Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "A View to a Kill" Review

The Vampire Diaries can still do intense. Damn. "A View to a Kill" is a crazy episode that takes a giant and unexpected step in the search for The Cure. I don't know why I thought the series would wait until May to get to The Cure. I've seen the previous three seasons. The pace of The Vampire Diaries isn't like the pace of any other network dramas.

Kol wasn't a compelling character last season. Among the five Originals, Kol was the second worst, with the guy whose name I don't remember nabbing the top spot. Rebecca Sonnenshine's script captured something different for Kol. Since his return, Kol's been a better character, a compelling character whose presence was felt in each scene. Joseph Morgan has a similar presence. Bad guys, villains, whatever you want to call them, should command the audience's attention. ANGEL's Holtz had the same kind of presence. Whereas the Originals are loud and dramatic and YA versions of Dostoevskian siblings, Holtz's menace was quiet and exacting. He didn't raise his voice, he spoke with a kind of poetic eloquence, and he seemed always framed in shadow. One of my favorite moments in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer's third season is the moment the Mayor becomes the Big Bad. He'd been bad, but he goofed off, made jokes and acted silly. In the library, though, without light and little demon spiders hanging out with him, he suddenly commands the audience's eye and ear and tenses them up even from the safe confines of the viewer's couch.

Kol was so relaxed when he initially walked into the Gilbert home with earbuds in his ear, as well as beforehand when he stood outside listening to music, as casual as a person waiting for a SEPTA bus. The casual coolness of Kol was what he lacked last season. Maybe he didn't lack it, but it didn't feel distinctive the way it felt in tonight's episode. Elena and Kol converse, make alcoholic drinks together, and talk about a truce. Kol considers it because he accepts everything at face value, apparently. Meanwhile, Elena's texting with her friends because they're vital to killing Kol. Kol leaves. Elena can't stall any longer. Bonnie's trapped in her house with her father and vampire mother, and Matt's waiting for Stefan to make a move for Rebekah's dagger he never makes. Damon's stuck in the Salvatore prison because he's compelled to kill Jeremy.

The Originals hearing is good, though; so, when Jeremy returns and blurts out what happened with Bonnie even though Kol barely made it around the block, it's not a surprise that Kol returns angry. He bursts into the house and stalks the Gilberts. Jeremy's going to get his arm ripped off to stop the completion of the hunter's map. Elena's going to die for making Kool look like a fool. Elena tried to learn more about Silas and The Cure during her time stalling with Kol, but Kol didn't say anything the audience hadn't heard from him before. Elena brushes off the 'hell on earth' stuff as nonsense. Who wants to bet Kol's right? Kol's line about hell on earth and its relationship to Kol's sense of faith took me by surprise. I didn't expect such an earnest and sincere statement about faith on a CW show. Anyway, Kol gets cornered and killed by Jeremy. Klaus watches from outside, having just rushed from the Salvatores to intervene on his brother's behalf. The Original vampire unleashes unholy hell outside, promises to burn the Gilbert house to the ground, and the kill the Gilberts without a thought.

The plan actually works, which is a triumph for a show that always screws with its own plans. I expected the plan to fail and for the Originals to have the power again. Thankfully, it doesn't happen. Bonnie uses her power of Expression to trap Klaus in the Gilbert living room. Elena counted on Stefan to dagger Rebekah. Stefan and Rebekah shared a romantic evening in the high school gymnasium. Rebekah caught onto Stefan's act and delivered a sincere monologue about why she wants to be human, why she's on his side, and Stefan doesn't do what he was ordered to. Rebekah reacts to news of her brother's death badly. There always needs to be a wildcard.

"A View to a Kill" is refreshingly clear of love triangle drama, except for the end when Damon points out Stefan's bed-sharing with Rebekah, which makes Elena sad. Klaus interrogates Damon about Elena. They're scenes are basically the same as Rebekah's interrogation of Stefan in "After School Special." I get it, writers. Elena's a source of tension for the brothers. Their relationship is strained. Let's get them to the same place Pacey and Dawson got to in the penultimate episode of the series in which Pacey realized all Joey wanted for them was to be friends again and all they wanted was her. The Salvatores need to let Elena go so that they may find some peace.

The gang's going to find The Cure next week. Very cool. Shane's getting out of prison to lead them, despite the fact he's clearly insane and untrustworthy. We'll see if The Cure if as meaningless as the sun and the moon curse. There's a whole lot of story left to tell this season.

Other Thoughts:

-Jeremy nearly killed Abby because his hunter instinct kicked in. Steven R. McQueen wouldn't be described as 'bad ass' by anyone who's seen his extensive work, which I, truthfully, have seen. McQueen was a bad ass in that scene. McQueen then got to rip off his shirt when the tattoo completed over his body.

-Stefan and Rebekah's date was sweet. Claire Holt's enchanting whenever she's playing Rebekah's sweet side, i.e. the Rebekah who just wants to attend school dances and be a normal girl who likes boys who play music outside of her house in an act of love. Stefan's tribute to The Breakfast Club was lame. I also enjoyed Stefan's memories of Lexi. I think the writers would like to have that death back. Lexi is awesome.

-Damon explained why he's a bad guy to Klaus in an instance of retconning. Disagree with me, TVD fans, but Damon explaining that he does bad things because he fills a role and that he's purposeful when he's bad and should be forgiven is a load of nonsense. Damon's going to be redeemable regardless if the writers retcon him. Ian Somerhalder's beloved by millions of women. Damon could kill Caroline and still be a sympathetic character. Klaus, Damon explained, is different because Klaus is bad to be bad--there's no rhyme or reason to it. No, I'm not buying this.

-No Caroline for the second straight episode. Not cool.

-Rebecca Sonnenshine wrote the episode. Brad Turner directed it.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Arrow "Vertigo" Review

I've been waiting for a Willa Holland showcase episode all season. Early on in the season she was stuck playing the dull rebellious teenage girl; then, the writers forgot about that. Thea's arrest for driving while under the influence of vertigo reminded the audience Thea liked drugs and used them when pissed off at her family. Thea's drug trial wasn't the most inviting stories for a Willa Holland showcase, but I'd take it. I really like Willa Holland.

The Willa Holland showcase episode got me to remark, aloud, twice that the writers really aren't giving Ms. Holland a lot to work with. "Vertigo" isn't a Willa Holland showcase episode at all; it's the same stuff Thea does every episode, except this time she has more scenes, and Oliver puts on the hood for her sake. Oliver takes on a local crime drug lord by the name of The Count in "Vertigo." The Count got his name after six homeless men were found dead from a drug overdose. Two holes were in each neck of the dead homeless men, like a vampire's bite. Thus, the eccentric crime drug lord became The Count. The Count reminds me of Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock. I think the Arrow writers were enamored with that Moriarty, a totally off-the-wall, bizarre and crazed sociopath, and decided to create a similar character in The Count. Now, The Count could be a villain in the comics. I don't know. I read three issues of Green Arrow a decade ago.

Arrow handles the case-of-the-week differently in "Vertigo." Oliver doesn't disguise himself when he meets with The Count. To meet The Count, Oliver calls on his Russian contacts. Oliver's Russian story actually matters. I suppose the writers wouldn't drop in the "Oliver's the head of the Russian mob" back in October. Oliver meets up with the Russian in hopes they'll set up a meeting for him with The Count. Oliver needs to prove he's a man of his word, of man of their organization, so he kills someone. Diggle questions the character of his boss. Oliver's surprised Diggle wouldn't trust him. Oliver places two fingers under his victim's jaw and revives him; he arranges a new identity for the man the Russians think is dead. It's just another trick in Oliver's pocket.

"Vertigo" is an episode that's interested in showing what Oliver can do, what he learned and how he learned during his five years where the world thought him dead. Oliver's very good at disguising himself in plain sight, if that makes sense. No, Oliver excels at exceeding under pressure. The island scenes serve to show how Oliver learned what he did throughout the episode. The treachery of his mentor wasn't treachery. His mentor teaches him the fake-murder trick and rolls him over a cliff's edge into the river below. Oliver wakes with a map and a destination. The map is written in Cyrillic. So, Oliver hides in plain sight when he meets The Count. The plan sort of backfires when The Count injects two syringes of vertigo into his body, causing Oliver to briefly lose his mind and feel the after-effects while he's trying to kick ass as The Hood.

Diggle won't let Oliver complete what he started, because Oliver can't see straight. Oliver, in the line of the night that serves as a microcosm of Oliver's story in "Vertigo," suggests Diggle remember that he's got more tools to use than a bow-and-arrow. Indeed, Oliver kicks ass with his fists. The Count gets two syringes of vertigo injected into his system. The Count loses his mind. Laurel's father sees what happened to The Count from the drug overdose, which doesn't help to change his mind about the killer in The Hood. He also tries to nail Oliver for being at the scene of the drug bust on The Count. Oliver's reasons for being there are acceptable: he was helping Thea.

The different sides of Oliver were important to see. Felicity shows Oliver the book Walter found and gave her, which his mother had in the Queen household. Oliver's jaw tenses up, his eyes seem to tear, and he's genuinely bothered. Finally, the story's moving towards Discovery. Felicity theorizes Walter's possession of the book resulted in his disappearance and murder. Thea just finished tearfully apologizing to her mother for ever wishing her dead for thinking she cheated on her dad. The truth about Robert Queen hurts Thea, but it's an important truth. Berlanti's old series, Everwood, had an episode about Ephram thinking his father cheated on his mother. When Ephram learns that his mother cheated on his father, Ephram reels back and can't stand without grabbing onto something solid. Thea's not as stricken by the news, but it gives Ms. Holland the chance to cry and emote, which is, you know, better than her watching TV and making angry faces at Amell.

"Vertigo" succeeds because it moves the story along significantly while deepening Oliver as a hero and bonding the family together only for its inevitable tearing apart as the season rolls on. Once The Count is dispatched, it seems Oliver cannot be surprised. The dude has an answer for everything, but the gut-wrenching meeting with Felicity shows that he hasn't seen it all. Not by a long shot.

Other Thoughts:

-The opening chase scene was excellently shot by director Wendey Stenzler. The pan up to the Oliver as he jumped was slowed down slightly. The rain pouring down in the shot looked so damn cool. Visually, Arrow is a treat to watch each week.

-Thea's working with Laurel as part of her plea deal with the judge. Let's hope Thea is involved in actual plots now.

-Laurel used her father's guilt about her sister/his daughter to get him to help the Queens. The alcoholic aspect of Laurel's father hasn't been seen since the depressing ending to the last episode of 2012. Was Laurel maybe a bit out of line using her sister to get her father to do something he didn't want to do?

-Deathstroke kicked a dude's ass. That is all.

-I remembered the name of Tommy's father, both his villain name and actual name. I'm disappointed he wasn't in the episode, because I couldn't refer to him by name in the review. Now, I just need to remember Laurel's dad's name.

-Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowski wrote the episode. Wendey Stenzler directed the episode.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Go On "Pass Interference" Review

So, last week, Piper Perabo's trying to be Parker Posey in those two Louie episodes. This week, Perabo's surprisingly grounded. The scene that shows the change in Simone is the cockroach scene. Simone tells Ryan about the greatest meal of her life. In North India, a shaman and his wife gave her a cockroach to eat. She thought, "Why not?" and had her eating habits significantly altered. Ryan's given his own cockroach and he eats it. Simone busts out laughing because the story was a load of bull; she can't believe Ryan listened to her. Simone's character was introduced through a series of stories Ryan sniffed out, so I suppose it is narratively consistent for the character to continue the nonsense until she laughs because the man who called her on it no longer thinks twice about her stories. They're just part of her.

"Pass Interference" spends a decent amount of time with the new couple of the therapy group. Ryan insists he and Simone remain casual in their relationship. Their one night of uninhibited fun doesn't mean they need to be a serious item. Of course, they feel closer after a night of intimacy. Feelings happen. Janie appears during a tender moment on Ryan's couch as Simone leans in for a kiss. The ghost of Ryan's deceased wife shows up whenever Ryan feels guilty about something, or when he really misses her. Meeting someone new, and being with that new someone, is fun in the initial stages, but then relations get complicated. Traits, quirks, bad habits, etc., emerge as the days and the weeks pass. One night, Simone's in the shower waiting for Ryan to join her. They're in a hotel for a night, but Ryan continues seeing Janie when he's about to get naked with Simone. In the hotel, ghost Janie has a ghost boyfriend. Ryan hurts to see her with someone new--it's a projection of his feelings, of what he thinks Janie would feel if she hadn't died.

Ryan keeps the ghost of Janie to himself, thinking Simone will run screaming if she learns what's causing him to act so strangely. Lauren warned against in-group relationships. Group relationships are amplified. The drama spills into the group, the rest of the group casts a spotlight on the couple, and everyone gets angry eventually. Ryan interrupts Lauren's other group therapy session to discuss his problem, but four Yolandas kick him out before he overwhelms the group and becomes its default leader. Janie's in his head and he feels like he's hurting her--it's a common thing after someone dies, whether it's a parent, sibling, friend, or family member, where you're apologizing for reasons that aren't quite clear but yet it feels necessary to apologize. That's what's going on with Ryan. It's a mix of guilt for being with a new woman, but, I think, it's also an instance of Ryan feeling guilty that he's alive and Janie's not. The only reason Simone is happening to him is because Janie's not on earth anymore. The complicated emotion is somewhat undermined by Ryan's reaction to Simone's own bit of truth: she called her ex-love of her life when Ryan acted peculiar.

Indeed, the broadness of Go On undercuts a complicated part of grieving. Ryan and Simone air out their grievances in front of the group. Lauren puts her head in her hand, which is the universal sign for disapproval/dismissal/what-have-you. Neither Ryan nor Simone seems to understand the other entirely. The truth is dealt with but quickly. Ryan and Simone want to be with each other. Ryan talks to Janie about it at a party for the Goddesses (Yolanda, Anne, Sonia, Fausta). Janie wishes her man happiness in his life without her, that she isn't made at him for finding someone new, because she'd hate to see him sad on account of her. Simone asks if he'll let her be crazy in front of him. She's just a crazy girl and it has nothing to do with stories of North Indian adventures or Yeats quotes. She's needy and lonely. Ryan says he can. Okay then.
The wedding dress storyline that transitions into the four ladies of the group throwing themselves a party to make themselves feel worthwhile and valuable is one of my least favorite subplots in a TV show this season. Lauren's not excited to get married. The women want her to feel excitement. Weddings allow them to feel good about themselves. They crave weddings. Evidently, ordinary day-to-day routines do not make them feel good about themselves. Owen's used as Lauren's body for awhile. Owen as Lauren's body double is an amusing joke. At least Owen attracts a girl with his tremendous confidence and sense of self. I think Go On needed a party to end the episode because the writers didn't think of any other way for the episode to end. The Goddesses planning gets nasty, too. What I like least about Go On is when the characters try to top one another's grief. Yolanda thinks being left at the altar is worse than Fausta's entire family dying and Anne's partner dying and, uh, whatever Sonia's going through. Why does that have to be the fall back for the show when it needs conflict? It is lazy and a sign the writers will just pitch, "Hm, well, let's see, the audience will not like folk topping one another's grief or using that grief to get to someone else negatively so let's do that again." I guess it works, then, in that imaginary pitch. But, no, it's lazy if it happens continuously.

I missed the presence of Carrie and Steve. I did not miss a celebrity cameo, though I would've enjoyed Dunta Robinson showing up to compare the life of a NFL cornerback to Ryan's dating situation. Whenever Go On is close to genuine emotions, they pull back. Oh well.

Other Thoughts:

-Mr. K had a ring pop on each one of his fingers. Amazing.

-Ghost boyfriend of ghost Janie wanted to watch The Avengers. Damn fine movie. Damn fine.

-A day passed since last week's episode. George was nowhere to be seen and not even mentioned. The show's going to explain George's prolonged absences, right? I understand why Bill Cobbs isn't a regular.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Lost Girl "ConFaegion" Review

Lost Girl began its U.S. run with all the promise and potential of Spanish La Liga side Mallorca this past season, but then potential disappeared, and Mallorca sits near the relegation zone, and Lost Girl is nowhere near the show I thought it'd be. I wrote about season one last year, and I wrote about three episodes of season two. By the end of season two, I felt completely disinterested in the show. Nine straight months of a show that decreases in quality per week will do that to a guy. The Garuda plot showed the weaknesses of the show. Basically, the writers can't plot long-term arcs at all. The season finale was terrible. A couple of months passed, though, and Lost Girl premiered two weeks ago with a so-so episode about Bo playing a bad girl to help Lauren followed by an episode that dug into Kenzi's roots. Episode three was light fun, which is what Lost Girl does best.

--The Buffy/ANGEL comparisons will always be made with Lost Girl. I made the comparison several times during season one. The show reminded me more of ANGEL than Buffy. Anyway, "ConFaegion" is about the Morrigan's little fun with Bo. A parasitic worm crawls into the heads of Bo, Dyson, and Tamsin, and increases their sexual attraction towards one another. The worm also causes them to revert to their younger selves. Kris Holden-Reid usually shines when he's asked to play a version of Dyson, or Kenzi, with animation and energy. Season two had Lost Girl's homage to Buffy's "Tabula Rasa." "ConFaegion" is their quasi-homage to ANGEL's "Spin The Bottle," though it has a less devastating conclusion.

-Dyson, Bo, and Tasmin, needed to share a story together. Tasmin's this season's Viking girlfriend of Dyson's. Tasmin's looks more Nordic than Viking girlfriend from last season (whose name I regrettably do not recall): she has striking blonde hair, icy blue eyes but the kind of beautiful icy where the icy surface is clear and shows the beautiful color underneath the layer of freeze. She kissed Dyson last week, right? I didn't dream that. Bo and Dyson, as a couple, are quite uninteresting. Kenzi's investment in their courtship adds another unnecessary element to an unnecessary triangle. Dyson feels love again after the deal Kenzi made with tree lady. (I apologize, my memory of names is rather poor tonight). Bo needs to be with Lauren. She and Lauren deserve time to figure their connection out to see if it is lasting, in Bo's opinion. Dyson sits on the sidelines, sad. But they all like one another in this episode. Bo and Tammy kiss. Dyson dances to Doran Doran with his shirt off as the girls gawk at him, wide-eyed. Once the spell wears off, Tamsin is cranky and rude; Dyson is sad; Bo is Bo, except she's not attacking random males in the streets.

-Vex's storyline was reminiscent of Spike's storyline in the fourth season of Buffy, but Lost Girl mixes in late season six, sans attempted rape, too. Vex lost power in his arm, is impotent, and sad. Kenzi tries to cheer him up because Vex redeemed himself by season two's end. In fact, Vex basically tackles a season's worth of character development in one episode. He betrays Kenzi and Bo but is easily talked out of the betrayal and then betrays the homicidal fae pigs. Kenzi's concern for Vex's permanet change in behavior is really sweet. Kenzi, as usual, is the episode's highlight. Vex wants to axe her death but she implores him not to and urges him to remember how good it felt to be good. Vex listens to her. He won't stay around after even with overwhelming forgiveness from the girls. Vex needs to get away from the temptations of the Dark; so, indeed, he leaves.

-"ConFaegion" accomplishes the necessary understanding between Lauren and Kenzi,; i.e. Kenzi learns to accept Lauren as Bo's mate. Kenzi offers, as her reason for disliking Bo's relationship with Lauren, that Bo's her best friend. Dyson's name is kept out of the conversation. Dyson hovers over everything. Lauren's face expresses the sheer Dyson of it all when she hears Bo's half-idea about kissing Dyson before the night. Bo, of course, is behaving like a teenager. I can't emphasize enough the dull boredom of the Bo/Lauren/Dyson triangle. A continuing trend of Bo/Lauren, though, is their separation in each episode. They're together but they're barely together. Some crisis needs to be dealt with or a case needs to be solved. I wonder if their separation is a case of networks' wariness of a lesbian relationship. Lost Girl's done great work in depicting different sexualities. Syfy is definitely more Puritan than Canada. They'll cut Lauren/Bo scenes.

-Lost Girl isn't anywhere near one of my favorite shows anymore. I'm counting on at least one great episode this season. In season two, I really dug "Midnight Lamp." The writers are really creative in re-imagaging different fables and characters. Lost Girl works best when its about the characters investing fae crimes and hanging out together. There's no need for nonsense arcs about Garudas. I'll be back to write about Lost Girl's season three finale.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "Catch Me If You Can" Review

Initially, "Catch Me If You Can" seems like it's going to be like one of those insane episodes of The Walking Dead, when zombies attack Rick and the gang from every direction, until Rick is bloody and half-mad but yet his hair is still a gelled masterpiece. Jeremy needs to kill twelve recently turned vampires before they kill Matt. Klaus compelled the vampires to do so so that Jeremy is forced into killing and, thus, completing the hunter's map. The initial plan lasts less than an act. There's an abrupt turn in the story when Kol shows up and murders the vampires. And a typically enjoyable episode of The Vampire Diaries, with its twists and turns and threats of characters getting harmed, isn't actually enjoyable and that is atypical.

The Vampire Diaries won the hearts and minds of fans because of its unrelenting narrative pace and creative choices to kill off important characters. Unfortunately, that pace catches up with a show in the fourth season, like a runner who one day realizes his knees feel worse because the years of running have worsened them. I've written about this before but it bears some repeating: what was once unpredictable insanity is now predictable insanity. "Catch Me If You Can" felt like an unnecessary amount of Stakes for an episode that accomplished one thing: moving the story forward.

Kol will always be the wild card of the Originals because he was defined as such in his first appearance. Kol still doesn't want Silas to rise. Silas scares him. Original vampires commit violent crimes when they're scared. Kol ruins Damon's stupid plan to complete the hunter's mark. Damon then gets compelled to kill Jeremy by Kol. Kol tied Damon up in a freezer, tortured him a bit, and then got distracted by Damon's relationship with Elena. The Originals are awfully interested in the triangle, way more than the majority of the audience. Kol wants Damon to admit various truths about his feelings on Elena's brother and his own brother. Damon will not. Soon thereafter Damon's compelled to kill Jeremy.

Damon's never going to kill Jeremy, of course. The story serves to address an aspect of Damon-Elena that hasn't been addressed in a long time, or really ever, in a meaningful way. Once Damon failed, and Stefan intervened to weaken Damon and keep him locked up in the Salvatore dungeon so he wouldn't kill Jeremy, Stefan converses with ex-lover Elena. Elena wants to see Damon. Stefan won't let her. Why not, Elena demands? Damon'll use the sire bond to get released and then from there kill Jeremy. Damon tried to kill Jeremy twice; he actually snapped Jeremy's neck in the season two premiere. Stefan doesn't get how Elena's able to look past that and love him. Elena's disgusted to learn Stefan works with Rebekah. Rebekah betrayed him and tried to kill him---that's when Stefan throws Damon's past with Jeremy in her face, figuratively speaking. Elena recoils reflexively and the hurt is clearly expressed on her face. Stefan wanted to hurt her like she hurt him.

Elena can't answer Stefan's question about overlooking Damon's attempted murders on her brother. The writers probably can't reasonably explain it. Though it is addressed, it's roundabout. The sire bond is a problem because it is a crutch, or it seems like a crutch. Elena loves Damon; therefore, she's bonded to Damon as he is her sire. The writers set up the sire bond angle for the audience to wonder whether or not it is the sire bond, as Stefan thinks, or whether or not it is truly felt love, as Elena believes. Meanwhile, Jeremy recovers from just a miserable night (actually two nights) in the Gilbert household. Klaus stops by to offer protection from his brother Kol. The Gilberts decline the offer. Klaus responds with a threat about Kol burning the house down as well as his own threat about using whomever Jeremy loves to coax him into killing vampires to complete the map. Elena has her own idea: kill Kol. Kol's an original, so his death will kill thousands of other vampires, which allow the map to complete. Kol's death breaks compulsion, so she'll have her Damon back; and Jeremy doesn't need to personally kill a bunch of vampires face-to-face and become a desensitized and crazed killer who can't control his hunter's impulses. He'll kill a bunch of vampires, but he won't have to face it. I suppose trying to kill an original is a more inviting story than Jeremy facing off with a dozen extras.

Shane, meanwhile, confesses to convincing the pastor to committing suicide/mass murder, but he skirts free of actual conviction and prison time by using Bonnie's Expression against her, scaring her dad into trusting him as the only person who can keep Bonnie from the edge. The shame of the story is, narratively speaking of course, that Bonnie's father figures Shane out. He's a fast-talking, charismatic manipulator. Bonnie's going over the edge regardless of Shane's presence or not. It's the point of Expression.
Rebekah and Stefan try to get answers from a stranger that tried to take the head stone from them, causing the unlikely new to wonder which new team is involved they don't know about. The man's identity, motivation, purpose, etc., is a mystery. Rebekah, unrelated to the guy, gets into squabbles with her brothers. The Originals are a bit tiresome to watch. Always bickering, always trying to dagger one another, etc.

"Catch Me If You Can" has fireworks, twists, turns--the basic essential elements of a good-to-great TVD episode; however, it was flat, hollow; all sound and fury yet it signified nothing. Interesting and worthwhile character stuff never panned out. Plans failed. Around the fourth act, it was just, "How many MORE wrenches did Plec and her writers throw into this?" Maybe I missed Caroline.

Other Thoughts:

-Elena said she doesn't want the cure. Well, she didn't say she didn't want it; she said she doesn't care about it. As usual, the males don't listen to her. They just push on with the plan. It's vaguely reminiscent of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene when Lancelot's intent on saving the damsel in distress and doesn't consider that the person locked in the tower is a man.

-I thought Steven R. McQueen would get a chance to show what he's capable of as an actor, given the intense story for Jeremy. Jeremy does the same stuff he always does, so McQueen was exactly the same. Oh well.

-Stefan was written as a petulant, petty, and adolescent so-and-so in his scene with Elena. His behavior represented the problem of teenage melodramatic romantic nonsense. Characters are incredibly passive-aggressive and hurtful. None of them sits down and says, "You did this to me and it hurt, and I can't be the way I am around you anymore because of what you did." Stefan says those things but while mimicking what Elena said to him; then he sleeps with Rebekah. Stefan's reliably stable, but not tonight. It was tough to watch as a Stefan supporter and defender.

-Brian Young & Michael Narducci wrote the episode. John Dahl directed it.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arrow "Trust but Verify" Review

What a dull yet effective title--"Trust but Verify." Couldn't the writing staff think of a title that meant 'trust but verify' without stating it in the title? Each story dealt with a character that trusts someone else, but it's a guarded trust. Doubt lingers about the trustability of a character, whether it's Tommy's father, Diggle's old army comrade, Moira Queen, or a helpful Chinese man on a deserted island that isn't deserted at all, actually. Other characters try to verify through trust in another character. It's all rather heavy-handed.

Diggle and Oliver were bound to clash. Diggle's past in the army had to become a plot point sometime during the first season. Diggle's old comrade, Ted Gainer, is in Starling City. Oliver suspects Ted's leading a ring of bandits that launch grenades at armored vehicles. Diggle doesn't believe Oliver, doesn't care what the list says, and would appreciate it if Oliver trusted his judgment once in awhile. Genre shows always have an episode wherein the hero clashes with his partner in saving the world, or a city, or whatever. Giles, in Buffy, was the solid and stable librarian. Buffy cringed thinking he had a life outside of the library and outside of his role as a watcher; but Ethan Ryan shows up in season two. Rayne was part of the Ripper period of Giles' life. Giles suddenly isn't the wise Watcher--he's human, flawed, and capable of bad judgment, bad judgment that haunts him in the present. So it is with Diggle, who went to war with Gainer and proudly knew he and his friend came back alive and in one piece. His friend couldn't be on the list.

Oliver stresses that he came home from the island and intentionally lied to the people he cares about to protect them because he knew what he had to do, and he knew what the people on the list did. As sorry as he is that Diggle needs to confront the truth about his buddy, Oliver's going to bring the man to justice. Oliver's saving the city; he's not saving the memory of a friend just because the truth sucks. Diggle becomes Ted's bodyguard in the hope he'll prove Oliver wrong, to show him the book got it wrong one time. There are red-flags around Ted. Ted talks about what he's doing as if it's virtuous. A man they toured with, too, Knox, would be shooting up gas stations if Ted hadn't hired him. Meanwhile, Oliver cracks a computer code to figure out when the group of robbers will strike as well as the specifics of their plan. Diggle hung his hat on the fact Ted recruited him for Blackhawk a few months ago. Blackhawk's a front. Ted's real work made him a bad man.

The truth disappoints Diggle, though he finally suspected Ted wasn't the man he said he was. The last act unfolds like the last act of Point Break. Ted kidnaps Carly to force Diggle into committing the crime. Oliver saves the day, though; he wired Diggle to protect him from the people who meant to hurt him and Carly, not because he didn't trust him. Trust is an important trait in the world of Arrow. Trust bonds men, women, family, friends, etc. Trust bonds Oliver and Diggle. Oliver can't trust people. On the island, Oliver went undercover to save the life of his hooded friend. He's caught and put behind bars. The English villain scolds him for having honest eyes and lets him know what eyes reveal about a man. A nearby solider removes his mask, revealing the hooded friend of Oliver. Oliver, though, trusts Diggle because Diggle represents what he lost, which is the ability to see the good in people. When Oliver loses perspective, he leans on Diggle's. So, a blandly contrived plot had a satisfying conclusion because it developed their partnership and deepened it.

Arrow's set up the next phase of the Moira/Mr. Merlyn plot. Thea suspects her mother's having an affair with Mr. Merlyn. She fears her mother's doing what she did after Robert disappeared (get together with another man). Oliver calmly confronts his mother about it. Moira's answer isn't satisfactory, but he lets it go. Perhaps he filed it in the back of his brain for further investigation later. Mr. Merlyn has dinner with Tommy under the pretense of healing old wounds and getting to know Tommy's beloved Laurel. The B and C stories are instances of two characters needing to verify the trust their parents want them to feel towards them. Thea winds up in a hospital from crashing her brand new car while high on Vertigo because she just doesn't trust her mother; Tommy learns his father wants him to sign papers that'll allow for the destruction of his deceased mother's store, a request that horrifies Tommy. We're led to think Tommy's father's villainous behavior stems from his wife's death and desire to protect his family. He stares at a photo in his evil lair. The Dark Arrow wardrobe is behind him, a literal shadow that he becomes in his darkest moments.

When truth crumbles, trust crumbles, and Starling City crumbles. Diggle doesn't want to see the list until they've taken down the men on the list. Thea doesn't want to see her mother. Oliver watches with sadness his sister's arrest for drug use. Tommy's just bummed out about his father's inexplicable behavior. Starling City is a sad place by episode's end. Oliver understands the importance of lying, but he also understands its toll as he reveals to Diggle. The other characters don't understand that. Oliver's beginning to learn his role expands beyond bringing justice to the corrupt folk who are ruining his city. His journey from vigilante to hero continues.

Other Thoughts:

-I'm running out of adjectives to describe Willa Holland's beauty. I need to read more Nabokov and borrow his descriptions of a pretty girl in describing Ms. Holland. Thea celebrates her 18th birthday. Holland wore a rockin' black dress and her hair up, with bright red lipstick. She looked best in her first scene in which her hair was curled. Girl looks good. Also, Arrow tricked us into thinking Thea would figure out her mother's actual secret, but we're just back in 'Thea's-a-wild-youth' story. Oh well.

-Is Walter dead or alive? He's probably alive. Stay tuned.

-I'm quite curious about the island story now that the hooded man has been revealed. I assume the story won't really pick up until sweeps, February or May.

-Nick Copus directed the episode. Gabrielle Stanton wrote the script.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Go On "Comeback Player of the Year" Review

The phrase "The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper" is credited to the Irish poet W.B. Yeats in "Comeback Player of the Year." It's just a guess that Yeats wrote, or uttered, that beautiful lyric. Scholars are unsure. Go On attributes the line to a poem, an inspirational poem. Yeats didn't write inspirational poetry, certainly not the inspirational poetry our culture would recognize. Yeats drew on ancient Irish myth, religion, and his personal life, when composing verse. Go On goes for the broadest portrayal of anything--whether it's humor, a character, a fictionalization of Bob Costas, Shaun White, and Terrell Owens, so it makes sense Go On would generalize and undermine the work of one of Ireland's great poets.

The line itself connotes an idea about Ryan. Piper Perabo's Simone used to attend group therapy and left to pursue a career in dancing. The group adored her, loved her even. Simone's New Age, so sweet it seems she's playing the people who adore and love her for fools, because no one can be as nice, sincere, and genuine as Simone. Ryan doesn't trust her. The group favors her more than Ryan. Simone's return to the group leaves Ryan out. He wants to discuss a change in his radio show, but the group doesn't care. Simone lost the love of her life, but he didn't die or leave her; he just got away from her. Ryan reminds the group about his own loss. Sonia makes a gagging noise and says, "Yeah, like so long ago." So, no, Ryan doesn't like her.

Simone embodies that line credited to W.B. Yeats. Since this is a television show, Simone's invested in getting Ryan to like her, and Ryan's invested in showing how uninvested he is in Simone. The specific plot's been done so many times throughout the decades of television, in many iterations, on both sitcoms and dramas. The cooler guest character lasts an episode but affects change in the main protagonist's life. Go On even includes the unnecessary scene where the jealous Ryan forces the group to make a choice: him or her. Toy Story had the same conflict between Woody and Buzz. The toys chose Buzz because he had batteries. The group chooses Simone because she's beautiful, and she makes scarves for them.

Inevitably, Simone and Ryan have drinks. Ryan calls her out on her lies. Simone claims she feels a storm coming because of the way her bad leg, from dance, feels. Ryan thinks she's doing it just to do it. Simone's claims about her leg and her other senses about people and what they need seem designed for attention--that's Ryan's impression of her. Simone takes her to a rooftop. The scene's reminiscent of Louie's bizarre rooftop scene with Parker Posey's Liz. Simone quotes that line from the inspirational poem (which ISN'T from an inspirational poem). Ryan needs to stop denying the magical things of the world, for himself above all. He just needs to become more attuned to it. They kiss on the rooftop and then have sex in Anne's bed. The show used Yeats to skirt around the major issue of Ryan sleeping with a woman for the first time since Janie died. Yeats used poetry to meditate on problematic relationships with women, deeply. Go On failed to effectively tell this story. It had all the charm of a forgettable romantic comedy.

The episode's highlight happens when Anne's grief resurfaces during her assistance in Danny's divorce case. As per usual, the sad part of the show comes out of nowhere; however, sad stuff, i.e. grief, comes out of nowhere for the grieving. One minute you're laughing, and the next you're completely sad so deep down in your soul you can't imagine that you laughed a second ago. The group consoles Anne. Anne's still angry her partner wouldn't take her heart pills. Anne felt someone who loved her should've taken care of herself. Lauren suggests Anne forgive her partner. Lauren doesn't say anything else. Lauren and the group show they care by staying with Anne as she tries to sleep in their bed for the first time since her death.

The other highlight of the episode is the formation of a potentially legendary fictional friendship. Now, I don't expect Go On to include another scene between Steven and Mr. K. Mr. K is consistently great every week. This week, he breaks down the intricacies of radio production to win the friendship of Steven, who's over the moon someone else understands his plight. Mr. K originally slapped Steven and flipped Steven's car because he cut Ryan's radio show by 15 minutes. Steven's a forgiving man. Honest connections, and understanding, will heal. That's the take-away of tonight's Go On.

Other Thoughts:

-Terrell Owens continues the trend of sports figures playing themselves on Go On. Owens' portrayal of his own self is forced. He should've tapped into whatever made him put on a show for the media eight years ago after the Eagles wouldn't restructure his contract.

-Piper Perabo's still lovely. I'll always remember her fondly from Coyote Ugly. Did her USA show get cancelled?

-Fausta wanted Ryan out of the group after their first session with him. Fausta used to lack personality, but she's consistently great in the one beat she receives each episode.

-Carrie's fingers were super-glued to her keyboard, and she was positively delightful in her brief moment of trying to get the keyboard off her fingers.

-W.B. Yeats wrote many great poems. Among my favorites are: “To A Shade,” “Who Goes With Fergus?”; “When You Are Old;” “The Stolen Child;” “Ephemera;” “To Ireland in the Coming Times;” and “Down By The Salley Gardens,” just to name a few.


Monday, January 21, 2013

The Following "Pilot" Review

Kevin Williamson inspired me to write my first screenplay at age 11. I saw Scream 2 for the first time and felt compelled to write my own horror-slasher script on a pad of paper. The script is terrible, as one expects from an 11 year old. My father bought me an unofficial Kevin Williamson biography the same year. It included a list of what he worked on, from Scream to Killing Mrs. Tingle to treatments and re-writes, and even his failed ABC drama Wasteland. As good as Scream and Scream 2 are, Williamson hasn't had unparalleled success in the industry. He thrived in the late '90s, but the early 00s were rough for him. Glory Days failed, Hidden Palms failed, Cursed failed, Scream 3 failed and he got replaced by Ehren Kruger during the scripting phase. The Vampire Diaries seemed like a failure after three terrible episodes and a fourth bad episode. But The Vampire Diaries sort of got good in episode five and, soon, was great. Kevin Williamson had Hollywood on his side again.

The Vampire Diaries didn't keep him from writing an underwhelming Scream 4 script that suffered from behind-the-scenes tinkering until he left production before its completion. Rumors of he and the Weinsteins clashing were heavy. So, no, any story Williamson thinks of isn't gold or guaranteed for success. The Following's "Pilot" is not a great example of Williamson's skill as a storyteller. The "Pilot" is rote and heavy-handed. Kevin Bacon's involvement already elevates the show because TV's still thought of a lesser medium compared to film. Any time a film actor takes a role on a weekly episodic TV show means that show is going to be great because actor X is involved.

Kevin Bacon portrays Ryan Hardy well. He embodies the regretful man in search of redemption. Hardy's the prototype modern day network TV hero. The man's in no way a hero just because he's a cop. Cops ceased being saintly figures long ago, in the late 80s to be exact. Ryan couldn't crack the serial killer case that dominates the "Pilot" for 18 months. Fourteen girls lost their lives. Ryan saved one woman, Sarah. His heart went out. He wrote a book. The killer sat in jail, removed from society; however, weekly visits to the library in preparation for an appeal were actually sessions to recruit followers, new serial killers, to kill in ways Edgar Allen Poe wrote about. The Following opens with the killer escaping from prison to finish his incomplete work: killing Sarah.

James Purefoy portrays the serial killer Joe Carroll. Carroll taught a college course on the Romantics--Poe, Thoreau, Emerson, etc. The Edgar Allen Poe is heavy-handed, unnecessarily so. Rick wrote a book about Joe Carroll. The book emphasized the killer's relationship to the author. Whoever dies in the episode is killed in a way Poe described in one of his books. Rick runs his hands through his hair as if he's channeling late 90s James Van Der Beek in Dawson's Creek and remembers that Poe's The Raven symbolizes the finality of death; therefore, he's going to make Sarah's death final. All of the deaths are illuminated by a Poe story or a Poe line. Carroll's actions are directly related to books, which taps into the public's interest in the relationship of violence with media, whether it's movies or video games or TV or books. The Following posits a direct relationship between Poe and Joe Carroll.

Williamson's also not a stranger to meta-fictional elements. Clearly, the show isn't about Maggie Grace's Sarah. The show is about Rick's relationship with Joe. Joe surrenders after he murders Sarah and completes his work. During an interrogation, Joe tells Ryan why he killed her. Ryan needed her death to complete his redemptive arc. Sarah was the inciting incident Rick's hero side needed to have the courage to be a hero. Rick's disturbed by his words because they're true. Bacon's body language suggests he's a man who hates himself for that truth. The men have a complicated history. Ryan slept with Carrie, Joe's wife. Ryan put Joe behind bars. I feel the show will explore the similarities of the two men. Both are driven by obsession. Joe's obsession with Poe, with being followed, with death; Ryan's obsession with stopping Joe. How far will he go to stop the many copycats Joe taught?

The existence of a Joe Carroll cult allows the show to tell a long arcing story. There will always be a killer for Kevin Bacon to stop each week. The show got attention at press tour for its violence. It's the first significantly violent show to air since the Newtown shootings. Kevin Williamson couldn't answer questions about his show's role in tragedy. Critics argued The Following is a potentially more offensive show than a movie such as Django Unchained because it'll air 15 episodes. Honestly, the argument is unfair to Kevin Williamson. Another complaint is that Williamson's show isn't thoughtful about violence like he was in the Scream trilogy, and, later, Scream 4. The Following is violent, intense, but it's less violent and intense than Django Unchained or any other violent film in the theaters. The argument is worth having in the country, but a series such as The Following isn't the reason why mass shootings happen in this country. Suggesting it is is lazy.

I will try to watch the entire season. I won't write about the season. I've learned to forget about the pilots by Kevin Williamson. Episode 5 is the episode to watch out for. Williamson usually hits his stride by the fifth episode. Also, Williamson's ridiculously talented in finding great writers. He assembled an all-star staff for the seasons one and two of Dawson's Creek. The Vampire Diaries, too, have had great writers pass through. The show also established great writers. So, yeah, this show has potential.

Other Thoughts:

-I hoped for masterful scare sequences. I complimented Williamson’s, in my Scream 4 review, mastery at creating a good, honest scare. He distracts you enough to get you. The Following doesn’t have those scenes.

-Joe Carroll kidnapped his own son. Trusted people in the episode were revealed as loyal followers of Carroll. The kidnapped son story’s going to be a season-long arc, I assume.

-Mayor Lockwood shows up as a lawyer early in the episode.

-Kevin Williamson wrote it. Marcos Siega directed it.


How I Met Your Mother "Ring Up" Review

I continue to learn that anyone who writes about television on the internet, no matter the size of his or her readership, is always part of the minority. The critic's recommendation reaches the eyes, or ears, of only his or her established readership. The majority of people watch network shows without abandon. How else to explain the never-ending run of How I Met Your Mother? The critics who still like it watch it with beer goggles on. They're clearly not watching the crap the writers, and the director, are putting on screen each week. CBS is going to give the sitcom a ninth season. Ratings increase every year. I long for the days when CBS threatened to cancel the show for its first four seasons. Back then, I wanted renewal because I enjoyed the show. Now, I wonder if I am in part to blame for what's happened. The show hasn't been enjoyable in four years. Episode 14 of season eight was yet another low point in an endless series of low points.

Barney Stinson's a loathsome character. His redemption arc is simply about a girl loving him for him and forgetting about his past where he used women over and over again, tricking and manipulating them because Carter Bays and Craig Thomas thought that character was the comic gem of the show. Neil Patrick Harris is the rare actor that can pull off the Barney Stinson character. NPH is naturally charming and charismatic. He could throw a smoothie at your girlfriend and you'd end up shaking his hand and blame your girlfriend for getting in the way of the smoothie. Your girlfriend wouldn't be mad, either, because NPH would've charmed her, too. Barney's a horrible character because of how he treated women. The writers chose to tell another story related to his vainglorious man-whore days of seasons past during this never-ending wedding arc.
The way Barney won Robin's heart was manipulative and totally cheap, but Hollywood's conditioned audiences to melt for anything that's a big romantic gesture. Thus, audiences embraced the engagement of two characters who clearly didn't work together in season five. Whatever. HIMYM's telling the story.

Barney seemed past womanizing, but that is if you forget his womanizing done this season while pulling the strings of his proposal plan with Robin. Anyway, Nora, and then Quinn, seemed as if they'd serve the role of the woman who, more or less, domesticates Barney, to put an end to the womanizing. HIMYM is eight seasons in and fresh ideas are hard to come by. That's why Barney needs to move past the fact he'll no longer enjoy one-night stands anymore, and why the show introduces a half-sister, because why the hell not they've already destroyed the integrity of the show.

It's a bad idea whenever a half-sibling is introduced in the late stages of a show. Boy Meets World did both. In season 1, Shawn had a half-sister that disappeared. In season 3, he had a half-brother that disappeared. In season 5, he had a half-brother that stayed. The introduction of Barney's half-sister is incredibly lazy. The crux of the story is Barney's successful completion of detox, i.e. the reality that he'll never sleep with another woman besides Robin again. Barney begs Ted to sleep with the hot 20 year old he met because Barney needs it. He's an addict who hasn't had a hit in awhile. Ted's going to be his proxy. Ted won't sleep with her until he feels a connection. A decade in age difference doesn't connect Ted to her. 20 year olds in HIMYM are all hipsters that roller-blade around the city. I bet Bays and Thomas read comments about Girls and decided all their 20 year olds would be the hipsters commenter’s hated in Girls. Ted sleeps with her. Barney's horrified to find out Ted banged his half-sister.

The lesson Barney learns is non-existent. Barney realizes one-night stands are disgusting when it's with someone you know and love, which represents progress, but really isn't progressive at all. Barney still smiles at the memory of duping other women. The yang to this ying story is Robin coming to grips with men losing interest in her once they see her ring. The engagement ring is given the magical qualities of the One Ring in LOTR. Robin's invisible and can't get anything any more because HIMYM views a women's worth in terms of whether or not they're having sex with someone. Robin's invisible because she won't have sex with any of the other men; therefore, the men won't give her a goddamn thing because she's not giving them anything--that's horrible, writers.

As per usual, the episode builds to a sweet conclusion wherein Robin learns the true value of the ring. She'll see Barney and he'll be the only man in the room, the love of her life, the man she'll grow old with. She doesn't need her old life anymore; she's building a new life. I think that was a horrible ending. It was easy and sweet and probably made a lot of viewers smile and feel happy, but the episode was about Barney having a panic attack over not sleeping with 20 year old girls again, and Robin not having men do a Broadway number for her when she buys a coffee from a vendor. Ted's just a plot device.

There's a C story about Marshall and Lily rekindling their sex life that involves a leather bracelet that, in fact, swells Marshall's hand to the size of a small gopher. Jason Segal gets to be funny, so that was good. Marshall’s the one who lets Robin know the secret value of the ring, which makes Lily beam. Overall, though, "Ring Up" is lousy and another example of how bad this show is now. The absolute low point was Barney’s insistence his half-sister and Ted marry in his apartment with Barney serving as minister.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Revenge "Collusion" Review

Daniel surprised Emily by taking her to Los Angeles for a meeting with Stonehaven, the disaster-relief company we heard about last week. Emily's caught off-guard and casually tries to get out of joining Daniel on the trip. Daniel's so much better when Emily's by his side. Emily smiles and agrees to accompany him to the west coast. It's rare for Emily to be surprised, but hasn't she been surprised alot this season? Emily's rarely been the driving force behind anything. Two weeks ago, when she got some good old fashioned revenge on a judge who did NOT help her father, it was refreshing, because the show remembered its premise. It happens, though---the show runner and the writers forgetting the premise of the show, getting distracted by new characters and secondary characters that got more interesting each day they were thought about and discussed in the writers’ room. It's cool. I don't really care about the premise of the show being followed through on. I'm just noticing how different the narrative's been this season without Emily driving the action.

Emily's really done damage control. I'd be tired if I was her. Daniel can't complete a deal with Stonehaven because of The Initiative's involvement. Victoria travels cross-country to be with her son for an important meeting, but Daniel doesn't trust her and accuses her of colluding with Jason Prosser to screw the deal up for Grayson Global. Meanwhile, Aiden travels to Los Angeles because Helen promised to release his sister once he killed Victoria Grayson. Aiden lies to Emily about his reason for traveling to Los Angeles. A hotel in Los Angeles becomes the scene of nonsense, where characters manipulate each other and Aiden fails to murder Victoria Grayson, saved, in fact, from doing it at the last minute by Emily.

Daniel's driven by motivation to separate himself from his family. His reunion with Emily is part of that. The Grayson parents only tolerated Emily. Grayson Global's reputation in the corporate world is horrible. Two generations of Graysons destroyed the public image. Daniel's trying to repair the company's image. Stonehaven represents a new era for Grayson Global. A partnership with a disaster-relief corporation is the opposite of the David Clarke plane crash terrorist ordeal of 1995. Victoria attempts to thwart Daniel's plan. Daniel, of course, is a pawn and unaware he is one, so he insults his mother and accuses her of playing Prosser just to screw him, her son. Of course, Victoria plans to screw Prosser, thereby screwing Daniel out of Stonehaven. Prosser wants sex if he's going to go after a company he isn't concerned with. Emily is a tricky spot, especially once Aiden shows up. Daniel's driven and focused. Prosser's presence just makes him more aggressive. He's determined to control his future, to not be used as he has been in the past.

Daniel's triumphant for a rare moment in the series. The speculation of mine some weeks ago about Daniel's descent into Ophelia-like madness once he learned Emily played him and intentionally led him at the behest of his mother did not pan out. Despite hurdles, Daniel succeeds in landing the Stonehaven deal. Stonehaven's going to destroy him, most likely, but a character's triumphant moment is his triumphant moment even if the audience knows it is not good because the character doesn't know that. Emily comes clean to Daniel about why she got back together with him, though she leaves out her continued involvement with Aiden. Daniel doesn't begin singing Elizabethan songs and speaking nonsense, nor does he travel alone to the Pacific Ocean to drown as Victoria will later relay the story in stunningly beautiful verse like Queen Gertrude. No, Daniel actually learned from the past. He's not a moron anymore. Emily comes back into his life and he's just going to trust her intentions are pure? No way. Daniel smiles in response to the admission of truth; he even lets her in on a little secret: he played her a little bit, too, because he suspected his mother asked Emily to involve herself in his life again. The formerly engaged couple laugh about their honesty, and it's nice to watch.

Aiden's actually the male character going mad in "Collusion." The Initiative have his sister. Her captor forces her to shoot heroin into her arm until Aiden saves her by taking Victoria's life. Aiden sets up a rifle in various spots around Los Angeles. He never pulls the trigger. Drapes stop him the first time; Emily stops him the second. Emily delivers an impassioned speech regarding the necessity of fighting The Initiative by refusing their orders. Aiden can't be bullied. The way to get to them is through resistance. The plan seemingly backfires. Aiden sees a video of his overdosed sister, lifeless and prone on a bed. He aggressively grabs Emily and tells her he's going to find who killed his sister and do something about it. Emily's not invited. Emily thinks the overdose is a trick, and it probably is considering this is Revenge and stuff like that is normal. Aiden's nonetheless transformed for the worst, which is exactly what a shadowy organization wants. TV characters are stupid for the sake of plotting.

Nolan finds out Padma's secret and consults Emily on how to proceed. Emily gives Nolan the advice she gave Aiden: play Padma the way she played him. The Nolan/Padma thread is one that'll be followed more in February. Conrad bails the Porters out of trouble until the older, more aggressive Ryan brother plays hard ball with him about leaving the docks with $50,000. The appeal of the Porter's bar, Stowaway, is the potential moneymaker of the docks once the old businesses are torn down. Conrad listens, because he's son of a bitch who's glaring lacking trait is loyalty, and, also, human decency. Just when one thought the Ryan brothers would be gone from the show, the writers contrive a way to keep them around. After all, the damn Amanda boat still needs to sink.

Every character is colluding with someone else in "Collusion." Emily opines in the opening narration about the way people collude for their entire lives, some knowingly and some not so knowingly. Again, it's one of those narrations Emily Van Camp tries to make really introspective and insightful, but she's using tired clich├ęs and old turns of phrase, so I get distracted and don't listen to the rest of it. I just think, "Yeah, yeah, collusion is the theme. MOVING ON!"

Charlotte turns 18 in the episode, a D story that's as much an afterthought as her actual birthday is an afterthought for her family. 18 is a significant age. She's legal now and able to be independent. So, she makes an active choice to separate herself from the Graysons. In Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Juliet wonders what's in a name; a rose by any name is just a sweet. There's a ton in the Grayson name and any other name is so much sweeter. Charlotte legally changes her name to Clarke. Emily smiles genuinely for the first time in a long time after hearing that. So much is beyond the control of the characters. It's refreshing to see Charlotte do something; i.e. make an active choice about her life and she wants to live it, that it is her own and no one else's to control.

Other Thoughts:

-Dylan Walsh is a mirror of Madeline Stowe. I thought Purefoy was the worst actor Revenge would cast for Stowe to work with, but Walsh beats Purefoy. Walsh had a part in Everwood that required him to be in 1-3 episodes a season. Walsh sucked the energy from the show. He did the same on Revenge. I don't think his character will be seen again this season.

-The pool scenes in Los Angeles had a touch of Mad Men. I think that maybe Matt Shakman wanted that feeling for the scene. What was a missing was a scene set in a retro restaurant as Daniel acts like a dick and Emily disappears. Yes.

-Sunil Nayar & Sallie Patrick wrote the script. Matt Shakman directed it.

-Revenge will return on February 10 with new episodes. Good times.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Vampire Diaries "After School Special" Review

The last Vampire Diaries set primarily in a school was one of the best episodes of the series, and of the year 2011. "The Reckoning" reinvented the senior class prank episode. The crux of the episode was Ripper Stefan resisting the compulsion to kill Human Elena. Elena tried to touch his soul. Klaus wanted chaotic Stefan. A scoreboard counted down to the kill moment. She tried to reach through to him. Ripper Stefan didn't kill her, couldn't. Klaus reacted badly to Stefan's resistance. Instead of taking Elena from him, Klaus took his humanity.

"After School Special" is especially similar to the Stefan and Elena story in "The Reckoning," except the roles are reversed. The original vampire isn't Klaus but Rebekah. Stefan's humanity is, of course, back. Elena's the changed person. She's a vampire and loves Stefan's brother now. Rebekah wants to hurt the former couple as much, or more, as they hurt her. Rebekah's actually after information about the cure. The raw emotions of the former couple are just an added bonus. Rebekah compels Elena to tell Stefan the truth about her feelings. Elena says she loves Damon and that the sire bond isn't the reason for her love. Being with Damon makes her feel good, helps her feel normal. Stefan treated her like a project, like a broken toy that needed repair. Damon treated her as she is. Rebekah asks Stefan, "Does that hurt?" Rebekah wanted Stefan to experience the feeling of a dagger being stabbed into your heart by the person you love the most, because, after all, Stefan set Rebekah up for a dagger to the heart by her dear and beloved brother Klaus. Stefan responds with a terse "yes." I'm reminded of Thomas Aquinas saying that you should never kill a man, especially if it means taking his life. Elena kills her ex-boyfriend a little bit.

Elena tears up during and after her confessions about Damon. Stefan sits still. Caroline watches, anguished. Rebekah's gleeful. The trio of vampires don't give Rebekah useful information about the cure. Kol returns to Mystic Falls to help his sister find out more about the cure. Shane's kidnapped from his office and tortured into spilling the truth about the sacrifices, the cure, and Silas, who, when raised, will raise the dead souls of all whose lives he ended. Kol drowns him out of fear of Silas. Rebekah thinks Silas is a creation of parents who wanted their children to eat their vegetables nightly. Rebekah doesn't lose focus. "The Reckoning" parallels continue. Tyler shows up to save Caroline and is immediately compelled to turn and kill his friends. This time, Stefan joins Elena in a mad scramble to escape death. Tyler never kills his friend. Rebekah quells the beast and leaves him in front of his mother's makeshift memorial in the school gymnasium. Why go for the kill when you can go for the pain? Joss Whedon penned that question a long time ago. Rebekah cares about causing pain. Death represents an easy exit, and she won't erase Stefan's memories of Elena because of the pain it causes him.

The Elena/Stefan/Rebekah scenes are written really well. The strength of their scenes is that they are underwritten. TVD's mastered the art of condensing incredible emotion into a couple of beats. The writing deserves credit and the cast deserves credit. Nina Dobrev's excellent as she breaks Stefan's heart. What she has to play is tough. She's forced into confessing, so she's strained and resistant. The cold truth is counteracted by the tears in her eyes, the movements of her lower lip, and the sense that she'd like to heal Stefan as soon as her words cut him. Paul Wesley's absolutely brilliant in underplaying big emotion; his understated approach adds gravity and pathos to what could turn into melodramatic nonsense.

"After School Special" is really busy beyond Stefan and Elena's sad scenes. Damon's still at the cabin with Jeremy, wallowing over the sire-bond, as Jeremy learns to become a healthy vampire hunter who doesn't want to kill his vampire sister. Damon teaches Jeremy really slowly. Jeremy moves like an Atlanta Falcons linebacker when he tries to beat Damon. Klaus shows up to expedite the process. Klaus mellowed out after murdering twelve hybrids and getting over Stefan's betrayal. Klaus just wants the map complete so he can find the cure and do what he will with it. Damon thinks Klaus' plan is better. A late night conversation with Elena, post-Stefan fun, changes Damon's perspective. He'll get the cure for Elena even if it means putting Jeremy through things Elena wouldn't like. Elena also tells Damon that she loves him. Damon invites her to the cabin, reenergized by Elena's admission of love. The cabin story ends in a bar. Klaus killed every one inside and turned them. When the dead awake, Jeremy will kill and complete the map.
Meanwhile, Shane didn't die. The work with Bonnie saved his life because he's a deceptive and manipulative son of a gun. Expression is the term TVD uses for dark magic. Dark magic and expression are different. Shane poeticizes expression. Stefan doesn't. Expression's a magic that uses the energy, or blood, of massacred people. Shane's plan is so smooth, even impressive. Shane couldn't hurt a single character in a physical fight, but he's more dangerous than the Originals. Kol's afraid of him---that shows the audience Shane's for real, or, rather, it's TVD's way of legitimizing Shane as THE villain of the season. Season 4's been clunky at times, inconsistent, tonally off, but the writing for Shane's arc shows the writers can still spin an impressive plot. Seriously, the plotting on TVD is magnificent.

The episode ends in a strange place. For the cure, characters have been separated into teams. I'm reminded of a 80s film about a great race. John Hughes may've directed that race movie. Stefan teams with Rebekah. The cure represents power and control for Stefan. If they find it first, they decide on how it's used. It's a rat race for Damon and Klaus. Meanwhile, April tells Sheriff Forbes and the new mayor, Bonnie's father, that people need to tell the truth in Mystic Falls. Her father's death could've been avoided. Something needs to change. Change is everywhere in Mystic Falls, and it's had explosive consequences. That won't change anytime soon.

Other Thoughts:

-Bonnie gets to hang out with one family member per season. In what episode will Bonnie's dad die horribly? Will Bonnie fly into a dark rage, effectively becoming Dark Willow, in the same episode, or the episode after?

-In case you missed it, The CW wants an Originals spin-off. I assume TVD knew about this for a long time, which is why Kol's back now. A backdoor pilot will air in April.

-Brett Matthews wrote the episode. David von Ecken directed it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Arrow "Burned" Review

The first season of Arrow, when completed and viewed in a marathon session by new viewers during a summer's weekend, may feel like they're watching an extremely long first film for an Arrow franchise. Tonally, Arrow's similar to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Oliver survived on an island for five years like Bruce Wayne survived in the League of Shadows. Oliver and Bruce Wayne left for home when they were ready to save the city corruption destroyed. Thorough and dominant ass-kickings to both by the villain of the movie (or show) sent the heroes into a prison of self-doubt. Bruce Wayne recovered and defeated Scarecrow. Oliver isn't there yet. Though Arrow matches the tone of the Batman trilogy, the structure's similar to Marvel films. Superhero films, regardless of realist grit or popcorn comic book fun, follow the same beats. The hero takes down criminals, is beloved/hated by the city he's protecting, the hero gets his ass kicked, and a butler or bodyguard or spy tells them to buck up, and the bucking up begins. Season 1 of Arrow is following the structure of a movie.

"Burned" picks up six weeks after The Dark Archer kicked his ass and shot two arrows in Oliver's back. The Man in the Hood hasn't been seen in six weeks. The town misses him. Pundits discuss whether or not his absence is good for the city. The vigilante cut down the numbers of muggings and other violent crimes while he patrolled the streets and stopped the bad guys from doing bad things. Diggle thinks Oliver needs to put the hood on again and continue the work he began in Starling City. A bad night against another archer shouldn't stop Oliver from completing his father's work. Oliver continues to work out in sequences designed to cause teenage girls to faint. Oliver experiences conflicting emotions while mid-ab workout. His commitment to his family is unwavering. Walter's disappearance made the Man in the Hood less necessary. Oliver wants to stand by his family during another difficult time. Diggle doesn't push, but his annoyed expression suggests he'll push again.

The Man In The Hood is Starling City's answer for solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice when the cops can't, or won't, pursue a lead. The death of Jo's brother, Laurel's co-worker, in a fire is the beginning of the vigilante's return to the streets of Starling City. Jo believes her brother was murdered. Laurel asks her father to investigate the possibility of the death-as-homicide. Laurel's father will not, but he tells her about the vigilante's phone number and expects her not to call him immediately after he leaves. If the cops won't help her friend, the vigilante will. He's saved her before; however, the vigilante's a killer in the eyes of Laurel and her father. The memory of the vigilante wailing away on a bad guy in a factory is ingrained in their memory. Laurel remembers that he helped, so she asks him to help her again.

Oliver dons the hood but can't stop the deranged, burned former firefighter from sending another brother into the flames of a burning building. The murderer kicks Oliver's ass in the flaming building. Oliver stares at the murderer, eyes glazed over and slightly out of breath. The vigilante's return lasted less than an act. Oliver calls Lauren to tell her what she can do to stop him, because he believes he can do nothing for her, for Jo, except fail. Diggle tries to pick his boy up, but his boy is down. Oliver cannot let go of failing Laurel, though. Tommy suggested he and Oliver throw a fundraiser for the family members of the fire department. Oliver runs into Laurel outside of the fire house. Laurel goes on about the similarities between her and Oliver. She dives and goes for things without thinking, just like Oliver, which is why they clicked but also why they didn't work. Oliver watches with a look of consideration on his face like he wants to tell her he's helped her. Laurel should connect the traits of Oliver she outlines with the traits of the hood that helped her.

Oliver sadly walks away from Laurel, but he returns to the firehouse in time to hear Laurel interrogate the chief about the targeted fire house (a former fire house actually, broken up by a terrible fire two years ago). Oliver hears about the fire and the presumed dead firefighter and goes to work. Laurel turns away from him to go to her car after leaving the fire house. Oliver can't stand to stand idly by and watch Laurel do it alone. Oliver calls the vigilante phone and tells her he'll take care of it. Laurel doesn't look behind her, or she'd see Oliver standing still with a phone to his ear. Oliver stopped saving the city for six weeks because of the fear of death. Death itself didn't scare him, but the thought of leaving the people who love him for a second, and final, time did.

Walter's disappearance shook up the Queen household. Thea wants her mother to be her mother rather than the broken shell of a woman she is without Walter. Neither child knows that Moira knows where and with whom Walter went. Secrets are a thing in the Queen family. Change, or courage, as a theme touches the three storylines. A flashback of Oliver on the island shows his first kill, the start of the transformation of the scared boy into the man with a hood and a bow-and-arrow. Oliver didn't fight a gang of soldiers. For awhile, Oliver hid in the woods, shaking, unable to hold his weapon still in his hand, looking to the vastness of the sky for something to not be scared about. A solider walks by, Oliver attacks, kills him and survives a fall into a shallow pond. Upon awakening, he dresses in body armor, gathers a map, and embarks on saving his guide. Thea wants her mother to assume her powerful authority in the household and in the office. Moira's change in behavior scares her daughter. Moira needs to courage to be active and to stand up to Tommy's father. Of course, Oliver needs courage beat the bad guy; but he needs the confidence to believe he'll beat the bad guy and that there isn't a chance he'll die and leaving a gaping hole in the lives of the people he left behind.

Oliver's journey of self-doubt is resolved in a confrontation with the murderous former firefighter. The terrible fire two years ago left him with severe burns. The fire chief ordered the building be abandoned. The badly burned firefighter wouldn't give up the fight. The building collapsed and half of a fire company was killed. He wanted revenge. Oliver told him he could choose a different path; that he could turn from the flames and reform his life. The murderous firefighter opts to commit suicide by burning himself alive. Oliver faced the fire, fought it, and became a hero. That's what the pundits say after the vigilante saved the fire chief. He's rising like a phoenix.

Other Thoughts:

-Diggle is insanely ripped. The actor is a slightly less bulky Dave Batista. A vein is visible from his pectoral
muscle to his forearm. That is all.

-Willa Holland's high cheekbones, I think, are her stand-out features. The girl's already impossibly attractive. I'd like to know just what makes her impossibly attractive. The high cheekbones are a start and the way her hair is styled.

-Laurel's father let her keep the phone so he can find out who the vigilante is while lying to his daughter. I can't wait for the emotional fallout in February sweeps or an episode in March.

-Tommy's experienced a tremendous transformation. Oliver commends his friend for it. Who thinks Tommy's a villain for May sweeps?

-Moira Kirland and Ben Sokowski wrote the episode. Eagle Egilton directed it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Go On "Gooooaaaallll Doll!" Review

Ryan wants to experience a first date so that he won't dread the first date after his wife's passing anymore. Girls Night with Carrie increases Ryan's desire to date again. Carrie's a fun and all, but she's a platonic source of comfort and friendship. Only so many viewings of The Shahs of Sunset happen before Ryan yearns for more connection than connection over reality television, Katy Perry, and snuggly slippers. Dating's another mountain to climb in the arduous journey of post-Janie life. Ryan doesn't want to feel alone anymore.

Yolanda hands out Goal Dolls to the group. The group feels better with the dolls in their lives. The dolls symbolize change in fortune. Yolanda lands a new job as an anesthesiologist at the hospital Sonia works as a nurse at. Ryan lands a date with Carrie's impossibly beautiful friend, Hannah, who speaks fluent English and Italian with an English accent that makes her somehow more impossibly beautiful. Change is happening. The group members feel insecure about change and unsure of it. The dolls are convenient objects to assign credit to. Yolanda credits her doll for her transformed reputation in the workplace. Ryan, too, believes the doll helped him land the date with Hannah. Neither realizes they themselves are responsible for the changes in their life. Lauren stresses this point again and again, but the group sometimes resembles a kindergarten class. Lauren may dry her throat out repeating things to the group and they'll never hear because they're focused on dolls or the hair of one of the group members or how the sun shines at a particular angle mid-afternoon.

Ryan's story about dating is actually about his relationship with his assistant, Carrie. Carrie's in and out of the narrative. When she's in, she's teased by Ryan and Steve. When she's out, she's not mentioned and is even forgotten. Carrie's a favorite character of mine. Go On has some weird characters, some endearing and some not. Carrie's not like the other characters. She's normal, stable, and quick with the wit. Carrie helps out Ryan without a nonsense event like a karaoke competition in which everyone dresses like Muppets going on before the helping out happens. The girl rolls with whatever she needs to roll with. If Ryan freaks out over Bob Costas, Carrie lets him freak out over Bob Costas. She's there, though, and she's stable and solid. Those traits are shared only by Steve and the group. The traits make her a very important part of Ryan's life.

They're a natural fit as platonic girlfriends. Ryan admits to loving reality TV and other things girls exclusively love. Carrie enjoys his company and shared interest in the stuff she likes. The episode kicks off with a montage of Ryan and Carrie girlfriending every night. Ryan meets Hannah, Carrie's friend, and takes her out for dinner. Carrie's jealous of the attention Hannah receives. The exotically beautiful bilingual Hannah stole guys Carrie wanted to date. Hannah's friendship makes Carrie feel bad about herself. Steve and Ryan inform their co-worker that girls have deranged friendships. Ryan behaves badly with Hannah. Hannah abruptly stops dating him. Carrie offers to be his date for a broadcasters dinner. Lauren suggests Ryan win Hannah back, which he does, and in doing so, blows Carrie off. Carrie's nice and supportive, but she isn't a doormat. Ryan realizes his error after Lauren points it out. Ryan apologizes to Carrie and takes her out for a fancy night to make up for his mistake.

Their fancy night ends with the possibility of romance, of Carrie feeling something for her boss, and Ryan feeling something for her. It was inevitable for Go On to try out Ryan and Carrie as a romantic couple. Go On used to be compared to Community. Community got mileage out of the Jeff/Annie thing until the age difference between the characters ended that subplot. Go On may not address Carrie's feelings for a long time. The season finale might culminate in Carrie, Lauren, and Janie's ghost vying for Ryan's heart. Carrie's attraction towards Ryan suggests she's attracted to the man he's become. Lauren reminds Ryan of his change. Dating won't be what it was when he met Janie. Dating will differ because he's different, and he's happy. That's substantial.

Yolanda's story with Sonia is less successful than Ryan's. Yolanda and Sonia are the grating separately and insufferable together. Sonia works in doses. Yolanda never works. Go On was right to tell a story about Yolanda leaving the group and the group not caring. Yolanda wants to change her reputation in the work place. Sonia decides Yolanda'll be a slutty party girl. The idea works for a few days and then ends because Human Resources ends it. Yolanda's back to herself. The lesson of the episode is it's okay to be you as long as it's you.

Other Thoughts:

-Go On's episode titles are obnoxious. What the hell is "Gooooaaaallll Doll" about? Yes, Ryan's a sports radio talk show host. Go On's never allowed to reference soccer again. Yeah, I'm sure Go On staff reads this blog.

-Mr. K acted out an Officer and a Gentleman with Ryan.

-Shaun White guest-starred as Ryan’s likable romantic rival. White wooed Hannah with his long red hair. NBC began its promotion of the Sochi games tonight, too. Shaun White explains his preparation for next year’s winter Olympics. White speaks Russian for a second. White was fine as a guest star. He played off Perry well.

-John Cho was the highlight again. Cho didn’t have many lines, but he stole the episode in his brief time on screen. The sweetest moment of the show happened between Carrie and Steve. Steve’s the unsung hero of the show. The writers need to write for John Cho more.

-Anne had a great moment with the tall guy whose name I can’t recall. Anne’s a reliably comical character but touched with a realism that makes her relatable unlike her group mates.


Monday, January 14, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "Band Or DJ?" Review

Alyson Hanigan broke the hearts of many, many Buffy fans for years on Joss Whedon's Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Joss used to remark that if Aly didn't make you cry, something was wrong with you. Hanigan stood out in the smallest beats. Emma Caulfield's biggest Buffy moment happened in "The Body," the sad story of what it's like in the seconds, minutes, and hours after a parent passes away. Alyson Hanigan's heart-breaking, too, in "The Body." Willow anguishes and agonizes over what shirt to wear to the hospital where Buffy and Dawn are. But the small beats, the scenes when Hanigan's bottom lip trembled and her eyes were watery, and her voice was fragile, that made me want to hug her so that she wouldn't be so sad. Alyson Hanigan was amazing on Buffy.

How I Met Your Mother has been like a NBA regular season for Alyson Hanigan. That is, NBA players seemingly coast through a large part of the regular season. The playoffs are when the NBA gets good and, well, watchable. Hanigan's been terrible through the majority of nearly eight seasons on HIMYM. I wondered aloud often what happened to the actress that could change a scene with a little expression. "Band Or DJ?" had a rare Aly Hanigan moment that recalled the days of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Baby Marvin isn't moving his bowels, he cries all of the time, and Lily hasn't slept in the month of January because of it. Marshall and Lily feel hopeless and out of ideas. They can't will their son to stop crying, because he's a baby and babies cry; nor can they force him to poop, because that's a whole 'nother thing. Baby Marvin's held and held and held throughout the episode. Lily uses Ted's emotions over Robin's engagement with Barney to escape to the rooftop of the apartment for a moment of freedom and honesty.

"Band Or DJ" refers to Ted's insistence on a DJ versus the engaged couple's preference for a band. It pays off in the end. The episode opens with a quick montage of Ted, Lily and Marshall, learning Robin and Barney are engaged. Ted sees the message and returns the phone to his pocket quickly. HIMYM typically distracts the viewers with silly stuff for two acts. Barney and Robin's story centers on Barney forgetting to ask Robin's father for permission. The reliable Ray Wise is reliably gruff and menacing. Craig Bays and Carter Thomas don't stretch the creative muscles too much, so when they cast a Ray Wise, Ray Wise will portray a stereotypical Ray Wise character. Robin's issues with her father are decently handled. Their separation is shown through an admission of Robin's that she won't accept her father's friend request, followed by her subsequent acceptance of it and discovery that he married and didn't invite her. The writing's not bad for father and daughter; it's worth the audience's time to watch because it's significant for Robin. Daddy issues and romance issues go hand in hand; however, their discord is resolved in two beats, and Barney's fear of Ray Wise isn't resolved for a few more beats. Robin gets short-changed again by the writers.

Ted bears the weight of the reality of losing Robin silently. Mosby throws himself into wedding planning fun. Lily briefly feels jealous of Ted usurping the wedding planner title from her. The band versus DJ argument is essentially meaningless, but it's meaningful for Ted, because it represents a chance to actively be engaged in Robin's life, affect it as it were, in a way he'll never be able to once she's married. Ted's depth of feeling for Robin has been explored and dealt with and the coda is unnecessary; however, the writers are doing something with Ted's feelings for Robin. A common complaint of fans about the show has been the superfluousness of Ted's non-Mother relationships, even though every relationship matters no matter how bad it is. On television, depicting such relationships is tougher. Making them interesting, engaging and worthwhile is tough. Ted's retread relationship with Robin didn't do much. Bays and Thomas have something up their sleeve, though. Now, knowing this show, they're going to screw it up or just drop it completely. Ted's devotion to Robin, the band versus DJ thing, is going to pay off in Ted meeting the woman of his dreams, the love of his life. Four months from now, on a subway wide, Ted and Rachel Bilson will talk, and Bilson and her friend will suggest Bilson's ex-roommates band play the wedding. Bilson's ex-roommates band is the mother. Ted's love for Robin leads to a love that'll transcend the love he had for Robin.

Future Ted loves saying, "We'll get to that." Indeed, the show has four months of killing time before the wedding. Ted's sad in "Bands Or DJ?" Barney's a great friend, but he used women for years; why should he end up with Robin? Saying this thought aloud makes Ted feel terrible. Lily helps him feel less terrible by admitting somedays she hates being a mother and doesn't want to be one anymore, even thinks about leaving town because it's overwhelming. (The Alyson Hanigan from Buffy emerges in that scene). Ted and Lily are trapped in a moment of despair on the rooftop, a moment that'll disappear and that will be forgotten by them when the bloom of love is in their life--when Lily's a terrific mother to Marvin, and when Ted finally meets the mother (which isn't going to happen until Spring 2014, at the earliest; don't let HIMYM fool you).

So, no, HIMYM wasn't terrible tonight. The illusion of narrative progress does wonders for someone like me. I feel like the show is going places even if it really isn't.


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.