Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recapping AHS: The Episode Even NARAL Got A Little Squicked Out About

Sorry for the delay on this one, kids. Holidays and all that. Anywho…

We begin our episode in modern times with a tattooed man (who bears a startling resemblance to Ben Harmon) talking to a therapist about controlling his compulsions, which have been getting him into trouble. The therapist assures him not to worry, it’s totally natural and yes, very strange that his foster parents would have kicked him out of the house as a kid for something as innocent as masturbation. The man corrects her, informing her that his compulsions are more of the wanting to flay women alive and take their skin, but whatevs, it’s cool because he wants to stop. It’s created problems all his life, but he thinks he’s got a lead on this because the last time he was in jail he managed to figure out who his real father is and wants to reconnect with his roots now. Surprising no one, he confesses to being the son of Bloody Face.

But enough of this Jungian origin stuff. When do I get to the cry-masturbating?

Act I! Sister Eunice has Lana brought to her office to deliver the good news – Lana is in the family way! Yay for conquering your sexual perversion, Lana! Eunice admits there are other ways out of this problem, her aunt had a Drain-o Margarita recipe that was a family favorite, but this child will be born and then shipped off to St. Ursula’s orphanage along with all the other Asylum babies that find their way in. Meanwhile, Jude awakens in a cell, strapped to her bed with Monsignor standing over her. Sidebar, is lurking over unconscious inmates part of the required duties for the staff of Briarcliff? Happens a lot. Monsignor tells her they know all about what happened; Eunice helpfully explained everything about how Jude went off the deep end and murdered Frank the guard.  Suddenly, Jude’s insistence about Arden being a Nazi and Eunice being possessed by the devil isn’t playing well for her. The kicker? Leigh Emerson, the murderous Santa who apparently survived Jude’s stabbing, provided the key evidence against her and has since impressed everyone with his “genuine” repenting of his sins. Monsignor tells Jude she’ll spend the rest of her life as an inmate and then heads up to pack up her things, finding her red negligee in the process. Eunice joins him, wondering aloud who Jude was thinking about when she wore that thing and they playing him like a violin, confessing that she, too, believes that Monsignor is destined for Rome and Eunice wants to service him. Yes, that entendre is a double one. Cheeky demon. That night, as Lana is taken back to her room, we see she’s managed to smuggle a coat hanger in with her.

Jessica Lange: "Do I really want to come back for season three?"

Act II! Jude is struggling against her restraints in her room when Monsignor brings Emerson in to her. Emerson, in the full blush of piety, tells Jude he forgives her and kisses her forehead, sending chills up every viewers’ spine. Lana finds Kit in his hospital bed and demands that they kill Thredson now. Kit reminds her that they need Thredson’s confession. Lana begins to devise a plan. Lana comes to Thredson, still tied up in that closet, and tells him about her pregnancy. Thredson is desperate that Lana doesn’t give up his child, remembering being an orphan himself. Lana points out why go to the trouble of adoption when she has this nifty coat hanger instead? She agrees to hold off from her self-abortion if Thredon will tell her about the women he killed and why he did it, including Wendy. Thredson complies, but tells her that Wendy clearly never loved her if she committed Lana to the asylum to save herself. Alas, the joke is on Thredson – Kit has been secretly recording the conversation and now has his confession on tape. What’s good for the goose, I guess. Lana confesses that she already used the coat hanger on herself the previous night and now that they’ve got everything they need from Thredson, she’s going to nip off the to kitchen and come back in a stab-ier mood. Kit attempts to hide the tape in the water therapy room, but is discovered by Arden who tells him they “have so much to talk about.”

Act III! Arden serves Kit scotch and a cigarette and tells him about he found alien footprints in the death chute while looking for clues to what happened to Grace’s body. Arden has figured out that the aliens are only showing up right after Kit has sex with someone, leading him to surmise that the aliens are studying Kit. Arden wants to bring Kit close to death to try to force the aliens to come back, though WTF WHY BRING BACK THE ALIENS? In the chapel, Emerson is praying with Monsignor, who is in full planning mode thinking about how bright his future in Rome will be if he can turn Emerson toward Christ. Emerson agrees to be baptized in the font. Monsignor dunks him in the water and Emerson emerges a saved man… and then Emerson instantly shoves Monsignor under the water himself, holding his head under. Because you NEVER get near a drownable pool of water with a crazy Santa, duh. Elsewhere, Lana has left her cell which is apparently never locked despite this place being a high security asylum and finds that Thredson has gotten out of his closet. Lana finds Eunice in the hallway, who confiscates the coat hanger she’s fashioned into a shank, puts a hand on Lana’s stomach and “Praise God” announces that Lana was unsuccessful and she’s not only still pregnant, but that it’s a boy. Back in the present, that unfortunate psychiatrist’s next patient has shown up only to find the room trashed and the shrink sliced up and a modern day Bloody Face standing in front of her, covered in blood.

Act IV! Jude is brought to the common room for the first time as an inmate. Dominique is still playing. Lana wants to know what they did to Jude. “Nothing I didn’t do to you,” she says and asks for a cigarette, ripping the filter off like a boss. Jude says she’s truly sorry for what she did to Lana and she’s going to make it up to her by springing her out of this joint. To prove that things are going to change, Jude pulls off the record and smashes it. “Well hot damn,” says Lana. In his lab, Arden tells Kit the plan – he’s going to chemically stop his heart and then revive him once the aliens show their sneaky little faces. Kit lays back on the table and Arden plunges a syringe into his chest. Kit convulses and almost immediately the alien light start to come back from the hallway. Arden traces the source to a cell. He opens the door to find Pepper, who vanished back during the nor'easter and is now able to speak seemingly without her mental incapacities. Pepper tells Arden, “The baby is full term” and steps aside to reveal a massively pregnant, but very alive, Grace. 

Leave no developmentally disabled character behind!

In the chapel, Monsignor has been stripped naked and nailed to a large crucifix. He looks out over the chapel and sees a shadowy woman walking toward him. “Help me,” he begs. Stepping out of the shadows, the Angel says, “I’m here…”

In January – the demon begins to get ambitious. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Next?

Remember when we talked last week about how it was winter hiatus? You'll be happy to know that the DVR managed to make it back to 5% (I haven't had a chance to watch the last American Horror Story: Asylum episode yet). But there still isn't a lot going on in tv land and you've probably noticed there haven't been a lot of posts on the blog either. In fact, one third of the TV sluts staff (meaning one person) are already out of town.

So what is there to do when the winter blues take hold? Look forward to the returning shows in the new year, of course! Over at Television Without Pity, they've got a breakdown of when all your new faves are returning. Here are some of the highlights.

Merlin: January 4 at 10pm on Syfy--It's the final season for everyone's favorite boy sorcerer, and things have changed around Camelot. Arthur is (finally) King, Gwen is (finally) Queen, and hopefully we'll finally get the big show-down between Merlin and Morgana that we've been waiting for since she first went all Dark Side.

Downton Abbey: January 6 at 9pm on PBS--OMG YES! Sure, the second season was a bit lack-luster, but the Christmas episode more than made up for it. I am sure those writers will come up with some wacky plot developments to keep Mary and Matthew apart, but Shirley MacLaine going up against Maggie Smith? SOLD. Oh, but I couldn't give two shits about Anna and Bates anymore.

Justified: January 8 at 10pm on FX: Last season was so awesome and twisty I can't wait to see what everyone's favorite US Marshall gets up to next. I plan to break out the cowboy hat and moonshine and watch Timothy Olyphant swagger his cute little bow legs across my tv screen every week.

Face Off: Janaury 15 at 9pm on SyFy--I feel like I am kind of shouting into the wind on this one. It's my favorite reality competition show and very year I am blown away by the creativity and awesomness of the challenges and talent on this show. But is anyone else watching?

Smash: February 5 at 9pm on NBC--I cannot WAIT to see the changes they made to this show and whether it will make a difference to the ratings. The first season was rocky (no doubt), but I never quite reached the "hate-watching" levels of some people...I still always really enjoyed the show. The songs were good and most of the cast was great. But what will it be like now?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Hiatus

Top 5 reasons you know it must be winter hiatus in TVland:

1) The DVR reached 0% for the first time since...well, since the winter hiatus last year.

2) And then I promptly filled it up with sappy holiday movies from The Hallmark Movie Channel and ABC Family. In related news: I cannot wait to the watch The Mistle Tones, you guys.

3) My Netflix queue is getting whittled down...doesn't this seem like the perfect evening for a Sherlock rewatch? Though making Irene Adler a dominatrix makes me roll my eyes every time.

4) Most people get giddy for the upcoming holidays...I get giddy for the return of tv shows after the New Year like Justified, Merlin, Face Off, and yes, even Smash.

5) I couldn't come up with a fifth thing actually, but you can't have a list made up of only four items, right?

Newsflash: it's already here. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Recapping AHS: How Sister Eunice Stole Christmas

We begin in 1962 as a Salvation Army Santa is approached by Leigh Emerson, a disturbed man who pulls a gun and shoots Santa in the chest repeatedly. Later that night, little Cindy Lou Who finds Emerson dressed as Santa in her living room. Convincing her that he really is that Jolly Old Elf, Emerson gets the little girl to fetch her parents, who are not in for a good evening. He ties up both of the parents, threatening to rape them both, but he’ll allow them to decide which one he kills first.

Act I! In 1964, Eunice announces that despite Jude canceling Christmas forever “after last year’s debacle”, Eunice has decided to renew the tradition. Problem is they no longer have ornaments for their tree, so she orders the inmate to cut off locks of their hair for decorations, along with their dentures and toilet paper. Even Arden thinks this is weird, which is saying something. 

And you thought your office holiday party was awkward this year.

In the morgue, Frank the guard is praying for mercy after accidentally killing Grace. He tells Arden that they need to tell the police about Kit and the monster, despite his own culpability in Grace’s death. In her office, Eunice is sitting by the fire when Jude approaches from behind and holds a razor to her throat. Jude threatens to start cutting, wondering if it will send the demon back to Hell. Eunice retaliates by flinging open the closet full of Jude’s riding crops and sending them flying at Jude. When Arden interrupts them, Eunice orders that Jude be removed from the property. Arden complies and then tells Eunice that Frank is thinking of confessing. Eunice says she has it under control and heads to a cell containing Emerson, offering him a brand new Santa outfit. Flashback to 1963 as Jude is trying to wrangle the inmates for a holiday photo. Emerson demands that Jude remove the chains on his wrists, but she isn’t about to fall for it. Just as photographers arrive, Emerson lunges at the orderly, biting off his face, full on Hannibal Lecter style. Back in 1964, Eunice entices Emerson to wear the Santa outfit, saying she knows the reason he’s obsessed with Christmas is because he was raped on Christmas in his jail cell by five other inmates earlier in his life. Eunice offers him the chance to regain some of his power again.

The red will really bring out all that viscera you're going to be spilling onto the floor.

Act II! Eunice is in her office when Arden arrives bearing a gift – two lavish ruby earrings that Arden says belonged to “a jewess” in the camp who was overly proud of her wealth and hid the jewels by swallowing them and excreting them back out each night. Okay, gross, but Eunice is ecstatic, practically drooling over them. Arden is disappointed, hoping she would have had, you know, maybe a human reaction like she would have once. Just to be clear, this scene is about a former Nazi war criminal berating a demon for not being nice.  Pot, meet kettle. In the nunnery the next day, Jude asks Mother Claudia to help get her back into Briarcliff. Jude says that she now understands God’s plan for her was to be a soldier in His army because the devil is moving into society, starting with a corrupted Eunice and spreading all the way to the fact the NBC is is now playing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer instead of the Christ story and WAR ON CHRISTMAS, PEOPLE! Just then, Arden pays a visit – in what passes for humility for him, he tells Jude that she was right about him and right that something is wrong with Eunice. In the common room, Monsignor and Eunice are holding a Christmas party for the inmates. Monsignor flirts with Eunice and praises her clever, forward-thinking management style, including letting Emerson play Santa which seems to be creeping out everybody but the two of them. In the infirmary, Kit dreams about being home at Christmas with a pregnant Alma. They dance, but Alma suddenly becomes Grace. Lana wakes Kit from the dream, telling him that she knows he is innocent and that Eunice hasn’t told anyone that she has both of them now back at Briarcliff and they’re going to have to get themselves out.

Act III! Arden sneaks Jude into the asylum through the basement. Jude tells Arden to bring Eunice to Jude’s office and lock them in there together. In the common room, Frank has fetched a ladder to hang the star on top of the Christmas tree when Emerson sees an opportunity and rushes Frank, knocking him to the ground and trying to slice him with the star. Orderlies pull Emerson off and Frank beats him to the ground, prompting Eunice to sigh, describing Emerson as “two steps forward and one step back” in terms of treatment. Eunice tells Franks to take Emerson to solitary as Arden informs Eunice that she’s needed in the office. Frank locks Emerson in his cell but is surprised by Eunice who cuts Frank’s neck open with the razor that’s been making its way around. She passes the razor along to Emerson, winking at him, “I pray we’re not looking at a rampage.” Emerson finds Jude in the office as Eunice and Arden lock the door behind him. “I trust my loyalty is no longer in question,” Arden says to Eunice.

Bad Santa...

Act IV! Emerson comes at Jude with the razor, detailing the horrific sexual things he’s doing to do to her before beating her to the ground. Elsewhere, Lana has found a phone to call the police, but is stopped when Thredson traps her in the room. Thredson is angry because Lana running away means he’s had to burn all of his Bloody Face paraphernalia, but now that he’s found her again he can use her skin to build a new mask. He tries to drag her out the room, but Kit is behind him and knocks him unconscious. Lana wants to kill Thredson then and there, but Kit points out that they need him if Kit is going to avoid the electric chair. Back in the office, Emerson is having his way with Jude. In throwing her around, he discovers the closet full of riding crops and remembers all the times Jude whipped him with them. He shoves Jude onto the desk and begins to beat her with the crops. He eventually flips her over, moving to start with the actual rape portion of our program when Jude sees her opportunity and plunges something sharp into his neck, killing him. In the death chute, Arden is removing Grace’s body when the aliens show up, all white light and loud noises. Not sure what’s up with our ETs – do they live in the basement or something? Several brief flashes and it’s done, but Grace’s body is now gone. Meanwhile, Kit and Lana have stuffed Thredson into an unused storage closet and left him there gagged.

Next week! The electro-shock tables have turned for Sister Jude…

Friday, December 07, 2012

Not Your Frankenstein's Munsters

Following up on our you-heard-it-first-here news from more than a year ago about Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller’s new reimagining of The Munsters, CBS released the one-episode season of Mockingbird Lane in late October. The idea was if the pilot did well enough, the network could order a full season. Spoiler alert: don’t get your hopes up.

The show didn’t do terribly in terms of viewership; more people watched Mockingbird Lane than watched 30 Rock, if that tells you anything. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end. Mockingbird Lane just wasn't that great.

Sad trombone.

The entire episode had a very rushed feel, as if several plot lines had to be introduced, discussed and resolved all in one episode. (They very may well have had to.) What should have been a much more straightforward exploration turned into something rambling and disconnected. We’re still introduced to all the familiar characters, Frankenstein-ish Herman, vampire Lily, Eddie, Marilyn and Grandpa, but we’re also sped through several different character builders without any real reason to connect to them. We get that Herman is a loving and affectionate father, that Marilyn is the “freak” for being normal, that Lily is a devoted mother who worries about her own ability to care for a child. Eddie and Grandpa get the most attention, and thus are the only ones we can really get to know after a scant 48 minutes.

Those 48 minutes do give a really imaginative take on those two characters, however. Eddie is portrayed, slightly preciously, as the precocious child advanced beyond his years if his vocabulary is any indication. It is Grandpa (a very droll Eddie Izzard) gets the most extreme make-over though. Instead of Al Lewis’s avuncular if sarcastic vampire, this version of Grandpa is literally bloodthirsty and eager to get back to “drinking again” now that young Eddie has learned he is a werewolf and the family no longer has to pretend to be raising a traditional child.

So... "family friendly"?

I would have loved for this show to have had more of a chance. Bryan Fuller’s writing, often wistful and quirky, comes through even in this stilted manner. It’s more macabre than earlier efforts Pushing Daisies or Wonderfalls, hewing closer to the occasional terror that crept into Dead Like Me more often that Showtime knew what to do with it during that show’s life. The unfortunate news is that, while potentially promising, what we got to see out of this effort just didn’t really rise up that far. It’s a problem that could easily be fixed with more time, something that is certainly unlikely to come.

Alternate history side note: Though Mockingbird Lane is significantly grittier and darker than The Munsters, it could have been even scarier. Earlier concept designs give the show more of a horror feel. I can’t say that going full bore scary would have improved or harmed the show, but it would certainly have given it a different life.

Monday, December 03, 2012

My Little Pony, Season 3

I'm a grown ass woman, and yet, if you check my DVR you will find several episodes of The Hub's hit cartoon, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

The show returned several weeks ago with brand new episodes full of the same stuff you loved from seasons 1 and 2. There's adventure, friendship (duh), magic, lots of bright colors, cute ponies, cute animals, cute stories about learning to do the right thing...basically there's a lot of cute. And yet, someone how the show avoids being too saccharine. Instead it's fun.

Did I mention that it's cute?

My Little Pony has certainly taking a foothold (hoofhold?) in popular culture lately with kids and adults alike. USA Today had an interesting article the other day about it's impact and fans among boys and girls young and old (including "bronies").

"It's colorful and pretty, but it's not all lace and ribbons and pretty, pretty hearts," Artist Andy Price says. "A child can take away silly humor and fun art and even some lessons. An adult can take away the same, plus the cultural references and the sly witticisms."

And it even has comic books now. Friendship and Magic are taking over THE WORLD.

But I'm actually ok with it.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic airs on The Hub Saturday mornings at 10:30.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Recapping AHS: Touched By an Angel

It’s morning at Briarcliff and two nuns are arriving for work. They talk about seeing Lilies of the Fields the previous night and one is reading the book. Nuns! They’re just like us! Morning rounds have begun and the nuns check in on Grace…who is bleeding like woah under the covers. In a haze, Grace sees a woman dressed all in black standing in the corner the nuns can’t see. The woman approaches Grace with a smile, suddenly sprouting huge black wings. She leans in to kiss Grace when one of the nuns revives her, snapping her back to awareness.

Just call me Angel of the Morning...

Act I! Sister Eunice finds Dr. Arden in his lab and chastises him for Grace’s botched sterilization. Arden insists that he never performed any sterilizations and she had better not raise her voice at him because he’s in charge here. He slaps her to make this point, clearly not appreciating that you NEVER SLAP A DEMON. Arden is thrown across the room for his attitude. In the kitchen, an inmate, Miles, is helping the nuns prepare lunch but he keeps hearing voices in his head telling him how worthless he is. In an effort to silence the voices, he persuades a nun to let him use the meat slicer and oh dear God in Heaven, are we really going to go there, American Horror Story? Yes. Yes, we are. Miles slices his arms open but good. The doctors get Miles stitched up, but as Eunice arrives to check things out, she notices that Miles has scrawled a word in Aramaic on the wall in his own blood. Eunice is outranged, and demands that Miles tell her if he “summoned her”. In his room later, strapped down, Miles is left alone in the dark when the black angel steps from the shadows. She tells Miles she’s here to help and Miles begins to pull out the stitches in his arm, letting out streams of blood. The angel leans in and kisses him, her wings unfurling. As Miles slips away, the angel senses someone else in the room – Sister Eunice. Eunice tells her to leave, but the angel recognizes that she’s more than human and sees something else in her, “one like me, but fallen.” For a moment, the real Sister Eunice surfaces and begs the angel to release her, but the demon regains control. Meanwhile, Arden is treating Grace for a massive infection. He tells her that he’s all about letting her die, but he’s not going to take the fall for her bad treatment. Nazism being all well and good, apparently, but being thought a bad clinician is just too much. Meanwhile, what’s Lana been up to? Getting raped repeatedly by Thredson. I’d say this couldn’t get more disturbing, but I’m betting this show will find a way.

Yes, Zachary Quinto is naked in the rape scene. You can find your own pics of his ass if you want them that badly.

Act II! Kit is meeting with his lawyer (‘bout time) who wants to know about his confession. Kit asks why they can’t just ask Grace to testify that she saw Alma, proving the Kit didn’t murder anyone? The lawyer reminds Kit that A) Grace is a mental patient, and B) she’s apparently quite sick and near death so let’s not get our hopes up. Kit decides to make a break for it, starting with beating his lawyer with a hole punch, which I can’t imagine that’s going to help his legal case. In Thredson’s basement, the angel comes to Lana. Lana sobs, saying death would be better than this, but when the angel offers to help her end it, Lana defers. At which point, Thredson comes down stairs to apologize for everything, saying he’s not angry and he probably shouldn’t have brought her here to begin with. He needs to correct this “impasse”, but don’t worry, he’s not going to hurt her. He doesn’t believe in guns, so would she rather die by strangulation or throat slitting? As he moves toward her to finish her off, Lana fights back eventually going all Leia on him, strangling him with her chain and fishing out the key to the lock. With that, she’s out and to the street and jumping into the first passing car. The driver of the car wants to know what happened, fight with the boyfriend? Well, it was probably something Lana did, since all women are lying bitches who just leave you after 10 years of marriage. The driver pulls out a gun, saying he can’t take it anymore and shoves the gun into his own mouth. He pulls the trigger, sending the car crashing and securing a place for Lana in the Unluckiest Person Ever Hall of Fame. Lana awakes, where else, back in Briarcliff with Eunice standing over her gleefully telling her that the accident was horrific and that she must be in terrible pain but she’s safe now.

Act III! Sister Jude is with Goodman’s body. She attempts to call 911 but stops when she notices the Eunice has left newspaper clippings around the room about the girl that Jude ran over and “murderer” written on the TV in blood. Flashback to 1949, as Jude remembers getting kicked out of her band who have grown sick of her drunk antics after the incident with the girl. In her misery, Jude drinks herself into a stupor and drives off. When she wakes up, she’s crashed her car right in front of a nunnery. Back in 1964, the phone rings in Goodman’s room – it’s Eunice calling to taunt Jude. Jude wants to know how Eunice knows about the girl, and Eunice confesses to being the demon. Eunice tells Jude not to come back to the asylum. Oh, and she left Jude a bottle of whiskey and razor blade okaykissesloveyoubye! Jude retreats to a diner. In the bathroom she slices her wrists before dying in a pool of her own blood. Kidding! Just a fantasy, although with the way this show is going, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been real. Back at the booth, the angel is waiting for Jude. Rather than be afraid, though, Jude tells the angel that she isn’t going to try anything, unlike last time. Wait, what? Turns out Jude can see the angel because she attempted suicide a few years back after her fianc√© left her when she told him that he gave her syphilis. Jude confesses all she ever wanted was a child, which she can now never have. The angel tells Jude that it goes to prove that God had a plan for Jude, but she deserves real peace now, and not the whiskey-induced kind. Jude says that she’s ready, but she has one thing she needs to do first.

Act IV! Jude is at the house of the parents of the girl she ran over, Missy, intending to confess everything when in walks an adult Missy, hale and healthy and working as a nurse, apparently having survived the accident all those years ago. Back at the asylum, Lana tells Sister Eunice that Thredson is Bloody Face. Eunice tells Lana that she believes her, the demon in her recalling seeing the truth about what Thredson was back in the exorcism. As she leaves Lana’s cell, though, she tells Frank the guard that Lana is delusional. In the death chute, Kit has found his way back to the asylum but unfortunately he’s been sloppy getting in and one of the zombie things from the forest is right behind him. Grace is in the kitchen, looking much better, when Kit finds her and the two begin to flee. Unfortunately, they are spotted immediately by one of the nuns who screams for security just before the zombie lunges from behind her, biting a chunk out of her neck. The zombie goes for Grace, but Kit distracts it, impaling it with a kitchen implement. All the commotion has brought Frank, who sees Kit and raises his gun. Grace jumps in front of Kit, taking the bullet square in the chest. As security takes Kit away, the angel appears to Grace, spreads her wings and asks if Grace is ready. Grace accepts the angel’s kiss, saying, “I’m free.”

It's saying something that this is what passes for a hopeful image in this show.

Next week: a Very American Horror Story Christmas Special.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Secret Boyfriend of the Week: zombie edition

In the event of zombie apocalypse, you want someone by your side with the following qualifications.

--excellent fighter;

--handy with a crossbow;

--doesn't give away your position by constantly running his mouth;

--a streak of crazy;

--and of course, hotness.

Look no further than The Walking Dead's, Daryl Dixon (played by Normal Reedus). He'll save your life with his crossbow and survival and tracking skills, and then save your heart (and other parts) from loneliness with his manly ways.

Hellooooo, nurse.

Sure, he may not be classically handsome. And when we first met him he was a redneck racist asshole with a dash of sociopathy. But Daryl has undergone the most growth of any other character on The Walking Dead. He's now the most loyal member of Rick's group, constantly going into harm's way to save other characters and he spent almost the entire second season trekking through the woods looking for the long-lost Sophia. He's also shown a remarkable capacity for compassion, and has become besties with Carol, who has also undergone some recent character rehab. 

But whatever. The dude is good looking and is a badass zombie killer with a crossbow. He seems to have gotten over that whole racist thing and he would be my number one draft pick in the fantasy zombie apocalypse survival game. It also doesn't hurt that the Norman Reedus was on my radar long before The Walking Dead from the Boondock Saints movies. If you haven't seen them before, I really recommend checking them out, if nothing else for Norman Reedus' adorable irish accent. 

In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.

I am loving season 3 of The Walking Dead this year and think it's the best season of the show so far. And my favorite plot point thus far is the future (and clearly eventual) reunion of Daryl with his brother, Merle. Merle is clearly still a grade A douchebag, and I can't wait for him and the new Daryl to butt heads. Hopefully the new Daryl will remember that his loyalties lie with his new family of survivors, rather than his jerk-face brother. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recapping AHS: Baby, I Was Born This Way

Oh my God, you guys. I've been a little worried that this show wasn't going to live up to the thoroughly ridiculous crazy from last year. So far, we just haven’t seen anything that over the top, you know? Yeah, not after this episode. To begin - A thoroughly modern phone rings and 911 answers a call from a man’s voice saying that the police are needed at Briarcliff and that he has taken care of “the impostors . Modern day cops arrive at the Briarcliff ruins to find the bodies of the three teenagers dressed as Bloody Face suspended in the air.

"So wat's up?" "Nuthin. Just hangin out."

Act I! In 1964, a woman brings her young daughter to the asylum after it appears that the little girl, Jenny, murdered her friend and then dispassionately blamed a man with a beard and a brown jacket in a totally unconvincing way. Lana awakes in a comfortable bed and someone cooking in the distance. As she comes to, she realizes she’s still in Thredson’s torture chamber, although at least the bed is real. Thredson is making her tomato soup and sandwiches because that’s what polite killers do for their victims. Thredson says the sandwiches are the “perfect mommy snack”, but that he never had a mother because he was abandoned as a child and then grew up in an orphanage. Thredson always knew he was different, but it wasn't until Medical school that he really understood about himself when he encountered a female cadaver, which he came to believe was a sort of surrogate for his real mother. He felt compelled to be close to the cadaver, finding her body in a gross anatomy class and eventually stripping down and laying next to her and OH HOLY GOD WE JUST WENT RIGHT INTO NECROPHILIA WITH A CORPSE THAT HE WANTS TO BE HIS MOTHER OH MY GOD!!! He says the experience was only marred by how cold and stiff the cadaver’s skin was, even after he removed it. Thus, he decided to start off with fresher bodies and began murdering the women that he has now framed Kit for. 

Forever unclean...

Meanwhile, Mr. Goodman calls Sister Jude to say that he’s made a breakthrough and even though Anne wasn't really Anne Frank, her information was accurate and Arden is, in fact, Hans Gruber. Goodman asks Jude for Arden’s fingerprint. In a local hospital, Monsignor has agreed to deliver Last Rights for a Jane Doe who is extremely defiled and suffering from TB in addition to many other diseases. No surprise, the Jane Doe is Shelly looking not long for the world.

Act II! Flashback to 1962 as Monsignor meets Arden for the first time when Briarcliff was still a sanitarium. Arden is the supervising physician. Monsignor delivers Last Rights for the few remaining patients as they die and then assists Arden in disposing of the bodies in the crematorium. With Briarcliff is shutting down, Arden fears his research developing a drug that would boost the immune system will be over. Back in 1964, Monsignor watches helplessly as Shelly appears to finally die before confronting Arden directly in his office, saying Jude was right about him and that he is a monster. Arden sees the inmates as evolutionary failures, including one whom who has caught masturbating while spying on Sister Eunice as she undresses in her room and is now his latest test subject. By infecting them with both TB and Syphilis, Arden believes that they are now “more than human” and that the research will get American through an inevitable Russian nuclear attack. Monsignor is all, hells no, I’m reporting you, but Arden says that doing that will expose him too. Wonder what that’s about? Arden says Monsignor can avoid anything by getting rid of Jude. In the kitchen, Eunice is cutting vegetables with Jenny. Eunice eggs Jenny on, saying that the friend she murdered was totes asking for it and Jenny shouldn't apologize for anything. Eunice reveals her own tortured past trying to be friends with a bunch of Mean Girls who tricked her into disrobing at a pool party in front of a cute boy. Jenny is skeptical, but Eunice confesses that she’s actually the devil, so take that, little psychopathic kid. And BTW, God is totally false, you know that right? This scene is kind of amazing and I totally want to see more of Demon Eunice and the child murderer.

Maybe a cooking show?

Upstairs, Monsignor tells Jude to pack her bags – he’s arranged for her to be transferred to a girls’ home in Pittsburgh. Jude knows Arden is behind this and that he’s turned Monsignor against her.

Act III! Jude packs her bags as Eunice informs her that Jenny’s mother has come back to pick her up. Jude tearfully tells her that she’s leaving Briarcliff, but she’s not going to leave Eunice at the mercy of Arden. In his house, Thredson takes a call from Kit from the prison who wants to know what the hell is up with that taped confession? Thredson is all hey man, sucks to be you. Lana takes advantage of the distraction to try to saw through the chains holding her leg to the bed, but Thredson comes back to the torture room before she can get free. When he sees what she’s done he says that she is just like all the others and not Mommy at all. He ties her arms to the bed and dons the Bloody Face mask. In her room, Eunice has put on Jude’s red slip and dances around her room provocatively while singing along to “You Don’t Own Me” at the crucifix on her wall. Seriously, am I the only one who really digs this demon’s sense of humor? A phone rings – it’s Goodman looking for Sister Jude. Jude brings some cognac to Arden in his lab, offering him a toast to his success at getting her kicked out. Jude says she’s always been a good sport and offers a glass, which Arden eventually accepts, leaving a nice convenient fingerprint. In his hotel room, Goodman answers a knock at the door – it’s Sister Eunice.

Act IV! Jude arrives at Goodman’s hotel room to a phone ringing and the door open. She answers the phone, but no one responds on the other end of the line. It’s then that she notices a VERY bloody Goodman lying in the bathroom with a shard of mirror sticking out of his neck. Goodman manages to get out that a nun did this. Eunice, meanwhile, is confronting Arden with Goodman’s evidence, but tells him she’s taken care of it, although she has hidden some evidence herself in case he tries to double-cross her. Arden insists that he isn't a monster, he’s a visionary and the Nazi hunters are just "money-grubbing Jews", which kinda damages his case. Eunice tells him he just needs to trust her “with your entire soul” and everything will work out. Meanwhile, Jenny is up to her old tricks, having murdered her entire family and again dispassionately giving the story about the man with a beard and a brown coat being the culprit. Back in his torture room, Thredon starts to cut off Lana’s clothes while still wearing the mask. He admits that he’s been watching Lana for some time now, going back to when Lana first took an interest as Kit was initially brought in by the police. Lana, sensing her only option, tells him that she understands and that she doesn't want him to feel guilty because a mother’s love is unconditional. She calls him her baby and Thredson tearfully removes the mask before cuddling up to her like an infant and starting to nurse from her breast. In the modern day, cops pull down the three bodies and report that the call came from Leo’s phone. They find Leo, sans arm, in the next room. Suddenly, a phone rings. It’s in another room, being held by Leo’s arm. The detectives answer it and hear the man’s voice, who says he only killed the impostors  Cut to another torture room and another Bloody Face, standing over Teresa who is strapped to a table.

Next week – Sister Eunice gets wicked and apparently there’s an angel? Sure. Why not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Have you met my friend, Ted?

What happened to How I Met Your Mother?

Seriously, you guys. I watched the first two seasons of the show and was pretty entertained. At that time anything with Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, and Alyson Hannigan was a pretty safe bet. I admit to being charmed by Ted (played by...oh really, who cares) and Robin Sparkles was kind of the funniest thing ever. Let's go to the mall, indeed.

Those were the good old days.

But then more and more new shows started and HIMYM was sacrificed on the alter of time management. There were just too many shows airing and an old fashioned style sitcom wasn't high on the list of my priorities. So I took about a...oh, five year break from the show.

Last week I traveled to Los Angeles to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and adorable one year old nephew. With a baby in the house, there's not a lot of time for tv watching, so my brother and SIL only get in about one hour per day after the baby has hit the hay. My brother has remained a steadfast HIMYM fan, so we settled in to watch the most recent two episodes.

And you guys. It was TERRIBLE. The jokes were flat, the acting was stilted, and even NPH couldn't save it. Even the usually reliable Alyson Hannigan was...just bad. I mean, I can't explain it! I remembered the show being adorable with likeable characters, but this was just bland and flat and like watching any other badly written sitcom from the last five years.

Can anybody explain to me what happened? I've heard rumblings that people were getting tired of the core "who is the mother?" mystery dragging on and on and I can understand that. But did everyone involved with the show just get really lazy and start phoning it in?

What happened?

But I think the way to fix this is just to make a Robin Sparkles spin-off prequel. I would watch the SHIT out of that.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Recapping AHS: You’ve Got the Cutest Little Bloody Face

As we begin, Jude is out of the habit and arriving at the apartment of a Mr. Goodman at the urging of Mother Claudia following last week’s conversation. Jude asks Goodman if he requires payment, but he demurs saying he sees what he does as a calling. Jude gives the man, clearly a Nazi hunter, the lowdown on Arden. Goodman tells Jude about Operation Paper Clip and says that if Arden is indeed a former Nazi doctor, he’ll have a tattoo of his blood type on his bicep. In the asylum, Anne has dragged Arden by gunpoint to Sister Eunice. She demands to see Jude, but is stopped by Frank the security guard.

Act I! Jude is waiting over a sedated Anne in her cell, something she has a tendency to do. Anne tells Jude to check Arden’s lab for the “monster” that she saw there. Arden has been taken to the hospital, so Jude doesn’t have much time. Jude has already done this, but found nothing, certainly not Shelly. Meanwhile, Anne’s husband has arrived. He reports that her real name is Charlotte and that she started acting strange after their son was born, reading Anne Frank’s diary and seeing a play about her. Charlotte even went so far as to tattoo her own arm with an Auschwitz number and filling a room with newspaper clippings about the Nazis.  Dr. Thredson overhears this and suggests that it sounds like post-partum depression. Jude agrees that Anne should be returned to her home and kept out of the asylum. Anne is brought to the lobby, but insists that she doesn’t know her husband and that she really is Anne Frank. Once her husband shows her a picture of her with their infant son, however, she begins to remember and allows herself to be escorted out. Something tells me she’ll be back. Thredson, meanwhile, wants to know why Jude is going to sterilize Kit and Grace.  Jude is all Whatever, my house, my rules. In their separate cells, Kit and Grace try to comfort each other. Kit says that Alma always wanted kids, so this sterilization thing is, like, harsh, yo! Grace says no one is to blame but Jude, who Grace thinks is the devil. Cue Sister Eunice’s sudden arrival. Very sly, show! Eunice tells Kit that Jude has changed her mind and that he will not be sterilized, however Grace is not going to be so lucky. As Kit is released from solitary, Grace screams and cowers in her room. As the night drags on and she is left alone, a bright light appears at her door, shaking everything.

"Get away from her, you bitch!  Oh, sorry - wrong movie. Carry on."

Act II! Thredson tells Lana to be ready to leave at 6pm in the lobby. He then goes to Kit for another session, bringing along a tape recorder. He tells Kit that maybe if he heard his own voice recounting his crimes, that will trigger his memory of what really happened. Ummm…’kay. Anyway, Kit agrees and begins to make a recording. Meanwhile, Grace is strapped naked to a table somewhere very white with an extremely pregnant Alma who tells her not to fight. Suddenly there are aliens cutting into Grace’s abdomen as she screams. In her office, Jude’s Nazi theory about Arden has taken a hit with the revelations about Anne. Arden has returned using a cane with a wolf’s head to walk with. Jude attempts to apologize and start afresh with him, but he tells her that he’s going to press charges against her, claiming that her ineptitude caused his injury and that he will demand of Monsignor that she be removed from the asylum. Arden retreats to his rooms to change the bandage on his leg and finds Eunice waiting for him. She offers to help, apologizing for her sexy talk previously and then getting down on her knees in front of him because Sister got GAME, you guys! Eunice admits she was the one who dragged Shelly out of the lab and into the woods before she could be found. Eunice believes once Jude is gone, Arden will take over and he’ll need a strong right hand. At that moment, in a local schoolyard, a little girl hears wheezing coming from down a stairwell behind the school. When she looks down into it, she sees a mutated Shelly crawling toward her.

In fairness, her left side is her better one.

Act III! Anne is being dragged back into the asylum. CALLED IT! Apparently she didn’t take to civilian life too well and tried to smother her colicky son with a pillow. Anne’ husband wants Thredson to look at Anne again. This is horrible timing, because guess who is waiting for Thredson in the lobby to spirit her away to freedom? Lana makes her escape while Thredson distracts the front door guard with a cigarette, which just goes to show how lax the security is at Briarcliff. Back at Anne’s cell, her husband comes across Arden who is just leaving it. Arden tells him that there is a way to make Anne “a new woman” and it can be done right away – transorbital lobotomies, anyone? Yes, that’s the one where they shove an ice pick into your eye to sever the tissue in your brain. In his lab, Arden straps Anne down and sedates her while her husband watches nervously. With a confident flick, Arden hammers the pick into Anne’s eye socket. Jude, meanwhile, is praying in her room when Frank the guard tells her that Lana has gone missing. Jude recounts a story from her childhood about trying to keep a baby squirrel as a pet because she was lonely, only to have it die despite Jude’s hours of praying for it. When young Jude asked her mother why God didn’t answer her prayers, mother said through a glass of whiskey that God always answers prayers, just not how we expect. Jude knows her time at the asylum is over and Jessica Lange just nails this scene as per usual. She removes her habit and puts on civilian clothes, does her hair and heads off the local bar where a man buys her a drink. 

Man, when Jude falls off the wagon she really skydives off that sucker, huh?

Act IV! Thredson has brought Lana to Don Draper’s house his swanky apartment. He says they’ll go to the cops in the morning and blow the lid off Braircliff, but Lana must not contact anyone in the meantime since he technically has broken the law getting her out of there. Lana accepts a glass of wine that he has poured her as Thredson says she’s going to win a Pulitzer for writing about this and how she’s the perfect one to tell his story. Right about this time, Lana notices that the lampshade next to her has…um…nipples. And the mint dish on the table looks like a hallowed out cranium. Um… Lana needs to find the bathroom. She heads down the hall, checking for unlocked doors and only finding one – it’s a cross between torture chamber and hobby desk. Thredson finds her and says he uses it to make furniture, lamps mostly. Using skin. He presses a button and the floor underneath Lana gives out, plunging her into a dungeon. Back in the asylum, Grace is found on a chair in the common room, bleeding from between her legs. The cops come to arrest Kit, saying Thredson gave them his taped confession. Grace screams that Alma is alive! Back on the set of the movie Saw Thredson’s basement torture room, Lana awakens chained to the floor with Wendy’s corpse next to her. Thredson says he would normally have removed Wendy’s skin and head, but he wanted her fresh for Lana. He asks Lana to kiss Wendy’s lips, which has built into his mask of human skin. Yup, Thredson is Bloody Face. In the morning, Jude wakes up in a cheap motel next to the man from the bar and Anne has turned into a Stepford wife, making pot roast and preparing martinis. She’s cleaned up all of Nazi clippings and is throwing them away. We see one of the pictures is of Hitler addressing a crowd. Hey, who’s that very Arden-looking guy standing next to Adolph in the picture?

Next week! The devil in Sister Eunice…

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sexy Revisionist History Coming Soon! “Over it,” Says Henry VIII

Prequels today are all the rage. Personally, I blame George Lucas for the modern rise of this trend, but you may see things differently. Regardless, in addition to the origin stories for our favorite scruffy nerf-herders, would-be √úbermensches and socially-conscious arrow slingers, Starz is going historical and finally giving us the Leonardi Da Vinci coming of age story we didn’t know we wanted. I give you Da Vinci’s Demons!

Makes you wonder if the demons have a code or something...

Starring Tom Riley ("Monroe," I Want Candy), as the title character, "Da Vinci's Demons" is a historical fantasy, following the ‘untold' story of the world's greatest genius during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. Brilliant and passionate, the twenty-five year old Leonardo Da Vinci is an artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist. As a free thinker, with intellect and talents that are almost superhuman, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time. He begins to not only see the future, but invent it. 
I confess I’m a little ambivalent about this.

Pro: I love history, so anything that gets people more interested in a chapter of history, especially for someone like Da Vinci who, despite being well-known, isn’t really someone most people know anything about, is gravy in my book. Also, the series is by David S. Goyer, who recently wrote a couple of movies that you may have heard about and which I think are all uniformly incredible. Goyer is a master at understanding how to employ action and character in a way that supports multiple deeper themes. Given how lush Da Vinci’s life and work was, the potential here in the hands of such a capable writer could be amazing. Also, judging by the preview the thing looks bloody incredible. The production values are high, the visuals are stunning, the whole thing just looks beautiful.

Con: Really, Starz? I know it’s Hollywood, but was “Sexy Leo Da Vinci” really a thing that you had to resort to in order to get this thing greenlit? Da Vinci’s life is fascinating and there are plenty of opportunities to play with the political and social intrigues that he was really involved in without skirting toward the Twilight audience. As a cable network, you can count on a viewership that’s going to be more discriminating. Also, given that Da Vinci lived a somewhat notoriously celibate life, possibly because he may have been gay, this seems like a stretch.

The early Virtuvian Man sketch looked a little different, apparently.

Another potential concern, one that could outweigh the slick visual design, is the production team which is the same that produced Torchwood: Miracle Day, another show that looked great but had some unfortunate missteps that ended up hurting the final package. Hopefully, that team has picked up a few lessons since their inaugural outing.

Finally, why refer to this as a historical fantasy? History is pretty fantastic (and fantastical) when you actually look at the details. It doesn’t need magic realism in order to dress it up. Of course, I’m also the guy who liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, so maybe I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth here. This also may be the least concern, since the show descriptions are being more than a little coy about how much fantasy this thing actually is.

Da Vinci’s Demons will air on Starz sometime in 2013.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recapping AHS: Anne Frank, C'est Moi

The cops have brought a woman to Briarcliff because she attacked two businessmen after they used a Jewish slur. Jude says she isn't immune to the atrocities “your people” suffered and wants to know if the woman lost someone in the Holocaust. The woman just whistles a tune and Jude sighs, yup she’s bonkers, we’ll start in on her in the morning. In the lab, Shelly isn’t looking too good – she’s got blisters and growths on her face and she asks Arden if she’s going to die. Arden injects her with something and tells her that she’s going to live forever.

Act I! Arden has been beating Kit to find out more about the implant which has gone missing. Kit recounts what Arden’s been doing to him to Grace and asks her to tell him why she is here. Grace says she awoke in her family’s farmhouse to strange thumping sounds before finding her father is his room, blood everywhere and a man burying an axe into his back. Grace ran to hide from the man in a closet, but wouldn’t you know it – the remains of her stepmother, all multiple segments of them, were already there. She tells Kit that the murderer was her stepsister’s secret lover and that they killed the family and framed her for it in order to make off the with farm. Thredon tells Lana he doesn’t believe she’s dangerous and that if he can convince Jude that he’s cured her, they’ll let her go. Lana reminds him that perhaps she doesn’t need curing, homophobe. In the common room, the new woman writes a letter to someone named Kitty saying how she is once again imprisoned but vows to hold on to hope. Lana warns her not to let the guards see her writing anything. Just then Arden enters the common room. The woman approaches him, screaming that he was there at Auschwitz and that he’s a Nazi. The guards hold her off as she screams that Arden should remember her – she is Anne Frank. This show’s penchant for historical cameos continues, apparently.

I know that first diary worked out well for you, but you may want to hold off on a sequel in here...

Act II! Jude meets with Anne in her office telling her that her identity will be a relief to a lot of school children. Anne says she escaped the mass graves before meeting a US Army Private and coming with him to America, but he was killed in Korea. She never came forward because she realized she could do more to tell people about the Holocaust as a martyr than a living woman. Anne says that Arden was one of the Nazi doctors going by the name of Hans Gruber. At first he seemed kind, bringing sweets to the woman and holding off guards. He would select particular girls for treatment, though they never came back well. Anne shows Jude a tattoo of a number on her arm as proof that she’s telling the truth. Thredson tells Kit that he must own up to what Thredson believes really happened – Kit married Alma in secret and became ashamed of it until the pressure built and Kit began to attack other women, beheading them and removing their skin to compensate for Alma’s skin. When the “friends” who threatened Kit in the first episode came to the House, Kit snapped and bludgeoned his wife to death. In the common room, Lana begins to imagine that rather than standing in line for meds, she is accepting a Pulitzer Prize for her writing about the asylum, recalling the treatment there and how she did whatever she had to do to get out. Coming out of the reverie, she asks Thredson to begin his therapy. In the Kitchen, Kit doubts his own memories and is beating up some dough. Apparently stress baking is a common trait in this place. Grace tells him to trust his own memories before you know it, another round of tabletop sex begins but the two are caught by a guard.

Act III! Sister Eunice is gleefully selecting a large cane for Jude to use to beat Grace and Kit with. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately,” says Jude, “but it’s a decided improvement.” Heh. I see what you did there, show! Jude decides that while the cane would be nice, sterilization is the best option. As Grace is dragged off, Euince shows Kit Grace’s file, saying Grace isn’t what she pretends to be. Jude meanwhile has been tipped off that there are detectives in Arden’s office who are looking into a report from a prostitute about Arden. The detectives are looking for a character witness. Jude says when it comes to Arden’s character, she has plenty to say. The detectives report that the prostitute found Nazi memorabilia in Arden’s house, which catches Jude’s interest. The detectives are also curious as to how Kit could have had the skill to remove a woman’s skin and head and isn’t it possible someone else may have been involved? Meanwhile, Thredson is showing Lana pictures of pin-up girls while giving her a drug to make her vomit. One of the images in particular is of Wendy, taken from the house. Pictures and vomit not being enough, Thredson has also arranged for a young man to help “liberate” Lana by allowing her to touch him while Thredson orders her to masturbate. Incidentally, only in Hollywood would you have a gay man ordering a straight woman who is pretending to be gay to please herself while performing a sex act on a male model. Sister Jude tells Monsignor that Arden has been hiring prostitutes and is probably a war criminal and the cops are getting involved and Jesus H. Christ where the hell did you find this guy and why is he here? Jude confesses that her information comes from a patient who is claiming to be Anne Frank, which coupled with Monsignor learning that Jude was pretty much three sheets to the wind during movie night, pretty much undoes her argument. Once Jude leaves, Monsignor calls Arden to tell him, “they’re on to you – time to ditch the legless sex addict you’re keeping down there.”

My source? A mental patient. They can't all be Deep Throat, okay?

Act IV! Jude tells the Mother Superior about Arden and says that Monsignor is disinclined to act. Mother Superior tells Jude to follow her compass, like she did when she first came to her for drinking. Locked in their separate cells, Kit wants to know why Grace lied to him about her story. Grace tearfully confesses that her father was molesting her for years and her stepmother was complacent in it and that’s why she went all Lizzie Borden on them. Thredson comes to Lana in the common room and gives her the picture of Wendy. He tells her that he’s going to get her out of the asylum at the end of the week. Crap. This totally means that Thredson is going to become a patient before this whole thing is over, right? Kit comes to Jude, saying he wants forgiveness for his crimes, saying he doesn’t remember anything and that he must have made up his story because aliens can’t really exist, right? Jude has a look on her face that says, “Ha! that…” Arden has gotten a hold of Anne and dragged her into his lab. Anne again accuses him of being at Aushwitz, but Arden insists he’s never been there and is from Scottsdale. He locks the door and starts to unbutton his pants, but Anne pulls a gun that she stole from a guard earlier. She shoots Arden in the knee before hearing a sound from one of the room’s closets. She opens the door to see a badly mutated Shelly on the floor, who begs to be killed. 

Friday, November 09, 2012


You should really watch Arrow on the CW. Why?

Do I really need to say any more? 

Oh, ok, fine, I’ll give you a little more than that. First off, I am not an expert on the Green Arrow. I don’t know anything about the comics and while I think I heard the character made an appearance on Smallville, I never watched it. So if you’re looking for someone to tell you how close the show is to the comic or any other such nerd babble, you aren’t going to get it here (for a change).

What I can tell you is that Arrow is a fun, dark, and compelling show about a man looking to atone for the sins committed by himself and his father. It’s on the CW, so sure, it’s full of ridiculously attractive people, but there’s more here than just your typical problems of the 1% (Gossip Girl, I’m looking at you). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love me some soapy drama, but this show has created layers of mystery that frankly surprised me.

From the CW:

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow - a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory.

The narrative follows two threads. The main story takes place in modern times with Oliver fighting as his alter-ego to take down the villains who have corrupted, misused, and taken advantage of the people and resources of the city. No doubt about it, he’s a dark hero. He doesn’t hesitate to shoot and kill people when he has too which is honestly kind of refreshing for a “super hero” show. It also doesn’t take too long for him to trust someone with his secret which is another bonus. After all, you can only take a show so far when the main character can’t talk to anybody else about what’s going on in the plot. The secondary story consists of flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island and how he learned all his ninja, archery, and other badass skills. Turns out he wasn’t alone on the seemingly deserted island, and there was another lost soul there to act as his Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The thing I really like about Arrow is how much mystery they have built into the plot. In Starling City nobody is as they seem, and everyone has a secret. There’s a lot of questions that I want to see answered, such as what did Oliver’s father actually do that was so horrible, what is his mother up to (because she is definitely up to something), what organization is John Barrowman working for (Captain Jack!), and what else happened to Oliver on the island? Although the first couple episodes have had the same problem that Revenge did last year—i.e. just watching someone work down a lit is kind of not compelling, I think once we get into things a little more the pace will pick up a bit. And every episode has awesome fight scenes.

I also get the feeling the writers have something in store for the love interest, Laurel (one of my favorite CW regulars, Katie Cassidy). She showcased some pretty impressive fighting skills in one of the episodes and I don’t want to hint too much at anything, but I’ve seen the name “Black Canary” bandied about on the internet. In any event, it indicates that she’s going to be more than just a lame love interest and will take a more active part in the butt-kicking in the future. Right now she’s one of the goody goody lawyers who do things like protect the weak and disenfranchised (yawn), but hopefully girlfriend will get in there and beat up some more bad guys soon. Oh, and she isn’t the type to fawn all over Oliver which I also kind of like. In fact, she hates his guts since at the time he was yacht-wrecked, he was cheating on her with her sister who died in the sinking yacht. Awkward. That doesn’t mean she isn’t attracted to the Green Arrow though as these things typically go.

In short, Arrow is a fine entry into the comic-book universe and if you’re a fan of action drama there’s a lot to like here. It’s like someone took Robin Hood, Batman, and the Scarlet Pimpernel (since Oliver plays the fool when he’s in his public persona) and mixed them all together with Revenge. It’s worth watching, if only for the pretty…..

Arrow airs on Wednesday evenings at 8:00pm on the CW.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Alphas gets an A

Do you all remember how excited we were during the first season of Heroes? Finally we were getting a fresh, contemporary take on the superhero's journey. As expected, we started with our heroes discovering their powers, setting off various chains of events that all converged in an epic boss battle. At the end, the heroes were collected together for the first time - IMHO, the obvious next step was for them to form a superhero team. This would allow them to explore their super-powered nature as an identity - one person with powers might be a fluke, two people might be a coincidence, but twenty, thirty, one hundred people? That's a subculture. Sadly, instead of moving these characters forward, the creative team of Heroes decided to hit a giant "reset" button and scatter the heroes to the wind. This is part of why the series fizzled, but not before churning out two more seasons of diminishing quality. 

From Heroes to Zeroes.

Weep no more, my fellow Heroes fans - SyFy's Alphas is here to save the day. This show picks up where Heroes dropped the ball. It focuses on a group of super-powered people (known as Alphas) who have been recruited by the government to form a task force that investigates crimes perpetuated by similarly super-powered individuals. Their leader is actually a non-Alpha who also serves as a psychiatrist, and the team doubles as a support group. This is an elegant little set-up - we have the perfect structure within which to explore these people's superpowers, their basic humanity, and how the two an play against each other. 

Alphas also does something that Heroes never did - it imposes limits on particular powers, by trying to make them fit within known biological frameworks. Often it's a bit of a psuedo-scientific stretch, but it's interesting nonetheless. More importantly, it means that there are significant downsides to various powers. My favorite character is a man who can see electronic signals and other sonic wavelengths, who also has high-functioning autism. It doesn't hurt that he's played by one of my favorite Bones alums, Ryan Cartwright (aka Vincent Nigel-Murray). The first season also had a couple of cameos from sci-fi standard bearers/fan favorites Summer Glau and Brent Spiner - squee! 

The internet scuttlebutt is that Alphas has about a 50/50 shot at renewal, and that the actors will be told by Thanksgiving. In light of this, I urge all you Heroes fans to check out this series - TiVo it, rent it, buy it, watch it TODAY. The entirety of the first season is available on Netflix Instant Watch, and five episodes from the second season are available on SyFy Rewind. And keep your fingers crossed for good news later this month! 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Non-squee Glee

I think it comes as no surprise that I really want to like Glee. It should also come as no surprise that this is not always easy - when you profess to be a fan of this show, people enjoy looking down their noses at you. As if an opinion can be wrong. The fact is, I'm not a music purist so I don't mind if someone remakes a song. And while I do watch some television shows with a critical eye, I have chosen not to do so with this particular show. Glee is never going to be 'critically acclaimed' - the best it can hope for is 'fan favorite.'

As a fan of the show, therefore, I feel like a traitor for saying that this season so far has definitely not been a favorite. With many of the characters (Kurt, Mercedes, Santana, Puck, etc) graduating, the creative team was faced with a choice. Do they follow the post-graduation life of their most popular characters (Kurt and what's-her-name) OR create new characters for us to fall in love with? Unfortunately, they decided to do both - with fairly disastrous results. 

Storyline number one involves the new students back at McKinley, including a love story between the Rachel stand-in and the Puck stand-in that is already boring me. The one saving grace of the McKinley storyline is Unique, the transgender transfer student from Vocal Adrenaline. If Kurt and Mercedes invented a time machine and had a child 15 years ago, Unique would be this FABULOUS offspring. 

Speaking of Kurt, storyline number two involves the adventures of Kurt and the short brunette in New York City. I'm sure that the plot around the Jewish girl is actually quite fascinating, but every time she comes on the screen I have a micro-seizure. To be honest, this could probably be a show unto itself. As much as I hate to admit it, Glee should probably have ended when this generation graduated, and Kurt and so-and-so should have gotten a spin-off series.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not jumping on the Glee-hate bandwagon. I will still watch the show, still love the characters I love and still love to hate the characters I hate. Besides, JANE MOTHERLOVIN' LYNCH. Need I say more?

New episode of Glee airs this Thursday, 9pm on FOX.