Castle: “Target” (Season 5 Episode 15)

castleBroadcast date:  Monday, Feb. 18th, 2013

Kidnapping seems to be a popular theme, almost to the point of overuse. From Taken and Taken 2 to last year’s Missing, and this year: The Following, NCIS, Arrow, Zero Hour – all have featured episodes, or geared the whole show around, a kidnapping. Castle joins the fray in an episode where Alexis is abducted, along with an Arabic girl. At first it looks like a case of money, or political enemies of the Arabic family. Following leads takes Beckett and Castle to where a member of the kidnappers is hiding. In a Liam Neeson moment, Castle is left alone to question the man. Although nothing is shown, we hear the man’s screams while watching Beckett’s face. It’s a telling moment: how far would you go, what would you do, to find the person you love?

Meanwhile we see scenes of the kidnapped girls…wherever they are being held, they are being taken care of. Alexis manages to keep her cool and use her head, using a bobby pin to pick the lock (just like her dad taught her!) and then making an escape attempt. She finds a phone and Skypes her dad. When the kidnappers close in, she flees and emerges on a roof, as the same time the FBI traces her location – Paris?!! Thus ends the cliffhanger for this week.

I would like to point out that Nathon Fillion’s acting is superb in this episode. Horrified, anguished, tormented, fearful, resolute – Fillion pulls off all these and more reminding us that when you look past the flippant one-liners, wild conspiracy theories, and bumbling oafishness, he brings whatever is necessary to sell the character in the moment. Although the serious episodes of Castle can be a little overly dramatic, there’s no disguising how exciting and entertaining they are. This is the best episode of the season.

Face Off: “Bugging Out” (Season 4 Episode 6)

face-offBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2013

There was actually a Foundation Challenge this week, in which contestants were tasked with taking a fairy tale heroine and making her a bad girl. Eric F scored a big win with his Little Red Riding Hood – not only did he earn immunity, he also got a massive makeup kit. Wayne came up just short with his Little Miss Muffet’s spider look.

Eric F. and his Red Riding Hood
Eric F. and his Red Riding Hood

The Spotlight Challenge showed that talent is still lacking on the show this year. Most of these contestants are failing in the conceptualization aspect, as a bad design can’t be overcome no matter how much make up you put on. Even Anthony struggled this week and ended up in the bottom. Wayne should have won with his Firefly, but left his key element at the workshop and couldn’t finish the design. In my opinion it was still the top look. That honor instead went to Kris, for his Butterfly.

kris butterfly
Kris’s Butterfly
Wayne's Firefly
Wayne’s Firefly

Alam’s Grasshopper was hideous – she should have stuck to anime. Joining Alam and Anthony in the bottom was Meagan’s Moth, which I didn’t think was that bad. So between Alam and Anthony, Alam had to go…cutting a multiple challenge winner like Anthony this early would have been ratings suicide. Hey, the guy had a bad week, everybody does at some point. Here were the worst looks:

Alam's atrocious Grasshopper
Alam’s atrocious Grasshopper
Anthony's lousy Army Ant
Anthony’s lousy Army Ant

Revenge: “Sacrifice” (Season 2 Episode 14)

emily-vancamp-revenge-season-2Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 17th, 2013

If last week’s episode was jam-packed full of action, this week offered some clarity in the death of two characters and one story line. While Daniel struggles with the twisted legacy of his family, Jack and Amanda are halfway to Nantucket before Nate Ryan makes his presence felt. Meanwhile, Emily, Nolan, and Aiden hatch a plan to flip Padma. The Graysons host their annual labor day party and are confronted by Helen Crowley’s replacement (I told you so!), played by Burn Gorman of Torchwood. The Graysons point the finger at Amanda, since Victoria planted evidence under her bed. As Ashley tips off Emily that Amanda has made a play against the Graysons, Emily realizes the danger Jack and Amanda are in, and she and Nolan hop a speedboat to Nantucket. Aiden and Padma demand proof Padma’s father is alive, and receive his finger for their trouble. Silly people, haven’t you learned not to make demands upon the Initiative? The show ends with an explosive (literally) sequence that leaves the Amanda on the bottom of the ocean, two people dead, and one shot in the gut. We finally get some tears and heavy emotion from Emily, who’s had to hide her true feelings constantly. A pretty enjoyable episode…

Lost Girl: “The Kenzi Scale” (Season 3 Episode 6)

Lost-Girl-Cast-lost-girl-28058794-720-493Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 17th, 2013

I wasn’t happy with the last episode, but fortunately this one wrapped up the fake Kenzi mini-story line. We actually get to see Tamsin’s ability for the first time, and it was awesome! It left Dyson a wreck. I thought the episode was interesting for the fact that all of Bo’s friends believed fake Kenzi instead of Bo and locked Bo away. It took Tamsin, Bo’s adversary, to recognize something was wrong. Tamsin turned the corner in this show, helping Bo and facing down the Morrigan. Rachel Skarsten is a great actress…she’s had to walk around with a perpetual smirk or angry glare for most episodes, and there was the “slumber party” a couple of weeks ago where she had to act like a teenager with Bo. In this episode, when Tamsin makes a comment about how her friends wouldn’t have rescued her, Bo tells her that maybe she needs new friends, and Tamsin gets teary-eyed watching Kenzi and Bo’s reunion. Plus a new story arc is introduced – Bo must undergo some kind of Fae personal trial. It sounds like “the Quickening” from Highlander. Still to be addressed is the fallout from everyone distrusting Bo. Now that we have Kenzi back, I’m intrigued once again…

Person of Interest: “Booked Solid” (Season 2 Episode 15)

Person-of-Interest-person-of-interest-30429662-1280-1024Broadcast date: Thursday, Feb 14th, 2013

This was a jam-packed episode featuring a woman who was the sole witness to some war crimes hiding out under cover in a New York hotel. When she agrees to speak with a reporter, the war criminal’s election hopes are threatened and he must silence the woman by sending a Serbian hit squad. Reese and Finch must protect the woman from the hit squad and take jobs in the hotel. Complicating matters is the fact that Zoe is working in the hotel (Paige Turco continues to look Shania Twain-ish gorgeous), the manager is running a side prostitution business, and the assassin targeting the “Man in the Suit” is back to finish the job.

There’s tension and action throughout the episode that culminates in a kitchen knife fight between Reese and the assassin. But this episode is really about all the little moments: Reese being propositioned by a guest, punching the manager in the face, Fusco taking out a couple of hitman, Carter getting a polygraph from the FBI, Reese propositioning Zoe with the honeymoon suite, and Finch buying the hotel. It’s all these great little moments that make the episode one of the best of the season. I also recognized Mira the housekeeper as Mia Maestro, who played Jennifer Garner’s sister in Alias (which was one of my favorite shows).

There are some inconsistencies in the story, mainly involving the assassin. It’s not really clear why he just doesn’t kill Reese, instead taking him into the kitchen, then letting him pull himself up and begin to fight. If I had to guess, I’d say that the assassin wanted to test his skills against Reese rather than outright killing him, but that’s not really made clear. It’s dumb moves for the sake of action, and in shows like Zero Hour it’ kills the episode (and the series). The difference here is Person of Interest has so much more to offer that I can let that inconsistency slide. The show tries very hard to eliminate such inconsistencies and answer questions, it’s smartly-written, and not sloppy. There’s also a twist at the end where we see that the Office of Special Counsel to the White House is behind the assassin, and the re-appearance of Root, that just makes the episode that much better.

Supernatural: “Trial and Error” (Season 8 Episode 14)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

Supernatural returns to the Demons and Angels story line, which is disappointing, but it’s also handled surprisingly well. After spending some time in the bunker setting up their rooms (“I have memory foam!”) and cooking up burgers (must taste good after years of fast food), the boys get a call from Kevin, who has cracked the tablet and figured out how to close the gates of Hell. When they visit Kevin, he has just recovered from a mini-stroke, either from lack of sleep and caffeine, or all those hot dogs he’s eating (gross!). He states that one person must undergo 3 epic trials to close the gates, the first of which is killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. There’s an interesting aspect here that the writers have chosen to explore: Sam is concerned about how hard Kevin has pushed himself and shows compassion; Dean, not so much. It highlights the difference between the two, which is expounded upon later in the episode.

The easiest way to find a hell hound, they reason, is to look for someone who made a crossroads deal 10 years ago to the day. They find a family that struck it rich by finding oil where none was known to exist. After meeting up with Ellie, the groundskeeper, the brothers talk their way into hiring on as farmhands. Confusion soon ensues, as multiple people are taken by the hound. It seems that Crowley stopped by that night and made multiple deals. Not knowing who to protect, they quarantine everyone. This is where the worst of Supernatural comes into play – Dean’s whiny, angst-ridden bitchiness. We get to hear a speech about how Dean should be the one to undergo the trials, because the one who does probably won’t survive. Dean explains that Sam should be the one who lives, and he’s arrived at the conclusion for two reasons: He saw how easy it was for Sam to slip into a domestic life, and the whole men of letters thing – not only is Sam better at the research stuff, he also needs to carry on the bloodline. But we just know Sam’s going to screw up Dean’s plan, don’t we?

One other thing I’d like to mention is that dating all the way back to season 1, Supernatural has had the best special effects and CGI on tv. It isn’t even close. Watch a show like Once Upon a Time or Warehouse 13 to see how bad CGI can look. Supernatural has always been top notch. This episode is no exception, from the appearance of the hounds to Dean’s features going all ghostface thanks to the effects of the hounds.

When the battle with the hound takes place, turns out Sam is the one who will have to undergo the trials, much to Dean’s dismay and no one’s great surprise. Now that Supernatural has been renewed for another season, who knows what will happen since this season has already been written and filmed. But even if someone dies, that’s okay, because Supernatural always has a Deus Ex Machina up its sleeve to bring the boys back…

Pulling the Plug on Zero Hour

CARMEN EJOGO, SCOTT MICHAEL FOSTER, ANTHONY EDWARDS, JACINDA BARRETT, MICHAEL NYQVIST, ADDISON TIMLINIt only took a couple of episodes for me to get fed up with Zero Hour. It could be that I’m more critical of tv shows than I am of books. However, I think it’s more likely that books are coherent, character-driven, written by a single person, and working toward a singular end. Often tv shows have multiple writers, who must develop an episodical, self-contained, time-constrained show every week. Zero Hour suffers from a lack of those things that make a book great. It’s incoherent, lacks vision, and though the actors try very hard, the characters aren’t really compelling. I had many questions after that first episode, and a couple are addressed immediately, but ultimately the second episode raises even more questions than it answers. When you combine that with characters whose actions are inexplicable save for the purpose of advancing the plot, I built up an ambivalence towards the plot and the characters. I think it’s unlikely the series will be renewed, so I don’t wanted to get heavily invested in it anyway – I’ve had my share of that…realistically I should be watching season 2 of The River instead of this…

Arrow: “The Odyssey” (Season 1 Episode 14)

arrow-tvBroadcast date: Wednesday, Feb. 13th, 2013

The Odyssey is one of my favorite episodes of the season so far. As Oliver staggers off after being shot by his mother, he enlists the help of Felicity. Felicity takes him to the hideout, where Diggle works on saving his life. During this time we flash back to the island, and the flashback dominates the episode in a big way. We see Oliver get trained by Slade, we hear Fyers’ benefactor on a telephone, and we are introduced to Shado, Yao Fei’s daughter, who appears to have a much different role here than she does in the comics, although we are shown both Shado’s and Oliver’s shoulder dragon tattoos for a reason. The name of the episode comes from the code phrase used for the airplane landing on the island, which is out of the pages of the Odyssey, a book Oliver is familiar with, and makes him finally of some use. We know Oliver won’t escape the island yet, since he hasn’t done his bow training with Yao Fei yet or interacted with Shado.

There were also several humorous quotes in this episode:

Slade: “I’m impressed. You didn’t puke.”

Oliver: “I just swallowed it!”

And this:

Oliver: “I’m trapped on an island and my only friend is named Wilson.”

So in other words, we get more Felicity and she joins the team in a self-limiting capacity, we get some humor, and we also get lots of kick-butt action on the island flashbacks. Awesome episode!

Face Off: “Two Heads Are Better Than One” (Season 4 Episode 5)

face-offBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb. 12th, 2013

Now this is more like it! We’re starting to see some real talent shine through as the dead weight gets cut, but there’s still more to remove. This week the contestants were tasked with making a multi-headed giant inspired by the upcoming movie Jack the Giant Killer. Appropriately, Bryan Singer was a guest judge (as he directed that film). The creations were excellent, except for Jenna and Meagan’s effort. I really felt sorry for Meagan, who spent the whole time wondering if she’d be sent home, but it was Jenna who was cut. Props to Jenna for admitting she was the cause of their disastrous entry, but it was definitely time for her to go, the drama surrounding her crippled hand was becoming far too much to take every week. Top looks went to Eric F. for his concept on creating a giant that truly dwarfed the competition…he choose to have his hulking model actually be Jack while two sculpted giant heads towered above. It put a smile on the judges’ faces as soon as it came out and was the easy choice for the win. Eric F. shows that when he can get the assistance of a good team member, he’s capable of winning it all, but working by himself leads to him running out of time due to ambition.

Here were my favorites:



And the worst:


Castle: “Reality Star Struck” (Season 5 Episode 14)

castleBroadcast date:  Monday, Feb. 11th, 2013

We’re back to the Castle I enjoy – witty banter, a killer with a believable motive (scorned lover), and Castle doing something stupid and squirming to get out of the situation. When a reality star turns up dead, all signs point to one of the other cast members. Captain Gates turns out to be a big fan of the show and forces other team members to watch it and do their “homework”. There’s a hilarious scene where Castle and Gates discuss the show and it’s characters like a couple of obsessed fans. Throughout the show, Castle and Beckett have a repartee over whose Valentine’s Day gift is better. The most awkward moment of the show involved Castle mistakenly giving Beckett’s gift to Gates, at which point Gates exclaimed that she was married. The whole scene just felt awkward and forced. The show redeems itself at the end, with Beckett revealing her gift in a touching moment. One of the better episodes in the past few weeks…

Book Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The-Alloy-of-Law-by-brandon-sanderson-colourFormat:  Hard Cover, First Edition, 2011

Pages:  325

Reading Time:  about 5 hours

The Alloy of Law is not quite a sequel to the Mistborn trilogy, although it does take place several years after those events, in the same world. Some of the characters in Mistborn are referenced, but none of them are around for this book – except, perhaps, a few (sorry, no spoilers here!). Much of the innovative magic system has been retained, with some new wrinkles. There are other elements from the previous books still floating around too – like the Mists, Koloss, and canals.  Sanderson has hinted that there may be sequels to this book, but that’s not a sure thing. On to the review…

It’s been 300 years since the events of the first trilogy took place. Not content to leave his world mired in medieval times, Sanderson has moved technology forward to an industrialized setting, featuring rifles and revolvers, skyscrapers, trains, and electricity. In between some of the chapters you will find artwork simulating the pages of a newspaper; I found myself looking forward to these inserts and read them with great interest. It gives the story a very Sherlock Holmes/Jules Verne/Victorian/(almost) Steampunk feel, which is awesome. Many other authors have medieval-type cultures that make no technological process for thousands of years, so it’s great to see Sanderson do something different. Add to the fact that magic is still around, and you can get a feel for the chaos of how bullets can be made to fly around, people leaping off trains, etc. Into this setting comes Waxillium Landrian, a twin born who possesses both Allomancy (the burning of metals) and Feruchemy (storing up abilities to use later). Wax can push on metals with his Allomancy, as well as make himself heavier or lighter with Ferochemy. This is the closest you can get to being a Mistborn in the current age, as more abilities have been discovered but powers have been somewhat diluted. Wax was born a noble in the city of Elandel, but spent time in the Roughs, which is a sort of desert wilderness similar to America’s Old West. In the Roughs he was a lawman who tracked down criminals, but eventually he is called back to the city to run his family’s estate when his uncle dies.

Accompanying Wax is Wayne, a former criminal turned deputy who worked with Wax in the Roughs. Wayne is a master of disguise and accents, and is also a twin born, who can create speed bubbles with his Allomancy and store health with his Feruchemy. The speed bubble allows Wayne to speed up time inside the bubble, giving him time to plan his maneuvers and move faster than his surroundings. We are also introduced to a myriad of other characters including Steris (the potential fiance of Wax), Marasi (cousin to Steris who becomes a major character), Tarson (an evil, part-Koloss thug), and Miles (another lawman from the Roughs). There are several other minor characters but they are not really fleshed out and remain for the most in the background.

The dynamic between Wax and Wayne feels very much like the Sherlock Holmes and Watson dynamic of recent movies and TV. The pace is brisk and the action at times is fast and furious, reminiscent of scenes in the previous trilogy…except now add bullets, moving trains, and dynamite. This lends an exciting air to the book, and the main characters are fairly well developed, but it seems to be over far too quickly – this is not an epic on the scale of previous Mistborn novels. I’m okay with that, though, because it means that there isn’t too much unnecessary filler. Both Wax and Wayne are likable enough – Wax has a nobility and ethos similar to Eland, while Wayne is somewhat of a scoundrel – he’d fit right in on Kelsier’s crew. Marasi is more than just a third wheel – her insightful thinnking, knowledge of law and university studies, and ability to fire a rifle go a long way towards helping solve the case.  Humor is abundant – sometimes it feels a little forced, but most of the time it’s appropriate, and though I never did laugh out loud, it had me chuckling a few times.

Wax and Wayne are pitted against Miles, who is robbing trains and kidnapping women. Miles has the ability to regenerate, making him near-immortal, and is somewhat reminiscent of an Inquisitor. But there is another figure behind the crimes, a benefactor known only as Mr. Suit. I have to say that the revealing of Mr. Suit’s identity at the end of the book was not a surprise, as the clues left by Sanderson are fairly obvious. Another element that is fairly obvious is Marasi’s Allomancy – not only is it not a surprise when revealed, but the fact that we are told it is useless several times just screams that it is not. I have to say I didn’t see its use coming, and when it was used, I just shook my head at how sly (and clever) Sanderson can be.

Overall I have a very favorable impression of the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. When compared against George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge, which is similar in setting, I greatly preferred The Alloy of Law. The ending is not a cliffhanger, but there are some loose ends deliberately left untied to set up a sequel, and a visit from a surprise character at the end has me wondering if the generally light-hearted tone of The Alloy of Law might give way to a more serious change if a sequel is written. Although reading the original series would help a new reader understand Allomancy and Feruchemy better, I think they could probably figure out what’s going on, especially with the help of the indexes in the back of the book. Highly recommended to fans of the Mistborn series, borderline steampunk/westerns, and Sherlock Holmes/sleuth action novels.

Zero Hour: “Strike” (Pilot, Season 1 Episode 1)


With The Following leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I was reluctant to add yet another series to the DVR and review list. However, the previews made Zero Hour look like The Da Vinci Code meets National Treasure, which sounded like it was perfect for my Indiana Jones infatuation. There are some major problems from the very beginning, but there’s also some promise of mystery and strangeness.

In my opinion, Episodes 1 and 2 should have been run back-to-back to create a two hour event. There’s so much information crammed into 1 hour that we get very little character development, and lots of questions without answers. The beginning starts with a cool Nazi-era flashback, where a bunch of priests are hiding something from the Nazis, while discovering that the Nazis possess a baby with strange eyes. The priests are gunned down, but another Nazi escapes with the secret object. it’s not even 5 minutes into the show and I’m wondering what the hell is going on here?

From there we move into the current day in a scene between Hank Galliston, editor of a skeptic magazine, and his wife Laila, a clock repairer. It establishes a little bit of character background, but Laila is gone far too quickly to establish her presence. I’m guessing we’ll see more of her in flashbacks, since that’s now the trendy thing to do. She sees a guy in the park selling clocks and she buys a strange looking clock that she’s drawn to. Next thing you know, she’s kidnapped by a terrorist named White Vincent, who wants the clock. Only she dumped it at home instead of the office, so now hubby has it. While the police and FBI conduct their investigation, Hank examines the clock and finds a diamond inside. Turns out projecting light through the diamond displays a map. Hank takes it to his old buddy Father Mickel to decipher the writing, which turns out to be “New Bartholomew” near the Arctic Circle. Hank leaves the diamond with Father Mickel for safe keeping and goes to meet the kidnapper of Laila, who wants the clock.

Enter the FBI. The lead agent, Rebecca Riley, really wants to get her hands on White (who we later learn murdered her husband). Her team bursts in on White’s location, only to learn its a decoy. White led them all on a merry chase while he went and knocked off Father Mickel and took the diamond. All hope is lost until Aaron and Rachel, Hank’s assistants, declare that they know White is headed to New Bartholomew, so they should do the same. Hank decides to go along and tasks the young ‘uns to find the clock maker. Which they do, and since he’s a 93 year old German with no phone or email, they fly to Germany to talk to him. Meanwhile we get a scene where White removes his contacts, and reveals eyes that look identical to the strange Nazi baby in he early flashback.

Hank reaches the Arctic Circle first, with Rebecca tagging along and discovers a Nazi submarine stuck in the ice. Meanwhile, Aaron and Rachel are getting an info dump from the clock maker, including the fact that the Nazi officer who made off with the artifact was none other than New Bartholomew himself. As Hank explores the sumarine, he discovers several bodies, including one that looks identical to him! He runs outside, shaken, just as White is pulling up. The End.

Wow. This isn’t just The Da Vinci Code meets National Treasure…might as well throw in some X-files, Fringe, and other weirdness, because the show is just so utterly bizarre that it’s impossible to tell where it’s going. As I mentioned above, there are some serious, fundamental problems with the script. Who is the creepy guy selling the clock? How does White know that Laila purchased it? If he wanted it so badly, why kidnap Laila? I mean, seriously, he couldn’t buy it (or just take it) himself? How did White know that Father Mickel had the diamond, when only Hank and Father Mickel knew? If the clock was made for new Bartholomew, why wasn’t it with him? Why did it contain a diamond that showed his location, frozen in the ice, when his location was supposed to be a secret? Hopefully there will be some answers coming, because if they don’t, that is some really terrible writing.

Anthony Edwards is a curious choice for the lead. He seems too, well, average, to pull this off. When Noah Wylie played the lead role in the Librarian series, he was good looking and had youthful exuberence. Nicolas Cage was an established action star when taking up National Treasure. I guess Edwards is being patterned off Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code. In conclusion, I’m intrigued enough to watch a couple more shows and see where it leads, but there better be some answers forthcoming, because I don’t have the time nor the inclination to watch poorly-written plots. Hopefully Zero Hour won’t fall into that category…

Revenge: “Union” (Season 2 Episode 13)

emily-vancamp-revenge-season-2Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 10th, 2013

There’s so much jam-packed into this episode of Revenge that it’s hard to sort things out. Aiden demands Nolan check his sister’s video to give him clues about where it was taken. Nolan comes through, revealing the video was six years old. Turns out Emily was right! Then Nolan uncovers her coroner’s report and grave site. Distraught, Aiden pushes Emily away. To help out Jack and Amanda, Emily writes a check to buy back Jack’s bar, but Conrad refuses to bite. Amanda betrays Emily by stealing her computer and forcing Conrad to watch video, extorting him to take the check and dissolve interest in the bar. This doesn’t sit well with Nate Ryan, who offers to remove the point of leverage. Of course Conrad doesn’t know it’s Emily that possesses the true leverage, so did Amanda seal her fate at Nate’s hand?

Nolan confronts Padma, but is she sincere or just playing along?

Amanda and Jack are married by the ocean, with Emily’s heart in tatters, until Aiden shows up again. It is the moment when Emily realizes that it’s time to forget the childhood infatuation and focus on what she has now.

The true shocker of the evening belongs to Victoria. When the union between Daniel and the initiative reaches the point where Daniel will be culpable, Victoria presents Daniel with evidence of the bombing. But what Victoria really does is set up super villain Helen Crowley to get iced in an awesome moment. Daniel looks shocked, realizing he’s in way over his head. And Nate Ryan is onboard the Amanda, as the boat, Jack, and Amanda head out to sea. Next week someone on the boat is going to die, plus you know that the Initiative is bigger than just Helen Crowley, so some other villain will surface. A very busy episode with far-reaching implications…

Lost Girl: “Faes Wide Shut” (Season 3 Episode 5)

Lost-Girl-Cast-lost-girl-28058794-720-493Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 10th, 2013

I’m not going to spend a lot of time recapping this episode because I really didn’t like it. Besides the fact that the bad guy wasn’t much of a threat and people were having sex with a sea monster (which had the side effect of turning them into exploding pudding), the turn that Kenzi’s character has taken is awful. She’s my favorite character, and something happened to her in the Norn’s house that has caused something nasty to overtake her. I hope this isn’t a season-long arc because I already miss her witty banter. They did have her looking gorgeous, though. Watching Bo lose control of her power and crushing big guys like matchsticks was pretty awesome, but I’m not sure where they are going with that story line…

Person of Interest: “One Percent” (Season 2 Episode 14)

Person-of-Interest-person-of-interest-30429662-1280-1024Broadcast date:  Thursday, Feb. 7th, 2013

One thing you have to admit about Person of Interest: it doesn’t discriminate: old, young, male, female, rich, poor – they all need protecting. So protecting a billionaire should not be a surprise; in fact, they are probably more frequently a target. Reese and Finch must protect a social networking guru from, well, everybody, because let’s face it, these guys are portrayed as flippant, arrogant, and rule breakers. The writers tried very hard to give Logan Pierce depth near the end of the show, but they just didn’t create enough of a sympathetic character for me to care whether Reese and Finch succeed. What is more interesting is the feeling that Pierce is going to be a threat in the future, from his grilling Reese and Finch about how they live off the grid, to the transmitter he placed in Reese’s watch – he has the resources and ego to cause them problems.

Also of great interest is the flashback to Nathan Ingram getting a number from the machine and holding a gun. Wait, what? Nathan is Reese and Finch before Reese and Finch started! So I imagine this is how Nathan died, and why Finch has dedicated his life to the numbers. While the episode was not very good, we’ve possibly been set up with an adversary, and we’re close to finding out what really happened to Nathan. Now if only Nathan were still alive…

Supernatural: “Everybody Hates Hitler” (Season 8 Episode 13)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2013

The two-episode arc featuring Grandpa Winchester, the Men of Letters, Nazi Necromancers, and golems is done, and it’s back to Angels and Demons next week. That’s a real shame, because Everybody Hates Hitler was one of the best Supernatural episodes since Season 1. The opening scene has some monstrous guy beating the tar out of Nazis, leaving us wondering what the heck is going on here? Fast forward to current day. Following the clues left from John Winchester, Sam and Dean find the bunker, which is filled with all kinds of things they haven’t tapped yet. It’s nice to see the boys in something other than a seedy motel for once. But before they can explore the bat cave, they find a job: a rabbi spontaneously combusts after finding a journal. When the rabbi’s grandson shows up with a golem (a creature made from clay that gave the Nazis a butt-kicking), the hunt is on to recover the journal and figure out what it means. At the same time, no one knows how exactly to control the golem, who has an attitude problem and likes to break things. This sets up a showdown with the Nazi necromancers, a secret society referred to as the Thule.

There are many things to like about this episode. Dean and the rabbi’s son “having a moment”; Sam warming his hands over the flames of a burning Nazi (hey, it was cold that night!), Dean back to wisecracking, the awesomeness of the bunker/batcave, and the introduction of the new character Aaron as well as his golem. The golem is a great character, huge and intimidating (played by John DeSantis of Ghostfacers). Plus, who doesn’t like the idea of Nazi necromancers running around in current day? Unfortunately, there are also a few plot holes. Why is the golem not with Aaron’s grandfather when the Nazis show up, because it was all the same day…grandfather rabbi (played wonderfully but briefly by Hal Linden) wouldn’t have known to send the golem away because he hadn’t found anything yet. Also, how did the Nazis know to watch the rabbi? Why didn’t they just go looking for the journal themselves? That’s some seriously bad writing.

However, I can ignore some of the plot holes, because it’s a great story line and breathes some much-needed fresh air into the series. Here’s to hoping the writers and producers will read the thousands of comments from fans on fan sites, and that this is the highest rated Supernatural episode on since last season, because I think that moving away from angels and demons, and towards the two secret societies, diametrically opposed, would be pretty dang awesome…

NCIS: “Canary” (Season 10 Episode 14)

ncisBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb. 5th, 2013

This was an absolutely terrible episode. When the team captures Ajay Khan (played wonderfully by Vik Sahay of Chuck), they try to get him to crack and reveal the location of the man who took down their network. The smug and careless attitude from Khan is a delight to watch – someone who Gibbs can’t intimidate. It was a lot of fun to watch and the writers could have done so much more with this episode. Instead, they make several noticeable errors (Well, at least to a geek like me they are noticeable) when it comes to technology like the access to Khan’s hard drive and the IP address of Khan’s boss. The worst, however, was the laughable sequence in “Gitmo”. Khan’s character, as they had made him, would not have believed any of it and cracked. A (former) Moussad agent would leave a loaded assault rifle on the floor and use a mattress to barricade a door? It just seemed ludicrous to me. For contrast, I’m reminded of another episode where Gibbs tricked a terrorist held at Gitmo by setting a clock back and making the terrorist think the bomb had already gone off, getting him to reveal the location. That episode was smartly written and believable; this one, not so much. What a wasted opportunity…

Person of Interest: “Dead Reckoning” (Season 2 Episode 13)

Person-of-Interest-person-of-interest-30429662-1280-1024Broadcast date:  Thursday, Jan. 31st, 2013

Dead Reckoning is the followup to the excellent Prisoner’s Dilemma episode; unfortunately, it seems that excellence was short-lived as the series returns to the problems that have plagued it for parts of this season. Now that Kara has a bomb vest on John, she can make him do whatever she wants, because she knows (based on her past relationship with him) that he has a soft spot for civilians. And so she guides him to a building that is a front for Homeland Security to develop hacking programs for taking out rival government systems, a nice touch reflecting current events with Iran. But here’s where the story begins to run into problems. Kara doesn’t download anything – she uploads something for a shadowy organization that wanted the briefcase…you know, the one that had John and Kara escaping a big bomb in China. John goes up to the roof, ready to throw himself off. And then comes the contrived, made-for-tv drama: Finch has 3 tries to decode the bomb before it blows. Guess what happens? But the worst moment is yet to come, when the FBI concludes, a little too neatly, that Snow was the “man in the suit”. Umm, exactly what evidence do they have to draw that conclusion? And Donnelly was the only guy who knew what was going on – no one else in the FBI has a clue about where is investigation was at? Not to mention that Snow was actually tasked to bring in the man in the suit at one time, so how was it possible that he was that man? At least this story arc is over and the show can move on. I do have to say I like the reveal at the end, although it was also predictable – that the laptop belonged to Finch, who is in some way, directly or indirectly, responsible for John and Kara’s situation, a bombing in China by our government to destroy the laptop, and the shadowy organization wanting what’s on it…

Supernatural: “As Time Goes By” (Season 8 Episode 12)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Jan. 30th, 2013

Supernatural is on a bit of a roll this season. Although it still suffers from time to time due to the angels vs. demons story line (which I have mentioned ad nauseam), it’s the intervening episodes that have been the best. This week, thanks to a time travel spell, Sam and Dean meet their grandfather. They’ve met their family on their mother’s side, but their father’s side has been a bit of a mystery, until now. It turns out that grandpa up and disappeared when their father was just a young boy. Turns out he traveled through a portal to current day, thanks to a nasty Knight of Hell named Abbaddon who follows through the portal, seeking a key which Grandpa Winchester holds. Not just any key, but one that opens a bunker full of really cool and powerful stuff, apparently.

Sam and Dean also learn that John Winchester belongs to the “Men of Letters”, part of a Freemason-like secret society whose goal is to keep evil at bay. Their father, as well as Sam and Dean, should have become trained in it but Grandpa John’s disappearance spoiled that. It’s really kind of a cool premise, and I like the direction the story line is taking – this is far more entertaining. It’s pretty much a given that John is not going to make it back to his time and change the future, and so his fate (and that of the mysterious key) is somewhat predictable. Along the way there are some great elements, like carving a demon trap on the head of a bullet. A very entertaining episode with what looks to be an excellent story line…

Pulling the Plug on The Following

the-following-14Well, it only took 3 episodes for me to throw up my hands and become thoroughly disgusted with The Following. Like a carbon copy of the episodes before it, Ryan Hardy and the FBI remain not one step but several behind the bad guys, missing clues so obvious that I watched in disbelief. Yes, I know it’s not real. It’s written that way. But why treat your audience like morons? The scenes that were supposed to be shocking and surprising weren’t. I said to my roommate that cult members Paul and Will had real feelings for each other and that the gay couple thing was not just an act by the second episode. Voila! It’s a big reveal in the third episode. I also said to my roommate that  Maggie, the wife of cult member Rick Kester, was in on it and was a cult member. Voila! It is true!

Part of the problem is predictability, but the root problem is the terrible writing that requires you to suspend belief. In the opening scene, a man is lit on fire by Rick Kester. As Hardy is watching the video playback, he exclaims that he knows the guy set on fire – it’s a critic of serial killer Joe Carroll’s book. Let’s stop right there. The next words I expected out of Hardy’s mouth were, “He’s targeting his critics. There’s someone else that was really critical of him! Let’s go check on that guy!” But no, they stall and waste time as they try to figure things out and make a connection. But as usual, they are a little too late to stop the killer.

There’s another scene in which Agent Parker learns that Maggie is the cult member. Instead of calling Agent Reilly, who is in the house with the cult member, she calls Agent Weston, who is outside in the car! Really? Now that Agent Weston has the information, he grabs Hardy and tells him what’s going on, and they both go through the front door together. Not one covering the front and one covering the back, which conveniently leaves the back door as an escape route. And still no one thinks to call Reilly. Then Hardy hears a noise out back while checking on the dying Reilly, when the Kesters would have been long gone. Hardy manages to shoot the husband, but the guy gets back up, bullet and all, and gives his wife time to escape. Hardy is painted to be the expert, the guy who can solve the case when no one else can, but his progress seems more like a convenient case of being in the right place at the right time – yet never smart or quick enough to stop people from being murdered.  I mean, don’t you get the feeling that as the body count racks up in The Following, and the agents don’t show an ounce of competency, that their jobs might be in danger? And I can guarantee that either Agent Parker or Agent Weston is on Team Carroll – I could probably determine which one in the next two episodes; unfortunately, I won’t be tuning in to see if I’m right, because I just can’t muster up enough effort to care.

I’ve been watching Criminal Minds for several years now. The characters and show are both smartly written, and highlight the difference between a crime drama that feels somewhat based in reality, with a sense of urgency and competent people, and a show that is all about flash on the surface but has no substance when you look closer. What really makes me angry is that Fox cancelled shows I halfway enjoyed watching, Alcatraz and The Finder, and replaced it with this tripe. The good news is, not watching this show anymore will free up my DVR, as well as increase my review efficiency, since I won’t have to waste time both watching it and reviewing it…