Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recapping AHS: Teaching an Old Head New Tricks

Second of two recaps! On the same day! Look how caught up I'm getting! Seriously, more coming soon. 

Everyone, remember back in the halcyon days when our fathers would take us on hunting trips in the woods and give us our first taste of coffee and show us what it meant to be a man? Yeah, that’s what Hank went through in 1991 when his father took him on his first hunt, calming his nerves and telling him that he won’t miss when the time comes because their family has been hunters for generations. And speaking of which, let’s go back us a witch! (you didn’t think this was about deer, did you?) Long story short, dear old dad and Hank hunted down a witch, which means a frightened young woman who lived alone in the hills but Hank couldn’t shoot her when she began to beg for her life, leaving that task to dad. “No mercy,” Hank was told. “Never forget what they are.”

In fairness, she's not doing herself any favors, presentation-wise.

In the modern day, Fiona has had it, you guys. She brings Delphine’s head, still in its box, to Marie’s hair parlor and demands that they talk. Sidebar, I kind of love how put out Jessica Lange plays this, as if another head in a box is just the errand she didn't want to have to deal with today. Delphine’s body is still in its cage in the back and waves at Fiona. Fiona tells Marie that she wants an alliance and for the Coven and the Tribe to join because the witch-hunters have arrived. Marie however sees this as their problem, one that’s likely to be taken care of sooner rather than later given that Fiona is clearly dying.

At the academy, Myrtle recalls Fiona bringing a young Cordelia to study at the academy and tells the adult version that she doesn’t want Cordelia to think that she’s the one who blinded her. Cordelia says she knows that Fiona set Myrtle up, but the witch-hunters are a bit higher priority right now kthanx.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Hank has gone to see his father at his “firm” Delphi Trust which is really a cover for their witch-hunting operations. Hank is dealing with some pseudo-sibling rivalry given that Dad, powerful corporate titan that he is, has given the second in command position to another person, David, instead of his son. Hank has been “sloppy” with New Orleans and aligning himself with Marie Laveau was not a smart plan. Dad has had to cover up the murder of Kaylee (turns out Hank used a credit card to book that hotel room. Fool.) and reveals that Delphi was actually behind the attack on Cordelia.

At the academy, Myrtle is holding a fancy dinner party just for her and the other two members of the council. The council members have “such terrible regrets” over the misunderstanding that resulting in her untimely burning and murder. This is all done over melon balls and other fineries, so it’s quite civilized. They want to know all about Misty. Myrtle draws a comparison to the persecution Misty has felt with her own, which she clearly places at the feet of the other council members. Halfway through a toast, the council members find themselves unable to move, Myrtle having laced the melon balls with monkswood which has caused paralysis. “it’s supposed to be quite terrifying,” Myrtle says. But she’s done this not for revenge, but for Cordelia, as she plunges the melon baller into each of their eyes.

If you've got to go in a horrific way, it may as well be with a crazy Francis Conroy yelling at you in a Mid-Atlantic accent.

Later, upstairs, Myrtle unwraps a bandage from Cordelia’s head to reveal that she now has two mismatched eyes, one brown and one blue, and has regained her ability to see, but lost her gift. Fiona is amazed to see what’s happened and wants to know who the donors were who gave up their eyes? Myrtle says they wish to be anonymous. Which is technically true, given that we see Myrtle earlier dismembered the bodies gleefully.

Zoe and Madison find Nan in the hospital, banned from Luke’s room by his mother. Mother tries to have them removed when they enter the room, but Nan begins to tell Mother what Luke is thinking, even despite being unconscious. Mother doesn’t believe her until Nan recounts stories that only Mother and Luke could know. Mother weepily allows Nan to stay with them.

Queenie meanwhile has taken it upon herself to engage Delphine’s head in a little “sensitivity training” in her bedroom by forcing Delphine, who can’t move due to having no body, to do nothing but watch Roots, Mandingo, The Color Purple, and B.A.P.S., the last of which definitely qualifies as torture and should reserve Queenie a place in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Delphine closes her eye and sings “Dixie” as loud as she can.

"I'm less moved by your pain and suffering, more frustrated that my nose has itched for the last two hours."

In his hotel room, Hank is suddenly wracked with pain when a man enters telling him that Marie Laveau sends her regards and will continue to do so unless the white witches die tonight. In the greenhouse, Misty and Cordelia listen to Stevie Nicks and mix up some muddy potions, bringing a long-dead plant back to life, when Hank appears, drunk, but visibly pleased that Cordelia has her sight back. Hank tells Cordelia that his life has no meaning without her and begs for her to take him back. Too late, Hank – Cordelia has already filed for divorce.

Gathering the last of his things upstairs, Hank is confronted by a snarling German Shepherd that Fiona has gotten for protection. Hank says that’s why he’s here, but Fiona mocks him. The dog notices something strange in one of the rooms and when Fiona opens the door she sees Kyle sitting on the floor reading a kid’s book. “Another goddamn boy,” Fiona mutters. “Jesus, these girls…” The dog licks Kyle’s face and Kyle, in return, completely drops a bridge on the adorable thing and snaps the dog’s neck. Note to the writers: As a German Shepherd owner THIS IS NOT OKAY!!! At any rate, the girls soon return home to find Fiona playing gin rummy with a very verbal Kyle, whom she has “spruced up”, and losing. Fiona has decided that Kyle is the best guard dog they could have.

I'm putting this here because fuck you, show - you do not get to add a German Shepherd only to have it die horribly literally once scene later. Not cool. 

At Luke’s hospital bed, Mother tells Nan that she’s a miracle and she can’t thank her enough. Nan has restored Mother’s faith in God. Nan relays that Luke is telling her that there is a God, but He’s judging Mother for having murdered Luke’s father which totally doesn’t come as a shock, right? I mean, the woman gave her son a forced chlorox enema because he talked to a girl. We're not dealing with someone who defaults to logic a lot. Mother insists that her husband died of an allergic reaction, but in a flashback we see that she killed him when she found out he was having an affair with a member of Mother’s book club. This pretty much kills any goodwill between Mother and Nan, obvi, and Mother orders Nan to leave the room, irrespective of whether or not Luke's consciousness is whispering truth-y things to her in her ear.

Actually, this was just them geeking out over the latest True Blood episode, but you get the point. 

At Marie Laveau’s, Queenie is plotting more ways to open Delphine’s bigoted mind when Hank suddenly bursts in, guns literally blazing. He murders each of Marie’s workers (all black, natch) one by one, including Queenie before heading to the back to take out Marie herself. Queenie not done herself, however, manages to get a gun, put it into her own mouth and shoot, causing Hank’s brains to blow out the back of his head.

Later, in his offices, Hank’s father weeps over pictures of his dead son. At the hospital, Luke finally begins to wake and weakly accuses his mother of murdering his father. “Go back to sleep,” she tells him, placing a pillow over his head and pushing down.

And at the Academy, the front door knocks. Fiona answers to see Marie, whom she invites in.  

Recapping AHS: Heads Will Roll

I know, I know! I'm wicked behind on recaps! I'm catching up, I promise! But first, jumping back a few weeks…

In the mean streets of The Big Easy, one woman sets out on a dangerous mission. That would be Queenie, purposefully taking a walk through the rough part of town to murder would be rapists for their body parts for Marie. Zoe and Madison find her and try to convince her to rejoin the Coven. Queenie’s less interested, figuring her luck is with Marie and Voodoo, not Fiona and Witchcraft. “War is coming,” she tells the girls. “And you’re going to lose.”

War is, admittedly, a little under-armed.

Fiona, meanwhile, is getting no better due to the cancer that’s rapidly advancing on her. “I’m starting to look less Samantha and more Endora everyday,” she bemoans. Delia has little sympathy, however, asking her to do them all a favor a kick off before Thanksgiving in order to save them all from her cuisine. What the cancer hasn’t stopped, however, is her sexual relationship with the Axeman, who is still somehow in a corporal body. Yeah, that’s not been explained. Anyway, he’s into her, but she doesn’t want to decay in front of anyone. Thankfully, she’s got a plan – remove whichever of the girls is the new Supreme, and her health comes back.

Which brings us to the next scene – Luke’s mother isn’t pleased that he was spending all that time during the Zombpocalypse at Halloween over at the house with all it’s “devil’s magic” and determines that Luke is unclean. What’s a mother to do with an unclean boy? Cleans him. Via a homemade chlorox solution that she forces Luke to take as an enema, stripping him naked and putting him in a tub. “You don’t have to do this,” he almost whimpers. “Oh, but I do.” She replies. Clearly she learned parenthood from the Norma Bates Correspondence School. (And though this is disturbing, can I say it is nice to see a welcome return to the inappropriate sexual crazy? We’ve been lacking that a lot this season.)

A boy's best friend is his mother and her best friend is a homemade detergent enema pouch.

Cordelia and the girls are plotting a way to kill Fiona when a knock at the door reveals a frantic Misty, who says she’s been driven from the swamp after a man with a gun found her in her shack the previous night. Only a warning from the resurrected Myrtle Snow got her out in time.  Misty reunites the Coven with Myrtle, who has her hair back thanks to “buying in bulk from North Korea for years.” Myrtle recognizes the troubles the Coven has been going through and points out that the one witch with them with real power, the next Supreme perhaps, is Misty.

Zoe is trying to get Kyle to learn through kids language games, but Kyle just wants to get kissy with her. So, your typical frat boy, really. The coven gathers for The Sacred Taking, a ceremony only used three times in history whereby the old Supreme sacrifices her life so that the Coven can continue. Though, in this case, we’re getting a little loose with the word “sacrifice” since Fiona won’t be aware of what’s going on. Once done, Misty will be recognized as the next Supreme. The girls are all a little jealous until Cordelia points out that none of the Supremes have had happy lives, all of them were crushed under the weight of the office, except Fiona who just ran away. Fiona’s going to need a “push” in order to give her own life.

Upstairs, Cordelia vomits before hearing music from her bedroom and seeing Madison dancing provocatively. “Thought you’d seen the last of me?” she coos. Fiona tries to force Madison from the room magically, but can’t muster the strength. Madison gives Fiona a choice – be burned tomorrow or swallow all her pills. She leaves and is replaced, Dickens-like, by Myrtle who catches Fiona trying to pack a suitcase. Fiona wants to run, saying she’s finally found someone she truly loves and begging for the last few months of life with him. Myrtle shows Fiona a vision of Fiona decaying in a hospital bed while the Axeman leaves her.

What we don't know is why all of Fiona's psychotic fever dreams look like Meatloaf videos.

Upstairs, the ruse is working. Fiona puts her face on in order to leave a good-looking corpse and tells Myrtle about the regrets and non-regrets in her life. “I’ve always been rigorous about not staying too long at the party,” she sighs. “I had the good form to know when it’s over.” Fiona dresses in a fine fur coat and high heels and swallows a handful of pills. She asks only that they hang her portrait where she chose and not in the basement with the disgraced Russian witch. (sidebar, I hope to God we hear more about that.) As she lays dying, Spaulding appears to her and begs her to wake up and tries to get her to swallow ipecac. As a ghost, Spaulding can finally speak again and tells Fiona what the Coven is up to and that Madison isn’t the next Supreme. And oh, it’s Go Time on the Revenging Witch Comedy Hour.

Speaking of revenge, Queenie brings Delphine a cheeseburger in her cage. “Whatever did I do to deserve this betrayal?” Delphine moans, rather richly. Marie, clearly, is enjoying the reversal and, to be fair, turnabout is kind of fair play. Delphine is pretty unrepentant with Marie, though, demanding that Marie bring her something to drink like a maid. Delphine points out that there’s nothing that Marie can do to her – she can’t die. Better to put her back in the ground and “when they dig me up in another 100 years, the natural order will be preserved.” By which she means there won’t be a “darkie” in the White House. Going back into the ground is not the only option though, according to Marie. “You suffer from a lack of imagination,” she tells Delphine. And then cuts her hand off. 

Voodoo justice. 

Downstairs at the house, Nan is a little steamed that everyone assumes that there’s no way she could be the next Supreme. She sneaks to Luke’s house, finding him tied up and gagged in a closet. She frees him and tries to get him out of the house when Mother spies the two of them and calls the police. And that’s when shit gets real, you guys – bullets suddenly start flying in from outside, killing Mother and hitting Luke when he protects Nan from the gunfire.

Next door and oblivious to the urban warfare, the Coven waits for Fiona to die. Misty doesn’t feel any differently, though which is all explained when Fiona enters the room and demands to know about the “swamp witch” who is supposed to replace her. Turns out Misty is gone, having fled to the house next door. Luke is taken to the hospital with a serious head wound, but Fiona finds her in the living room with Luke’s mother’s body. As Misty brings Mother back to life, Cordelia finds a spent bullet on the ground and sees that the shooter wasn’t random – it was someone after the Coven.
Zoe hides Kyle, saying that none of them are safe. Kyle manages to say that he loves her and doesn’t want to leave while Madison, who is “sharing” Kyle with Zoe overhears from the hallway.

In the morning, Cordelia fears that Fiona is going to punish her for trying to orchestrate her death but Fiona is frankly impressed that Cordelia would show such grit and determination. “You really are my daughter,” she says. Fiona notices the bullet, a silver one that’s been blessed and concludes that witch hunters are behind this. At that, the door bell rings, but only a box is left on the front porch. Sounds familiar, right? Fiona brings it inside and opens it to reveal Delphine’s severed head, the eyes of which suddenly flip open.

Somewhere, James Caan is enjoying this.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This past weekend, I traveled with some friends to Chicago to visit another friend who is enrolled in a grad program at Northwestern.

Spoiler alert: it was cold. 

Mind numbingly cold. And snowy. But surprisingly not that windy. Huh. Anyhoodle, spending a lot of time outside my friend's apartment wasn't really on our agenda, but we managed to get ourselves bundled up and on the El on Sunday morning for a drag brunch at the Kit Kat Club. The food was yummy, the drag queens were fierce, and the martinis? Were HALF OFF. 

So, yeah.. We all got a bit toasted. 

I'm not sure how we got on the subject of the television show Bridezillas--maybe it was because my Chicago-based friend is getting married later this year, or maybe because we were talking about trashy reality tv in general. But in any event, after returning to the Rogers Park apartment, we switched on Netflix, curled up on the couch, and five grown adults spent about 8 hours doing nothing but watching Bridezillas while the alcohol slowly worked its way through out bodies. 

This show is everything wonderful and everything horrible all wrapped up into one. 

The concept is simple: cameras follow around a bride during the week leading up to her wedding documenting every incident of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse she spews at the people around her. The brides seem to come from all over, but they all have one thing in common: they are horrible people. Nobody is safe from the bridezillas ire, certainly not her groom, parents, bridal party, and any vendors unlucky enough to have contracted to provide a service for the wedding day. 

Watching this show raises so many questions. Why would this man marry this woman? How can her parents allow her to speak to them like that? Why are these people her friends? Why would ANYONE hired by these women not just tell them to go fuck themselves and walk away?

Any most importantly, why am I watching this?

It's like a train wreck--you cannot look away. Objectively, you acknowledge that these people are horrible and that you are actually part of the problem; by watching the show you are providing incentive for the brides to act like trolls. But subjectively, it's just flat-out entertaining. Maybe it makes us feel better about ourselves? Whatever the reason, 8 episodes of Bridezillas didn't feel like enough and we could have gone on for much longer. 

 "Why don't people just give me everything I want when I want it and for free? WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME HIT YOU!

I must point out that the best part of Bridezillas is actually the snarky commentary provided by the female narrator. The producers are definitely in on the joke and take every opportunity to belittle and humiliate the "ladies" on the show. I think our favorite example was when a certain zaftig bride was trying to wedge herself into a narrow manicure chair. "Apparently nobody in the bridal party thought to bring a shoe horn or bacon grease," commented the narrator. OH SNAP. Also? Awesome.

So, if you ever need a self-esteem boost, want to laugh at the most heinous women on earth, or just need a mind-numbing activity to engage in (preferably while drunk), Bridezillas is the show for you!

This charming young lady, Danyelle, is a 19 year old "student" bride who got so drunk the morning of her wedding, she could barely climb the stairs to put on her wedding dress. She also stole her groom's credit card, took the last $300 from his bank account, and chose as her wedding theme (I shit you not), "Bros and Bro-Hoes." Here is an interview with Danyelle.

Bridezillas airs on WE (check the schedule) and past episodes can be viewed on Netflix or the show's website

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Costumed Aggression

Welcome back, my minions. In all seriousness, I am still recovering from the shock I received watching last Sunday's episode, and I actually think I am going to skip recapping that one, to be perfectly honest with you guys. 

If you are picking up where we left off of the season premiere (at around the 50 minute mark, give or take), Granny has just given Lady Mary a good talking to about being a SURVIVAH. 

In Ripon, Lady Cora and Lady Rose are meeting with Edna about the lady's maid position. Edna makes up a story about caring for a nonexistent aunt so she won't have to go interview at Downton. HELLO YOU ARE APPLYING FOR A JOB THERE, DEARY. THIS MEANS YOU WILL HAVE TO GO THERE SOMETIMES. Anyway, she's apparently trying to avoid Mrs. Hughes. Her scheme is to get hired before Mrs. Hughes tells Lady Cora that Edna is weird and creepy. She admits to having worked at Downton as a parlour maid, and hands her the ref from Mrs. Hughes. She tells Cora that the reason she left service at Downton was so she could train as a lady's maid. Cora and Rose buy her story and give her the job.

In bumbling Molesley news, Molesley accompanies Lady V to tea at Lady Shackleton's, and he blabs to Lady Shackleton's butler that Lady Shackleton might give him (Molesley) the butler's job. The butler says, "Umm. No," and sets about sabotaging Molesley's interview for Lady Shackleton, who proceeds to insult him and his butlering skills. Lady Violet shamfacedly takes Molesley away.

Continuing in news of the poorz, Grigg has arrived at Isobel's. Isobel immediately sets to work rehabbing him. 

I've mostly worked with prostitutes, but I suppose I could apply my skills to a down-on-his-luck actor.

Okay, enough of the working class. Back to the rich people! Edith arrives at The Criterion in London to meet with Gregson. She runs in and looks for Him. Is He there waiting for her? He is. He has News. He can divorce wifey in Germany if he becomes a German citizen. Edith asks him if he'd really do that for her, and he replies that he'd become AN ESKIMO for her. An. Eskimo. 

Because in Inuit culture, when your wife goes insane, you can just pop her onto an ice floe.

Oh, Michael! You say the sweetest things. !!! Smoochie-smoochie.

Cora tells Mrs. Hughes that she's hired Edna Braithwaite to be her new lady's maid. For. Real. Mrs. Hughes is like YOU DID WHAT. Cora chastises Mrs. Hughes for trying to hold the poor young girl back, and Mrs. Hughes decides against telling Cora the real reason she fired Edna, which I kinda don't understand. I feel like Mrs. Hughes is their trusted housekeeper, and if she told Cora that she fired Edna because she was trying to tear off Branson's pants like the day after Sybil died, Cora would listen to her, don't you think? What sayest thou? Mrs. Hughes and Carson meet with Branson and tell him that Cora's hired Edna, so look out, brother. Branson volunteers to tell Cora about what went down with Edna, and why he asked Mrs. Hughes to write her a good reference, but Carson stops him, because he doesn't want Cora to think Sybil's husband was "unworthy." No. Seriously. No. This is legit pissing me off. Why can't Carson and Mrs. Hughes go to Cora and tell her the truth about Edna? I guess that would mean we'd be down a subplot, and we all know JF prefers quantity of subplots over quality. But this legit makes no sense to me whatsoever. 

We mustn't under any circumstances let Lady Grantham know she's hired yet another crazy person.
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore calls Alfred into the kitchen to tell Daisy to her face that he sent a Valentine to Ivy and not to her. I feel like this was not a good move on Mrs. Patmore's part. I get she was trying to make Daisy feel better about being so undesirable to the opposite sex and all, but sending her that Valentine only resulted in Daisy feeling humiliated. Then she involved Alfred by forcing him to tell Daisy that he wasn't into her. I don't think Mrs. Patmore was trying to be mean, but the whole thing backfired. Mrs. Patmore defo owes her a Cuisinart. I'm sorry, Daisy. Here's a pie. 

Eat your feelings. 

This week on ¡Dios Mio!, Lady Cora is walking outside the nursery and she overhears Evil Nanny West calling Lil Sybbie a "wicked little crossbreed" and a "chauffeur's daughter." For. Real. Cora walks in and is like dafuq are you saying to my grandchildren, and Evil Nanny West realizes that this is not a good look for her. She tries to explain to Cora how she was just "having a game" and explainin' to wee little Sybbie that she was an abomination in the sight of me Luurrrrd. 

I was just explainin' to the wee bairn that she's the spawn of an unnatural union. :)

Cora's like aww hell no and she fires her on the spot. Nanny West blabbers some more, but Cora summons Mrs. Hughes and tells her to put Nanny West in a different room for the night and kick her out in the morning. Well, since people who get fired from Downton always find a way to worm their way back onto the show, let's wait in anticipation for the eventual return of Evil Nanny West.

Won't it be fun to watch this place burn?

Cora later personally thanks Thomas and tells Robert that they owe him a debt of gratitude. Robert's angry that they've gotten rid of another nanny, because they're going through them faster than Captain Von Trapp.

I'm here for your children.

Down in the drawing room before dinner, Robert is with Widow Mary. The subject turns to Edith and Gregson, and she admits that Edith hasn't done too shabby with Gregson. Robert asks if he should be worried if it's serious, and if Mary knows much about Gregson. Mary says she doesn't, and remembers that Gregson talked to Matthew and then... then she abruptly stops talking because she either got all sad remembering Matthew, OR she remembers the thing. The one thing. Matthew told her that Gregson is already married, and she abruptly SHUTS UP. Good call, Mary. So is Mary going to use that as leverage to get back at Edith? Let's hope so. Robert changes the subject to shop, and Robert reiterates that he's right not to trouble Mary's feeble little female brain with talk of manly subjects like money and property and inheritance. Robert tells Mary to go to bed, and she agrees.

Mary exits the drawing room and is heading upstairs, but then she realizes she should probably go apologize to Carson, and she ends up bawling in his arms. *Tissues*

I wish you were my real dad. :( 

Down in the kitchen, Mrs. Patmore's trying to learn how to use the electric mixer, because Daisy knows how to use it, and that puts Daisy ahead of Mrs. Patmore. Mrs. Patmore has made a huge mess with whatever pancake batter she was trying to mix up. PRO-TIP: USE A SPOON. Mrs. Hughes volunteers to help clean up the mess, which is apparently going to take two people all night to clean up. It doesn't look like that big of a mess to me. Dear 1922: Get a Swiffer Wet Jet. 

At the trustees' luncheon, there's a lot of harumphing and then Mary surprises everyone by showing up AND wearing something other than black. Branson is stoked and gives up his seat to her (STOP SHIPPING THEM. NOW.), but Robert isn't thrilled. Ofs. 

Home stretch now, m'loves.

Anna warns the new batshit cray maid that she might want to steer clear of Thomas, and I'm not sure why we have to start up all of that Thomas vs. Anna and Bates business again because I thought it had been settled last season when Bates helped Thomas keep his job, but since we don't ever want to be in want of a plot, I guess the intrigue must go on.

Mary receives a Mysterious Box from Matthew's office that just HAPPENED to be sitting around that no one noticed until JUST NOW. Instead of giving the box to whom it has been addressed (Lady Stinkin Mary), Carson and Hughes decide to give it to Robert. Palm, meet Face. Robert opens it up, and finds a A Letter that Matthew wrote just before he died, detailing his wishes should something happen to him. Legit. He wrote the letter LITERALLY before he died. Robert is like, "Hmm. Should I show this to Mary?" OF COURSE YOU SHOULD. He takes it to Lady Violet and asks her opinion and she tells him to show it to Mary, and Robert still is like, "Hmmm. No. I'm not sure."  No, I really think I'm right in this, Mamma. No, you're not, Robert. There is something you are and it starts with "Wrong." Robert finally decides to show it to Mary and Mary reads it and says, "Whhhaaaaa?" Then there's some filler until we find out what the letter says.

We find out the letter WHICH MATTHEW WROTE BEFORE HE DROVE BACK TO YORKSHIRE AND DIED, says that, should anything happen to him, he wants Mary to be his sole heir. OF COURSE IT SAYS THAT AND OF COURSE HE DID. But is the letter a valid legal document? Let's take it to Murray. Survey says: of course it's valid. Do you know what this means? It means homegirl finally gets to inherit some good shit. 

Clarkson visits Grigg and Isobel (SQUEE) and tells Isobel that Grigg is much better now, thanks to her. Isobel finds Grigg a position at a theater Belfast and so he's going to Ireland. Mrs. Hughes encourages Carson to make up with Grigg before Grigg goes off to Belfast PERHAPS FOREVER BECAUSE THERE ARE NO BOATS.

But wait! There's more! In Rose is our Lady Sybil replacement news, Rose decides that she wants to go to slumming it at a dance in York at some sort of working class watering hole, but she can't ask Lady Cora or Lady Mary for permission, so she asks Anna to take her. Anna is reluctant but she agrees to take Rose anyway. It is the Roaring 20s, after all, and one must roar if one is to be accepted in society. Rose goes and poses as a parlour maid at Downton Abbey.

It's fun pretending to be poor! 

Rose thinks the dance will be ever so much fun and JUST LIKE THAT SCENE IN TITANIC WHEN KATE WINSLET GOES BELOW DECKS TO DANCE WITH LEO DICAPRIO, so she agrees to dance with a working-class bloke, Sam. Then they run into Jimmy, who is hanging out there by himself, apparently. But the fun ends there. Rose catches the eye of another working-class bloke and he asks to dance with Rose and she refuses. 

You're doing it wrong. That is not how you twerk.

Then there's a bar fight and the police arrive and Rose, Anna, Jimmy have to scurry out of there and run home so they don't end up in the pokey. So, at a fancy dinner that evening, Sam decides to show up at the kitchen of Downton Abbey and ask for, "the parlour maid, Rose" and Thomas answers the door and he is like, "Um....Whaaaaaaat?" Anna dresses Rose up in a maid outfit, because apparently telling Sammy the truth would be too much for the lad. Sam asks to call on Rose, but she lies and tells him she's promised to marry a farmer. Then they kiss and Sam leaves. Hahaha. Meeeee, Rose Flintcher, marry a farmer. OH IT IS TOO DROLL. 

No way will this ever come back to bite me in the ass. 

Branson and Lady Violet convince Mary to learn more about running the estate, and Branson takes Mary on a tour of the estate. Mary brings it up at dinner that evening, and that's when Robert decides to humiliate her by pointing out the obvious holes in her landed gentry knowledge. 

So, as I stated above, I will not be recapping this past week's episode of DA. It's not to do with anything wrong with the episode per se. It is just that, considering the disturbing events of that episode, I don't feel comfortable writing a recap that entails my personal opinions about rape or the inclusion of sexual assault in the show's story arc. For the sake of varying viewpoints, there is plenty being said here and here and here and across the internet as a whole.

So, please excuse the lack of an AP recap for this past week's episode. Feel free to discuss in the comment section. Instead of a recap, here's a red panda.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Put a bullet in Killer Women, please.

A few days ago, Arsenic Pie and I gathered online to discuss the new ABC "drama," Killer Women, starring Battlestar Galactica's hottest cylon, Tricia Helfer. Here are our thoughts:

Maggie Cats: So, Killer Women. I found it extremely silly.

Arsenic Pie: I liked how it started with a bloody shooting and ended with the main character playing the trumpet in a mariachi band. Like what the actual fuck? But I totes believe Caprica Six can really play the trumpet. But was that really the best place to introduce this talent?

Maggie Cats: I get the feeling the people behind it aren't exactly sure what they want the show to be.

Arsenic Pie: I got from it... and this may just be me. That they were going for like a Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse kind of thing. Or a cheesed out Charlie's Angels.

Maggie Cats: The problem is they were shooting for all those things. Plus a classic action show, like Walker, Texas Ranger. But you can't have all those things in one show.

Arsenic Pie I couldn't tell if they were referencing 70s cop shows or making fun of them. There were so many cliches.

Oh, yes, this show looks completely serious.

Maggie Cats: Speaking of her brother....another BSG alum! Michael Trucco!

Arsenic Pie: On a semi related note, I saw that Boomer is on a show now too.

Maggie Cats: You mean ....Hawaii 5-0?

Arsenic Pie: Yes!

Maggie Cats: You know that show has been on for like 2 years, right? YOU WRITE FOR A TV BLOG, WOMAN. Get it together.

Arsenic Pie *hangs head in shame*

Maggie Cats: Ok, so back to this show. I thought Tricia Helfer was good in the role, but again, the character was not well-defined.

Arsenic Pie: Right. She is kind of a stock character. A tough, no-nonsense cop who fights bad guys and the sexism of being a woman in a man's world.

Maggie Cats: I guess she is supposed to be kickass...but doesn't really do a lot of fighting. And then she is supposed to be sexy--and I'll give them that one. But then she is crying about being beaten by her husband, and I was like what?

Arsenic Pie: I know, right? Because that's what the vajays like to watch. Stories about women who have been abused...

Maggie Cats:... and then she risks her life, her DEA boyfriend's life, and gets a random informant killed because she feels bad about doing her job (i.e. pursuing an investigation that ends up implicating the drug cartels).

Arsenic Pie: She's female. Her ovaries cause guilt. I liked DEA Dan though.

Maggie Cats: It was Riley from Buffy! I think I just find that actor boring though, sorry Marc Blucas!

Yup, still boring.

Arsenic Pie: He is just a random dudebro, but more appealing than her douhe ex. And the plot was predictable.

Maggie Cats: One more issue--did they ever actually explain WHAT the Texas Rangers are or what they do?

Arsenic Pie: I feel like they think we should have a background from watching Walker, Texas Ranger. Are they like the state police?

Maggie Cats: I have no idea and that is not good for the show. On Justified, they always make clear who the US Marshals are.

Arsenic Pie: I figured about five minutes after she had her Hunch that the shooting had something to do with a drug cartel. Because Mexicans.

Maggie Cats: Exactly. Those crazy Mexicans and their drugs. Oh, and I just looked up the Texas Rangers. From wiki:
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–45) and the state of Texas. 
...but that still doesn't explain how they fit in with the state police, etc.

Arsenic Pie: I'm on the Wiki page now. So much jinx.

Maggie Cats: This is just another example of Texas being wacky.

Arsenic Pie: I fee like they must be comparable to state police. Maggie, are you messing with Texas? I've been told one should not do that.

Maggie Cats: Who me? NEVER. Oh, the one thing that actually amused me in the pilot episode....after the shooting in the Church, like 10 people ran outside, pulled out their guns, and shot at the shooter's car as she was fleeing. Oh, Texas.

Arsenic Pie: I KNOW.

Maggie Cats: Guns in Church!


Maggie Cats: I am not surprised.

Arsenic Pie Well, it's Texas. You know everybody's packing. But still. Everybody runs outside and starts shooting at the getaway car. What the fuck.

Maggie Cats: I don't think I will keep watching. Pick a concept and stick with it. Either be a silly throwback to 80s and 90s cop shows, or be a solid action procedural.

Arsenic Pie: I won't keep watching either. It doesn't know what it's supposed to be. I find it amusing that the person who wrote the episode was named, "Hannah Shakespeare." I'm positive that's a pseudonym. A sadly ironic pseudonym.

Maggie Cats: Hannah has been dealing with that prejudice her entire life.

Arsenic Pie: She has. Poor Hannah. She's a tough, no-nonsense screenwriter.

Maggie Cats: You are such a hater.

Arsenic Pie: Hannah the screenwriter is fighting for justice in a man's world. And hatas gonna hate.

Maggie Cats: She has a pen and she isn't afraid to use it. Because in Texas, the pen is mightier than the shotgun.

Arsenic Pie: So sometimes she takes matters into her own hands. And uses her smartphone. DUHN-DUHN.

Maggie Cats: I would watch that show more than Killer Women, actually.

Arsenic Pie: Yeah, something that was straight up self referential and quirky. I stopped taking ABC seriously long ago, but come on.

Maggie Cats: Sad, but true. They tried to get serious with The Assets (which I reviewed earlier) and it got canceled after two episodes.

Arsenic Pie: I think whoever created Killer Women thinks it's serious.

...and from that point on the conversation split into multiple tangents, including how lesbianism was improving NBC's Dracula, but not by much. The basic point is, Killer Women is a confusing mish mash of genres and probably not worth your time. Unless you find Tricia Helfer so hot you will watch her in anything. In that case, have at it.

Killer Women airs Tuesdays at 10:00 EST on ABC.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Death and Taxes

Yeah, so, I don't know about the rest of you fine folks, but I'm still just waiting for Lady Violet to turn back into a cat and trot off down the road, get on a northbound train, and head to Hogwarts. Let's face it, that would be the most realistic thing that happened on this show.

Yes, folks. It's another season of Downton Abbey. Get ready for more of Robert making stupid decisions, doubling down on them, and then regretting them AFTER HE GETS SOMEONE KILLED. Also, there will be lots of newfangled gadgetry appearing downstairs in the kitchen. IT MIGHT BECOME SENTIENT AND ENSLAVE ALL OF YORKSHIRE, so stay tuned! There's no shortage of scheming maids coming through the pipeline. So sit yourself down to your tea and crumpets and prepare yourself to be served up some telenovela realness from our friends across the Pond.

The season premiere was highly entertaining, and gave ever more fuel to the theory Clovis has that Julian Fellowes is secretly a genius and the show really is a black comedy. We've even come up with some potential plot lines that JF could use if he only paid us in advance, plus gave us a cut of royalties.

AP: Am waiting for M to return and say he faked his death. And it was his evil Siamese twin who died.



Clovis: OMG EVEN BETTER PLAN. Matthew returns with news that it was his Siamese twin who died BUT the real Matthew has since had to hide his identity and so has gotten surgery to change his face, thus allowing a new actor to play the part.THIS SHIT PRACTICALLY WRITES ITSELF!!!

Either that or Matthew will return as a ghost and there will be some full on Wuthering Heights refs. We've already got Jane Eyre subplot happening. MOAR WEAK BRONTЁ SISTER PLOT RIP-OFFS. MOAR.

Enough about our brilliance. To the Recapmobile!

Does anyone else keep thinking that that Ralph Lauren commercial is part of the show? Because I sure do.

Season 4 of Downton Abbey begins exactly where we expected it -- picking up the pieces after Matthew Crawley's death.

Thanks, Obama.

The episode -- entitled "So. Much. Facepalm." -- begins with a shadowy figure leaving Downton in the middle of the night. Said figure packs bags and leaves notes. Who is it? Is it Edith? Oh, God! Please tell me it's Edith. If I were Edith, I would have run away a long time ago. Oh, drat, no! Curses! The morning reveals that it was O'Brien. O'Brien's decamped for India to be Lady Flintcher's lady's maid. Lady Flintcher, as you will recall, is Flapper Rose's mama. You see, kids, if a downstairs cast member leaves the show, they get a free trip to India. If a family cast member leaves the show, they die in a horribly graphic manner. Cheers! Why did she have to leave in the middle of the night? Geez, what a shady ho.

Well, nobody gives tuppence about O'Brien except Lady Cora, who needs someone else to try to kill her/make her miscarry with a bar of soap/do her hair, and so she's in need of a new scheming lady's maid. Oh, dear! We will have to hire more help! Robert's mad at Rose for not telling them that O'Brien was interested in traveling, but I guess they were all a tad distracted by the heir to the estate falling out of his car. Edith offers to put an advert in The Lady, but Rose feels guilty about Cora losing her maid, so she takes it upon herself to put an advertisement in a shop window in town. Anna, meanwhile, will see to her ladyship because Mary just wants to wear black and drink gin.

Mary is, of course, in deep mourning, and is of no use to anyone, especially Little Georgie, whom she's given charge of over to Evil Nanny West. Don't worry, folks. Just because O'Brien's gone, that doesn't mean that we have run plum out of psychopathic waitstaff. Oh, dear me, my dudes. No. Evil Nanny West is straight out of Yorkshire's world-renowned Dickensian Batshittery Factory. Thomas doesn't like her. Ordinarily Thomas would pair off with a fellow sociopath, but Nanny West's evil machinations are in conflict with Thomas Barrow's evil machinations, so she must be gotten rid of posthaste!

I sense a hint of... me.

Mary is in deep mourning over Matthew's death, and she's got a really sick black kimono to match. Branson wants to involve Mary in running the estate, but Robert forbids it. Because he's right about all things all the time always. 

Robert's thinking about abandoning Branson's plan for the estate, because they have to pay death taxes on the inheritance. Branson repeats his desire for Mary to be involved because she is George's guardian, but Robert nixes the idea, reminding Branson that Mary's experiencing the worst kind of pain. Hey, Robert. Remember when Branson married your daughter and she died and it was your fault? Yeah, those were good times. Facepalm.  I guess Robert forgot.

Yes, yes. You're grieving, too. But you're a peasant.

In adorable downstairs angst news, Molesley is looking for work. As we know, he was Matthew's blundering valet, and times they may be a-changin', but when your employer dies, you're also fucked. Molesley comes to Carson to ask for work, and Carson reluctantly has to tell him that there's no work to be had at the Abbey for a valet. Molesley later goes to Isobel to ask for his old job back, and Isobel has to turn him down as well. Since she's a widow. And just eats off a tray. Because her only child died senselessly. The second adorable downstairs angst plotline is that Carson is getting mail from his former Vaudeville partner, and Mrs. Hughes finds the letter in the trash. Throw out your incriminating trash, people. 

In Edith wins news, IT'S EDITH FTW!! Cora's come around to being supportive of Edith's relationship with the parvenu Gregson (girl ain't getting any younger), and Cora tries to sway Robert, but he's still not into this intermarrying with the underclasses. He married non-titled new money (and an American to boot, good heavens!), but that's different. WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT, HOOKER.

The pretty one's dead... The bitchy one's widowed... I've got a boyfriend. Look out, 1922!

Let's talk about Lady Isobel, the person I feel sorriest for in all of this Matthew dying business. Mary is comically unsympathetic in her grief, but I feel for Lady Isobel, I do. I really want her to overcome her grief by getting with Dr. Clarkson and saving another prostitute from the streets. I really do. 

In there's no way this could possibly end badly news, the ad that Rose posted in the shop window has been seen by none other than Edna Braithwaite, the psycho stalker maid from Season 3. Remember her? The one who tried to rape Branson? I guess the one maid who was playing suck face with Robert on Season Two was unavailable for casting. Anyhoosle. Thanks, Rose. 

Girl, you need to fire your agent.

Hold just a second, my doves. My tea is ready. 

Learning is not one of Robert's strong points, and he tells Cora he feels that he needs to be in charge of running the estate in the absence of Matthew. Since Mary only owns 1/6 of the estate, he feels her contribution is insignificant. IF ONLY MATTHEW HAD LEFT BEHIND SOME WAY OF LETTING THE FAMILY KNOW HIS WISHES. Anyway, Cora feels like Robert is trying to shut Mary out, but since Mary has no interest in anything but staring out the window, Robert wants to take matters into his own hands. Death taxes on big estates in the UK went up after the war, and so Matthew's death has left the estate in financial straits yet once more. Since Matthew's not around anymore to be someone's heir, the Crawleys are out of inherited cashola.

In adorable downstairs plot line number four, Daisy has been sent a card for Valentine's Day. She has no idea who sent it. So she assumes it must be from Alfred. Totes. 

Mary is about to dramatically fling herself down walking down the stairs and she bumps into Edith, who has a Valentine from Him. HE wants Edith to come to London to go on a DATE at a RESTAURANT in PUBLIC and display their love for all of society to see.  

Who's getting her tiara polished? This girl. Whaat whaaaat. 

Cue audience bludgeoned with Irony Stick. Edith is going to London to meet with Gregson because he wants to talk with her about the spot of bother that is his insane wife. You all remember that, right? How his wife is insane and in a mental institution but he can't divorce her? Right? That really happened on the show. For really real. In reality.

Anyway, back to Mary. Homegirl has realized that it is Valentine's Day (OF ALL DAYS) and she is ALL ALONE. If I were Edith, I'd be gloating at that bitch HARD CORE, but Edith is nice about it and tries to hide from Mary the fact that she has a serious suitor, but Mary's out of fucks to give.

Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl, this is not the T you need.

Did you know that Ripon has a workhouse? It's true. Remnants of the Poor Law still in full swing in the early 20s. WTG, England! Mrs. Hughes visits Carson's old Vaudeville partner, Mr. Grigg. He's been reduced to living in a workhouse, and he had reached out to Carson for help. Mrs. Hughes tells Carson she went to visit Grigg, and he's furious. Carson refuses to help because of an old feud with Grigg, and we later learn that the source of the feud was A Lady. 

Mrs. Hughes reaches out to Isobel to help Mr. Grigg. She asks Isobel to help spring Grigg from the workhouse, and requests that Isobel take in Mr. Grigg. Isobel demurs, but Hughes insists that she set aside her grief. Stiff upper lip and whatnot.

SQUEE. Edith meets with Gregson and Gregson tells her that he's done some research about other countries where you can divorce someone for lunacy, but that would require moving there permanently. He names off Greece and Germany, but he is most sold on living in sin in Germany. JACKPOT. Solid plan.

Gregson: Let's take up permanent residence in Germany so I can rid myself of my craycray wife.
Edith: There's no way that could possibly go wrong!

Lady Violet takes it upon herself to introduce Molesley to Lady Shackleton, whose butler is retiring. She brings Molesley along with her to tea at Lady Shackleton's so he can show off his valeting skillz. 

Downstairs intrigue continues. Daisy has a new electric mixer and Mrs. Patmore warns her yet once more about the Rise of the Machines and human enslavement to their robot overlords. Jimmy teases Ivy about her Valentine's Day card, and hints that he sent it. Ivy speculates that if Jimmy sent her card, then someone else must have sent Daisy's, and so Daisy is ever more convinced that it was from Alfred. There's a reaction shot of Mrs. Patmore, and Mrs. Patmore later reveals that she sent Daisy a card so she wouldn't feel left out on Valentine's Day. What every girl wants. A pity Valentine. I kinda don't get why Ivy is supposed to be "the pretty one" and Daisy is supposed to be so much less attractive, since the make-up team on DA uglies up everyone. EXCEPT THOMAS. WHO IS BEAUTIFUL But I think we can all agree that William was a stellar lad and Alfred lacks both looks and brains to boot, so I do have to question Daisy's taste. Wasn't there a whole plot with her inheriting William's father's farm? Where did that go?

Myyyyyyyy Pity Valentiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

Jimmy's hitting on Ivy for realzies now, and Alfred thinks he's just trying to make Alfred jealous, but Jimmy acts like he might be honestly interested in Ivy, so maybe the speculation about Jimmy being gay is a red herring. Or maybe Jimmy's interest in Ivy is a red herring. Anyway, I need a flow chart. And a fan video set to David Gray.   MY OVARIES JUST EXPLODED. 

Branson is keen on Mary taking her part in running the estate, and so he enlists Carson's help to persuade Mary and also maybe use his influence on Robert. Robert doesn't want Mary troubled by anything, and is insisting that he alone can keep the estate running.

I think we can all agree this whole past weekend disproves climate change.

Carson tries to talk to Mary about how she MAYBE MIGHT want to consider TRYING to move on with her life since Matthew isn't coming back (still holding out hope for the zombie plotline) and she turns back into Spoiled, Horrible Mary from Season 1. I kinda miss that Mary. She tells Carson that he is stepping out of his place, reminds him he's a servant and she's Milady, and basically makes him feel twenty kinds of horrible. Carson feels betrayed because he's always had a father/daughter relationship with Mary and let's face it. He has often been a better father to her than Robert has.

Meanwhile, instead of introducing YET ANOTHER subplot, there is progress in the first downstairs intrigue subplot. Thomas has had enough of Nanny West's monkeyshines. He approaches Cora and says it's not his place and all, milady, but he was just concerned and all about the children. He tells her he's seen Nanny West leaving the children unattended, and maybe she should consider installing a nanny cam. I know Thomas is a shade-throwing troll, but at least his scheming this time serves a purpose, because Nanny West is comically evil and I spent the entire episode wishing she would just go away.
It's just a spoon full of sugar, my pretties!

In awkward dinner conversation news, Mary's just gotten done breaking Carson's heart (and we love Carson) and she goes down to dinner and Lady Violet starts nagging her about doing some effing work on the estate. After all, as the dowager points out, it will fall to Mary to run things if anything happens to Robert before George is of age.

Why is everyone on her case all of a sudden. ????? IT'S VALENTINE'S DAY. AND MATTHEW SURVIVED THE WAR ONLY TO DIE IN A STUPID CAR CRASH. !!!!! She dramatically runs out of the dinner service. Robert takes charge and tells everyone he was right all along. Mary can't deal with this right now. He asks Violet if he's right and she says, "No." BOOM.

I still don't understand what this "week-end" is.

Proving once again that she is a bad ass, Lady V goes upstairs to talk to Mary before she leaves. I will allow you all to pause your DVR to audibly squee after Lady V reminds Mary she is her grandmother and that she loves her. Squee. 

Lady Violet lays down the T. She tells Mary for the good of Little George, she has to return to the land of the living. Mary feels like she was only not a bitch when Matthew was around, and how he's dead, so she feels like there's no point. Basically, her whole deal is she thinks George and everyone else would better off without her. Violet tells her that she needs to choose between living and dying, and everyone wants her to choose living.

Okay, maybe your father might not care so much if you died, but what does he know, really?

Thus ends Hour 1 of the season premiere. Stay tuned for Hour 2, sponsored by Zevia caffeinated soda products and Lean Cuisine. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Putin on the Ritz

Well, you can't blame them for trying. It seems the networks have seen the success of Showtime's Homeland (and it's multiple Emmy wins) and now television series about US intelligence agencies are breaking out all over.

It's January so it's time for midseason premieres! In the Fall, the networks all tout their shows as the next big thing, but in reality they know most of those new shows are going to fail. There's always a back up plan and the networks have a bunch of new series waiting in the wings to take the empty time slots. This means that January is chock full of premieres, so let's get going on some of these reviews, shall we?

First up, The Assets!

I wasn't wowed by this one, and apparently most of America wasn't either. The first episode of this eight part miniseries debuted with the lowest rating in the key demo (a 0.7 among 18-49 year olds) of any drama to air on the big four networks. The lowest rating EVER. That's pretty impressive. No word yet on Putin's reaction to the series. 

Here's a basic plot summary from ABC:
The Assets is an eight-part miniseries based on the real life events of CIA counter-intelligence officer Sandy Grimes (Jodie Whittaker). 1985 serves as the backdrop to the final showdown of the Cold War when Sandy and her partner Jeanne Vertefeuille (Harriet Walter) vowed to find the mole that would turn out to be the most notorious traitor in US History, Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys). Sandy is in a race against time to save the Soviet intelligence officers from being caught and killed. Living her own double life at home, this beautiful wife and mother vowed to stop at nothing until she uncovered the truth. The Assets will look inside the true, personal stories of the conclusion of the Cold War as told by the keepers of the nation’s secrets: the CIA.
It's basically Homeland set in 1980s. So instead of Middle Eastern terrorists, it's Russians. And the main blonde agent is kinda boring. And not crazy. And doesn't make goofy faces when she cries.

This is like 70% of the reason why I watch Homeland. The other 30% is hoping that Mandy Patinkin will sing.

I didn't hate it; the show had a lot of stuff going for it. The espionage stuff is all pretty neat, and there were some tense scenes of spy vs. spy shenanigans involving the CIA and the KGB. I also liked that the Russians weren't made to look like buffoons--they pose a genuine threat and out-maneuver the CIA at every turn in the first episode. It's also clear by the end of the first episode who the mole in the organization is.  Since it's a matter of public record now, keeping it secret would have been kind of silly. After 30 years, the cat is out of the bag.

There are some problems though. There was a lot of "huhs?" going on in the living room of my Dad's house for the first half of the episode. There's a difference between trusting the intelligence of your audience and being purposefully cagey. I guess they were hoping there would be a big "aha!" moment at the end when the pieces come together, but I wonder how many people actually made it that far.

In the end, I'll most likely keep watching, but if the pace doesn't pick up in the second episode or the characters don't become more engaging, I'm out.

The Assets airs Thursdays at 10:00 pm EST on ABC. You can view episodes online at the ABC website.

Second show: Intelligence!

It's kind of ballsy to name your show Intelligence. Especially if the underlying concept is kind of silly and completely derivative.

These two have seen it all before. And really so have you.

Hit it, promo monkeys!
In Intelligence, Josh Holloway stars as Gabriel Vaughn, a high-tech intelligence operative enhanced with a super-computer microchip in his brain. With this implant, Gabriel is the first human ever to be connected directly into the global information grid. He can hack into any data center and access key intel in the fight to protect the United States from its enemies. Marg Helgenberger stars as Lillian Strand, the director of the US Cyber Command who supports Gabriel and oversees the unit's missions. She assigns Riley Neal (Meghan Ory), a Secret Service agent, to protect Gabriel from outside threats, as well as from his appetite for reckless, unpredictable behavior and disregard for protocol.
Sound familiar? If you're a fan of NBC's Chuck, it should. Ok, so Josh Holloway's character isn't playing geeky 30 something....he's more of an ex-Delta Force superhuman crime-fighting machine. But still.

Intelligence is basically a standard CBS procedural masquerading as something more. They want it to be new! and exciting! But don't be fooled. Instead of a crime lab or whatever, it's the US Cyber Command (say what?). Sure, the first episode looked great--but almost every drama premiering on the networks these days looks good. I will admit that it had some great action sequences and fight scenes though, but nothing else about it really connected with me.

What you have here is last night's leftovers dressed up in some fancy packaging in an effort to make it more appetizing. And I count Josh Holloway among the wrapping. He's a looker alright, but still playing his usual wise-cracking tough guy character. Unlike Sawyer though, Gabriel has a quest! He needs to find his missing wife whom everyone is convinced was a traitor against America and died years ago. But he will never give up hope. Or something.

One more quibble. Other than a few Asian bad guys, everyone in this show is white. This was a HUGE problem for me, and rankled me throughout the pilot episode. In this day and age, it is basically inexcusable to have an ensemble show without any minorities. Get your shit together, CBS.

Oh, look! A show full of blandly attractive white people. SHOCKER.

Bottom line: unless you are hankering for another US agency procedural (this time dressed up with some admittedly awesome action scenes), skip it. Go watch SHIELD; while that show isn't perfect, at least has a sense of fun and some interesting ideas.

Intelligence airs Mondays at 10:00 EST on CBS.