Hippogriff's Aerie

Apparitions of Imagination

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…

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March 25, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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.

March 19, 2013 Posted by | Book Review | , , | Leave a comment

Weekend Images

While I’m working on TV show updates and book reviews, I thought I’d take a few moments to post some photos. Digital photography has always been a hobby for me, although I don’t have an expensive camera. I’ve made do with an older 4MP Casio that takes gorgeous pictures thanks to a Canon lens, but lately I just take shots using my iPhone. I’m well-versed in Photoshop but I don’t usually do any post-processing unless I’m going for a certain vibe. One thing I haven’t figured out yet, however, is how to format WordPress pages so that the thumbnails line up where I want them to. Moving a thumbnail loses the link to the larger picture for some reason. Blogger is so much easier in this respect…

IMG_0918This weekend my parents were in town after a vacation in Palm Springs, and they took me to one of their favorite spots in Portland for lunch – The St Honoré Boulangerie.IMG_0915 Located in the Pearl District on NW 23rd, not far from Powell’s Books, St Honoré uses a brick fireoven, with bricks imported from the kaolin earth of the town of Larnage, located in the foothills of the Rhone Valley and surrounded by the famous vineyards of Tain-l’Hermitage. The quarries in the area have been in use since the Roman times. The refractory properties of the clay have a natural moisture retention which transfers the heat evenly, creating bread with great taste, flavor and texture. Since my grandfather’s family hails from France, it is fun to explore that part of my heritage. I took French in high school (but haven’t spoken it in some time), while my sister studied in France and is fluent in French.

IMG_0914I had a Vol au Vent (a chicken pastry), followed by a glazed Kouign Amann, which was to die for. Dad and Mom have returned to Seattle, but I’m going to go back so that I can tryIMG_0916 the Saint Honoré (a pastry filled with custard and topped with whipped cream and caremlized sugar), the Normandy Apple Toast (Viennoiserie pastries baked in a rum and vanilla flavored custard, topped with apples), and the Croissant aux Amandes (twice baked croissant with an almond cream filling, topped with sliced almonds. The place was packed, with nary a seat available, so we were forced to eat outside. It was a little cold but it wasn’t unpleasant. Here’s a link to the St Honore website.

 

 

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I also have a couple of photos of my new cat, Raven. He is part Maine Coon, and has gorgeous markings – he has a burnt orange coloring that runs from his chin down his chest and across his belly. He also has a broad nose like that of a mountain lion. IMG_0849The vet says he’s going to be a big boy. He had his berries clipped a week ago and was forced to wear the Cone of Shame for the week. Now that it’s off, he’s back to his usual self…racing through the house and leaping 4 feet in the air to catch a dangling toy mouse. I also call him the Goaltender or the Gatekeeper…there is a fence at the top of the stairs that prevents the dogs (and cat) from going downstairs. His favorite thing to do is to camp out in front of the gate and block anyone from opening it. You literally have to push him out of the way with the gate to get through…

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Face Off: “Howl at the Moon” (Season 4 Episode 7)

face-offBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb. 26th, 2013

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For this week’s foundation challenge, the contestants were asked to create a zombie horde capable of stepping onto the set of The Walking Dead. After a hectic attempt by each team to create 20 zombies in two and a half hours, Meagan and Anthony come out on top, with Meagan taking top honors and earning immunity.
On to the spotlight challenge, where the contestants are tasked to create a werewolf inspired by a planet. That sounds like a stupid idea, and it turns out I’m right, because this week’s efforts are a little lacking. Wayne and Kris come up with the best design, while Anthony and Eirc F. are in the bottom. The worst look of the night, however, belongs to Autumn and Eric Z., with Autumn being eliminated for her arrogance and for carving yet another face that looks like a pig. Finally the last annoying contestant is cut, and we’ve got ourselves a real contest now…

Kris and Wayne sculpt a winning werewolf from Neptune

Kris and Wayne sculpt a winning werewolf from Neptune

Anthony and Eric F. make a werewolf from Mars. Yuck.

Anthony and Eric F. make a werewolf from Jupiter. Yuck.

Eric Z. and Autumn sculpt a terrible werewolf from Mars. Bye, Autumn!

Eric Z. and Autumn sculpt a terrible werewolf from Mars. Bye, Autumn!

March 17, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Castle: “Hunt” (Season 5 Episode 16)

castleBroadcast date:  Monday, Feb. 25th, 2013

As good as I thought the previous episode was, Hunt takes the two-episode arc to the next level. When Alexis’s friend is released, we know for sure that Alexis was the target. With the police unable to help due to the fact that Alexis is in France, Castle gets on a plane and looks up some contacts. When he teams up with a mercenary, some leads turn promising until a double-cross ensues. In to the fray steps Castle’s father.

Turns out Alexis was captured to draw out Grandpa Castle (great performance by James Brolin), since Castle’s dad is a spy with an ex-KGB agent after him.Castle and his dad set out to free Alexis, and there’s a clever twist to resolve the situation. The episode is well-written, the action is plentiful, and the kidnapping arc is complete. They’ve also opened the possibility that Castle has a half-brother, if they can convince Josh Brolin to appear! One of the better multi-episode storylines in Castle that I’ve seen in a long time…

March 15, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Status Update

It’s been a rough couple weeks at work, with my boss out for a few days, my lead technician out for two weeks, and another technician out sick a couple of days…end result is 12-13 hour days for me and very little time for TV watching & reviewing. I have managed to complete 67% of Slither, and should have a review up maybe this weekend, but Against All Things Ending has been difficult so far due to pacing issues. Things should be back to normal next week…

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Person of Interest: “Relevance” (Season 2 Episode 16)

Person-of-Interest-person-of-interest-30429662-1280-1024Broadcast date:  Thursday, Feb. 21st, 2013

Wow. The best Person of Interest of the season, without a doubt.

Why is that, you ask? Under the surface, this is the heart of PoI. The episode was written by Jonathon Nolan, and it is his vision of the show that simply is amazing. Here we get to see the flip side of the story – instead of the “backdoor” portion that Reese and Finch operate from, we see the application of the system Finch built – to stop terrorist threats. Who knows how many teams are out there…but this week we see one team in action – Cole and Shaw. It was such a different start, that I had to wonder if I was actually watching PoI or some other show, as Cole and Shaw take out terrorists from the numbers that the machine feeds to them. But soon Reese appears, and we know it’s one of the agents that’s in trouble.

It seems Cole gets a little too inquisitive about where the numbers come from, and the machine’s handlers decide that Cole and Shaw have learned too much, which leads to Finch and Cole getting their numbers. In essence, it’s the machine protecting one of its own. Shaw turns out to be quite the warrior, and she’s not bad to look at, either. Even Root makes an appearance, still trying to find the machine’s physical location, and her capture of Shaw demonstrates that Root, who hardly seems threatening as a villain, has the intellect and planning capable of overcoming Shaw’s brute force and instinct. You have to question Nolan using 8 men tactical teams to take out Cole and Shaw – why not use a sniper or a single assassin? The show loses a little credibility for this, but it so awesome in so many other ways, that I’m willing to overlook it…

March 12, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Supernatural: “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” (Season 8 Episode 15)

spBroadcast date:  Thursday, Feb. 20th, 2013

It seems that no subject is taboo for Supernatural’s writers. This episode isn’t even worth reviewing. It literally made me cringe. Why the writers thought it was a good idea to introduce beastiality, in the guise of a “familiar” of a witch, I have no idea. The premise of the story wasn’t that bad: one witch coveting another’s familiar. It was the sexual relationship between the familiar and the witch that was uncalled for. I’m going to go scrub this episode out of my head with a liberal dose of Person of Interest and Castle…

March 11, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Arrow: “Dodger” (Season 1 Episode 15)

arrow-tvBroadcast date:  Feb. 20th, 2013

Another solid episode of Arrow, with a new villain (Dodger), Felicity joining the team and letting her hair down (wow!) and the introduction of Roy Harper, who was green Arrow’s sidekick in the comics. Wonder if he’ll be added as a regular at some point? Felicity and Diggle convince Oliver that he should help other people, not just those on the list, so they target the Dodger, a thief that uses hostages to commit his robberies by strapping bombs to them. When Felicity enters the picture and helps set a trap, she becomes his latest recipient. Meanwhile Thea falls for Roy Harper after he steals her purse, and Moira enlists the help of China White and the Triad to take out Malcolm Merlyn. There’s also a disastrous set of dates between Diggle and Carly, not to mention Oliver and McKenna, and there’s still time to squeeze in an island flashback where Oliver must go back to the cave for medicine and finds a “captive”. Not knowing if the man is lying or telling the truth, you can see how he was starting to be shaped into Arrow by this experience. It’s a busy episode that doesn’t disappoint…

March 11, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

NCIS: “Hereafter” (Season 10 Episode 15)

ncisBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb. 19th, 2013

I wasn’t a big fan of this episode. I’ve never been enamored with Vance’s character, and he’s sent on a wild goose chase trying to figure out why his wife was hiding money. Meanwhile, marines are dying with similar wounds – stab wounds to their arms and sides. The thought that Vance could return as an investigator seems like a stretch. Also, when the marines are stabbed by someone who wants to make sure they are strong enough to survive combat…really? Let’s see, if this person dies when I stab them, better that then dying in combat? I felt this episode had some serious plot holes and inconsistencies…

March 6, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | 1 Comment

Book Review: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

libromancerFormat:  Hard Cover, First Edition, 2012

Pages:  305

Reading Time:  about 5 hours

I read a few reviews of Libriomancer when it was first released. Some people loved it. Others thought it was okay but flawed. I didn’t really know what to believe, but Little Red Reviewer’s take was probably the one that convinced me I should take a chance. Still, it took over 6 months for this book to find its way into my queue and then into my hands. Usually the sign of a good book for me is the inability to put it down. Every once in a while, though, I come across a book that strikes a chord in my inner psyche. There’s only a few authors who have had this effect on me (Roger Zelazny, Glen Cook, Robin Hobb, and Patrick Rothfuss come to mind).

For me, Libriomancer is one of those books.

Other reviewers don’t seem to have had the same experience. I’m not even sure I can completely explain my fascination with the story…but I’ll give it a shot. It starts with style and pacing. Hines lays out fast-paced, first person narrative that very much reminds me of Zelazny’s The Last Defender of Camelot or his Amber series. Add some sleuthing like The Dresden Files, a magic system that at times resembles Inkheart, and maybe a little craziness, sexism, and magic from Xanth, and you’ve got one heck of a story. It is in some ways a coming of age trope, as the main character, Isaac Vainio,  is a young man who has been restricted from practicing magic in the field. Although he understands the magic and its rules, what he must learn is how to bend those rules, without getting killed or going insane in the process. What I found most compelling about Isaac, however, was his innate understanding of how magic works; at the same time, he lacks the inhibition, or common sense, to know when to stop pushing himself, right up to the edge of death or madness. In other words, he’s a big-time risk-taker.

Isaac has been exiled to a small public library, where his job is to catalog book titles for the Porters’ database. The Porters are a secret organization of wizards who try to squash harmful magic from being unleashed on the unsuspecting populace, like the agents of Warehouse 13 or Harry Dresden, or even Supernatural. They keep vampires, werewolves and other creatures in line, cover up magical happenings, and nab people who show a talent for magic. Isaac’s talent is libriomancy; through the collective belief of a book’s readers, objects and people in the books become real, and a libriomancer can reach in and pull objects out of books, making them real in our world. There are a couple of problems with this, though. One is that you could pull out some incredibly power objects that allow you to dominate the world, such as The One Ring from Lord of the Rings or the Elder Wand from Harry Potter. To prevent this, all copies of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter,  and other problematic books have been magically “locked”, meaning a libriomancer can’t access their pages. A second problem is that reaching into a book carries risks…for instance, while reaching into a book about vampires, your arm could get bitten by a vampire, which would then turn you into one. Finally, by reaching into a book, you immerse yourself in the story, and the more you draw on the magic in the books, the less able you are to separate the books from reality (remember, the people and objects within the books have their own reality). In a nutshell, the rules that govern libriomancy are there for a reason, and because Isaac once broke those rules while in the field, he can’t be a field agent again.

The trouble starts when some vampires come looking for Isaac. They want some answers, and when Isaac is not forthcoming, they decide to use force. Fortunately for Isaac, he’s got a couple of friends: Smudge, the fire spider who senses danger, and Lena, a dryad who shows up in the nick of time to help. This sets Isaac on a quest for answers of his own, and he follows clues that eventually lead him to face down more vampires, robots, and a mysterious adversary who may or may not be the missing Johannes Guttenberg, the father of the printing press who is over 600 years old, and the head of the Porter organization.

The story is smart, funny, and full of plenty of action. I enjoyed the characters, and watching the plot as it unfolded.  What I didn’t expect to find were ethical questions posed by the story. I had an idea about Isaac’s dilemma regarding Lena (see Little Red’s review). However, the lengths at which the Porters (and Guttenberg) go to protect society and themselves seems at times a bit heavy-handed. Also, Guttenberg uses magic (like the Holy Grail) to keep himself young, but forbids others from using that magic, in what appears to be a totalitarian system. What the story suggests, however, is how would you handle it differently? It’s one thing to be critical; it’s quite another to be able to offer solutions, especially once you know the motivation and reason behind those decisions.

In conclusion, the story was over all too soon. It was the most enjoyable read I’ve had in some time, and I’m looking forward to the next book with high expectations. The ending wrapped up a little strangely, and at times the book conveys some nagging inconsistencies, but they didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all. Highly recommended to anyone who loves books, or what lies within them…

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Book Review | , , | 2 Comments

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.

February 28, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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

February 28, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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…

February 27, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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…

February 27, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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.

February 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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…

February 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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…

February 23, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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!

February 23, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

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:

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And the worst:

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February 23, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment