Friday, December 24, 2010

The Foot: Best Episodes of 2010 Part 5 of 5

Welcome to the fifth and final day of the Best Episodes of 2010 celebration. Only five spots remain for a plethora of episodes and shows. And, really, only two shows will comprise the final five episodes of this humble celebration. I avoided using the word 'list' throughout the week because I only wanted to write about my favorite shows and their best episodes. I had no interest in listing them in a numerical way to determine their value. Of course, I used a sort of list format with the days of the week. As the week progressed, the more beloved an episode or series is. Naturally, on this Christmas Eve Friday in December, the final day of the Best Episodes of 2010 will belong to my favorite show of all-time--LOST (plus another show will join LOST before the post is done).

The final season caused many debates and arguments. The sixth season of the series will remain a season of contention for many years as new fans discover it and the old, die-hards either praise its virtues or criticize its vices in an effort to sway the new fans opinion of the sixth season. LOST fandom is crazy, and it's smart to get some distance now that the series has ended. Who cares what anybody else thinks about the show besides yourself? If someone thinks the Man in Black/Jacob arc fell flat, then it's fine and if someone loved that arc then that, too, is fine. If most people hated the time spent in the Temple while a minority enjoyed the further exploration of the culture of the Others then that is just fine.

For me, I had some issues with the final season. For the most part, I enjoyed the final season and I love a large portion of it. Allow me to write about the four episodes of LOST this year that were among the best episodes produced in all of television.

LOST--"THE END"--Written By Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse--Directed By Jack Bender

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"The End" is an episode I love so much that I spent over 14 hours, from when the episode ended until the Flyers playoff game began, writing 10,000 words about the episode and the series. I view 'The End" as not only the end of this wonderful story but also a love-letter to the fans. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse understood the LOST fandom so well, and their relationships to the various characters who populated the world of LOST, and the two writers delivered powerful moment after powerful moment in "The End." If the finale was a love-letter to the fans then my 10,000 word recap/review of the finale is my love letter to the show.

"The End" is probably the best series finale of all-time because the episode wraps up the season six arcs as well as the series--an insane task for a series, evidenced by the majority of finale episodes that fail to satisfy the fans--in a way that is satisfying and full of closure for the fans. And the repeat value is off-the-charts good because each time I watch the episode or select scenes I'm still moved by how powerful each and every scene it is. It's masterful storytelling and direction. I hope one day I can write something as powerful as the series finale of LOST.

For my complete thoughts on the finale, please read my 10,000 word recap/review right here:

LOST--"DR. LINUS"--Written By Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz--Directed By Mario Van Peebles

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Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are getting a ton of critical praise for writing the new Tron movie while their gem from the sixth season of LOST gets ignored by seemingly everyone who actually gets paid to write about television. One will see plenty written about "The End" or "Across The Sea" (because of how polarizing "Across The Sea" is) while the second best episode of season six gets nothing at all. "Dr. Linus" is also Kitsis' and Horowitz' best LOST episode ever. The episode marks the official transformation of Ben Linus from antagonist to redemptive soul. Until this episode, the writers had difficulty finding a balance between the sideways and the Island stories because the writers wanted to keep the curtain closed on the meaning of the sideways until the finale.

The perfect balance between the sideways and the Island A stories is found in the episode. It's really a simple story about a man who hasn't gotten over the death of his daughter, and a man profoundly changed by the death of his child--so much so that the audience doesn't realize how profoundly Ben's been changed until he tells Ilana why he did what he did to Jacob. With full knowledge of the sideways world, the episode becomes even more rich especially in the scene when Ben makes a different decision from the one he made when Keamy had a gun to Alex's head. Michael Emerson plays the sideways Ben with such sensitivity and quietness that one wondered, when it originally aired, why Ben was so different--was it because he never went to the Island, had a better father without the Island? No, not at all it turned out. Ben became a good man and performed many good deeds as the number two to Hurley, and that part of his life explains the Ben we see in the sideways.

Also, the B story with Richard and Jack is awesome. This is the episode when Jack realizes his purpose in returning to the Island. When he sits down and lights that fuse, who didn't cheer?

My original recap/review of "Dr. Linus"

LOST--"AB AETERNO"--Written By Melinda Hsu-Taylor & Greggory Nations--Directed By Tucker Gates

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The origin story for Richard Alpert felt like a sweeping epic. For three seasons, we wondered why Richard never aged and who he was before the Island. "Ab Aeterno" reveals all of the essential elements of Richard Alpert. He was a broken man when the Black Rock crashed on the Island, like all of our other characters, who was terrified of the devil. The episode is like an old testament biblical story, too. Alpert's a man terrified of a vengeful God and in search of forgiveness for his sins though he's terrified of hell. It takes him over 100 years to forgive himself for not saving his wife's life, and once he allows himself to remove that heavy guilt, he becomes a man and he puts the cross around his neck for the first time in over 100 years. It's a wonderful moment in a wonderful episode.

Here are my original thoughts on the episode:

LOST--"HAPPILY EVER AFTER"--Written By Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof--Directed By Jack Bender

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"Happily Ever After" gave us the first character to became aware of the surreality of the Sideways--Desmond David Hume. It's an episode that many fans needed at the time because patience wore thin as the season progressed without new revelations about the sideways world. Well, Damon and Carlton delivered an extraordinary episode that set-up the endgame for the the sixth season and the series. Desmond brought the characters to the Island when he was late putting the numbers into the computer, which caused the plane crash so, naturally, he'd be the one who had to bring the characters together.

The episode is so exciting on first viewing because of all the possibilities that swirl around in one's head. Charlie explains his dreams or visions of Claire and he's frantic to escape this place he's seen, convinced it's not real because he needs to find her. As with every other episode of the series (besides the two origin episodes), the episode takes on greater meaning with the knowledge of the entire season. This place is, really, just about finding one another so they can move on together. To where, you ask? Well, that's what they need to find out. Also, the music in the episode is out-bleeping-standing.

Original Thoughts on "Happily Ever After"

TERRIERS--"HAIL MARY"--Written By Ted Griffin & Nick Griffin--Directed By Ted Griffin

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The episode aired only three weeks ago but Terriers destroyed every hour long show this Fall in quality. "Hail Mary" wraps up the first season, and series, rather nicely. Hank resolves the Zeitlan without getting himself or anyone else. Hank finds himself ready to move on past his failed marriage with Gretchen and decides to sell the old house. For the first time since we met Hank Dolworth, the man was both happy and healthy having overcome the demons that plagued him for much of the season. Britt and Katie reunite. Sure he'll have to spend time in jail but Britt wants to be responsible, wants to become a good husband and father. And the series ends with two best friends, Hank and Britt, briefly thinking about a lifetime in Mexico on an eternal vacation but the two never will drive to Mexico. There's too much left for them to do in Ocean Beach--people to save, families to start. What a show. I'll miss it.

Original Review:


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Foot: Best Episodes of 2010 Part 4 of 5

Welcome to Day 4 of the Best Episodes of 2010 celebration. There are only ten spots left for the best episodes of the calendar year. I wonder, will the likes of Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother or LOST find their way into this celebration? For True Blood, hell no but the other shows might want to resist the urge to drop their head and walk in dejection to the sounds of the Charlie Brown music.

A brief recap of the week thus far: 15 episodes have made the Best Episodes of 2010 celebration in The Blog Formerly Known as Jacob's Foot. The episodes have come from Community, Party Down, 30 for 30, The Vampire Diaries, South Park, Friday Night Lights, Eastbound & Down, Mad Men, Dollhouse, Luther, Sherlock, Louie, Treme and It's Always Sunny Philadelphia. The only show to receive more than 1 episode is Community (with "Physical Education" and "Modern Warfare"). Some shows like Dollhouse and Friday Night Lights aired only three episodes in 2010 so their episodes were particularly strong considering the stiff competition from shows with more episodes.

Anywho, let us commence the fourth part of this exciting list:

TERRIERS--"RING A DING-DING"--Written By Angela Kang--Directed By Billy Gierhart

Not a weak episode exists in Terriers' outstanding first and only season. "Ring-A-Ding-Ding" is the episode that made me a devoted fan to the show. Funny enough, Shawn Ryan and the other top dogs didn't expect the episode to receive the adulation and praise it did. But it's a special episode, a microcosm of what made the show so damn good. The episode delivers gut punch after gut punch. The marriage day between Gretchen and Jason approaches quickly, much to Hank's dismay, while Britt knows he has to make a decision about the future for he and Katie--a decision about marriage. The third episode of the series receives tremendous praise for its case-of-the-week with Olivia Williams but the case-of-the-week is much more devastating.

A woman, Beth, is sick and dying. She knows her husband's cheating on her but she just doesn't know why, and the not knowing destroys her. She even reminds Hank of the promise every couple makes to one another on their marriage day: to love each other until death, and she just doesn't know why her husband left her for another woman in her darkest hour. The woman's grief is such a turn that it completely punches whomever is watching in the gut with the brunt force of emotion. Donal Logue deserves an Emmy nomination for his work in this scene alone, as he portrays the pain Hank feels from losing his marriage.

And the most heartbreaking line of the episode comes from Beth who, through tears, says "he'll be sorry when he loses me" over and over again as Hank comforts her, and only responds with "yeah he will." Terriers delivered great buddy-cop fun but it hit home because of its absolute fearlessness to tell these kinds of stories, and explore the deepest depths of human emotions. It is a FANTASTIC episode.

MAD MEN--"THE SUITCASE"--Written By Matthew Wiener--Directed By Jennifer Getzinger

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"The Suitcase" is the best episode of Mad Men in four seasons. The episode's all about the platonic relationship between Don Draper and Peggy Olson--an episode about five years of history between them. It begins with Don asking Peggy to stay late at work on her birthday, as her boyfriend and family wait for her at a restaurant and then greatness happens. The episode shows how much Don and Peggy need each other. He was there as she recovered from having a baby to give her advice: "It will shock you how much this never happened" and she's there, in the present, when he receives the call that Anna passed away. After being with him in his darkest hour, the following morning Don takes her hand to show Peggy that he'll never forget what she did for him and will continue to do for him.

MAN VS. WILD--"WESTERN PACIFIC"--Directed By Nick White

In August, I began writing weekly about the new season of Man Vs. Wild because the show is one of my favorites on television. The 5th season of the show might've been the strongest yet. When one thinks Bear Grylls will begin to settle down the challenges in episodes, he just ups the ante. In two episodes, he and his crew created extreme weather conditions so Bear could demonstrate survival in such catastrophic conditions. Whether Bear found himself under ice water for 4 minutes, buried beneath snow for 12 minutes and on death's door after a freak collision with his Director of Photography, one wonders when Bear will say enough is enough. The two extreme weather episodes don't even make the list. Instead, the episode to be celebrated is "Western Pacific

"Western Pacific" placed Bear in Pacific Rim (in Papua New Guinea), and what unfolded was legendary Bear Gryllls. The episode begins with Bear, in a helicopter, explaining all of the deadly creatures in the sea like tiger sharks, hammer heads, sting rays and jelly fish. Naturally, Bear decides the best thing to do is plunge into the water not more than 15 seconds after stating that fact that the ocean is a place where humans are very likely to be killed by sharks. The reason "Western Pacific" makes the Best Of celebration is because the episodes becomes Bear Grylls vs. Sharks. He embarks upon traveling through shark infested waters. Bear needed to travel to a certain piece of land but the entire region is broken up by water. In order for Bear to travel anywhere, the shark infested waters needed to be traversed upon. Bear offers simple and logical advice: never assume you're safe when surrounded by land with over 100,000 sharks. Bear moves slowly and methodically, knowing that he shouldn't draw the attention of the sharks through vibrations in the water. He gets bumped by a shark but keeps his cool. All the while, Bear only armed himself with a large stick should the group of sharks in the distance decide to attack the man. As Bear nears land, a shark moves at a fast speed toward him before veering off. Bear then gets out of the water as fast as possible.

Of course, once on the second island, Bear realizes he needs to get to the third island. Before you can say the word apoplectic, Bear tries to capture a shark in shallow water because he needs a good meal for energy. He's unsuccessful and settles for coconuts and a lobster. Before long, Bear makes a poor raft, sails it in a rough, choppy waters as a storm develops but, like all episodes of Man Vs. Wild, he find rescue.

COMMUNITY--"EPIDEMIOLOGY"--Written By Karey Dornetoo--Directed By Anthony Hemingway

It was a tough call between the Halloween episode and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" because both are fantastic but I love Halloween episodes, and Community produced one of my all-time favorite Halloween episodes with their zombie episode. After the Dean accidentally ordered rancid army rations, the students became sick with high fevers and the desire to chew on human flesh (spreading the disease). One by one the group become zombies until Troy saves the day by pushing the thermostat down to break the fever, thus curing everyone. It's a great episode for Troy, who finally accepts that he's a nerd, and it's the first step in his transition into a man. The episode's also just pure insanity with Pierce biting Star Burns, Chang and Shirley's intimate experience in the bath room and the prolonged cat gag. Terrific show. Well worth anyone's time.

PARTY DOWN--"PARTY DOWN COMPANY PICNIC"--Written By John Enbom--Directed By Bryan Gordon

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The Party Down caterers get a rare day off but at a Party Down company picnic. Ron tries to convince Bolus Lugozshe to hire him as Operations Manager at the main office but with no luck until he meets Bolus' daughter, Danielle. Since it's Ron, some nonsense and weird romance happens. Meanwhile, Lizzy battles a man for the most trophies at the various Party Down picnic (such an awesome story) while Kyle coaches Lydia's diva daughter, and he and Roman challenge Valhalla in a series of events to determine the best caterers. I love fun episodes and "Party Down Company Picnic" is fun and funny.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Foot: Best Episodes of 2010 Part 3 of 5

Welcome to Day 3 of the Best Episodes of 2010 celebration. By now, show runners, network executives, the writing staff along with the cast, crew and various assistants are feeling a bit antsy. No doubt some are thinking that time remains in the week for their show to be included. A CBS executive might be thinking, "we're the #1 network on TV...of course The Foot will include one of our series." The CW, meanwhile, broke out the champagne glasses last night when TVD's "Brave New World" cracked the last spot on Tuesday's list. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse must be thinking, "this guy only wrote about LOST for an extended period of time yet our show has been shut out the past two days. He did write 10,000 words for "The End," did he not? And an average of 2,000 words for any other LOST write-up. Sure, every awards show is shutting us out but NOW The Blog Formerly Known as Jacob's Foot has shut us out for 2 days running? He's ol' reliable! WHERE'S THE LOVE?!?" As you see, friends and well-wishers, I have an active imagination. Regardless, the tension continues to build as some new shows will garner some love. Of course, some shows will earn a second episode on this prestigious best-of.

For anyone jumping in without reading yesterday's post, or the day before: I celebrated episodes from Community, Party Down, Mad Men, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Luther, Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries, Louie, Treme and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. Most of these series won't return an episode to the list while a certain few will.

Let us commence with Part 3 of the Best Episodes of 2010.

30 FOR 30--"THE TWO ESCOBARS"--Directed By Jeff Zimbalist & Michael Zimbalist

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30 for 30 was one of the most enjoyable documentary series I've watched. I was torn between 'The Two Escobars' and 'Into The Wind' for today's write-up because both documentaries are excellent. 'The Two Escobars' is a 90 minute masterpiece about the relationship between the Colombian drug cartel and professional futbol during the late 80s/early 80s when Pablo Escobar ran Colombia. Following the death of Pablo Escobar, the Colombian national soccer team qualified for the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Colombia had one of futbol's top soccer talents in Andres Escobar. He played for the best Colombian team, and many believed Andres could carry Colombia to a World Cup victory; however, the team did not advance out of the Group Stage in part because of an own goal by Andres in a game versus the U.S.A. In Colombia, Andres is murdered. The actual motive behind the death remains a mystery but the dominant thought is, members of the cartel murdered him because he cost them a lot of money. One of the most fascinating parts occurs after Andres' death, when people suggest that Pablo Escobar would've never let something like Andres' death happen--an interesting supposition considering the kinds of violence Pablo Escobar indulged in. In addition to being a terrific exploration of life in Colombia during its worst years, it's a fascinating look at sports culture and fandom, and just how dangerous fandom can be.

COMMUNITY--"MODERN WARFARE"--Written By Emily Cutler--Directed By Justin Lin

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Thee most iconic Community episode, thus far, unless "Abed's Christmas Miracle" took over that spot. The previews for "Modern Warfare" indicated that the episode would be something special, and indeed it is special. "Modern Warfare" parodies action flicks and Glee while remaining rooted in a character story belonging to Jeff and Britta's relationship-full-of-sexual-tension. As a former Community College student myself, I can wholeheartedly relate to the prize the winning paint baller gets in a world without mandatory advisers, and a time that really does become like a battle field. There are so many great moments like Chang's great idea, the bathroom scene, anything with Leonard, Annie pouting and the final battle scene. If you haven't seen the episode, find someone with a DVD and watch immediately. "Modern Warfare" proves that Community's the best single camera comedy since Arrested Development.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS--"THANKSGIVING"--Written By Jason Katims--Directed By Michael Waxman

The fourth season finale of the series finally pits the East Dillion Lions against the West Dillion Panthers. Improbably, the thrown-together Lions beat the vaunted Panthers and even knock the team that fired Coach Taylor out of the playoffs. It's a great moment for East Dillion, and for Coach, but the episode makes the Best of 2010 because of everything around the game: Saracen's curtain call in which he and Julie get some closure on their relationship as it ends plus a moment of reconciliation between Saracen and best friend Landry, the conclusion to the chop shop storyline that gives Tim Riggins (and Taylor Kitsch) one of his finest moments on the show, and one of the best moments between those crazy Riggins brothers. Plus, Tami resolves the abortion controversy rather peacefully and leaves West Dillion's school on her own terms. There are other small moments like Vince, Jess and Vince's mother eating thanksgiving dinner together. It sometimes feels silly to feel happy for fictional characters but not with Friday Night Lights (or LOST).

EASTBOUND & DOWN--"CHAPTER 7"--Written By Steven D. Harwell & Jody Hill & Danny R. McBride--Directed By Jody Hill

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I don't think Eastbound & Down could've failed with Kenny Powers in Mexico and it didn't. The first episode of the second season succeeds wildly. Following the events of the first season finale, when he left April at a gas station because the baseball contract fell through, he fled to Mexico where he lived under the alias "Steve" and ran wild cockfights with his two henchman. The man has corn rows, gambles and has sex with the hottest woman in town (Vida). Meanwhile, Stevie expresses his frustration working as a Batista in Starbucks in one of the greatest scenes of all-time. Before long, Kenny draws the attention of a Mexican baseball manager so in the midst of offending the native people around him, butting heads with his two lackeys, the man might yet make it back to the majors one small step at a time.

SOUTH PARK--"CRIPPLED SUMMER"--Written & Directed By Trey Parker Intervention with Towelie. A slapstick comedy adventure with Timmy, Jimmy, Nathan and Mimsy. It's fantastic--the best South Park episode in season 14. Following a two part celebration of their 200th episode that was censored because of an image of Muhammed, and death threats made against Parker and Stone, the duo delivered this insane episode about a summer camp for crippled children and a towel addicted to drugs. Each time Nathan attempts to foil Jimmy, Mimsy misinterprets the instructions and Nathan experiences whatever was intended for Jimmy like a big ol' shark. It's hilarious, vulgar, offensive--classic South Park.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Foot: Best Episodes of 2010 Part 2 of 5

Welcome to Day 2 of the Best Episodes of 2010 celebration. Another five episodes from various series will join the prestigious ranks of the Blog Formerly Known as Jacob's Foot's Episodes of the Year list. Show runners will no doubt celebrate by arranging for their network's PR department to send some screeners The Foot's way to assure the highest quality of reviews or, most likely, will simply ignore the tweet I send them with the information that their show landed on my Best-Of list.

Yesterday, I celebrated episodes from shows such as Sherlock, Luther, Community, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mad Men. While some of those shows will have another episode or two make the list before the week ends, none of the shows will appear in today's post. So which shows await to join the likes of Community and Mad Men? Are episodes from Fringe, Breaking Bad, Rubicon, Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Office, Hellcats, The Defenders, Sons of Anarchy or Bones waiting in the wings? No, because I do not watch any of the shows listed. I'm only a humble blogger, trying to watch various shows with the luxury of screeners and whatnot. I'd like to watch several of the shows listed above while others I only included for laughs (i watched and wrote about two Hellcats episodes in September). But, indeed, let the celebration continue with today's episodes:

DOLLHOUSE--"GETTING CLOSER"--Written & Directed By Tim Minear

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Only three episodes of Dollhouse aired in 2010 but quite a few websites remembered as "Getting Closer" and the series finale ("Epitaph Two: The Return") have gotten love. Dollhouse was a show that experienced a number of growing pains in the first season. The second season, as a whole, rocked. Joss Whedon, Tim Minear and the rest of the writers figured out how to tell their story in their own way. Plus, with the chances of the show surviving beyond the second season being small, Whedon went all out to show what he wanted Dollhouse to be all along. And it was awesome.

"Getting Closer" is a chaotic episode. It's full of sleeper actives, Rossum shadiness, flashbacks, gun shots to the head, pain and suffering and a shocking revelation about the co-man in charge of Rossum. We learn about what Caroline did to find herself as an active in the dollhouse, as well as the connection between her and Halverson. The second half of the season became a quest for the characters to take down the dollhouse. With sleeper actives on the scene as Echo tries to get imprinted with the memories of Caroline, some death will happen. The death has ramifications, and only temporarily delays the reveal of the man behind the scenes of the Rossum corporation. Additionally, the shocking death pays off a rather tense relationship between two other character (in fact, that relationship was THE highlight of the early episodes of season two).

Dollhouse will probably be the most ignored Whedon show of all-time but the series came together as a great 26 episode story about sexuality, power, political power and free-will.

LOUIE--"BULLY"--Written & Directed By Louie C.K.

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FX gave Louie C.K. the opportunity to produce whatever show he wanted without interference from them because Louis C.K. promised the network that he would make the episodes for very cheap. The show's a collection of short-films rather than a conventional TV series. Louis C.K. turned sitcom conventions upside down with his HBO comedy and he turns conventions of cable TV upside down. Louie allowed the comedian to produce episodes about God and religion in schools, his issues with parenting, growing older, being single and a dad, heckling.

The best of the series is "Bully." The episode's most famous for the second-half in which Louie follows a teenage bully home (who, with his friends, insulted Louie and his date) to confront his parents only to learn that the parents, though decent people but with flaws, probably hold a good deal of responsibility for how their son behaves towards other people. The story ends with Louie and the kid's father, sitting outside, relating about the difficulties of parenting and supporting a family. It's terrifically done. The first half of the episode is hilarious as Louie remembers learning about sex from his father and his school. "Bully" represents exactly what Louis C.K. aims for each and every week--a collection of moments that anybody from anywhere can relate to.

TREME--"WISH SOMEONE WOULD CARE"--Written By David Simon & George Pelecanos--Directed By Dan Attias

"Wish Someone Would Care" is an episode I wrote about in this very blog after it aired because it's a great episode. Treme deals with post-Katrina New Orleans as various characters try to salvage the remnants of their life pre-hurricane but each and every character struggles. The character whose struggles are most evident in the episode is Creighton. With an eerie cheerier disposition than the dispisotin he had at Mardi Gras, in addition to assigning his class The Awakening, one figures that something very wrong is going on within Creighton's mind. And, indeed, the man couldn't take it any longer. He was overwhelmed and overcome by the post-Katrina New Orleans and didn't believe the city would recover. Simon, Pelecanos and Attias are quiet in Creighton's final hours. Creighton enjoys his favorite New Orleans food, listens to Annie's beautiful violin playing and then takes one final ride on the Ferry. Meanwhile, Chief Lambeaux's story allowed the viewers to learn more about the Housing Projects nightmare in New Orleans (that Spike Lee spent tons of time in his documentary).

PARTY DOWN--"STEVE GUTTENBERG'S BIRTHDAY PARTY"--Written By John Enbom--Directed By Bryan Gordon

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The only show that had worse ratings than Terriers is none other than the excellent Party Down. "Steve Guttenberg's Birthday Party" brings the gang to Guttenberg's house for a birthday party but, in fact, the birthday party's been cancelled; however, Guttenberg wants Party Down to hang out since it is his birthday. The episode gives the audience a glimpse at the talent that Roman and his writing partner possess at hardcore sci-fi specs. It turns out that Roman refuses to take notes, and his script is really bad; however, Henry makes the script so much better after Guttenberg encourages the aspring actors to act out the script. Henry gets a chance to remind himself that he possesses talent and ability far more greater than what being the manager of Party Down requires. The episode's hilarious but every episode of Party Down is. Roman's reluctance to change anything in his script says so much about the great character that is Roman DeBeers. Also, Guttenberg steals Kyle's date at night's end.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES--"BRAVE NEW WORLD"--Written By Brian Young--Directed By John Dahl

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Scoff all you want but this CW show can produce outstanding episodes like the second episode of season two that turns Caroline into an awesome vampire. It also had a carnival, Bonnie lighting Damon on fire. The show can swing and miss but then it hits grand slams like this one. Alan Ball and his crack team of writers would be wise to take instructions from Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Caroline Dries, Andrew Chambliss and company for how to write a non-Joss Whedon vampire show. Here is my original review:


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Foot: Best Episodes of 2010 Part 1 of 5

All across the interweb are lists for the best episodes of 2010. The majority of the lists include ten episodes with only one episode selected from different series. The Blog Formerly Known as Jacob's Foot will, indeed, celebrate the best episodes of 2010; however, I will not use the standard top 10 list. In fact, the best episodes of 2010 will span an entire week. While this won't be The Futon Critic's 100 episodes of the year, expect around 25 episodes of television by week's end. Also, I will welcome multiple episodes from a single series onto my list because, in doing so, one becomes aware of my favorite shows from 2010. The more episodes a series receives means the more I love the series.

What exactly makes an individual episode excellent in a season full of 13 or 22 episodes? Exemplary writing or acting or directing or editing? It's a combination of those four components. Every episode I will celebrate during the week contains a great writing, acting, directing and editing. Beyond those four general elements, the episodes have to come from character and story rather than plot. The story has to be natural, moving as well as the characters. Force-fed emotion and story does not work. In other words, a series has to earn the episode, the story and the character growth. The best shows treat their seasons like chapters in a novel. But, by all means, I will include stand-alone episodes in shows. I just want to celebrate the best that television has to offer. Keep in mind that I do not watch Breaking Bad because, once upon a time, I was a college student. I only watched LOST and few other shows.

For the next five days, I will list 5 of 2010's greatest episodes. Without further ado, let the great episodes of 2010 celebration begin:

SHERLOCK--"A STUDY IN PINK"--Written By Steven Moffat--Directed By Paul McGuigan

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Sherlock Holmes received a modern adaptation from the good people at the BBC. Sherlock and John Watson are 21st century folk who used cell phones and wrote blogs. "A Study in Pink" launched the 21st century adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous tales of the brilliant man who excelled at deduction. "A Study in Pink" introduces Sherlock and Watson relatively quickly.The duo meet through a mutual friend because Watson has no place to live since returning from war, and needs a place. Almost instantly, Sherlock deduces that Watson's post-traumatic nightmares aren't nightmares at all but, rather, a longing to return to battle and that his limp is merely psychosomatic. Impressed, Watson decides to move into Sherlock's flat on Baker Street. assist Sherlock investigate a series of apparent suicides.

The apparent suicides are actually homicides. The homicides, and the evidence left behind, leads Sherlock to a cab driver. The cab driver has, indeed, been playing a game of his own with his victims--a game of chance. The episode establishes the essential Sherlock Holmes--his partnership with Watson, his brilliance, his brother and a villain who works on almost the same intellectual level as Sherlock (but not nearly as well as Moriarty). Sherlock finds himself in a game of Russian roulette with two pill bottles--one filled with poisonous pills, the other bottle completely harmless. The cabbie decided to play such a game following a fatal diagnosis, and a chat with a certain DM. The cabbie and Sherlock engage in a battle of wits and, fittingly enough, Watson saves Sherlock at episode's end though Sherlock claims he had the cabbie exactly where he wanted him. It's essential that the series establish the fact that Sherlock's a fallible because Sherlock finds himself in tough situations in the following two episodes of the short season.

My favorite moments of the episode involve John Watson and his attempt to converse with the woman who works for Sherlock's brother. Martin Freeman's terrific in these scenes, and throughout the entire series as is Benedict Cumberbatch.

Wonderful episode.

LUTHER--"EPISODE 1"--Written By Neil Cross--Directed By Brian Kirk

I felt torn between "Episode 1" and "Episode 5" of Luther because "Episode 5" takes the series to a new place but the first episode of the series focuses entirely on John Luther and Alice Morgan, and really, those two are what make the series so great. Luther's a man who returns to the force after a month of suspension due an incident with a suspect. His colleagues don't trust him. He's known as a loose cannon. But he's back on the force, looking to redeem his reputation and win back the love of his life Zoey. When he comes upon the murder scene of a double murder, they bring in the surviving daughter. After brief questioning, Luther is convinced Alice Morgan killed her parents and the dog because she didn't yawn. The yawn itself isn't as important as the implication that Alice's behavior doesn't resemble any sane human behavior. Simply, Luther explains, one yawns when another yawns. Alice doesn't. Throughout the episode, Luther tries to convict the girl for the murder, tries to gain any substantial evidence because he needs to prove to himself, his colleagues and Zoey that he's back.

Of course, Luther illegally breaks into and enters Alice's flat. He threatens her. He breaks other code of ethics a police officer should abide by. Alice, more or less, confesses to the crime but knows Luther can't trace the murders back to her because she's brilliantly evil--a true sociopath. Soon, Luther gives up trying to convict Alice. More importantly, the episode establishes the unique relationship between Luther and Alice. She feels protective of the big lug while he can, really, only truly relate to Alice (Luther has a few issues). Most importantly, the episode establishes Luther and his world--quite crucial considering how his vices will play large part later in the series.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA--"Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats"--Written By Scott Marder & Rob Rosell--Directed By Matt Shakman

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Six seasons in and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia produces a top 10 episode. Any Sunny episode is great when Charlie's the central focus. The series has produced its fair share of Charlie centric episodes but this is the first with a lot of heart for Charlie by the end of the episode. Charlie walks in the bar, depressed, at the beginning because he realizes how many rats he's killed. After he leaves, Frank suggests that he, Dennis, Dee and Mac plan a party for Charlie's birthday. Of course, this is Always Sunny and Frank's selfishly motivated to celebrate his own birthday (it's not even Charlie's). After a bizarre day in which we learn that Charlie has no idea what 3D means, that he's ignorant of spa treatments (are you trying to say spaghetti?) the gang (minus) Frank surprises him with three gifts that they made using pictures of his dream book (or dram bok). And it's a moving scene that shows, despite the gang's self-involvement, they DO care about one another. Also, Duncan from the bridge and his gang's introduction is fantastic.

COMMUNITY--"PHYSICAL EDUCATION"--Written By Jesse Miller--Directed By Anthony Russo

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Community's the best show on TV currently. The first season got better and better each and every week. 2 months before the infamous paint ball episode, Dan Harmon and his writers unleashed "Physical Education" onto the world. In the episode, Jeff refuses to participate in P.E. because he dresses too well and refuses to change into gym clothes, no doubt unwilling to risk damage to his expensive, fashionable clothes. The teacher, portrayed by Blake Clark, requires everyone to actively engage in P.E. To make a long story short, Jeff and the teacher find themselves playing an intense game of Billiards in their underpants. The episode is equal parts surreal, silly and a nice message about appearance, free choice, etc. What a show.

MAD MEN--"HANDS AND KNEES"--Written By Jonathan Abrahams and Matthew Weiner--Directed By Lynn Shelton

Mad Men's "Hands and Knees" isn't the best episode of the fourth season but it's pretty damn great. Don Draper's identity swipe nearly demolishes his life and career. Lee Garner tells Roger that Lucky Strike and SCDP are through. Joan discovers she's pregnant with Roger's baby, and Lane's father visits to give his son a pointed lesson about place and commitment. The episode is one of many season four episodes Jon Hamm could submit for an Emmy nomination. The scene when he fears the FBI has shown up at his apartment might be the greatest scene of 2010 (who am I kidding? LOST has the greatest scene of 2010). The episode sets up a few things for the conclusion of the season but, like "The Suitcase," the series has been building towards the Draper/identity swipe, the Joan/Roger/pregnancy, the Lane/family issues and the Lucky Strike account. And each character makes decisions that only temporarily solve their respective problems. Fantastic episode.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Foot--Classic TV Episodes--Monty Python's Flying Circus' "Whither Canada?"

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Monty Python's Flying Circus premiered on the BBC over 41 years ago. The series lasted four years on the BBC. Monty Python's Flying Circus remains the greatest thing the comedy troupe has done. The movies are wonderful. The various other mediums they used for their act are worth the price of admission as well. But nothing compares to four years of the brilliance, satire and humor that Flying Circus did.

Monty Python's Flying Circus was revolutionary in 1969 England. The country experienced migration from the Caribbean and the West Indies, which would cause turmoil and strife into the 80s and 90s. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam had no fear attacking the Royal Queen or law enforcement in England. The troupe poked fun at housewives. They ruminated on philosophy, the purpose of art but they also indulged in many silly things like spam, the Spanish Inquisition, Cheese Shops, Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, Slap Fish, Dennis Moore and his lupins.

Considering the autobiography the troupe published as well as the DVD set, "Almost The Truth," this humble blogger won't write too much more about the history of the show nor what the group wanted to accomplish because the book and the DVD is worth renting or buying and watching. The information's better coming from them than some random blogger.

But I will write about today's Classic episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, titled "Whither Canada?"

"Whither Canada?" is the first episode of the Flying Circus. The Python's considered using Whither Canada as the show's name until the BBC rejected it. Though the episode is over 41 years old, the entire episode feels so modern. Immediately, the show introduces its stream-of-consciousness style and its disinterest in punchlines. Sketches begin then get interrupted and forgotten about. The absurdity and silliness of the show gets introduced within the first five minutes during the wonderful "It's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" sketch. As the episode progresses, the Pythons show the audience that their series won't simply be absurdity and silliness when "It's The Arts" takes center stage.

Artist pretension has not disappeared in the last 41 years. Artist pretension, if anything, might have gotten worse. Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, is exhibit A in the case of Artist Pretension. The funniest part about the "It's The Arts" sketch is how the Python's take the piss out of artist pretension. The sketch introduces Sir Edward Gross (portrayed by Graham Chapman) to discuss his latest film. Most of the conversation between John Cleese's Host and Sir Edward is not a conversation at all, but rather a back-and-forth about what Sir Edward prefers to be called during the ensuing conversation. Finally, after Sir Edward takes umbrage with the name "Eddie Baby," the host allows the director an opportunity to discuss his latest film. Indeed, Sir Edward begins a long tale of when the idea came to him, at what age before transitioning into his life story. At this point, the host remarks, 'oh shut up,' ending the interview with Sir Edward Gross. 'It's The Arts' soon transitions to musical composer Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson (portrayed by Terry Jones) who wants to discuss his latest music composition. The other host (portrayed by Eric Idle) has no apparent interest in the composition. Rather, he asks question after question about how Jackson received the nickname Two Sheds. Two Sheds becomes exasperated and then gets booted off the show, as Cleese warns the studio's not big enough for the three of them.

The unifying theme of the sketch is both the disinterest shown by the interviewers and the exasperation of the interviewees when they cannot discuss their respective art. Perhaps, Monty Python wanted to show the audience that both themselves and the show wouldn't get lost in pretension. I can imagine the boys sitting around, talking about the pretentious bastards they met while attending university at Cambridge and Oxford. I imagine one of the guys knowing someone similar to Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson, someone too concerned with the importance of his Art to have a laugh at himself and a nickname. After all, Two Sheds wants to be known for his music rather than a nickname his friends have for him because he wondered if he needed another shed in addition to the one he owned.

'It's The Arts' doesn't mercilessly attack Two Sheds and Sir Edward Gross. The sketch isn't about bullying the musician and the director about their names. The sketch wants artists everywhere to possess the ability to laugh at themselves even if they write moving musical compositions or direct wonderful films. Monty Python's Flying Circus is one of the most intelligent shows written as well as one of the silliest shows written. In a sketch later in the series, a pepperpot utters the famous line from Hamlet, in which Hamlet tells Horatio that 'there are more things in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in your philosophy' and wonders where that came from. Of course, the show followed something like that with 3 minutes of Gumbys. 'It's The Arts' represents what Monty Python wanted to accomplish. They were going to be smart but they were going to take the piss out of themselves, and all they want is self-important artists to drop the self-importance, the pretension and, once in awhile, laugh at themselves.

The final two sketches are quite memorable as well: Picasso's Cycling Race and The Funniest Joke In The World. I wonder how Monty Python would've written the Cycling Race in 2010, with the advent of social media and the 24/7 sports cycle. Nevertheless, the Cycling Race lampoons the over reporting done on certain athletes and sporting events (and it's an extension of 'It's The Arts'). Re-watching it in December 2010, months after Lebron's decision, made me appreciate the troupe even more for how advanced their perspective and humor was. Picasso's Cycling Race revolves around a group of reporters following Picasso as he attempts to win an international cycling race while painting. The sketch cuts between various reporters as they track Picasso's every move. One of the most inspired moments occurs when Cleese's reporter narrates Picasso's movements as he cycles and paints, only to be informed by a pepperpot that the cyclist is Kandinsky--the Russian painter and art theorist. By the end, Picasso falls off of his bicycle and fails in his quest to paint AND gain fame in international cycling--yet another criticism of artist pretension and self-importance. Picasso tried to become more iconic but found himself on the ground, and responsible for a pig's headache.

The Funniest Joke in the World is a top minute sketch about a joke so funny that it kills whoever reads it through laughter. The sketch begins in a humble home in England and ends on the battlefields of World War II. The Army obtains the joke to use as a weapon against the Germans after discovering the lethality of the joke. The audience never learns what the joke is. The German version of the joke is: Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput! However, there is no meaningful translation and the words are mostly nonsense. As an aside, one of my favorite moments occurs when Cleese's Nazi officer hears the joke, yells that it's not funny, begins laughing and then tells the English prisoner that his favorite part is 'die Flipperwaldt' before dying.

Aaron Sorkin should've watch this sketch before writing any episode of Studio 60 and the Sunset Strip. The decision to exclude the actual joke from the sketch is great because the actual joke wouldn't have succeeded as much as a multitude of characters dying as a result of how funny the joke is. Sorkin insisted on implementing the actual sketches from his fictional late night show within the show. The problem, his main character (portrayed by Matthew Perry) was supposed to be the funniest writer working but so many of the sketches were not funny.

The Funniest Joke in the World is yet another example of what the series would be in the future. The actual joke, the punchline, is omitted throughout the sketch. In fact, the troupe kills off the joke at the end when Eric Idle's commentator tells the camera that joke warfare was banned at a special Geneva convention, and that the joke was laid to rest in the cemetery, in which he stands, never to be told again. The sketch is hilarious yet the punchline never remains dead and buried--that is Monty Python in a nutshell.

Other thoughts:

-I would never leave out the Italian classroom, a sketch about Italians in a class centered on teaching the Italian language. The class eventually erupts into an argument between a Napoli man claiming that Napoli's the best city while a Milan man claims Milan is aces.

-I quite enjoyed writing about Flying Circus so I might write more about in the future.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Foot: Classic TV Episodes--"Hush"

Sarah Michelle Gellar is very short

Ah classic episodes of television. Most fan of television refer to their favorite shows as a whole rather than the individual episodes that made them fans of the show, unless you're a nerd like myself. I'm the guy who named all 121 episodes of LOST in a sporcle quiz in under 7 minutes. I digress. Tons of episodes air each and every year. Some great, some good and others absolutely terrible. The great episodes might even be forgotten as the years pass but every year features a few episodes that will share the same sentence with the word 'classic.' The 2010 TV season produced, at least, two such instant classics. I'll allow my large readership to guess which those two episodes are.

Throughout the years of television, the list has grown and will keep growing. During the slow months of TV, I will write about classic episodes of television. Some might actually be classic episodes of television. Some might not be. Nevertheless, the feature will celebrate television episodes. Today, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's "Hush" receives the spotlight.

Joss Whedon spread his creative wings as the years went by. Whedon arrived in Hollywood with the intention to become a feature film guy until the harsh reality of Hollywood filmmaking zapped his optimism so the man sought the refuge of a television--a place where the writer is king, where a writer's work will get produced quickly and efficiently. As luck would have it, Gail Berman wanted to turn the Buffy movie into a television series and asked Joss to tell the story the Kuzui duo botched in 1992. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer had three successful seasons. Critics adored it. Fans loved it. Joss wanted a new challenge. He wanted to expand the barriers of what television writers and directors can do so the man constructed an episode with 27 minutes of silence. The second and third acts features zero talking. The episode aired. Joss received an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing. The episode re-defined what television could do on any given week.

Obviously, Joss took a chance with "Hush" because old silent movies weren't exactly been a beloved product of an era gone by in 1999. I doubt more than 3% of Americans own any silent movies. In 2010, silent moves remain ignored. Plus, the only thing American audiences loathe more than subtitles is silence. Of course, "Hush" continues to be an episode that die-hards introduce potential fans to. The episode's core is simply the idea of communication and how people begin to communicate when they can't speak. If one cannot speak, conveying one's meaning becomes more important. The potential Buffy/Riley romance represents the theme. Buffy tells Willow that conversations between she and Riley transition into a blabathon when nothing of importance gets said even though she and Riley don't stop speaking. Once their voices have disappeared, Riley finally kisses her. Likewise, Anya interrogates Xander about the defining their relationship. She questions Xander's commitment and interest in her. When Xander mistakenly thinks Spike killed her, he charges Spike to avenge Anya then realizes the woman is alive. NOW she knows how he really feels. "Hush" is full of these moments. Willow and Tara share their first meaningful moment without speech, and Tara uses words to communicate how she special she thinks Willow is.

The button of the whole episode expresses exactly what Joss wanted to get across. During the fun with the Gentlemen, Riley and Buffy accidentally revealed themselves to each other. Both are bad-ass demon fighters (though Riley's less bad-ass). Afterwards, Riley and Buffy try to talk about what happened the previous night; however, the episode ends in silence. They have no words.

Indeed, the theme of communication dominates the episode. Of course, the episode succeeds as a throw-back to the scary, silent films of old like Nosferatu. The idea that one cannot scream for help is creepy. The episode features fantastical moments like the Gentlemen floating above ground as their workers roam the pavement, ready to cut out a heart. In their tower, the Gentlemen behave as Victorian aristocats, applauding the different hearts they've acquired. The episode never explains why the Gentlemen want seven hearts nor the plan when they have all seven. The episode requires no reason though. The absence of a motive makes the Gentlemen scarier as does the absence of a scream when they attack. After all, the episode isn't about the Gentlemen. Without them, the voices don't disappear but they're relatively meaningless once one remembers that Buffy's greatest strength was how the big, bad scaries reflected ordinary human beings' concerns, conflicts and drama and not defeating the big bad of the episode.


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Foot: How I Met Your Mother "False Positive" Review

"False Positive" was mostly a transitional episode, a decent mid-season finale devoted to getting the characters where they need to be for the second half of the season. For the most part, the episode succeeded minus an inconsistent Robin story. Bob Saget enlightened the audience that the episode wanted to deal with development in everybody, and the episode focused on the characters. The baby stuff continues to be annoying but the rest of the episode worked rather nicely and hide the fact that "False Positive" belonged to Ted Mosby.

The career path of Robin has been alternately interesting and absurd throughout the six year run of the series. Robin has pursued the grand anchor job on a prestigious news network but somehow or someway shot herself and her chances in the foot. Most of the time, the bad career luck came from a character arc like Don last season. Robin, a girl who feared commitment, made the decision to stay in New York with Don to prove to herself that she could remain committed to a man, that she wouldn't choose her career over personal happiness. The poor girl lost the man to the job she wanted. In "False Positive," Robin decided to take the job of a coin flipper on the newest game show "Million Dollar Coin Flip." Later, she lands a position with worldwide news as a researcher but soon opts out of the job following the news that Lily's not pregnant. The story would've worked if the worldwide news job remained in the air, if she was unsure about her future. Considering Robin got burned the last time she took a leap of faith, it would've been consistent if she hesitated taking another leap for fear of being burned once again; however, she decided that she's good-looking and the job would be easy on coin flip. It would've worked if the Worldwide News job wasn't a shoe-in.

Barney took a small step in his arc that will surely lead to the discovery of his father. Barney became Oprah Winfrey and gave out presents to each patron in McClaren's before he donated one million dollars to his half-brother's father's church. Marshall and Lily went through the typical beats of television couples who want a child. They feared that they weren't ready nor good enough. They felt relief when the doctor revealed that the pregnancy test was false.

By the time everyone arrived outside of the theater to watch It's A Wonderful Life with Ted, the four characters let hesitation, fear and uncertainty get the best of them. Ted saved the day and gave each the courage to accomplish exactly what they wanted to in life. Earlier in the episode, Robin doubted whether or not Ted could convince his buddy to follow through with marriage when doubt got the best of him. Ted proved that he could calm his buddy down when he needed it most along with his friends when they needed it most. At the end of the episode, Robin asks Ted to be her best man at her wedding, if it ever happens---quite a sweet moment.

In fact, the episode was mostly a Ted episode despite the time spent on the other four characters. He was the calming force admist the madness. Maybe the season will be about Ted's development into the man who is ready to marry when he meets his wife at that wedding. The only one entirely sure of himself, and confident in himself, was the man himself Ted Mosby.

It was a good episode for the show to end 2010 on. How I Met Your Mother can be hit-or-miss but I like the characters enough that I look forward to how the season progresses and what happens to each. I also look forward to more Zoey and Jennifer Morrison.

With every show I write about in hiatus now, expect different kind of posts in the coming weeks. The Best Episodes of 2010 looms and other Best Of along with a new, exciting feature. Stay tuned.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Vampire Diaries "By the Light of the Moon" Review

Seasons of television are usually broken into three-acts.

Tonight, the first act of the second season of The Vampire Diaries concluded. While the episode offered some resolution to the first ten episodes of the season, the episode mainly focused on setting the arcs for the second act of the season which begins in the new year. For the most part, "By the Light of the Moon" as a bookend to the first act of the season and a harbinger for things to come; however, the episode struggled as an individual episode.

The reason why the episode struggled is because the writers wanted to address a plethora of storylines and that led to a lack of cohesion. Elena dealt with Elijah, who revealed his true motives while Bonnie tried to destroy the moonstone with Luca who intentionally deceived Bonnie with the spell and then stole the moonstone for his father who works for Elijah. Damon and Alaric teamed up to trail the new girl in town who befriended Mason Lockwood some time ago. Stefan and Katherine dealt with sexual tension in the tomb. Caroline helped Tyler through his first werewolf transformation.

The scenes were good. Some of them dragged or felt pointless like the Katherine/Stefan scenes until the two talked about Klaus and Isobel but, of course, the story ended once it became interesting. Some scenes had that trademark Vampire Diaries intensity like the entirety of the Tyler/werewolf transformation as well as the Elena/Elijah scenes. Others were entertaining like the Mystic Grille with Damon, Alaric and Jules the Werewolf. Anytime Damon stupidly picks a fight with someone who's dangerous and will harm him never fails to entertain. Unfortunately, nothing united the scenes besides the fact that each story had been building since the premiere. Oh well.

The central arc of the season (with Elijah, Klaus and the originals) has certainly become more interesting since I railed against it a few weeks ago. The new characters have been good additions to the series. The more depth Elijah gets, the more interesting he becomes. Elijah revealed to Elena that the originals devoted to Klaus fear the vampire more than respect him. The fear causes forced devotion. Elijah has no interest killing Elena's friends and forcing her to Klaus because Elijah wants to use her as bait to draw Klaus into his web and defeat him. Of course, it's a power play by Elijah. Once Klaus is killed, won't Elijah want to spill the blood of the Petrova doppelganger so that he can walk in the sunshine? The thing about deals with evil vampires is, the deal always has a catch that will be revealed during a sweeps month that shocks the audience. Elijah's certainly more interesting and certainly untrustworthy. Elena's a smart girl so I doubt she immediately trusts Elijah completely. I look forward to how the arc plays out.

Meanwhile, a full moon finally happened in Mys

tic Falls. First and foremost, werewolves are lame. The only cool werewolf in history is Buffy's Oz, and Joss was smart enough to barely turn the man into a wolf. The werewolf transformation on TVD has more suffering and pain than the usual werewolf story but werewolves are lame--no way around that part. Tyler's transformation's only purpose, seemingly, is to bring he and Caroline closer. But soon the guy will learn about how his uncle died and how many friends of his were involved in his death. Caroline will eventually need to avoid him when the full moon happens and he KNOWS. Also, the character development was sorely needed for Tyler. Besides the fact that werewolves are lame, Tyler's arc has been worthwhile.

The episode reminded me of the third season of Dawson's Creek for the second consecutive week. Rose and Damon continued their hook-up. Rose said that she will be Damon's special friend. Jen and Pacey came to a similar agreement despite Pacey's evolving infatuation with the Potter girl. One can only hope Rose, Damon, Stefan and Elena take dance classes together where a falling out will happen. Also, the fight that Damon picked with Jules led to Rose getting bit. Any time a character gets injured, heals and thinks it is nothing then the injury will become much worse. Rose starts to have a bad time after the bite. But, like many of the happenings in the episode, it ends as soon as it becomes interesting. Oh, winter hiatus you rascal.

After the show spent so much time on werewolves and Katherine, it felt rewarding to gain further insight into the process of transformation as well as the secrets of Katherine. She's becoming less of a big bad and more of an open book, more of a softie. But hopefully the badass Katherine returns in the near future.

All in all, the episode really wanted to build momentum for act II and it did. Mike Daniels wrote the episode. Elizabeth Allen directed it.

The Vampire Diaries doesn't return until the 27th of January.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Foot: No Ordinary Family "No Ordinary Sidekick" Review

Glory hallelujah Christmas miracles DO exist. The hiatus for No Ordinary Family has begun. After each episode, the newest preview for the next episode begun. I wondered if the show would successfully air twenty-two episodes in twenty-two weeks. Thankfully, the show disappears for a few weeks. Of course, tonight's episode had to leave the audience on the edge of its seat in anticipation for the next episode in 2011. Sylar II continued to act like his namesake whether he forced someone to kill himself or he wiped the memory of Daphne so that she forgot about her powers. Yes, No Ordinary Family has resorted to an amnesia plot. MOTHER OF PEARL.

"No Ordinary Sidekick" messed around with various arcs and began new ones. Frank, the detective, loves Jim after learning that Jim saved his life. George and Katie stopped being sidekicks for fifteen minutes until the plot demanded that the temporary schism end. Daphne nearly disrupted Sylar II's fabricated persona. Stephanie began unearthing the secrets of the powers/abilities. J.J. received a kiss from a cute blonde and, perhaps, a courtship looms for the annoying fourteen year old. Sylar II forced Dr. Chiles to overdose and pen a suicide note. Stephanie discovered the body. Following a conversation with Dr. King, she believed Dr. Chiles injected the various supervillains we met (by various, I mean two villains) with the serum. With Chiles dead, she tells Jim that the supervillains should decrease. And then, as already mentioned, Sylar II erases three months of Daphne's memory.

The most worthwhile part of the episode dealt with the progression of whatever Dr. King and Sylar II have planned. As always, the show moves at a snail's pace and a PGA tournament moves faster than the narrative. Stephanie seems too smart to fall for every story that she hears until a new story emerges. When King tells her that Chiles assaulted him, she believes him. Later, she believes Chiles when he swears he didn't hurt Dr. King. Upon finding Chiles' body, Dr. King throws Chiles under the bus with research that Chiles had nothing to do with. Naturally, Stephanie believes Dr. King. She believed Volston's wife. The woman believes everything and anything. When she inevitably figures out that Dr. King is the true culprit behind the crimes, the audience should have a similar reaction that Spike had when the Buffy characters realized that Ben is Glory and Glory is Ben.

Daphne unearths the information that Will doesn't exist, that Sylar II continually lies to Katie. Despite overwhelming evidence that the man shouldn't be trusted, Stephanie and Katie shrug off the concerns of Daphne. The sudden amnesia Daphne experiences by episode's end shouldn't be hard for the brilliant scientist or her husband who, despite being a sketch artist, does more police work than the entire force. But, considering the show treats its audience like morons as well as the show's love for overused family drama tropes and cliches, Stephanie and Jim will be baffled for maybe three episodes; however, the show might wait until May sweeps to cure Daphne of amnesia because she possesses the information regarding the true cause of Chiles' death. The show, remember, moves slower than the van in Inception.

Maybe Jim and Stephanie will gather the strength to work together after causing the death of the supervillain. Together, they might piece together (with the help of the suddenly insufferable Katie) that Sylar II disappears whenever a super-something needs covering up. Maybe Jim will quit solving tertiary crimes and bringing tertiary characters to justice considering Jim never helps any characters of significance. George can't even enjoy fifteen minutes of fame before the envy of Jim kills his buzz. Speaking of George, how can a show be taken seriously when the Amy Acker character simply disappears and George declares himself single? Where in the world is the show's bible?

"No Ordinary Sidekick" confirmed that Jim's an extremely self-involved, egotisitical hero. The show portrays Jim as a selfless, do-gooder but the man cares only for himself and the self-gratification that the solving the case-of-the-week brings him. The episode briefly embraces the self-involved hero to fuel the temporary schism between Jim and George but the self-involved Jim has dominated the story since the pilot. Such qualities affect the character when the actor portrays the character with selflessness even though the writing suggests otherwise.

This show treats its audience like morons. The show gives the illusion that it'll embrace serialized storytelling because of the superhero premise; however, the show follows the formula and structure of procedurals. Besides the 'we're-going-on-hiatus-cliffhanger,' each episode offers the kind of closure procedural audiences and are drawn to.

The amnesia storyline's the worst possible thing the show could've introduced. For a show on a shaky ground with the majority of anyone watching or writing about, the amnesia stuff just screams 'we are lazy and uninterested in original storytelling.'

Zack Estrin & Jon Harmon Feldman wrote the episode. Wendey Stenzler directed it.


The Foot: Terriers & HIMYM

The best new show on television, FX's Terriers, received its official cancellation yesterday. The numbers were simply too terrible to justify a season renewal. The show averaged only 500,000 viewers. I won't be surprised if the show garners an audience in its DVD life because Terriers is quality, rich storytelling. Don't be surprised if this humble reviewer gets annoyed by new fans lamenting the one-season-and-done because the soon-to-be fans are entirely responsible for the poor viewership and cancellation. I enjoyed the first season of Terriers as much as I enjoyed LOST--that's how good the show is/was. Now, the TV landscape looks barren. Check out What's Alan Watching at for an interview with John Landgrad (president of FX) as well as with Ted Griffin (the show's creator). Onto the regularly scheduled How I Met Your Mother review...

"The Mermaid Theory" didn't exactly light the world on fire with its central theme: attraction to a married man or woman OR attraction to someone you're not married to. Marshall constantly worries about the latter while Ted grows more attracted to Zoey each time the two spend time together. The show explored the dynamics of such a situation. For Ted, he felt guilty and imagined that the Captain took him out to international waters to murder him. For Marshall, he imagines any woman who isn't his wife as a repulsive manatee.

In fact, the most interesting part of the episode belonged to the Marshall/Robin story. The two decided to have dinner alone to prove that a married man and a single woman can hang out alone. Marshall and Robin have hung out alone as I recall the episode when Marshall takes her to a Canadian or Robin takes Marshall to a Minnesota bar, and the show has shown how strong the friendship between the two characters are. The two felt awkward alone together. Robin didn't know why. Marshall did. Both feared becoming physically attracted to one another even though Robin never said anything. But, of course, the episode quickly puts to bed any possibility once Robin vomits on Marshall's shoes.

Meanwhile, the Zoey arc continues. Fans have expressed frustrations about the Zoey arc for some time now, annoyed by the knowledge that she isn't the mother. The Zoey arc can travel in two directions. Ted can either learn something from whatever eventually happens (like how the Stella arc further developed Ted's character and changed the course of the mother search for awhile) or the arc will be a waste of time. Thus far, the story has yet to earn any confidence. Currently, it feels like lazy storytelling. The Captain/Ted story felt lazy and the potential triangle feels even lazier. Even worse, the arc seems predictable. Vocal fans of the show have a point when they complain about the non-mother that Zoey is. After all, what are the stakes of the potential relationship besides the possibility that Ted destroys a marriage? What about Zoey will lead Ted to meeting his future wife in that church? Since good television storytelling comes from the character, rather than the guest stars (which is what the writers of ANGEL season 1 learned), the writers need to clarify why the audience should care about Ted and Zoey.

The C story foreshadowed future events in the show. Now that we know Lily will get pregnant, the show shouldn't waste time with any anxiety-pregnancy stories. Also, Ted will find himself in a green dress at some point.

Overall, "The Mermaid Theory" was an average episode of How I Met Your Mother. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I enjoyed how pretty Jennifer Morrison looked in her three scenes.

I'll be back tonight with my thoughts on the latest episode of No Ordinary Family.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Vampire Diaries "The Sacrifice" Review

"The Sacrifice" wasn't the best episode nor the worst episode. Some of the episode dragged while other parts of the episode had tremendous amount of energy, tension and anticipation. Elijah, labeled by me as one of the worst villains introduced to the show, got some depth tonight. The man isn't a henchman who only does what Klaus tells him to do. The vampire-who-can-destroy-cafes-with-quarters has his own agenda. Meanwhile, the werewolf story that I've dreaded since the first season may not be so terrible after all.

The A story belonged to Elena. Elena possesses a great memory. She recalls what Katherine almost did to the people she loves a few episode ago, and the girl's resolved to protect everyone she cares about even if she has to sacrifice herself to Klaus to keep the people she loves safe. Elena forces Rose to take her to Slater's where she wants to make Klaus aware of her willingness to surrender herself willingly; however, the plan doesn't evolve smoothly. Elena and Rose find the corpse of Slater but manage to deceive Slater's self-involved girlfriend into accessing the various files Slater kept on vampires, in hopes of finding a Klaus contact. Indeed, Elena succeeds and the girlfriend makes the call. Of course, Rose made Damon aware of the situation so Damon bolted to Slater's where he prepares to do anything to protect Elena.

Inevitably, Elijah arrives at Slater's after a wild spell that allowed the vampire to locate Elena. Elijah conveniently arrives as soon as Klaus' men arrive. Elijah quickly rips their hearts out after learning that Klaus does not yet know about Elena, and he leaves. Elijah tells the elder warlock (whose name I forget of course) that he did not rip the heart out of Damon because Damon will protect Elena. The plot thickens.

The A story doesn't have much meat. The majority of the A story exists as set-up for the season, and possibly, the cliffhanger episode next week before another hiatus. Elena's plan is noble, and Elena continues to be (possibly) the most heroic female on television presently. The most interesting aspect of the A story was Elijah and his agenda. Why exactly does he want to keep Elena safe? Perhaps yet another layer of the doppelganger will be revealed, or maybe all vampires are in love with Elena. I enjoyed the reveal because it surprised me. The episode opened with minion warlock gathering personal things of Elena's for a spell. One assumed that Elijah would simply whisk Elena away himself to Klaus but no. Good job, show. Good job indeed.

Meanwhile, Katherine does not want to remain in the tomb as she said she did in the last episode. Though the tomb provides security, Katherine feels bored and hungry inside the tomb alone; however, she gets company by episode's end. The Salvatore brothers, Bonnie and Jeremy devise a plan to steal the moonstone so Bonnie can de-spell the moonstone to save Elena's life. Jeremy, because he's portrayed by Steven R. McQueen and McQueen always portrays annoying, dumbass characters, decides that he'll get the moonstone himself without risking injury to a not-strong-enough-for-the-tomb-spell Bonnie. Jeremy's plan backfires which eventually forces Stefan to enter the tomb to push Jeremy out. Unfortunately, he's a vampire and can't leave which leaves him all alone with Katharine, and she loves Stefan. Blah.

The Stefan/Katharine-in-a-tomb story has plenty of potential. The two are similar to Angel and Darla. They literally have over a century of sexual tension built up. Stefan's the stoic, heroic vampire while Katherine's the evil vampire temptress who can wrap Stefan up her in web. Angel and Darla had a similar past. However, this is The Vampire Diaries and the storyline feels like a contrivance especially after Katherine warned Stefan he made the biggest mistake of his life when he asked Damon to protect and take care of Elena. Stefan hasn't watched Dawson's Creek because Dawson asked Pacey to do the same thing for Joey. Of course, by season's end, Pacey and Joey were together and Dawson seethed with rage before developing a photography habit.

In the C story, Caroline helped Tyler prepare for his first werewolf transformation. They found Mason's old journal and a video of his first transformation. The transformation is unbearably painful and lasts for hours. Tyler's scared. Matt shows up at Caroline's house, explaining that he misses her and then Tyler walks to the door. Don't tell me another love triangle begins, Williamson and Plec. I know this is a CW show but enough love triangles. ENOUGH.

Some actual thoughts:

-Katerina Graham's shirt was quite flattering. Very good, wardrobe department. She's a beautiful girl.

-Speaking of her, Bonnie and Jeremy feels terribly forced. It might be the whine that McQueen uses in such scenes or perhaps the characters don't fit. It's both actually. Luca and Bonnie had a whole lot of chemistry in their one scene when he let her channel him. The scene reminded me of Tara/Willow magic scenes from season four of Buffy.

-I hope The CW doesn't pay too much for their generic alternative rock songs that plays during TVD. Absolutely horrendous and the songs make the already overwrought scene MORE overwrought.

-Carolines Dries wrote the episode. Ralph Hemecker directed it.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Foot: Terriers "Hail Mary" Review

The first season of Terriers concluded tonight. The entire season felt like a novel. Of course, television series have adopted the word novel in recent years. After all, TV series' extends for years with characters who appear in our lives weekly. However, the majority of television does not deserve the word novel associated with it. Many series belong to networks whose only concern is the bottom line. The majority of audiences would rather easy-to-digest procedurals and reality television rather than committing to a world with rich characters and rich storytelling. The Wire, considered the greatest example of a novel on television, struggled for five seasons on HBO because audiences wouldn't watch. Critics hail The Wire as the greatest drama in television history--a title that earned the show many new fans once the show ended.

Everything mattered in the first season of Terriers. Ted Griffin, Shawn Ryan, Tim Minear and the rest of the writing staff never wasted a single scene. Every moment mattered, every interaction, every piece of dialogue. The season finale brought everything together in beautiful cohesion.

Hank, Britt and Laura were able to stop Zeitlin and Burke. In Ocean Beach, though, fairy tale endings don't exist. The arrest of Zeitlin did not cut off the head of the beast. Rather, Zeitlin was one of many that made up the body. The beast (a man named Mr. Kurtow) continues to walk as a free man in Ocean Beach though he hired the hit on Mickey. Unlike in the past, the bad-man-who-walks-free does not send Hank into a drunken stupor that will cost him his job. Instead, Hank tells Laura that he can live with getting the best deal possible, and he can live knowing that the man will inevitably commit more crimes that Hank can bring him down with.

"Hail Mary" is an episode about much more than resolving the Zeitlin arc. "Hail Mary" is about moving on. So much of the season focused on the personal demons of Hank and Britt. The season is littered with pain and heartbreak. After so much pain and heartbreak, the characters deserved the choice to move on past the pain and embrace a future with hope. Hank decides to sell the house he bought in the pilot (an attempt to hold onto the last piece of life from his marriage with Gretchen). He invites Gretchen over so she has the chance to buy back the house but she doesn't want to. In fact, she can't because of the memories. Hank tells her that they both need to move on. Gretchen asks him to promise to find a good owner. Hank promises.

The most satisfying and cathartic moments of the episode involved Hank moving on and finding some semblance of peace. Hank is our hero, after all. Unlike in "Sins of the Past," Hank is central in bringing the right men to justice. Hank and Gustafson help each other like they used to when they were partners in the force. Gustafson assists in clearing Hank's name from the murder of Jason while Hank assists in Gustafson's promotion to captain of the OBPD. Most importantly, Hank and Britt moved past their brief rift, and not even Hank and Gustafson are as efficient and successful together as Hank Dolworth and Britt Pollock.

The final scene of the season (and, possibly, the series) could only involve Hank and Britt. Britt accepts responsibility in his brutal beating of Gavin, and will spend the necessary time in prison. The two joke about the beat-up truck that keeps chugging along and gets better after being shot (sort of like our heroes). Hank offers Britt the chance to flee to Mexico where vacation will never end. The two can sleep late and then take afternoon naps. Hank describes Mexico as a place where they will never age. Once the light turn greens, Hank asks Britt to make the choice: Mexico or prison?

The scene isn't so much a cliffhanger as it is a summation of the entire season. Hank will drive Britt to prison where he will serve his year sentence because there are no easy-outs in Ocean Beach. Plus, Hank has a new life to begin in Ocean Beach while Britt will return to marry Katie and be a father to their baby. It's a wonderful scene and a wonderful ending to a brilliant season,

Honestly, I thought I'd wait a long time before I enjoyed a season of television as much as I enjoyed seasons of LOST while it was on the air. That is my show. I love it. Terriers brought me the same kind of joy and excitement on a weekly basis that LOST did. The two shows share two crucial qualities: rich characters and rich storytelling. I love Terriers. I love the world, the characters and I hope FX brings it back for another season because I have such a good time hanging out with Hank and Britt every week.

Other thoughts:

-The penultimate scene of the episode between Britt and Katie was wonderful. The entire relationship arc led to this moment when Britt accepted responsibility and made a clear commitment to love and be with Katie for as long as he lives. Plus, the location was exceptional.

-Steph returned briefly. I was happy to see Karina Logue once again. If a second season happens, we need more Steph. Unfortunately, no Firefly comparisons to make.

-Ted Griffin & Nicolas Griffin wrote the episode. Ted Griffin directed it. I think the time has come for me to watch Matchstick Men.

-I had a blast writing about the show every week. Hopefully, this isn't the last time I write about Terriers. People of Earth, please watch the finale on Hulu when available. It will help the show.


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.