NCIS: “Prime Suspect” (Season 10 Episode 17)

ncisBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Mar. 5th, 2013

I wasn’t really feeling this episode. Gibbs tried to help his barber determine whether or not the guy’s son was a serial killer, while Tony took probie Dorneget to the Bahamas to catch a thief. I guess I really didn’t like the interaction between Dorneget and Tony, and I thought the serial killer story felt a little contrived. Meh. Maybe next episode…

Face Off: “It’s Better in the Dark” (Season 4 Episode 8)

face-offBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Mar. 5th, 2013

The contestants travel to the coast for inspiration, as they are to create a new, undiscovered humanoid species. There is one caveat: the paint job must look good under both regaular light, and must be bioluminescent under ultraviolet light. Oh, by the way: it’s a double elimination week! The contestants were taken to the ocean for inspiration because the depths of the ocean does house many bioluminescent species, but early on its clear that Meagan is having trouble conceptualizing and has chosen to be different by going with a cave dweller. During the first day she leaves with what turns out to be food poisoning. Unfortunately this lost time affects her work and puts her in the bottom, although she never really conceptualized her creature. She is the first to be eliminated. Anthony bounces back from some rough times with the top look, and Wayne’s is also awesome, although he leaves himself short on time for paint and under UV it’s not as impressive. The second to go is Eric Z., whose creature didn’t look that bad. I thought Eric F.’s creature looked worse under regular lights, but looked cool under UV. Either one could have gone in my opinion, but I pretty much agree with the judges here, and thankfully with Meagan gone so to goes the majority of the awful drama that has plagued the show this year. There are now only 5 contestants remaining…

anthony1
Anthony’s winning makeup
Anthony's creature under UV
Anthony’s creature under UV
wayne1
Wayne’s creature
eric z1
Eric Z.’s creature wasn’t too bad…
...until it got under UV
…until it got under UV
Meagan's awful cave creature...
Meagan’s awful cave creature…
...looked even worse under UV.
…looked even worse under UV.

Lost Girl: “There’s Bo Place Like Home” (Season 3 Episode 7)

Lost-Girl-Cast-lost-girl-28058794-720-493Broadcast date:  Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

To be ready to take on the challenge for The Dawning, Bo must be in the right frame of mind, which she’s clearly not. More insight reveals that she needs to return home to confront her foster mother, who treated her badly. This also involves traveling to the town where she was once accused of murder and had to flee (she was later cleared). Upon returning to the town to visit her foster mother, accompanied by Kenzi, they land themselves in the middle of an annual festival and also a class reunion. Exhibiting signs of dementia, Bo’s mother remembers none of the bad memories that occurred years ago. At the same time, old classmates start dying off one by one, and Bo must figure out why.

This wasn’t a bad episode…it was good to see Kenzi back in form, and there were some nice moments between Bo and her mother. The classmates are dying due to someone summoning the ghost of a girl who fell down a well…not the most original storyline, but Bo is able to handle it and return to her tests with a much clearer head, and advance the story to where it needs to go. Where that is, exactly, I’m not sure yet…

Supernatural: “Remember the Titans” (Season 8 Episode 16)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 2013

Supernatural continues to lose momentum thanks to the awful episode from the previous week and this week’s lame episode. It was boring, made no sense (they introduced Greek mythology and then threw it out the window) and I could really have cared less about the characters. I would have actually liked the episode if it had stuck to the traditional mythology, or if the dead guy had actually been a zombie, which is where Dean was leaning. This show could really do a walking dead plot really well, something they’ve never really done – well, not zombie/infectious disease/end of the world as we traditionally know it. I found myself wishing for the original story line to continue, and that’s not a good thing. I’m hoping the next episode gets them back on track…

Arrow: Dead to Rights (Season 1 Episode 16)

arrow-tvBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 2013

I have to give credit where credit is due: the writers for Arrow should take a bow. Somehow they have been able to balance intricate plot details, believable and flawed characters and their development, flashbacks, multiple story lines, and tons of action, while keeping the show from bogging down and clearly separating it from fluff like Beauty and the Beast. In many ways it resembles one of my other favorite shows, Revenge. It’s no wonder that Arrow is the only new show this year that I’m still following. In this episode, once again there’s so many intricate plot details, so much character inner conflict, that the writers show a deft hand.

Of all the interactions between Oliver and other characters after his return from the island, only his relationship with Tommy survived unscathed, as the two slipped back into best buddy mode, even though Tommy is dating Laurel. If anything, Oliver (and Malcolm Merlin) transformed Tommy from a irresponsible playboy to a serious, responsible adult. But now that relationship is battered as well when Oliver is forced to reveal his hooded identity to save Malcolm Merlin. Not only could this form a wedge between Oliver and Tommy and drive Tommy closer to being an adversary – it also speaks to the complexity of the characters. Malcolm Merlin is on The List, an adversary that Oliver has battled, yet Oliver now tries to save Malcolm’s life, unknowingly protecting his enemy from Oliver’s own mother! And when Malcolm learns that the hood saves him, you can see the disbelief on his face. Does this change Malcolm’s view of Arrow? And now that Moira has failed, she’s in more danger than ever from the man Oliver saved. These intricate, interweaving threads are what makes the show outstanding.

There are other moments of the show that are not quite as interesting but are leading up to something. The flashback on the island reveals that Fyers has a rocket launcher, but what’s he going to use it for. And Laurel’s mother shows up insisting that Sarah, Laurel’s sister, is still alive. How the heck can that be true? Overall, another outstanding episode. Writers, pat yourselves on the back…

NCIS: “Detour” (Season 10 Episode 16)

ncisBroadcast date:  Tues, Feb. 26th, 2013

When Ducky and Jimmy go missing while transporting a body back to the lab, the team sets out to find what happened to them. The pair are kidnapped by a trio of villains who want them to perform an autopsy in order to find something the dead man possessed. Realizing they are as good as dead when the autopsy is done Ducky hatches a plan to keep them alive while the team searches for them. The episode was not only enjoyable but informative, as Ducky gives the viewers some science lessons, allowing he and Jimmy to escape. There’s bound to be some fallout in the next few episodes over what Jimmy was forced to do. One of the best episodes of the season…

Book Review: Slither by Joseph Delaney

slitherFormat:  Hard Cover, First Edition, 2013

Pages:  371

Reading Time:  a quick 4-5 hours

Slither is the eleventh book in the Last Apprentice series. Like book 9, Grimalkin, the story takes a detour away from Tom Ward, the Spook’s Apprentice, and on to a whole new character: Slither. A few other new characters are introduced, a horde of gruesome beasts parade through the pages, and a familiar character makes an appearance. I was fully prepared for a negative view of this book based on some early reviews I caught on Amazon. Is that my consensus? Read on to find out…

The setting for this story is a land far to the north of the County. It is a cold, harsh land, divided into farming communities as well as the lands of the Kobalos, a hairy, savage, blood-drinking humanoid race with tails. The Kobalos have a large city called Valkarky, where most of them live, but some of them are Haizda mages – outsiders who study magic and rule over their haizdas, a territory often containing humans. Slither is one such Haizda mage; he commands magic, is able to change his size, his breath has magical properties, and his tail warns him of danger. He makes his home inside a tree (through magical means) and his haizda consists of several farms, most of which are terrified of him. There is one farmer that trades with him, however. One day when the farmer has an accident and lays dying, he strikes a deal with Slither – if the creature will deliver his daughters to their aunt and uncle some distance away, Slither may keep the oldest daughter, Nessa, for his own. As Slither agrees and sets off with the girls, the viewpoint switches between Slither and Nessa.

Nessa has some great qualities, consisting of bravery, sacrifice, and empathy. Her story is a sad one, however, since she is destined to be a slave. Kobalos must sell a human at auction every so many years, or he will be hunted down and killed, and Nessa will fulfill this obligation for Slither. The younger sisters are more of an annoyance, however, as they constantly whine and cry about their situation, and aren’t really well developed. In fact, there isn’t really any character development here at all, other than Slither’s and Nessa’s.

The seemingly innocent journey quickly take a turn for the worse when a snowstorm hits and Slither is forced to keep his charges alive by seeking refuge in the manor of another Kobalos mage. When the mage turns out to be treacherous, Slither is forced to kill several opponents, including a mage-assassin who has the ability to send his dying memories instantly to the assassin’s order back in Valkarky. The assassin’s order vows revenge for the loss of one of their own. What follows is a steady stream of opposition that Slither is forced to overcome to keep his side of the bargain with the farmer.

The story has some pretty imaginative elements, from mage assassins and a two thousand year old knight that can’t be defeated, to a grotesque pit creature called the Haggenbrood and centaur-like creature called a hyb. Slither gets deeper and deeper into to trouble, and the main reason for this is surprising: Slither is an honorable creature who keeps to his word. He feels a great obligation to stick to the deal he made with the farmer, often to his own discomfort or risk of life. It’s a good story, and though it is not really frightening, the fantastic elements and change of characters and scenery are enjoyable, unlike the trip to Greece in Clash of the Demons (the sixth book in the series). Delaney goes all out to unleash his imagination with strange creatures and the even stranger culture of the Kobalos. One problem I did have with the story was that it did not seem that Slither was consistent with his people’s culture…where he is lenient and honorable, most of his people, including their rulers, are cruel and treacherous. Now maybe Slither’s years away from his people have changed him, but even when he is consistently betrayed by them, he stubbornly sticks to complying with their cultural norms and customs, putting himself at a disadvantage. This is only a minor annoyance, however. The appearance of Grimalkin, still carrying the fiend’s head and looking for something specific, was a pleasant surprise, and her character is fleshed out even more with qualities I would not have expected of her.

So despite the negative reviews I had observed, I actually enjoyed reading Slither. I know some people won’t appreciate the deviation from the main story line, but to me it’s not a stalling tactic or a money grab – it’s a good enough story, and looks like it’s important to explain what’s happening with Grimalkin. It will be interesting to see whether some of the characters specific to this book  will make an appearance again sometime in the future. The book is a quick read, with a large font and smaller page size (consistent with the rest of the series), and copious amounts of action. The book also contains a lengthy poem at the end and a Kobalos glossary. Recommended for fans of the series that don’t mind a change of scenery (and characters) once in a while.