Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chuck Versus The Rings

After four straight episodes of unadulterated awesomeness, the Chuck (hopefully) season finale found itself with a heaping helping of high expectations and lingering plot threads needing to be tied up. So how'd it fair?

Well... that's a complicated question. The first half of the episode featured an Intersect-less Chuck attempting to get through Ellie's wedding, which, as we all know, was never going to go smoothly. Roark (Chevy Chase) shows up and threatens Ellie's life unless Chuck gets him the Intersect cube, and all of a sudden Bryce Larkin's back trying to sweep Sarah off her feet. Things go haywire, and the centerpieces get destroyed, and Lester (Jeff and Lester's band) ends up playing "Domo Arigato" and setting off the fire alarm in the wedding hall. But never fear, Casey's here and Roark is defeated. Chuck saves Ellie's life, but not before destroying her wedding, "the most important day of [her] life." So Chuck uses his government severance check to buy her the wedding she really wanted.

I'll admit, I teared up a little watching Chuck and Scott Bakula give Ellie away (even if I think the whole process of "giving away" a grown woman is misogynistic, antiquated, and stupid). I love the Chuck-brother-love for Ellie, even when I think Ellie's an extremely underdeveloped character. Add to that the scene between Awesome and Chuck, with Awesome's silent acknowledgment of how much Chuck went through to give Ellie the perfect wedding, was a beauty. It was classic Chuck, from the cheesy/awesome shoot out to the happy ending.

But we were only thirty five minutes through the episode. Chuck still has his future to deal with. The government offers him a job working on the intersect, and he refuses. This sort of seems like a stupid decision, but I'm not Chuck. I'd rather be a spy than a regular Joe. Meanwhile, it seems Sarah's going to take off with Bryce, but let's be honest, we all sort of know that's not going to happen. She chooses Chuck over Bryce and, more importantly, over her job. Oh, also it turns out Chuck's dad has intersect in his head that we've never heard about before that gives him crucial information just as Bryce would otherwise be murdered and the brand spanking new intersect destroyed. Hmm...

This middle portion, after the wedding but before they all end up at headquarters, is the MEH portion of the episode. It doesn't really tell us anything we don't know, and it relies too much on silly plot turns (Chuck's Dad just happening to have the intersect, Bryce showing up at the wedding just to stare forlornly at Sarah).

Once they get to the Intersect, it's back to old school awesomeness, with shoot outs and bad guys and all the sort of cheesy action goodness Chuck has been delivering so hardcore all season. Then Chuck falls into the Intersect Room to find a dying Bryce. Bryce tells him to destroy the Intersect computer before the baddies can get it. Chuck does a non-Intersect flashback to all the times over the years that people have told him that he needs to step up and be a spy, and to multiple instances of Sarah's unwavering faith in him. He sees the Active Intersect button, and he pushes it. Pictures abound.

Baddies break in after Chuck's destroyed the Intersect, and they've captured Sarah and Casey. They threaten to kill all of them. Chuck flashes. They notice (this is the first time in Chuck history that a bad guy has noticed that weird eye thingy Zachary Levi does so well) and decide to kill Chuck first (which seems a little stupid, given that he contains all the information in the universe inside him and is incredibly susceptible to torture, but what the hell. That's why I' m not a henchman on a cheesy TV show). Just when it seems like our heroes are doomed, faster than you can say, "NEO YOU ARE THE ONE!" Chuck starts ninja'ing out on the bad guys.

It's a cute moment of geeky goodness, made even more explicit by the Matrix quote Chuck throws at us to end the episode, "Guys. I know Kung Fu."

This episode has completely rebooted both Chuck and Chuck, promising a different, although similar, new season, with an all new, bigger baddie and a whole cadre of new powers for Chuck to discover with this new intersect. The possibilities seem endless.

It also ties things up semi-neatly if the show gets canceled. I'll still be pissed, don't get me wrong, but there's something comforting about picturing the newly formed trio of bad ass spy folks continuing to fight the forces of anti-patriotic evil with a newly super powered Chuck.

If the show does come back, though, like I hope it will, I hope the writers don't let Chuck's super powers get in the way of Chuck being Chuck. One of the things I've always loved baout the show is the way Chuck is always getting out of things without having to use brawn, sometimes BECAUSE of his awkward geeky loveliness rather than in spite of it. This is the heart of the show (it's in a lot of the ways the heart of all Josh Schwartz shows, but that's a topic for another post) and I love this show's heart.

I hope I get a chance to see where the characters going to go, to see Chuck and Sarah finally get to hook up without Morgan stealing his prophylactics, and to find out if Morgan ever does become a famous hibachi chef in Hawaii.

The Genre War

I am a serious fan of genre fiction. I say this to distinguish myself from people who like Lost despite the science fiction or enjoy Buffy while despising horror. It's not a value judgment; it's a question of taste. For me, stories that come from a deep internal mythology speak more heartily and more truly to me than ones set in "reality" necessarily do. I like shows that exist within their own world. There are exceptions, but it's not a coincidence that whenever I attempt to compile my top five list of favorite television shows*, there's very few straight dramas or even straight comedies on it. I also believe that most writers are at the top of their game when they're having fun, and that most of the geeky/wonderful show runners that I love feel at home within the world of genre fiction (Whedon, Abrams, Moore, even Josh Schwartz I think is at his nerdy best on Chuck, and what is Gossip Girl if not a piece of genre melodrama?). My reading tastes have always veered away from straight drama and into the home of genre. Where other people were inclined to value something less thanks to the preponderance of elves and cyborgs within it, I believe profundity is best when served with a side of wizardry. It's been this way since childhood, when I forwent The Babysitter's Club for Animorphs, Rainbow Brite for X-Men, and Barbies for Star Trek action figures. Sure, this could all be a reason for why I'm a huge nerd, but that's not the issue at play here.

All this musing has a point, I swear. Entertainment Weekly, in the Popwatch column of the site, recently asking the question "The Great Sci-Fi Divide: Why don't we want science fiction on tv?" In the article, Marc Bernadin rightfully points out the strange paradox in popular culture today where Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation seem poised to win the summer box office battle while Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are on the brink of cancellation. He ultimately finds no conclusion to this paradox, but I'd offer up some food for thought: Sci-fi shows take a lot of freaking work to understand. We're not talking about easy science fiction here (neither show has cheesy aliens in sexy revealing outfits); we're talking about deeply metaphorical undertakings that want to talk about the meaning of existence. Sure, there's lots of explosions and sexy robot/doll chicks, but these shows require a lot more attention than So You Think You Can Dance.

It's more than just that though. Chuck, for example, doesn't really require much out of me. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I think it's a great example of cast charisma and writing savvy along with a healthy dose of fun. But the computer in Chuck's head isn't an overarching metaphor for humanity, and his relationship with Sarah doesn't carry mythic implications. It's just cool. On top of that, Lost is just as difficult a show to take on as T:TSCC or Dollhouse, with just as complicated a back story. I think it comes down to nothing more or less therefore than networks being terrified of genre work and of throwing their whole weight behind it, unless they can find a way to hide the fact that it's sci-fi. The geeky awesomeness of the Dharma Initiative and the increasingly complex Lost mythology snuck up on us, so ABC threw the full force of advertising and programming behind it. FOX has always seemed kind of scared of its shows.

I'm not sure, really, what to make of the whole divide and it might be one of those pop culture questions that takes specific examples and turns them into generalizations without any real sense of purpose. For example, all three of the shows mentioned (Chuck, Dollhouse, and T:TSCC) had slow starts that were pretty much critical failures. I can't tell you the number of people who've claimed to have seen the first few episodes of any of these three shows and then given up on it (I'm even one of them as far as T:TSCC is concerned). Maybe this can all be written to bad pilots/network interference/fate?

*This list is an ever evolving concept, as likely to change daily as my answer to the "What's Your Favorite Movie?" question. Mostly, it involves Buffy/Angel (as one entity) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but the other three spots are open to interpretation depending on the day. Am I thinking about my relationship with my mother? Then probably Gilmore Girls. Am I more into being a badass and my relationship with my father? I'm all about Veronica Mars. Am I feeling nostalgic for childhood? Freaks and Geeks. And don't even get me started on trying to figure out where half hour comedies fit into the mix.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Beginners Course in How I Met Your Mother

The first five minutes of this week's HIMYM were like a perfect illustration of the strengths of the four characters who participated in it. Marshall was a kind of lovable doofus, Ted was an incurable romantic, Robin was witty but awkward, and Barney walked the painful tight rope between toolishness and sincerity. It was there in even the littlest gestures, and as well as being a refresher course in why I love the chemistry so much on this show, it also showed how much they'd all grown since their first encounters. Robin and Ted's relaxed friendship. Marshall and Barney's growing closeness (which, as we'll discuss later, was actually a major theme of this episode), and most importantly Robin and Barney. These five minutes should be the reason Neil Patrick Harris gets an emmy this year (finally!). It's not the big scenes, although he's great in those too, but the littlest moments when he brings depth to Barney. This scene was a great argument for how these two characters really are starting to seem to belong together. Just look at the way Barney looks to Robin after every joke, as though to gauge how it's affecting her, or the sincere way that Robin takes joy in Barney's presence. The cold open for this episode, although not as wacky or plot inducing as some, was probably one of the all time best. On top of that, Barney's explanation of how the eponymous Three Day Rule actually originated in Jesus's ressurrection was probably one of the most brilliantly fantastic monologues in HIMYM history.

The rest of the episode didn't have a single significant development as far as The Mother search goes, or as far as Barney and Robin goes, or even any major thematic jumps, and it hinged on "the three day rule," a premise that seemed dated when it was used in Swingers** ten years ago. But, well, it was just a goofy exercise in what being friends is like. It followed Barney and Marshall as they took a practical joke too far with Ted, and ended up pretending to be Holli, the girl Ted wants to date. Their text message exchanges are at turns sweet, disturbing and almost pornographic as they attempt to help Ted get all his crazy out before he goes on a date with a real girl. It was one of the episodes that depended upon the friends doing stupid things but coming from a place of love (and let's be honest, a little enjoyment at seeing their best friend befuddled).

Within this storyline, How I Met Your Mother had to play a dangerous balancing game. If this review were an episode of HIMYM, I'd call it "The Homophobia Line." Every show that plays with gay themes with straight characters, that draws laughs from snuggles and baths drawn between two supposedly heterosexual, usually male, characters, falls on one or the other side of the homophobia line, and the perception of where said episode lands is normally in the eye of beholder. In my opinion, HIMYM is far too full of love and goodwill (plus, let's be honest, Barney and Marshall probably would sleep with Ted for the enjoyment of our robot overlords) to fall onto the bad side of it. It doesn't hurt, though, that NPH is one of the most well known openly gay actors to avoid falling into being typecast. Nor does it hurt that I just really like the image of Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel snuggling under a blanket and staring up at the stars.

I like the throw away episodes of this show a lot. They allow you to laugh without having that tempered by deeper considerations and sometimes they make a nice respite between heavier episodes. We've been promised some movement on the mother front and the Robin/Barney front by season's end, so I'm willing to sit back and enjoy the awkward glee of Barney, Marshall, Ted and an incredibly pregnant Robin*.

On a side note, did anyone else have major Friends flashbacks when Robin revealed Barney and Marshall's plot to Ted, causing him to want to start messing with their heads? "The Messers become the Messees!" indeed.

*No Lily this week (one of two episodes I believe), and Robin looks about ready to burst, but I got to see Colbie Smulders carries baby weight better than nearly any other woman on earth. As though we needed another reason to envy her baby the genes she's getting.

** So HIMYM hinged on a Swingers device, and Big Bang Theory this week flat out quoted Swingers. Do Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn rule the world? I think so.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Haunted: A Dollhouse Murder Mystery

This week's episode of Dollhouse, "Haunted," went back to the beginning formula, with a self-contained monster of the week that felt a little as though it were holding off for bigger episodes. But unlike the first couple of episodes, this week's monster of the week was actually pretty damn thought provoking.

Margaret, a very rich woman who was friends with Adele, prepares for her consciousness to be downloaded into Echo after her murder. Margaret, in the guise of Julia, then spends the entire episode trying to right the wrongs of her existence and uncover her own murderer. The actual mystery wasn't that exciting (although I have to say I was shocked it wasn't Uncle Bill, played by Whedon regular Gregg Henry, who did the murderous deed). In fact, it occasionally dragged, and the Margaret implant (which started off very promising with her interactions with Adele) quickly got boring. But the ideas that it brought up (as made obvious by Boyd) about immortal life and the scary implications of what the Dollhouse represents (as hinted at since "Man on the Street"). It was a painful thought process: if the dollhouse technology can allow all of your memories to be implanted into a new body, does that make the new body you? In the absence of a soul, in a purely materialist viewpoint, then it would seem that yes. And does the fact that at the end of the episode Margaret slipped back into the ether invalidate the experiences she had? Does death invalidate life? All this is only made more confusing when you consider that this mission is the first on which we haven't seen Echo glitch (I, for the record, kind of missed the developing Echo personality, as for the first episode ever, we didn't see even a little bit of her).

It's pretentious, I know, but it was a pretentious/thought provoking episode. What it lacked in plot development it made up for in thematic development.

As for the B stories, they were pretty slight. Ballard dealt with the aftermath of last week's revelation that Mellie's a doll and we saw him go to new darks. After trying to find a way to keep her off his scent, he finally gave into the rage he was feeling at everything associated with the dollhouse. In one Whedon's more disturbing scenes (right up there with Wesley telling Lilah to keep the glasses on), all of that rage and frustration and pain got channelled into (hot) hate sex.

Topher, meanwhile, downloaded a buddy in the form of Sierra. I actually really liked this storyline, as it allowed us to see a very innocent side of Topher, although I was hoping for a slightly bigger payoff (maybe, in the vein of haunted, that he had designed his dead brother/sister/childhood-friend?). It also highlighted how awesome that actress who plays Sierra is, and how much she disappears into each week's imprint.

With two more episodes left to the season (and let's be honest, probably the series), it's hard not to get a bit annoyed with episodes that don't deal with alpha, the overall workings of the dollhouse, or Ballard's investigation in a substantial way, but I think when I'm pouring over my Dollhouse DVDs in a post-cancellation coma, I'll find new life in this thematically rich episode.

As if it were possible...

As if it were possible, Zachary Levi (TV's Chuck!) might be more adorable in person. Fans of Chuck, in the grand tradition of geeky fans trying to save their critically adored but ratings deplored television shows*, are storming their local Subways today and purchasing $5 footlongs. To participate, stop by, pick up a sub, and drop a comment card saying that you're participating in's campaign. There's worse ways to support one of the best shows on TV than with delicious Subway deli meat.

Check out this video to see Zachary Levi lead a congregation of folks to participate.

*My personal favorite is still Roswell fans sending packets of Tabasco sauce to execs at the WB, probably because it worked, and we got an extra two seasons of the show out of it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Congratulations Buffy!

Willow and Wes recently gave birth and now Buffy herself is preggers. Sarah Michelle Geller and her husband Freddy Prinze Jr are expecting their first child. The couple were married in 2002. 


More sad news for the world of television: Golden Girls actress Bea Arthur died of cancer this week at the age of 86. The dry-witted actress will be greatly missed but her memory will live on in hundreds of hours of classic sitcom moments on both Golden Girls and Maude

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bones: The Girl in the Mask

After four episodes of Bones in two weeks, I think I can forgive the show that this past one felt a little... empty. It's not that it was a bad episode, it didn't have me cringing or wanting to write angry emails to Hart Hanson, it was just lacking either the goofy or profound heights that I know the show is capable of. Even the title, "The Girl in the Mask," sounds boring.

The episode followed the murder of Sachie Nakamoro, whose brother is a Tokyo Cop who once participated in a cultural exchange with Booth. These "special" episodes based on age-old friends that we're only just meeting are kind of 50/50 for me. Sometimes, it gives the episode extra gravitas and layers of emotion. Sometimes, like this week, it just seems like something shoe-horned in because the murder was kind of generic. The subplot, meanwhile, was pure goof, with the four other permanent members of the Jeffersonian (Angela, Hodgins, Sweets and Saroyan) all trying to figure out the gender of the forensics expert flown in from Japan. It was kind of stupid, but not offensively so, unless you happen to be easily offended, and I liked watching four people who all think of themselves as enlightened and above such petty things as gender try and overcome their baser instincts.

Apart from that, this episode featured a more serious Booth than we've seen in a while, as he angrily threatened pimps (great Booth and Brennan interrogation scene --> Booth: You're a pimp. I don't like pimps. Brennan: He really doesn't.), and showed a lot of Brennan's growth as a human being, such as when she very sensitively (and anthropologist-ly) asked the victim's brother to leave the autopsy room. In fact, there were lots of good tiny character beats hidden within the mystery.

The reason, though, that I consider this a subpar episode of Bones has nothing really to do with its faults, except that I found myself acutely aware that the whole purpose of this episode was to set up future ones with Brennan's wondering if loving someone is worth it. Thanks to annoyingly omnipresent spoilers, I know this has direct consequences both for her relationship with Booth and for another upcoming storyline (which, since I'm not a jerk, I won't spoil here). In many ways, I think Hart Hanson shot himself in the foot by telling fans we'd (FINALLY) get some Booth/Brennan action by the finale, because now to a certain extent this season has become entirely about the build to that. In stronger episodes than tonight's, I can ignore the thirteen year old girl inside me screaming "Just smooch already!" But in otherwise boring episodes, it's more fun to giggle along with her.

Random Thoughts:

  • Two great Brennan moments tonight in the form of her lack of humility:
Tanaka: Everyone in the field accepts that you are the best.
Brennan: Yes I know. (huge smile)
Brennan (after Nakamoro empathizes with her brother leaving her):
I turned out quite well, actually.
  • How many random people have to explain to Brennan that she's in love with Booth before she realizes it?
  • I'm not sure how I feel about the mid-show recaps, but Sweets was pretty adorable doing his this week.
  • The show really brought the "EWWWWW" factor this week with the brains melting.
  • What the hell was that airplane noise Booth made while feeding Brennan? Also, how absurd is it the Brennan doesn't think she has anybody so close in her life that she would talk to them for five-fifteen minutes a day? Honey, if you spend your evenings eating ice cream (which he feeds you) and drinking beer together, you're substantially more than just work colleagues.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Does no one respect the delicate beauty of the television schedule anymore?

Last week, when I realized a day late that Bones had an extra episode on Wednesday as well as our regularly scheduled Thursday, it was like a gift from the television gods. This week, when I discovered, again a day late, that Bones had an extra episode on Monday all I could think was -WHAT?!
Why does Bones, one of the most successful shows on FOX right now, keep jumping around and, more importantly, why do I never know about it?

At first, it was hard to believe the episode was even real. Add to that the fact that this week's episode featured Brennan, Camille, and Booth stealing the body of a colleague from a wake and Weekend at Bernie's-ing around town with him, and you'll forgive me if the whole episode had an air of dreamyness to it (maybe "I did acid in high school. That's probably why I'm not a doctor."). "The Double Death of the Dearly Departed" could be the best goofy episode in Bones history, in that the goofiness seemed authentic rather than absurdity for the sake of absurdity.

Random Greatness:
* Brennan and Booth singing, but especially Booth, because everytime he sings it reminds me of Angel's awful karaoke'ing skills.
* Brennan attempting to mime sex to Booth by having her hands do the wave.
* The Weekend at Bernie's reference with the sunglasses.
* Everything having anything to do with the poor undertaker and Camille's indentification with him.
* Booth flirting his way through the lawyer
* "Hank's greatest passion. Aside from sex."
* Booth knowing right away that Brennan wouldn't be able to take this small little man talking to his dead mother and brother seriously.

The episode ender, our patented Booth and Brennan have an adorable covnersation as the music goes up, was wonderful. Brennan's sincere, although not in the teary eyed way we're use to, explanation of why she agreed to go and visit Booth's grave once he's dead was so straight forward and yet belying all her complex emotions for him that it almost made reevaluate the rest of the episode as more than just a goofy interlude before major plot developments. "I believe that pretending you were still here would make me feel better for a moment. And speaking to you would require me to figuratively look at myself through your eyes, again temporarily, and I think that would make me live my life more succesfully." It was so intensly Brennan in its explication and yet sincere, and Booth's being genuinely touched by it as he put his arm around her on the walk out was all sorts of greatness. But damn if at a certain point I don't think the two of them should just admit that somehow, sans Priests or rings or dresses, they've gotten married. Brennan basically just pledged eternity to Booth.


To say that being a loyal Chuck fan since I downloaded the first episode for free on ITUNES has paid off way bigger than I ever guessed it would is to underexpress to the extreme. Chuck has become something much bigger, grander and greater than I could have ever imagined. And it just keeps getting cooler! The past five episodes should be taught in college for how to continuously up the Awesome (both metaphorically and literally) in a series and build to a huge SEASON (god and Jeff Zucker willing) finale.


Everyone, and I mean everyone, even the underused Ellie, was great in last night's episode, "Chuck Vs. The Colonel," from Morgan's break for freedom, adulthood, and Hawaii, to Casey's acceptance of the genuine affection and respect he has for Chuck. But Chuck and Sarah- ho boy. I had no idea how invested I was in these two until that early morning snugglefest turned into a make out session*. At times, I've felt these two weren't the epic love story that the show needs them to be, but both Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski really, truly brought it this episode. The action, the plot and the comedy were all positively top notch this episode, and really justified Kelly's refrain that I should trust in Josh Schwartz. The writers of this show clearly get the characters and the world they created.

Plus, Awesome made the inner circle! How cool is that?

On the Life Watch, Chuck Edition, I think this show should most definitely be getting a third season, and for some reason, despite the fact that it's a bubble show, I'm feeling confident it will. I don't get why it doesn't have a broader audience (it's one of the most widely accesible shows I watch), but I think it certainly merits new consideration from people who wrote it off after that first season.

*Plus, you got to love that Chuck and Sarah are so adament at practicing safe sex. It says something bad at the state of television sex scenes that at first when Chuck jumped up from bed I couldn't figure out what he was searching for (characters on television never have to stop to put on a condom!). But listen up kids, even being a badass spy chick doesn't make you immune to an unplanned pregnancy.

Seder Anything!

This week's was the best episode of Gossip Girl since Bart died. It's the first episode in a while that I didn't spend half the episode hating half the characters. Plus, it brought the funny in a big way, from that beginning Audrey Hepburn sequence that featured a double-dose-of-Blaire-Waldorf to the Schmutz Happens apron Cyrus was wearing in the kitchen. This week followed the exploits surrounding the Waldorf-Rose Seder and the Vanderbilt wedding. Nate and Blaire attended a cousin's wedding, where Blaire, attempting to rebound from the Yale disaster decided to become the ultimate socialite, found that Grandpa Vanderbilt was willing to make all her Upper East Sider dreams come true in return for a little Nate-centered manipulation. Well, that, of course, went well. Blaire's attempts to be "Jackie O" when she's clearly more of a Hilary (Blaire: Except I would have won!) were amusing, as long as they're impermanent, and they led to a great Eleanor Waldorf line: Waldorf women are not socialites!

At first, the Nate and Blaire histrionics were annoying me. We all know she's meant to be with Chuck, so watching them play seriously at the other relationship felt weird. And then my Gossip Girl compadre, Tim, pointed out something: It's like Dawson and Joey. Not quite as epic or as adorable, but Nate and Blaire have something. It's not the fireworks of Chuck, but there's a comfort and a sweetness and a genuine affection. Therefore, since I know Chuck and Blaire are working their way back to each other, I'm actually kind of excited to see Blaire and Nate in the meanwhile. Plus, it's effect on Chuck has been adorable.

Chuck meanwhile hasn't been doing much of anything, or at least not anything that requires removing his scarf (Chuck: That was one time. It was cold.). Since his escapades with "a boho barrista," he's been entertaining a never ending parade of flexible ladies. Which in and of itself was a pretty decent holding story for Chuck while he simmers in Blaire-less miserableness. But the Jenny subplot was actually a lovely side story. As long as Jenny and Chuck remain just platonic, I think it's awesome that she confronted him about what a jerk he was in the pilot (first time anyone's mentioned his date-raping?), and his apology to her was genuinely moving, and once again proof that Ed Westwick can do a lot more than just glower sexily.

Which leaves us with our A-story, the Waldorf-Rose Seder and Serena's mysterious Spanish exploits. Let's summarize, shall we? Cyrus Rose and Eleanor Waldorf are throwing a Seder to impress Cyrus's Jewish mother. They hire "cater waiters." Meanwhile. Rufus and Dan wonder how to pay for college. Dan wants to get a job (what a good kid he's turned into), but Daddy Humphrey wants him to concentrate on being a kid a bit longer. Dan, because this is Gossip Girl, ignores this and gets a job. As a cater waiter. At Eleanor Waldorf's Seder. Which, it turns out, Daddy Humphrey and uber-pregnant Lily are attending to try and woo some high end art dealers (to help pay for Yale). Meanwhile, Serena and Lily are barely talking thanks to her Mile-high hi jinks, and Serena has some deep dark secret from her fiesta, which requires her talking to a lawyer (Cyrus). So she shows up at the Waldorf-Rose home, where we find out that she (may have) gotten married in Spain to Poppy Lifton's boyfriend, Gabreel. When discovered by Lily, Serena pretends she came to enjoy Jewish culture. Dan is also pretending to be a guest, while simultaneously attempting to keep his tip by serving the party. By the time Gabreel shows up to reclaim his lost love, and Dan and Serena have to fake being back together to throw him off, the farce has reached a fever pitch of giggles and fun.

The best thing about this storyline is the way that it allowed every single character involved to have fun. Serena and Dan faking it simultaneously highlighted just how over these two are as a couple, and showed how cool it is that they're becoming real friends. Serena's never as likable as when she's being buddies with Dan. Rufus and Lily, attempting to figure out what's going on with their respective offspring, were befuddled perfection, and their genuine annoyance when they thought the two were back together was wonderful. Cyrus and Eleanor are great together, and have this wonderful odd couple chemistry that just lights up the stage (plus, I think Blaire's world is better defined when she has parents to bounce off of, and her episode ending moment with Cyrus was way sweeter than anything with Nate). Plus, Gabreel is actually hot and can act, so the Serena stuff was more interesting than it ever was.

On top of that, next week's episode (even with the return of Georgina) looks awesome, with it's Gabreel and Poppy plotting and Chuck and Blaire scheming (and, dare I say it? But Reformed Georgina looks like... fun! And how much fun would a little Chuck and Georgine reunion be? Remember, he lost his virginity to her. When he was like 12.)

The Twilight/Buffy Connection

I always knew that Stephanie Meyer, author of the inexplicably popular Twilight series, was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that in crafting her quadrilogy, the knowledge of Buffy-lore was seeping into her writing, but it's easy to forget this when dealing with a mythology that turns vampires into puppy dogs. And then you watch Season Three of Buffy during Marathon Monday because you have the day off and the idea of starting to study for finals is overwhelming. And you begin to notice something: Joss Whedon could be to blame for every "Edward!" screaming teenager in this country. Specifically Season Three gave birth to a lot of the stuff that was so prevalent in Twilight. (Spoilers for both Buffy and Twilight abound!).

  • Season Three is the season in which Buffy and Angel are still together, but are also both aware that sex would lead to, you know, the world ending and all that jazz, so there's lots of handholding and frustrated smoochings. It's all about the frustrations of chastity and the temptations of sex. Specifically, this struck me during the "Prom" episode, where Buffy and Angel woke up in bed together fully clothed and semi-chaste. In Twilight, Edward's an old fashion boy terrified of unleashing his inner demon by having sex with Bella (at least before marriage!), and when he finally does it nearly kills her, and leads not so much to the world ending as it does to the ending of Bella's world.
  • In the same "Prom" episode, Angel tells Buffy he has to leave her because they'll only cause each other pain, and because she'll eventually want the whole kids, real-world thing. In Twilight news, Book Two New Moon finds Edward leaving Bella with much the same speech, although Bella, unlike Buffy, is a petulant child about it and weeps for months rather than killing hellbeasts (way more therapeutic).
  • In "Earshot," Buffy acquires an aspect of a demon that causes her to be able to read minds. You can almost here Meyer's wheels turning. In Twilight world, Edward becomes a mind reader. This, in and of itself, wouldn't be all that interesting (Whedon has done many good things for the world of genre fiction, but I can't credit him with inventing mind reading), but then we find out that while Buffy can hear the thoughts of her mother having sex with Giles (TWICE!) on a police car, she can't hear Angel's. It's both a frustration, and a romantic moment when he promises to tell her anything she wants to know. Twilight would invert this.
  • Vampires as absurdly beautiful sex gods. Neither Twilight nor Buffy can claim any original hold over the idea of sexy vampires, but with Angel and Spike, Buffy turned it into an art form that Twilight jumped from.
  • The Xander-Jacob connection: wise cracking best friend? Check. Xander's also the first person in Sunnydale to meet Buffy. So's Jacob. Nearly overwhelming crush that will never be fully satisfied (and that often leads to the boy in question acting jealous and jerky)? Check. Except Xander shacks up with an ex-vengeance demon, where Jacob falls in love with a baby. But Anya's kind of infantile in her... yeah there's really no comparison. Xander even wants to kill Angel at the slightest provocation, kind of like the epic Werewolf v. Vampire feuding of Twilight, and Angel seems to return the aggression (In "Aggressions" while Angel fakes an attack of the Angeluses, he punches Xander in the face for pretty much no reason).
  • Edward could not be more like Angel if he were played by David Boreanaz (at least the Angel who populated the Buffy-verse, he goes a little off path in Angel). From the old world values, the moody stare, the absurdly-well-coifed hair for a boy who supposedly can't see his own reflection, straight on through to the penchant for creeper, stalker-hood when it comes to his beloved. In Season Three, in particular, Angel, with his intense guilt for Season Two's baddyness, is all Edward's moody pouting and frustrated sex drive (and let's think about that family for a second --> Drusilla is Alice, the quirky sister. Spike is both Jasper,in his blood-lusting, and Emmet, in his wise cracking. And Darla is one hundred percent Rosalie, blond and beautiful and deadly, and holding a nearly unnatural thrall over Angel).
I could explain in detail just why the Whedon version of events is better, but that's hardly the point. It sort of makes me love Twilight way more to think of it as the most famous fan fiction of all time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dollhouse: Life Watch

As a growing-more-and-more-devoted-by-the-week fan of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, I read almost religiously the ratings week after week. And they are, frankly, depressing. I still think it's entirely FOX's own fault, for over-interfering in the show and for putting it on a bad night and for thinking that photos of Eliza Dushku naked were "clever" marketing, but the ratings are so bad that it's hard to blame the network for wanting to ax it. The last hope was that Prison Break (which returned this week and therefore preempted an episode of Dollhouse) would provide a better lead-in than Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and bump up Dollhouse's numbers.

Whoops. Turns out Prison Break got worse ratings than Dollhouse (which averages between 1.4-1.5 million viewers) and T:TSCC (1.3), zooming in on 1.2 million. While none of these numbers actually means anything, the whole Nielsen viewer measuring system being horribly, horribly outdated and stupid and in desperate need of a revamping, now Dollhouse fans last, great hope is that FOX will realize that Friday's are an awful night for serialized drama and decide to take a risk on a show that could develop a much larger audience.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bones- The Heart of the Matter

Wow. Just when, a few episodes ago, I was ready to write off this season of Bones as missing the pop and verve of previous seasons, the past few episodes have been amazing. I'll admit it, though, as my one caveat, that I am true and through a sucker for Booth and Brennan stuff (when it's well written - earlier this season it seemed the writers were using it as a crutch to liven up otherwise boring episodes). The slow burn of their relationship, the intense trust and respect they have for each other, and the fact that both David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel are first rate performers adds up to my practically swooning.

This week featured two episodes of Bones for the price of one. The first one was a pretty standard rate episode, following featuring a murdered bridezilla. It allowed us a glimpse into Brennan's marriage dislike and Booth's optimism, and lots of great repartee between the two, as well as a pretty cool murder mystery. It also set the foundation for episode two, with Brennan at episode end admitting that she's jealous that she can't blindly believe in love, and Booth promising her that one day she would.

The second episode ostensibly was about the murder of a Death metal kid* by his freaky cohorts, but it was really about the return of Booth's one time psychologist**, Gordon Gordon (guest-star Stephen Fry, right), and the effect that has on Sweets, Booth and Brennan. We learn that Sweets was abused when he was very, very (almost unfathomably) young, and that he ended up being adopted by an older couple who died shortly before he started working at the Jeffersonian (we also learned he has an amazing six pack that reminded me of that needless scene in Ugly Betty when Henry took his shirt off just to show that underneath that dorky exterior lay... that.). The Sweets stuff was nice, and I think should do a lot to deepen the character and make him more than just the annoying dispenser of information (although, honestly, I never find him annoying, probably because the star of Freaks and Geeks and Kitchen Confidential just warms my heart every time he doofishly grins). Booth and Brennan rush over to save Sweets from loneliness and give him a feeling of family, and Brennan immediately launches in to share with him her metaphorical scars. He claims it's out of character. It's not. Brennan has an intense empathy with orphans. In this one moment, she understands Sweets better than Booth does.

Since Sweets is writing a book about the strange chemistry that is Booth and Brennan, and he asked Gordon Gordon to read it and give it his thoughts, this episode also allowed the characters to talk explicitly about what is normally only acknowledged through sly glances: the lovey dovey ridiculousness of Booth and Brennan (neither of whom has had an actual love interest outside of each other for more than a season, because honestly, it just seems stupid whenever they try).

Which brings me to what we learned about Booth and Brennan tonight. As Gordon Gordon put it, one of them is acutely aware of the attraction between the two of them and struggles with it daily. Although I felt like the end of the episode was hinting towards Brennan, it's Booth. Come on! All Brennan knows, or will let herself know, is that she respects Booth, intensely, and that when she thought he was dead it upset her a lot. But since she's not capable of believing in real love, yet, she doesn't recognize how much she feels for Booth. But he does, and it tortures him. The little one minute moment of Booth's heart breaking when he heard about Brennan's abuse at the hands of her foster parents, and the intense look the two of them shared as she put the handkerchief back in his picket was simultaneously heartbreaking, beautiful, and telling, for the audience and for Sweets. And damn if David Boreanaz didn't knock it out of the park acting wise.

So yes. I really hope the writers know what they're doing, because they've set these two characters up and there's not much farther they can push them before they have to see what's so obvious to literally everyone around them (in episode one, even store clerks and plastic surgeons could tell within seconds how in love they were just from the protective and sweet way Booth put his arm around Brennan and the ridiculous way they fight over details).

*I love when they put Booth and Brennan inside some strange microcosm of society (pony play, circus folk, death metal) even though it often leads to absurd episodes, because I like the consistency of character that comes along with it. Booth is inclined to distrust other cultures, he reacts negatively and tends to berate them. But when it comes down to it, Booth understands people. He's the type of guy you'd think would be homophobic until you find out he's trying to find his gay brother a date (mind you, his brother isn't gay, he's trouble making, but it's a metaphor, silly!). Brennan, on the other hand, thinks she reacts to everything with scientific objectivity, and her initial reactions to these microcosms tends to be intellectual and interested, but she often finds herself almost irrationally put off by cultures that don't conform to her value structure. Okay, yes, a little pretentious, and I've probably never used the word microcosm so often, but that's why it's a footnote.

** I like that despite Brennan's distaste for psychology, the show actually treats it like a magic elixir that can explain everything. To date, I can only remember Sweets being truly wrong once (about Brennan, when he testified he believed her capable of murder).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chuck Vs. The Broken Heart, Vs. The Dream Job, Vs. The First Kill

Man, I picked a fine time to go on a mini-Chuck hiatus. The past three episodes have been the best of the series' entire run. They've been game-changing awesomeness with more than enough goofy character stuff to satisfy all types of fans.

More than that, they really concentrated on Chuck and his tenuous relationship with the FBI. The first episode focused on the way that Chuck's feelings about Sarah has affected their working relationship (and it featured a spy-tastic Number Six, aka Tricia Helfer). The second focused on his tortured relationship with his father. And the third- well with the return of Jill, the late in the game twisty shenanigans, and the cementing of Sarah and Chuck's relationship - it was like an exploding cake of awesomeness. Plus, we got to see each of the three main characters arc through the episodes. For the first time, Casey takes a stand and begins to accept the way that both Sarah and Chuck have matured and advanced while on the job (I actually got a little tear in my eye listening to the erst-while Jayne Cobb defending Sarah to the super hot new agent, with whom he had been sharing a gun-cleaning-as-metaphor-for-sex montage seconds earlier). And Sarah- well from episode one of this Rachael-designated three-parter, she was beginning to realize just how far she would go for Chuck, and just how far she probably would have to go.

On top of the character stuff, all three episodes featured some great casting (Chevy Chase?! Scott Bakula- be still my geeky heart) and great fight sequences (in particular, in "Chuck Vs. The First Kill," the shootout set to "We're Not Gonna Take It" could be the best gun-tastic fight sequence I've ever seen on TV). Plus the plot twists (which I won't spoil here, because one of the pluses to loving a show that not everyone knows about is that you don't, for example, read Away Messages that say things like "Charlie died?!" or "Tigh is a Cylon?!" right after the episodes air) are fantastic and true to both the show and the characters. I am filled with giddy glee to get to the next episode, a painful five days away.

This show, like my other favorite hour long (Dollhouse), is probably going to be canceled at the end of the season. And that's a damn shame. Like Dollhouse (although the two shows couldn't be any more different in themes), Chuck has gotten better with every episode its gotten to produce, and I have true faith that the show runners behind the scene get what makes their characters so freaking fantastic. Here's hoping NBC gets that too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Can't Say Enough

... about the Friday Night Lights season finale (which aired on NBC on Friday). 

It was beautiful, touching, honest and bittersweet. 

The show isn't afraid to say goodbye to beloved characters but isn't making us part with all of them just yet either. And, never a show to be stuck in a rut, even coach Taylor will be moving on from the Dillon Panthers next season. 

I wish I didn't have to wait so long for my next trip to Dillon. 

Early Obsessions

There's lots to be excited about this week, so I'm getting a jump on "Obsessions" (as well as making up for almost never writing this feature, when it's supposed to be weekly). 

MY BOYS: last week's episode had me in stitches. I couldn't be happier that it's back. 

BETTER OFF TED: still loving it. 

THE BLUE JAYS: a 6-2 record right out of the gate. So much for low expectations!


SEINFELD on DVD: it's a refreshing show to come back to once in awhile. Oh how I love the 90s. 

THE BACKSTREET BOYS: and speaking of the 90s, my favourite 90s boys are all over my facebook page with frequent updates for their fans, reminding us that they might still be relevant. 

FANTASY BASEBALL on The List Draft gave me tons of great players according to my personal rankings and after only 1 game I'm more than 20 points ahead of everyone in my league- boo ya. 

THE UNITED STATES OF TARA FINALE: it was lovely- go watch it. 

MARIA SCHNEIDER's "THE PRETTY ROAD": her whole repertoire is lovely but this one will always be my favourite. 

ADVENTURELAND: I went into it with an open mind and no expectations and found it to be moving, honest, timely and unique. 

SETH ROGEN: easily the best thing about Monsters vs. Aliens

ROBIN & BARNEY: Marshall and Lily think it's perfect... because it is. 

RE-WATCHING ALIAS: Man, that was such a cool show. 

JOHN CORBETT: United States of Tara+ Sex & the City reruns+ my rediscovery of how much I love My Big Fat Greek Wedding= serious Corbett loving. 

THE DUCK CHEER: may I remind everyone how fun it is to quack like a mighty duck. 

MACKERS: how do I love the Scottish Play? Let me count the ways. 

SICK IZZIE: let's call it a character renaissance for Izzie, Alex and even George. 

LOST IN THE 70s: for some reason I find this very engaging. 

THE GLEE PROMO: "Don't Stop Believin"- I already love this show soooooo much. Why does it have to be on FOX?

TOM AND KARA ON HIGH SCHOOL REUNION: my two favourites reunited, how sweet!

THE CHILDREN OF EDEN SOUNDTRACK: Steven Schwartz is a god. 

SAM & TODD: I like where this is going and how long it's taking to get there

PAM BEASLEY: way to move up in the world, next time try moving out of the paper industry. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Spy In The House of Love

Normally, I don't read any other reviews before I start reviewing an episode of Dollhouse. When I go deep into metaphor and character analysis, I want the ideas to be my own. Unfortunately, my tired brain brought me to the's excellent review, and in my weakened state I read that before I could formulate my thoughts into sentences. So for the real, in depth, metaphorical, thematic brilliance that was tonight's episode, check out "A Spy in the House of Love"

On my end, let me just say that I am all sorts of happy with this week's episode. Dollhouse is unequivocally my favorite show on TV right now, and will continue to be right up until it's canceled. Which may be soon, if the recent decision by FOX not to air the last episode of the season (which, admittedly, is actually the start of a whole different storyline) is any indication. Which it probably is. And that's a shame. The show just keeps getting better. I wish it were on a better night, or a better network, or that FOX hadn't messed with the first five episode, or if it was on basic cable (like SciFi where I think a show like this could really thrive). But it's not, so in the meanwhile, I'm just going to beg everyone to give it a first, second and third chance, and write angry emails to FOX begging them to bring it back.

Random Thoughts:

* I love the double edged sword that is Ballard and Mellie's relationship now. Ballard has no choice but to continue with their relationship, as any disruption of it might cause Mellie to kill him, but he's going to find it repulsive. And any part of him that doesn't find it repulsive, that still finds comfort in the presence of Mellie, is a part of him that forces him to identify with the Johns who use the dolls for their own sick ends.

* The Dewitt reveal was brilliant.

* Dominic may have been the "mole" in this episode, but he definitely WASN'T the mole changing the imprints, which means that there's still another mole in the Dollhouse.

* NSA = worse than Rossum?

* I love the developing Echo character, especially as they start to put ninja and investigatory skills in her. It gives me hope that there's life in self-realization, but nervous that we're eventually going to have to reset to Caroline, who's way more boring.

* Line of the week, courtesy of Boyd explaining the Dollhouse, "We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way."

Damn it, I Might Actually Like CASTLE

This week was the first week where Castle's episode was fun enough to justify my watching it. Before this, Nathan Fillion's considerable charisma and my never ending support of the former Captain Malcolm Reynolds pulled me back. This week followed Becket and Castle as they tried to solve a five year old murder of a flighty, ex-drug addict. It turns out that the murderer was her equally dead hubby. The murder of the week still wasn't that great, but it gave the show a chance to really develop the Beckett character (Brennan-like, she's trying to solve her own mother's murder and make the world a better place in the process). It also defines who she is and what she'll tolerate from the people around her. She can't abide cops who don't do their jobs or people who don't come forward to help put bad people behind bars.

Plus, this week featured Nathan Fillion playing laser tag (pictured) with his definitely-growing-on-me-to-the-point-that-I-might-like her daughter.

Damn. Now, I've got to keep watching.

And Then There's Another Quality...

Bones this week could be the best of the season. It hit all the right notes, from Brennan's episode ending explanation of why it doesn't matter that Booth is stupid to the somewhat goofy subplot with Angela's Dad torturing Hodgins for their break up. I didn't do my proper note taking, in depth reporting, but suffice it to say, I'm more excited for the Booth/Brennan-ness to come (they had some of their season best chemistry notes, such as him "saving" her during the cannon explosion and the two of them screeching while locked inside the particle vibrator). And I think Mr. Nigel Murray could be my favorite of the interns of the week. Plus, and call me a fool, but I go all googly when they get Booth waxing rhapsodic about sex in contrast to Brennan's cold rationalism.

This was an episode that truly understood the heart of its characters (even the tiny ones- in her tiny scenes, Cam was all sorts of awesome, trying to offset the zaniness of Nigel Murray and Hodgins shooting cannons).

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Glee Promo - Don't Stop Believin!


Monday, April 06, 2009

New Poll

Be sure to vote in My TV's newest poll "Who Are Your Favourite Daily Show Correspondents/Contributors?" Personally, I'm a Wyatt Cenac fan! Feel free to pick multiple answers.

And if you havn't yet, also be sure to vote in our other polls:
"Which Cancelled Shows Will You Miss the Most?"
"Which is Your Favourite Joss Whedon Show?" (pre-Dollhouse)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dollhouse Event: Needs

Last night's Dollhouse was advertised by FOX as an "Event" and Whedon himself hyped it by saying that 6 and 8 were the real pinnacle of the beginning of the Season. I have to say though, I was a little... dare I say it?... disappointed.

It's not that "Needs" wasn't a good episode, rife with metaphoric and character awesomeness, but if you're expecting the type of show changing insanity of Episode 6 (or even the type of show changing insanity seemingly promised by a preview that featured the line, "Echo?" "Not anymore."), you'll be disappointed.

Let's start with what I did like: The beginning Ballard fantasy sequence, which was basically en excuse for Eliza and Tahmoh to make out, and to feature more naked Ballard scenes. But it also served to fully articulate how far down the Echo-rabbit-hole he's falling.

The basic plot of tonight's episode (which is inherently spoileriffic to discuss, since the episode was a twisty mind frack of an episode that played upon our lack of knowledge, so please don't read this until you've seen the episode) was that Dewitt, seeing the way that the glitches and the mistakes keep growing and growing inside the Dollhouse, decides they need to turn to radical measures to fix up their house. Throughout the episode, they play with our understanding of exactly what is going on. Then all our main dolls wake up, suddenly their normal selves (Caroline, etc.). This provides us with an excellent opportunity to get to know their real selves, and unlike the time spent with Caroline last week, it was pretty great. Non-doll Victor was all sorts of awesome love (in fact, Victor is quickly becoming one of the hidden strengths of this show. He's the only actor who does everything from blank state to comedic love slave to russian informant with equal aplomb), and australian-accented Sierra was great. Their love story, before now only seen through man-reactions in doll state, was really brought to the foreferont, and it was all the adorable, chemistry beautifulness that I've come to expect from Whedon-love. Caroline was much less annoying, and, although I still think she's a dummy for going back into The Dollhouse once she had the opportunity to escape, it's starting to feel more like a character choice and less like a failing. Mellie's storyline was sad, and all, but god was that dress they put her in awkwardly fitting.

The doll-awakening is played intentionally ambiguous for awhile, and this works well. Are we meant to think Alpha or the inside man are finally making their big move? That's the closest we got to a theory, until this.

Dominic: Four actives are attempting to escape.
Dewitt: Right on Schedule.

BAM WOW! Cut to commercial break.

So, it peels out, that Dewitt in fact not only knows of the brewing would-be mutiny, but she's using it to test her security systems. Just when we think we've got a handle on it, when Echo triumphantly leads Dewitt and all the other dolls out at gunpoint and we're left to think "WHAT THE FRACK?" She collapses to the ground. Everything you thought you knew and saw is completely different.

It turns out that all the dolls, "broken" as articulated by Boyd two weeks ago, are haunted by the lives they once lived and the experiences they had. You can wipe a mind, but you can't erase the past no matter how much you try. In an attempt to help characters who no longer live the lives they need to fix get over the issues that led them into the Dollhouse's grasp in the first place, Saunders came up with a plan to revert them to their original programming, sans memories, and allow them to find the closure more often than not denied to them. It's a beautifully structured metaphor that plays out dramatically.

The overall structure of this week's episode is classic Joss Whedon. He sets us up to believe we're watching one type of episode, and then in the last ten minutes completely flips the setup by returning to a scene we thought we had already experienced. (See also:
Angel "Power Play" and Buffy "Enemies") It works well, and also is symbolic of how much this show wants to play with what we think we know.

This episode also gave us a lot of opportunity to explore the confines of the show's more ambiguous characters. Topher truly believes he's doing good in the world (and it went a long way towards making me love him that rather than being pissed or scared when Echo breaks into his lab and cuts the power, he's impressed). Dewitt has her own, strict rules and beliefs in regard to the Dollhouse. Saunders is as damaged morally as any other person in that hellish place. For the third episode in a row, Boyd got to play the least ambiguously good guy, but I'm starting to wonder, how long can a good man take part in bad things without becoming weak (or worse yet, bad himself)?

There's also hints of further backstory, such as Dewitt telling Caroline, "you couldn't live with the consequences of your actions." It's got to be more than just a boyfriend getting hit in accidental fire during a misguided animal rights campaign. The Sierra into Doll storyline is still playing with the rape themes, and I'm hoping she gets to play more than sexual victim in the future (albeit a badass, australian, sexual victim).

On top of that, we also got a pretty big fleshing out of the way the contract works, or at least the way that Topher thinks it works. And we get to see the scope of our individual dollhouse franchise, which helps to repress any qualms we might have with the idea that none of the missions we see seem to go off without a hitch (there's actually a lot of dolls we know nothing about, doing their jobs effectively and without needing major saving a la Echo).

I found myself annoyed through a lot of this episode by what I was perceiving as obvious plot holes. Then, as if he could hear my brain, Whedon fixed it. Why would Echo and one gun be able to completely dismantle the Dollhouse? Oh wait, she couldn't (they're playing her). Why would only the dolls we care about be affected by the awakening? Totally intentional. Why would Dewitt risk all these dolls just to test her security and not even program in some sort of failsafe? She wouldn't. Why would I watch a whole episode (a whole, hugely hyped episode) just to have it all hit the reset button at the end? We wouldn't.

The only true forward momentum in this episode happened in the last four minutes. After all the Echo, Dewitt, Mellie, Sierra and Victor shenanigans, we cut back to Ballard, whose been back in fact finding mode all episode (since his early on steaminess with Eliza). Just when I was ready to write the whole episode off, he gets a phone call from a pre-mind-wipe Caroline, dropping tantalizing hints and propelling him forward into the next episode.

In contrast to last week's review, I feel like this one is almost too positive. Oh well. Great Whedon episodes are like rich novels.

Random Fun:

Dominic (explaining the dolls): If you're child starts to talk, you're proud. If you're dog starts to talk, you freak the hell out.

Caroline: definitely feeling kind of lab ratty.
(super Buffy-esque)

They don't remember who they are, but Victor remembers the New York starting lineup from 1996? (and hehe, he's a Mets fan, aka the good kind of New Yorker)

Mike (the last doll) was the classic Red Shirt from Star Trek. And if you don't get that reference,y ou're probably a lot cooler than me.

Kickin' girl fight between the handler and Caroline.
Topher: I am BTW. Afraid of the dark."

Caroline: (re: Dewitt) then you are one sick bitch.

Caroline (also re: Dewitt) Your unbearable truth lady? You're not as important as you think you are.

Saunders: (explaining her whole scenario for this episode) Just the priority cases. Let the tide come in. It's the only way to wash it back out.

NEXT FRIDAY?! WE have a spy inside the dollhouse.
I feel like Dewitt says at least once every episode "I should have seen this coming."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Revisiting Camille Saroyan

I've been enjoying the way Bones is leading to the inevitable Booth and Brennan shenanigans all season long, with the often goofy, character-centered episodes that have become a staple of the show's fourth season. But it was a nice change of pace to have this week's episode of Bones focused on the back story of Camille Saroyan. Too often, the level-headed, sensible Saroyan takes a back seat to her far more eccentric colleagues, reduced to nothing more than a dry wit and perfectly sculpted arched eyebrow. This week saw her dealing with the death of an old love in a way that was simultaneously heartbreaking and believable (you could see the pain on her face in every scene, but Camille is nothing if not a professional, and she did her damn job). When the hurt teenage daughter that could have been Camille's tells her "Maybe [he cheated] because he knew you weren't good enough. Maybe he was just waiting for the right moment," she takes a moment. She's clearly broken and sad, but Camille is a true and complete adult (a rare commodity on television) and she swallows it all and says, "maybe." I love that Camille is enough of an adult that she doesn't blow up on a mourning teenage girl just because she said that meanest thing she could think of.

On top of this, the renewed emphasis on Bones and Camille's differing world views was a welcome return to their original strange chemistry. The two strong, brilliant women disagreeing can be amazing, and brings out the best in both of them. But when they agree, and bond over their shared inability to deal with people, it's gold.

Camille: Questioning people isn't really my thing. Most of the time I just want to beat them until they tell me what I want to hear.
Brennan: I know. It can be quite frustrating.

And Brennan and Camille bonding over Camille's desire to save her once-would-be-daughter (referencing the pain Brennan once felt in being a foster child, tossed through the system) was probably one of the most beautiful moments in the series history of non-Booth/Brennan chemistry, and really emphasized how far they've both come.

While the Camille-focused storyline breathed fresh air into the show, there were still a lot of sticking points, where the show seems incapable of getting the tonal balance quite right. The angela is uber horny storyline was sort of stupid, and I'm inclined to side with intern of the week Craig that it's inappropriate in the workplace. But the payoff with the "romantic partner" coming in to get Angela to back off (but in true feminist solidarity, not being angry at all, but sympathizing with the plight of a woman trying not to reduce all her relationships to sex) was almost enough to make me forgive the ridiculousness of Angela being reduced to a mass of hormones throughout the rest of the episode. Plus, it led to some pretty funny analysis (and objectification) of the male actors on the show.

My favorite?

Angela: [re: Hodgins] He does have a terrific ass."
Brennan: Perhaps that's why you're always making him leave.

And oh my god was the fantasy sequence inside the hypnosis sequence idiotic. It was funny, but it didn't fit in an otherwise serious and moving episode, and like the recent boat apparition and emphasis on the supernatural, didn't seem to belong in a show quite so rooted in science (although "Uh... dude? You're blocking my way." to the giraffe was pretty funny).

All together, a damn fine episode. Hopefully we'll get more of this type of character building, and less being trapped on a boat in the upcoming episodes.


If you sat through this week's episode of 90210, you now understand the definition of "ridiculous". 90210 already has trouble with believability; the main characters on this show are in high school, yet they are able to do as they please; the parent involvement is dismal, at best. However, I've grown accustomed to this altered reality that Silver, Annie, and Naomi live in. I've accepted that these high school students have more money than I ever will; I've accepted that these high school students have more sexual experience than any of my friends; and I've even accepted that these high school students live by a completely different set of laws than any high school student I've ever met. But, I cannot accept drag racing. I cannot accept that Silver would make a film of she and Dixon having sex and think it suitable for an English class. And, I cannot accept Silver's irrational breakdown.

First: Naomi and Liam. Liam is the new bad boy in school (and an exact Dylan McKay carbon copy). She wants him...she fantasizes about him. In this show, this is within the the realm of possibility. Now, as per-usual Naomi fashion, she insists on going with Liam to some place that is "not her scene." That place happens to be somewhere outside of Beverly Hills, where Liam and his nefarious friends drag race. Drag Race! Yes, Drag Racing. She, again, insists on being in the car when Liam decides to race his opponent---and she LOVES it. I have a problem with this story line because, really? How far can the stories on the show really go? At the end of this date, Liam drives Naomi back to the school parking lot, kisses her, and then drives off. This show needs to remember that their characters may not have parents to set boundaries, but the characters are still 16-17. They are still in school! They haven't even begun to start college applications. Let's be real, even if we're playing by Beverly Hills TV rules.

Second and Third: It took a great deal of strength for Silver to open up and tell Dixon she loves him. However, when she decided to let her love flow freely, everything came out. And, I mean everything. All her crazy. Silver is now obsessed with letting Dixon know how much she loves him, beginning with a tattoo. This week was all kinds of new crazy for her; for her poetry assignment she decided to make a movie. For this movie, she thought it was suitable to film Dixon and her having sex; she even thought it was suitable to show this film to everyone at her school. This arc is a complete 180 for Silver. How can a character go from being reserved about her feelings to showing everyone her sex life, without asking her boyfriend? I just don't believe this. The cherry on top of this story is that Silver has decided to blame Mr. Matthews, her English teacher. Somehow, she's convinced herself that Mr. Matthews was getting revenge for the nasty blog she posted about him; and because she thought this was revenge, she broke into his apartment. Broke into his apartment! Again, I acknowledge that Silver doesn't have a consistent parental figure in her life, but when does it become acceptable to break into a teacher's apartment? When does it become okay to assault your teacher? Silver is usually my favorite character because she manages to stand out. She speaks her mind. She critiques the 90210-living style. She is sensible, but fun. But I can't stand this crazy Silver. She has no boundaries (which she thinks is okay, too)...she does not think anything through. I want the old Silver and Dixon back because they were my favorite couple.

This episode really was a drag because it required so much energy to even consider believing these stories, they wouldn't even fly on One Tree Hill (a show that's entire purpose is craziness). There's a thin line between fun/crazy and crazy/crazy and 90210 crossed it this week.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My Favourite Idol Performance

This is what a singer sounds like- season 8, LISTEN UP!

This is American Idol?

Last night I watched American Idol for the first time in almost 5 years. After season 3 I just sort of quit the reality juggernaut. So going back to it was a bit of a strange experience. I, of course, knew of all the changes, but I didn't expect it to seem like a completely different show. 

First of all, there's the new fourth judge. I understand the basic reasoning behind adding her but all she seems to do is create unnecessary tension on the panel (last night she scolded the audience and then Simon scolded her!). She does add a legitimately knowledgeable female voice but she also makes it necessary for them all to squawk over each other to get their opinion out in the allotted time. 

And the instruments. That's actually pretty cool. After all, a good chunk of successful singers these days play an instrument, why shouldn't the idols? But doesn't it sort of seem like it takes the pressure off the actual vocals a little bit? 

Which brings me to- the singers. There were very few of them that didn't make me want to hurl things at the screen. Adam Lambert is obviously a huge talent (though I would expect nothing less from a member of the cast of Wicked. If you can sing theatre you can sing anything) and Kris Allen was pretty good this week too. Though their vocals were passable, Lil Rounds, Danny Gokey, and Annop Desai seemed like wedding singers, desperately trying to copy the original (why not just hire a DJ instead?), Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta and Scott MacIntyre were simply substandard and Megan Joy inspired dislike the second she opened her mouth. 

When I last watched the show, no one was pretending to be Usher, the whole thing didn't reek of karaoke the way it does now. Remember Jennifer Hudson's "Circle of Life", Diana DeGarmo's "Don't Cry Out Loud" or Latoya London's "Don't Rain on My Parade"? Kelly Clarkson's "RESPECT" and Clay Aiken's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters- that was American Idol, this is a Friday night at a bar in Chinatown. 

Happier News in the Buffyverse

My favourite famous couple had a baby!

Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof (Willow and Wesley in Buffy/Angel)'s first child, a daughter named Satyana Denisof, was born on March 24th, her mother's birthday, in LA.

After meeting on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1999, the couple was married in 2003 and serve as godparents to Joss Whedon (the creator of Buffy/Angel)'s son Arden.

Alyson is currently starring in the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother (where they have been hilariously trying to hide her and her costar Cobie Smulders' baby bumps for months).

Congratulations Alyson and Alexis!

To Rachael

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