governor? Of course he is. I may need to stop writing about the show when that storyline begins. The mystery about the sunken boat was the only plot thread I wanted untangled. The sunken boat story has been the only element of season two that had suspense and mystery. It took nearly six months and was not worth the wait.

I think Revenge is caught between two weird things in its second season. Whatever made a show work in its first season isn't necessarily what the show's writers want to repeat in its second season. Everwood and LOST had all-time great first seasons. I will tear up thinking about both, if I'm thinking about both for a long time. That's how much those seasons mean to me. Revenge's first season is far from a classic, but my opinion isn't shared by the people who loved the first season of the show; so, naturally, they want what made the first season what it was. I'm still convinced half of the story choices in LOST's second season were made to piss off fans. Anyway, Revenge is trying to stretch its narrative legs with the conspiracy Initiative plot, which isn't going well at all, and it's fleshing out the secondary characters more. I feel I can count on one hand the number of stories that were about Emily. Revenge is Emily's show, but it has felt so much less her show through fourteen episodes. So, the show should return to what worked in season one. I didn't like the show anyway in season one, but at least it had purpose.

Significant stuff happens in "Sacrifice." Tragedy strikes, circumstances change, and plans get modified. Helen's death is a temporary annoyance for the Graysons. Daniel's learning how to be as horrible as his parents. Victoria and Conrad plan to frame Fake Amanda for the murder of Helen. Daniel objects because of Amanda's Charlotte's half-sister. Daniel, though, gives into the plan after less than a little bit of coaxing. His parents are old pros. They blamed a horrific plane crash on David Clarke without missing a posh party in the Hamptons. The Graysons play-act throughout the episode, especially when another Initiative member appears to investigate Helen's disappearance. The Initiative plot has actual potential with the addition of the new guy, Trask, as portrayed by The Hour's Burn Gorman. Gorman's made it an art to not smile. He was terrific on The Hour, and terrific in his small role in The Dark Knight Rises. Gorman definitely adds a threatening presence to the show--a presence the show lacked with Helen Crowley.

Fake Amanda's set-up to take the fall for the Graysons; however, Fake Amanda dies in Emily's arms as the Amanda sailboat burns and sinks behind her. The tall, angry Ryan brother wanted to kill Fake Amanda and Jack for screwing up his deal with Conrad. Nick makes threats, waves his gun, make demands, but nothing happens until Jack and Fake Amanda try to escape. Conrad made Nick a new deal to get rid of Fake Amanda, get her laptop, and give it to him. Jack's shot during the escape attempt. Fake Amanda stays on ship. Nick knocks her out. Emily eventually finds the boat. Nolan and Emily went to find her after Emily saw a picture with Nick's head in the corner of the frame. Emily's completely badass once on the boat. She basically kills Nick, the boat explodes, and she and Fake Amanda try to keep afloat on the life raft. Fake Amanda dies, though. Briefly the women's close bond and friendship returns. No one will recall this except for me but I wrote a rather long thing about the sexual overtones between Emily and Amanda during Fake Amanda's first episodes. I kept waiting for a reveal about their sexual relationship. There was something there, and that something returns in their final scene together. Emily cradles her, and they look like they're going to kiss on the lips for the final time, like they used to, but they never did. Anyway, Fake Amanda dies, which strengthens Emily's resolve for revenge.

Indeed, Emily needed a push to return to the revenge plan. The writers seemed like they fell in love with the Initiative and just went with it. Emily's been trying to get close to the group. I mean, she should since they're involved in her father's demise. Emily hasn't been pissed off in a long time. When she's pissed off, Revenge is better. Jack's life hangs in the balance, but he'll live. The Graysons stand out on the upstairs balcony and celebrate their own brilliance in pointing Trask towards Fake Amanda. They don't know she's dead. I can't see how Trask will be content with that. I can't see how Fake Amanda's death gets the Graysons off scot-free. The bad folk don't succeed twice on night time soap-operas.

Meanwhile, Aiden spends time with Padma and talks Initiative issues with her. Padma tries to play hard-ball with Trask in telling him she won't do what he, or they, want until she has proof that her father's alive. I don't remember what the result of the story was. I don't know. I don't care about all of The Initiative plot.

Revenge is trying to pull everything together, it seems. Certainly, the A story is the turn of the season. I remember what happened after the turn of episode fifteen last year, when the Fire and Ice mystery was resolved: Daniel turned heel, the narrative jumped forward, and the show sucked even more. Given the poor quality of the second season thus far, one hopes the final eight episodes of the season will be good.

Other Thoughts:

-Jack told Fake Amanda that she slept in. I threw my hands up in the air in exasperation. I understand characters need dialogue. Jack's sleeping in line was a complete waste. He could've said so many different things. Maybe a comment about the beauty of the sea, the color of the sky, etc. Also, we're to believe Nick didn't make a single sound? He was holed up in a wall pretty much as Jack and Fake Amanda made love for many hours.

-Emily Vancamp's grown into her role as badass ass kicker. She rocked it in her scene with Nick.

-Declan failed to fix the air conditioner in the bar. He had a line about time of death which was meant to mean something else to the audience given what was happening to Declan's brother. I don't think that line's intent landed.

-New episodes of Revenge return on March 10.

-Mark B. Perry & Joe Fazzio wrote the episode. Stefan Schwartz directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Down the Rabbit Hole" Review

I fall for The Vampire Diaries' bait-and-switch every season.

In season two, Elijah threw coins through a coffee shop window, and I announced, to myself, "Here is the Big Bad of Season 2." The writers introduced Klaus later that season and he would go on to kill Aunt Jenna, which was the show's announcement of "Here's your Big Bad." Season three got a bit wacky. Plot threads split off into other threads that split into other threads. Stefan was brutally killing folk for awhile. Mama Original came out to play. Klaus seemed less of a Big Bad when his mom wanted to kill him until mama Original's plan failed. The Originals were collectively the Big Bads of season three. So then comes season four and the introduction of Connor, a vampire hunter who kicks so much ass that I wanted him to become TVD's Holtz. Connor wasn't long for the show. The less cool Shane rose to prominence. The signs were there that he was a bit player in the end, a fool fooled by the hallucinations of ghosts, just another one of the many characters to be used and discarded in the series. Of course a super-powered badass would rise to power as the third act of the fourth season nears its beginning. The ol' TVD bait-and-switch. Ah, I feel so foolish.

I don't know if every show should take as long to get going as The Vampire Diaries did this season, but oh my goodness the last two episodes have been awesome. These episodes tempered my fears that Julie Plec and her writers were running out of steam. They kept up a intense narrative pace for three years. Something had to give. Now the show is running on all cylinders. Every major character, except Matt, is involved in the story, integral and important to it. The classic surprise deaths feel like surprises again, specifically surprise Jeremy deaths. TVD killed Jeremy so many times that it resembled The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I'm still skeptical of the finality of Jeremy's death because he's been killed by one character or another more times than Damon uttered a quip. Regardless, the mere fact I wondered whether or not Jeremy had the ring on his finger suggests I'm more inclined to believe TVD went for broke to break the hearts of TVD fans across the globe. Big Bads don't rise to power without killing a major character during his or her ascension.

"Down the Rabbit Hole" is the best episode of the season since "Memorial." "A View to a Kill" was pretty great, too, but "A View to a Kill" suffers from its role as a transition episode, a set-up episode, etc, whereas "Down the Rabbit Hole" is all forward momentum. The cure won't cure all of vampirism; the cure will cure just one vampire. Rebekah snaps Stefan's neck to stop him from wasting the cure on Elena. Vaughn, Damon's new hunter friend, wants to cure Silas and then kill him. Once Elena learns about the cure's small size, she wants to go home and use it on Klaus. The revelation of the cure's limited use seemed inevitable since a story about vampires, without vampires, would be complicated. The one-and-done aspect of the cure inspires a terrific conversation between Elena and Stefan. The former couple shares another great conversation earlier in the episode. The conversations share a theme: Stefan's concern for love, as well as his consistent love for her. Stefan won't take the cure for himself. Elena asks for his friendship. The real progress comes from Elena's admission that her vampire self is her self now. The human Elena may not cope too well with what vampire Elena's done. She can't go back. She doesn't want the cure. Who does want the cure?

Katherine wants the cure. My favorite villainous vampire comes back in blistering fashion, knocking Elena out and tricking Jeremy into thinking she's Elena. Katherine opes Jeremy's veins to feed Silas. Silas thaws. Katherine takes the cure. Silas snaps Jeremy's neck. Vaughn the hunter already stabbed Bonnie, so Bonnie's dying on the rabbit hole floor. Rebekah's out of commission after Vaughn stopped her. Damon didn't do much during the episode except for threatening the new vampire hunter. Shane's above ground nursing a broken leg, feeling like a piece of crap until his deceased wife tells him that it's all okay, that every act he committed mattered. The visions of the dead are manipulations of Silas. An argument can be made that TVD borrowed the idea of The First from Buffy for Silas. Silas uses the dead to get what he wants the way The First used the dead to manipulate the Scooby Gang. Silas is the oldest evil. Rebekah called him an "ancient evil." The First were around before evil had a name. If the similarities are a coincidence or intentional, whatever it is, I hope TVD doesn't botch whatever they plan with Silas the way Buffy botched its final season with a horrible arc about The First. Ancient evils are dicey prospects in genre shows. I think the only fictional ancient evil entity I love is ANGEL's Wolfram & Hart. Sauron's cool and all but he's just a giant eye for ten hours.

Klaus cracks the crypt-text that blows the whole mission wide open out of love for Caroline. The B story is as close to a Valentines Day story TVD gets. Joseph Morgan cracks me up more and more each week. Klaus is a brutally violent character, but he had great moments in "Down the Rabbit Hole." Tyler has to flee town once the truth about the cure emerges. Caroline buys him time to run before Klaus catches and kills him. Meanwhile, Klaus tries to get Caroline to love him. The help he provided doesn't amount to anything. Caroline rejects him. Klaus walks away with an expression on his face similar to the one one makes after drinking Real Lemon juice. It's hard to love and be loved in this world, isn't it, Klaus?

TVD works amazingly well when its characters work together for a common goal. The series runs into problems when the story is scattered, but put them all together and it's one of the best shows on television, including cable. Episodes such as "Down the Rabbit Hole" are worth watching the entire series to get to. It feels like a reward sometimes when shows produce episodes that are just so awesome you're glad you never stopped watching (not that I considered that; I'm thinking more along the lines of early Treme, I suppose). I just hope TVD keeps the momentum going, keeps the awesome going.

Other Thoughts:

-Bonnie and Jeremy's romance never worked for me. It felt like they were put together because the writers had nothing else for them, like the time Dawson's Creek put Pacey and Jen together briefly in season three before Pacey fell in love with Joey and Jen gave freshman Henry a chance. Their loaded scene of magic and earthquakes was totally flat as a result. That's a scene for Damon and Elena. It'd make the fan girls faint.

-Shane's arc will end in one way. Lackeys never get out of what they built alive. Knox brought Illyria back; Wesley shot and killed him. Since Damon's wanted to kill Shane for awhile, Damon's probably going to kill him. Mr. Friendly, aka Tom, from LOST, stole Walt from the boat, shot Sawyer, made his life hell for the duration of Sawyer's time in the cage, and Sawyer killed him in "Through The Looking Glass." Sawyer's last words to Tom are fantastic: "That's for taking the boy." I wonder what Damon will say to Shane.

-Jose Molina wrote the episode. Chris Grismer directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Arrow "The Odyssey" Review

Homer's The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus' (or Ulysses) twenty year journey home from war. The man has a hell of a time, he really does. There are Sirens, Cyclops, the Lotus Eaters, a fun trip to Hades full of blood offerings and sacrifice; a lovely meeting with Scylla and Charybodis, and on and on it goes for twenty years. When the dude finally gets home, he finds his Penelope surrounded by suitors, which he does not like, and he kills them all. Arrow began as a quasi-homage to William Shakespeare's Hamlet before veering into The Tempest territory. Comparisons and contrasts with Hamlet, The Tempest, and The Odyssey raced through my head up until the very second Oliver said he related to The Odyssey because Ulysses had trouble getting home, too. I reined myself in. I resisted a laborious essay comparing and contrast three major works in world literature. Arrow's a CW show, after all.

I appreciate any show that nods its creative vision to the great works in world literature. It gets my imagination going and makes me a quintillion times more interested in an episode of TV. I'm the same guy that compared an Ernest Hemingway novel to a TVD episode. Yes, I need to be reined in or rein myself in.
"The Odyssey" is a terrific episode. Sometimes one can sense an episode's quality from the first scene; sometimes it takes awhile for the quality to show. "The Odyssey" had potential to stand out as soon as Kreisburg and Guggenheim and Berlanti's names flashed on the screen in the written/story by credits. The creators of Arrow have great vision for the show and grasp of its tone and characters. When creators handle the script personally for any series, the resulting episode is usually notable in one way or the other. The Island adventures of Oliver Queen hadn't been given a ton of screentime so far this season. The flashbacks picked up last week with the introduction of Slade Wilson, Yow Fei's treachery, and what not. Oliver began learning how to fight. The story of Arrow finally began; or, rather, his origin story did.

The story of Oliver's transformation into badass fighter who'll later return to Starling City to save it is juxtaposed with the present day story in which Diggle and Felicity try to save Oliver's life. Oliver burst through Queen Consolidated to get answers from his mother as The Hood. He shot two arrows, scaring the hell out of her, demanding she answer for her crimes against Starling City. Moira shoots The Hood, her son, without knowing what she's done. Oliver crawls into Felicity's back seat and asks her to take him to the factory. She does. Oliver's knocked out for the majority of the A story, which provides plenty of time to follow Oliver's first significant action on the island.

Slade Wilson's a demanding man who won't let Oliver stop fighting because he's tired. Wilson wants off of the island, and he'll bring Oliver if he can take care business for him. The incoming plane to the island will get the two men off of the island. Oliver learns to fight, learns to take a gun away from a man who's pointing it inches from his face, and he displays a courageousness he hasn't in his life. Oliver was The Playboy, a guy who cheated on his girlfriend with his sister just because he could, who thought of only himself. Yow Fei showed him what loyalty means. Oliver absorbed the lesson. Wilson teaches him skills the hard way. Oliver can't light a fire, but after trying for a long time, Wilson cuts him a break and uses a lighter to create the fire. Wilson's like the lighter--he's quick, automatic, efficient. Oliver's like the arduous task of rubbing sticks together to spark a fire--slow, frustrating, and rarely effective. Oliver's lucky the air traffic controller doesn't shoot him in the face both times he's staring at a gun. Wilson saves him, informs him he'll call in an air strike on the island to take out Fires, Deathstroke, and all of the other. Oliver owes Yow Fei his life, so he takes off to save his life.

The rescue mission across the island allows Oliver to use the skills he's developed working with Wilson. He's not anything special until a gun's in his face and he does what Wilson taught him. Yow Fei won't leave. Fires is holding his daughter captive and won't release her unless he completes the mission with them. Oliver's forced into a death match with Deathstroke. Oliver uses what Wilson told him against Deathstroke, which just makes him angry. Wilson, though, comes back to save Oliver's ass and kill Deathstroke for betraying him. There's a significant shot earlier in the episode where Slade Wilson looks at the mash for a beat, significantly so, and moves on. Hm. The death of Deathstroke seems so abrupt for a character with the stature of Deathstroke. Wilson's fight with Deathstroke is spectacular. Oliver's perilous rescue mission bonds the men. Wilson feels he can survive on the island--they can. It's a cool scene watching Wilson and Oliver shake hands. Also worth noting: Oliver and Fei's daughter share a dragon tattoo.

Oliver survives the gunshot wound. Felicity becomes an unofficial member of the Save Starling City club, though she rejects membership once Oliver's awake. Felicity's bothered by the killer in Oliver and wonders why Diggle isn't bothered either. The Hood-as-the-killer has been dangerous rhetoric in Starling City. Diggle engages Felicity in a rather deep conversation about morality, what it means to be a killer, and what killing entails. The great writers and thinkers in history wanted to know what drove people to commit atrocities against each other. Diggle tells her a story of the time in the army when he was tasked with protecting a warlord. Insurgents attacked one day, tried to kill the warlord. The firefight lasted a minute. Diggle shot an 18 year old to protect a man who committed atrocities against children--what does that make Diggle? It's a heavy question for The CW to ask its audience, but a question that represents what Arrow aims to be. The creators have embraced this post-Nolan landscape for superheroes.

The world isn't black-and-white in Arrow. Diggle's example to Felicity underscores that point. Oliver decides he'll never go after his mother again. Diggle doesn't agree but keeps his opinion to himself. Arrow's heading to a critical narrative turn where Oliver's past and present will collide, where we'll learn his mother isn't the first person close to him to betray him, like Billy betrayed Wilson. And, I suspect, we'll learn that in both instances the discovery will create a villain for Oliver. He'll never feel more alone.

Other Thoughts:

-Felicity is an awesome character. Emily Betts Richard is charming in the role. I loved her casual way of letting Diggle know she caught onto him and Oliver a long time ago.

-Who's the man who hired the task force on the island? I assume it's someone quite obvious. Malcolm, namely.

-Andrew Kreisburg and Marc Guggenheim wrote the teleplay. Greg Berlanti and Kreisburg got the story credit. The talented and reliable John Behring directed it. I particularly loved the island scenes. Grey skies, rain, and forest are my idea of beauty. Behring captured the gloom of the situation really well.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, February 11, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Bad Crazy" Review

Lily tells Ted that he needs to date Jeanette for a significant amount of time. They're both insane and need each other. Ted needs to share his insanity with another person, Lily explains. I would've preferred Carter Bays and Craig Thomas walking into frame, telling Josh Radnor and Alyson Hanigan to freeze for just a moment while they break the fourth wall to tell the audience they're intention to waste time with the Jeanette character because they're hung up on the introduction of the mother in the series finale. Jeanette represents The Last One. Every person has a last one, I suppose, unless one marries the first person one dates, in which case I'm making a generalization and apologize. Ted will have a moment when he realizes it's time to stop dating. It'll involve fire, and the remnants of his upstairs scattered on a New York street. Since the show's renewed for another season, I assume the relationship will take a full calendar year to get to the fiery ending.

"Bad Crazy" tries to trick the viewer into thinking the fiery ending will be the conclusion. No, Bays and Thomas adore pulling the rug out from under the audience, followed by pulling the rug that was underneath the other rug that had been pulled out, and then there's a third, and even a fourth, rug that's pulled out from the viewer. The narrative is unfair to Jeanette until Mike Tyson defends crazy women. Bays and Thomas use Tyson's reputation for the sake of ultimate irony. Mike Tyson's the former world heavyweight champion who bit off Holyfield's ear, raped a woman, went to jail. ESPN's Bill Simmons created the Tyson Scale to measure an athlete's craziness. Tyson's reformed his life. He's become an example of the value of second chances in America. He was a bad, bad man who's tried real hard to become a good, good man. The gist of the joke or whatever you want to call it is Tyson should be the last one explaining 'crazy' to someone else. Tyson, as it were, wrote the book on crazy.

Ted tells the gang he broke up with Jeanette. She got too crazy for him, and it was best for the relationship to end. Jeanette shows up to the apartment while Ted's out of the house, looking for a book she left. Ted stressed Marshall and Barney, who were hanging out and playing video games, to not let her in the apartment should she stop by. She stops by; she enters the house; she destroys valuable items in his place. But why? SHE'S CRAZY! No, that's not entirely it. Remember Bays and Thomas' addiction to pulling rugs out from under the audience's feet. Ted's not truthful to his friends about the situation. I won't bother picking apart the actions of a thirty-something fictional character who hangs out with the same four people all the time. It doesn't make a lick of sense for him to withhold the truth from them; however, his friends can be terrible about his relationship fallouts. I wouldn't tell these folks a gosh darn thing about my personal life.

Ted never broke up with Jeanette. The story's so damn stupid. I'm embarrassed to even recap it and then comment on it. Ted and Jeanette went to a sports game at the Barclays Center. Jeanette thought Ted wanted to admit his feelings for Lily (Jeanette created a different Lily in her mind--a Lily with a southern drawl) to which Ted passionately kissed her. I don't know. The scene changes as Ted reveals the truth about what happened. Mike Tyson won't let Ted off the hook. Jeanette isn't the crazy girl just because she's crazy. Barney's theory that girls just are crazy is disputed by the former world heavyweight champion of the world. Men must accept responsibility for their role in a woman's behavior. Men send mix signals that make women feel crazy. They lash out. It's all a mess. Ted accepts his role in Jeanette's behavior. It's sort of hard to ignore how she's destroying his lamps as well as his other personal items. It's a sitcom, though--his stuff will be as good as new next week. Ted listens to Lily's advice about dating her. He needs it. His grand romantic arc needs it because he needs to that nonsense romantic element where he realizes he can't date anymore. Dating's just too much for ol' Ted Mosby. Whatever. Abby Elliott is a welcomed addition to the show for however long she's around for. She's funny, pretty, sexy, and hopefully the writers let her do more than be stereotypically crazy.

Meanwhile, the less I write about the Robin/baby Marvin plot is for the better. I contemplated embedding a clip of Daniel Bryan yelling 'NO!' rather than write anything about the B story. Robin doesn't want to hold Marvin. She's forced into doing it but refuses. Mike Tyson is involved and a strip club. The story's told in flash-forwards. Time passes. Robin reveals a new truth about that day she needed to hold Marvin with each passing year. It's a mind-numbing device. I was yelling "NO!" each time the title card showed the passage of years. Robin finally holds the baby and likes it. The story is a massive waste of time; it ends in a predictable place. The future if anything depicts a strained friendship. The women seem to meet but once each year. Their conversation is wooden and soulless.

In truth, I didn't mind the A story which involved Josh Radnor in a Boba Fett suit (If I'm wrong about that, I don't care) and the return of his red boots as worn by a quite provocative Abby Elliott. The B story was horrible. It really brought the episode down.

Other Thoughts:

-Ted's apartment is used as a clubhouse. Marshall and Barney store all of the items their ladies won't let them store in their living space. The items include a canoe, cotton candy machine, and pac-man arcade game.

-Robin's personal arc is going to end with her a mother in May 2014.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Revenge "Union" Review

Thirteen episodes in and Revenge's second season continues to feel directionless. There's a semblance of an arc with The Initiative, but, I don't know, friends and well-wishers. What's the point of Revenge's second season?

The Porters celebrate a rare victory in "Union." Jack marries the girl of his dreams, though the actual girl of his dreams is to Fake Amanda's right and struggling not to cry. Conrad gives up the bar after Fake Amanda threatens him with incriminating video footage. Jack's elated. His life is going just right. Naturally, the taller, angrier Ryan brother tagged along on board Jack and Fake Amanda's honeymoon-on-the-sea to kill them. The taller, angrier brother did not react well when Conrad told him the renovation of the waterfront wasn't happening because of certain threats. Conrad ratted out the Porters as the threats, which is ridiculous considering it is the Porters. The Porters are the Charlie Brown of Revenge. Rare victories are rare. I mean, angry Ryan brother's going to do something bad on the boat.

The most significant part of the Porter storyline involved Fake Amanda. Fake Amanda's a loose cannon. She overheard Jack commiserate with Declan about the wedding possibly not happening because of Conrad's refusal of Emily's check. Emily gave them money to buy back the bar so they wouldn't be indebted to the Graysons. Fake Amanda broke into Emily's computer to use to threaten Conrad, which is going to create all sorts of problem for Emily as Conrad has proof of who's been behind everything bad in the Hamptons over the last year. I'm sure this will lead to a very tangled web that'll take a few weeks to untangle, one that'll circle back on itself and make me want to throw myself through a window.

Emily was unusually emotional throughout "Union." Aiden's all over the place emotionally as he tries to figure out the specifics of his sister's death. You'll recall he left Emily after the previous episode's events. Emily feels especially alone. Jack and Fake Amanda are marrying. Memories of herself as a little girl marrying young Jack Porter run through her mind. Nolan tells her it's okay for her to feel conflicted over what's happening. She gave up a future with Jack for revenge. Aiden's departure really hurts her. Aiden blames Emily for his sister's death. Nolan cracks the mystery easily, though, after Aiden barges into the office and makes demands about it. The Initiative played Aiden for six years: his sister died six years ago. The coroner's report confirms it. Aiden still distances himself from Emily and sends her along her way after the coroner's report.

The strongest scene of the episode is between Aiden and Emily in the cemetery just before he sends her on her way. Emily doesn't fight for people. The girl is cold and numb. It's problematic when she feels for someone; however, Aiden's different. He knows her entirely and completely. Emily cries when she talks about her deceased father and how difficult it's been without him. Aiden accuses her of not understanding his situation, which hurts Emily. She pleads he not go. She needs him. This is her hour of need, and he leaves her. I always like it whenever Revenge shows Emily's vulnerable side. The moment makes their next moment special. Emily's at the wedding, crying, and she looks away to see Aiden returned to her, dressed as a character in a trashy romantic novel that's sold in grocery stores.

Aiden and Emily's plan for The Initiative gets screwed by the Graysons. First, Daniel detatches himself from her; then, in a nice twist, Victoria shoots Helen. Helen was a boring and bland villain. She threatened Daniel's well-being. Victoria took action. Unfortunately, Helen's just one character in The Initiative. There will be more, and I can certainly wait for that. Maybe the show will drop this plot thread like they dropped Jennifer Jason Leigh's character. Also, Padma's relationship with The Initiative is one-sided. Padma's being used. Nolan finally lucks out with a love interest. Padma has a reason, but I forgot what the reason is the second after she stated it.

Of course stuff happens in Revenge still, but all of it seems meaningless and filler. I didn't like the first season, but the first season had conviction in its storytelling the second season doesn't. Characters are just moving from story to story, from twist to twist, because it's a night-time soap, and that's what happens in night-time soaps. There's no urgency in the storytelling, even Daniel's imminent danger with The Initiative lacks dramatic tension. Revenge lacks punch right now.

Other Thoughts:

-I wondered, moments before Victoria shot Helen, why no one shoots Helen. Maybe Revenge should hire me. I've written scripts. I wrote a Jason X spec when I was 12.

-I noticed Ashley Madekwe's height tonight. Her height makes her more appealing. The shot of her listening in on Fake Amanda's threats to Conrad gives me hope the series will team Ashley and Emily up to kick ass.

-Wendey Stenzler directed the episode. Ted Sullivan and another writer who's name I don't recall right now co-wrote "Union." If you were wondering: yes, the theme of the episode is unions, how they form and how they disintegrate.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Friday, February 8, 2013

Community "History 101" Review

Here goes nothing.

Community's fourth season premiered last night, four months after its initial premiere date in the middle of October. NBC sent it to the Friday Night death slot as a lead-in to Grimm, which is as bad a mix as chocolate syrup on a piece of cheese. NBC's since gone crazy and delayed Grimm until next month after promising its return for late January. The delayed premiere for Community didn't bother me like it would have when Dan Harmon ran the show. There it is: the Dan Harmon of it all. The television business can be a nasty place. Show runners get replaced, the show goes on. Show runners were never as famous as they are now. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took show running out from the shadows during their LOST days. ABC released a weekly podcast with the two. In LOST's final season, Lindelof and Cuse starred in fifteen (or so) webisodes. The post-finale special on Jimmy Kimmel Live featured the show runners in an "alternate" ending of the show. People don't know when a show runner is replaced. If they do, they usually don't care--it's usually a floundering show in need of new direction and ideas.

Dan Harmon's a different kind of show runner. TV goes on because its writers can adopt many voices and blend into the show. Watch any episode of a TV show without credits and try to name the writer of an episode. Distinctive writing is rare and precious in TV. Buffy's writers adopted Joss' voice in writing the show. Joss brought his writing style with him to The Avengers, The Cabin In The Woods (with Drew Goddard, of course), and Dr. Horrible; but his writers moved onto other shows and wrote the voice of the show they were now writing for. I watched Spartacus three years ago because I'm a fan of Steven DeKnight. His ANGEL episodes are gems, but Spartacus bore little resemblance to a Steven DeKnight ANGEL episode. Community's first three seasons were distinctively Dan Harmon. I rarely post statuses on Facebook about TV, but I posted about Dan Harmon's firing to tell anyone fellow fan of the show that the show they loved won't be the same again. Dan Harmon's season three finale was essentially a perfect cap to the show.

Indeed, if anything, if the new era of the series fails to be the Community Dan Harmon wrote, the first three seasons still matter. They were Dan's, and his writers, story and it was complete. TV's a business first and foremost. Story is secondary in the medium. It's true that the writer is king in television, but the almighty dollar is still more powerful. If story mattered to the executives, then creators choosing to end their shows after x seasons wouldn't be unheard of. Writers work hard to create a show, get a pilot made, and have the pilot picked up for a series order, which is why people think it unusual for a show runner to end a series. Not every writer can choose to end his or her own show. The business is too big. Network executives would like a show to run for years and years, well past its natural end, because of its profitability. Networks aren't solely to blame; fans, too, want their favorite shows to continue. I remember the disappointment I felt the day TheWB cancelled ANGEL after five seasons. I wanted season six so badly, even if season five ended perfectly.

I wanted a fourth season of Community. While season three's finale was terrific, Dan Harmon's story wasn't totally complete. The group hadn't graduated. NBC's announcement of renewal was great. Their subsequent announcement that Dan Harmon was fired was not great. I didn't want to watch the fourth season. Community was Dan Harmon's show. Months pass, though. I knew I'd give the new show runners a chance. I watched the cast interview with Entertainment Weekly during Comic Con and disliked them together for the first time since the show premiered. Their tomfoolery and mirth seemed force, a network directive more than anything else; but time marches on and the interview faded from memory. The show got pushed back. Then, last night, "History 101" finally premiered with a more than overt meta story about the changes behind-the-scenes, as well as a different energy.

The new show runners want to make a show old fans will love. The premiere featured cameos from Leonard, Neil, Susie Kim, and other recurring characters. Jeff referred to Garrett. Jim Rash dressed in a number of dresses. Abed went into his mind and imagined a sitcom wherein his friends never graduate from Greendale. Jeff just referenced Garrett, though--there wasn't any sign of my favorite recurring side character. Garrett's so Dan Harmon that maybe the actor left the show with him. Harmon found him doing stand-up comedy in Los Angeles. The dude produced magic any time he got screen time. The episode had a spoof of The Hunger Games, animation, parodies of traditional sitcoms. It had Britta and Troy holding hands, Annie trying to be so un-Annie, Jeff learning another lesson about the importance of the group (which is a lesson he learned and kept in the finale), Pierce making inappropriate jokes, and a naked Chang and a new pun of his name. The elements were there, but Community didn't feel the same. Is that sentence disingenuous? Would I notice a difference in the show if I weren't deeply interested in the business of television, didn't follow its news, and never knew Harmon left? I'd like to think so. The episode had a forcedness reminiscent of the cast's Comic Con interview with Entertainment Weekly. Community's not supposed to feel forced. It is organic. If it stumbled under Harmon, it stumbled because he shot for the gosh darn moon and missed. He'd rebound, though, and come up with something brilliant like the episode Dean Pelton directs a documentary for Greendale. I don't know if the new guys needed to be quite as committed to the show as it was. That show left with Harmon. Perhaps they make it their own in future episodes. "History 101" didn't seem a goodbye to the old show; it was an embrace, a promise that the beloved Community isn't different, it's just changed.

I don't know where the season will go. I'll keep an open mind about it. Hopefully, I'll separate it from Dan Harmon's Community accept it for what it is. I do love these characters, this world, and the performances. Optimism is the key.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.