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 fiancĂ© 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.