Friday, September 30, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE FADES EPISODE ONE (2011)

"Yep...riding bikes indoors...'cause we're DAREDEVILS!"
"Do you think I'm mad?"
"Well if you're mad, we'll find a way to cope with it. But it's equally possible that what we're seeing is what other people can't, and you're, you know, special."

1) Well, this is a much different version of estate living than we got in the Davies-era Doctor Who, that's for sure. This is a much more broken down environment for our hero to play in. But then, given that this show makes it clear that it's a horror show--from its earthy color pallet to the skittering figures in the background to the shot of series lead Paul (Iain De Caetecker) doing his best Anthony Perkins upon seeing the ghostie of the week--the show's background is appropriate.

2) I know Mac, assayed by Daniel Kaluuya, is meant to be the Xander to Paul's Buffy--you know, the wisecracking comic relief guy who can get truly annoying--but the guy won me over fairly early on. The the way he sells his rationalization of the gunfire he heard as 'they can't be real gunshots. We're in England' won me over in a flash.

3) Eyeball licking monsters...ewwwwwww.

4) Somehow I can't imagine an American horror or suspense show that makes such a big deal about the hero peeing his pants. A comedy, sure...but a deadly serious show about ghosts infringing on the real world...

(But then, given the girl on the toilet in a later scene, I'm beginning to think the producers of this show have an obsession with urine.)

THIS is the true horror of The Fades....
5) I see overacting teenagers confusing brattiness with psychotic behavior isn't confined to the United States.  Thanks a lot, Lily Loveless...

6) Am I the only one who wonders if Tom Ellis was hired solely for his remarkable resemblance to Dylan McDermott?

7) I have to say...of all the characters, I think I like Daniela Nardini's Helen the best. She's got an edge of ruthlessness and practicality right from the start...and there's there's definitely a sense that her hard bitten nature is not derived from her losing faith--that it may actually be there because of her faith. Pity I suspect she won't be around for Episodes two through seven.

8) You know, the script by Jack Thorne plants in our heads the idea that having organic matter pass through the fades burns them...but the surprise in learning that it isn't a metaphor, and that a fade will burst into embers and ash once you walk through it, is one of the better supernatural moments of the story.

Boy, the Ghost Busters sure fell on hard times....
9) Okay, the constant pop culture references are beginning to get on my nerves. They're forced, and only serves to remind me that this is yet another attempt by the BBC to get a second lil' Whedonverse-esque merchandising machine up and spitting out cash.

10) You know, now that I've got a better look at it, maaaaaybe I'd be more freaked by eyeball licking monster dude if he didn't look like Andy Dick after a few too many nights of partying.

Overall...this is better than some of the earlier attempts British television had made to recreate Buffy (I'm looking at you, Hex and Demons)...but I don't know if there's enough there to raise it up above being nothing more than a pale imitation of Joss Whedon's baby.

Of course, I have to also wonder why a nation with such a rich heritage of horror fiction keeps looking to a series over a decade old for inspiration for their own television genre shows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


And number one on the list of WHO characters we'd rather
not have seen returned.....
"You know when I was little like you I dreamt of the stars. Yeah. I think it's fair to say, in the language of your age, that I lived my dream. I owned the stage. Gave it a hundred and ten percent. I hope you have as much fun as I did, Alfie."

1) It's good that we've got Matt Smith left to his own devices for a while here...and I admit, I enjoy the conflicted way he insists he's not going to check out the Mystery of The Week while he's, you know, checking out the mystery of the week. It makes it very obvious that helping is ingrained in his nature no matter how isolated he wants to be.

2) I really don't think Craig--a character introduced in 'The Lodger' to give contrast to the sort of life the Doctor usually leads--was a rich enough character to warrant this second look, especially since now he's firmly in the companion mode. Yeah, James Cordon is still up to the task of being Craig, but there's this definite sense that his story was effectively done last time, and his presence hinders the tale rather than helps. This might be why, no matter how many times we've asked for it, we've never seen outstanding one-off characters like Sally Sparrow again...

That, or James Cordon hasn't been called up to Hollywood to appear as the secondary comedy relief in inconsequential movies yet.

3) Now, you see...this is how you handle returning villains. Since we haven't seen the Cybermen in full fetter in several seasons (stray stragglers like the one left to guard the Pandorica aside), there's a sense of excitement in seeing them again. Even if we are seeing them operating out of a mall.

4) I think it's telling concerning this episode that when we get a glimpse of Rory and Amy from afar at the 18 minute mark, I wished we would follow them for a bit.

5) Here's the thing--when we see Smith on his own for a bit, like when he's admitting how old he feels to Alfie, the show slowly wakes up. We get something we haven't gotten for a while in this leg of the season, namely a sense of what the Doctor is thinking about his position now and his coming end. Hell, Smith even does something with his face that makes you realize how old he actually is. I have to wonder if Moffat should have had the courage to let Smith go it alone for a while and not saddle him with a comedy sidekick and a baby.

6) God, the thousand yard stare on Matt Smith's face at times in this episode is truly heart-breaking.

Yep...good ol' fashioned nightmare fuel....
7) I do like the redesigned Cybermat. The problem with Cybermats in the past is that they never looked like much of a threat. But these guys do--not because of the rows of teeth, but the sparks that emerge from said rows of teeth.

8) so, ummm....the Cybermen died because they couldn't handle Craig's emotions for his son?

I'm sorry, that's a little...silly, innit?

9) Attention to detail--the Doctor had a stetson in episode one of this season, and now we know how he got it. It's The Moffat way!

Yep...still totally cute....
10) For a second there, I actually believed in Frances Barber's Madame Kovarian--and then Barber took a big healthy bite of scenery, thus disrupting all the atmosphere director Steve Hughes had built up in the scene. I really hope at least her phase of this story is over, because I never quite bought Kovarian as a serious threat due to Barber's over-the-topness.

In short....yet another uneven episode. What works in it does so firmly because of Matt Smith, and the presence of Craig truly didn't help.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

BRAVE VIEWED WORLD 2011 Edition Week One

It's the middle of September, which means the Broadcast Networks (are there 'broadcast networks' anymore, given how everything is all digital now?) are marching out their bright shiny new shows, hoping to lure us away from our cable addictions for a couple of months.

So what I've decided to do is take a look at the pilots of all the shows that even vaguely interest me--as you'll learn, many of these are looked at because, well, I once crushed on an actress contained within--and give you my impressions, ending with whether I plan on giving the show a second watch or not. This entry will be rather longish, but I imagine the next two or three weeks will be noticably shorter.

Alright, ramblers...let's get rambling.

2 Broke Girls: Much like NBC Thursday Night sitcoms of the late 80's and early 90's, CBS Monday Night Sitcoms have codified into their very own brand. To be specific, CBS Monday Night comedies are set in urban environments and posture like they're hip urban shows...when their real intent is quite the opposite. They're designed to let the suburban and flyover types know that they've made the right decision--that the people that society hail as sophisticated and intelligent are really freaks and weirdos. Hell, this network is so skilled in finding these shows that they managed to unleash one that makes geek culture out to be pathetic, stupid and contemptuously laughable--and yet has convinced the bulk of Geek Nation that it's actually a love letter to them.

Pretty girls laughing at you in a superior way...apparently
Bowling For Soup was right, and High School Never Ends.

Loving the significant other that shows us nothing but disrespect...that's the American way.

I say that to say this: 2 Broke Girls is definitely in that CBS Monday Night Sitcom mode. I decided to watch it based on my fondness for Kat Dennings, who has proven to be a clever and able actress...but this is one mean-spirited, cynical and nasty show (you know, much like the aforementioned Big Bang Theory, except this one doesn't have a Barenaked Ladies theme song). We're supposed to identify with Dennings' Kat because she constantly belittles and shows up all the hipsters surrounding her, but--much like BBT's Sheldon--her behavior is so unpleasant and rude that you can't get behind her. And her world is populated by grotesques--the tiny Asian owner of the diner, the salacious cook, the boho musician boyfriend who cheats on her--who seem to be there just so Max can gain points and 'woohoos' from the Fox News Drones who obviously make up the target audience of this slate of shows. The only character who seems to be genuinely pleasant and fun to see is Garrett Morris' cashier, and he has maybe four lines total.

And then there's the other Broke Girl, Caroline played with broad lack-of-appeal by Beth Behrs, who is obviously meant to be a broad parody of Paris Hilton (who is namechecked). It's painful to watch her try to breathe life into a cartoon, and the 'bonding' between her and Max comes off as forced. It's obvious to me that The Manhattanite Rich are the true freaks of this show...hell, Max even has a second job as a nanny to a second Manhattanite so we can get double the sneering laughter at how stupid and helpless and out of touch with Real Amurricans they are.

To be fair, this one doesn't raise my hackles up as much as Big Bang Theory did, and continues to do, but...fuck this show. I won't be back.

New Girl: This sitcom was apparently built on the idea that Guys Like Zooey Deschanel, not the least because she is pretty much Geek Nation's Ideal Girlfriend--hot, nerd-knowledgable, approachable and seriously quirky. I bet Ben Gibbard is glad he snapped her up before things got out of hand.

It's Zoeey nerdette
glasses!  Must...resist...falling....

Here's the thing, though; throughout the pilot, I never got the sense that neither Deschanel's character Jessie or the three guys into whose impossibly spacious apartment she moves into are anything more than Quirks On Two Legs. I never felt this quartet of main characters had a life before the set-up, and the show seems to be in love with the strange habits of each one (Hey, Jessie likes to sing at inappropriate moments! One guy has anger issues! Another guy has a Douchebag Jar!). It's sad given the talent on display--not only am I a fan of Deschanel, I really liked Max Greenberg during his brief turn as a romantic interest on Veronica Mars. I laughed maybe twice, and I am feeling the same way about this I felt about Shit My Dad Said last year, where I was torn between wanting a weekly dose of Nicole Sullivan and not wanting her stuck in such a crap sitcom--I want to support Zooey, but I have a sneaking suspicion I don't want to spend a half hour every week with these cyphers. I may give it one more shot.

Unforgetable: My first drama, one I decided to watch because I was intrigued by the premise, and because I used to have a crush on Poppy Montgomery when she played coroner Ellie Sparks in the very short lived Kevin Williamson soaper-with-something-spooky Glory Days (which still has one of the best taglines of any television series ever: 'Welcome to Glory. Population...dwindling'). And one of the first things that strikes you about this series is how it conforms to CBS' Crime Drama meme. It's all there--the mood lighting, the mix of soft jazz and pop music as a score, the sepia-toned arty cinematography and echoey sound mix when it comes to flashbacks. You could swap out Montgomery and romantic and professional foil Dylan Walsh with any of the CSI groups without any disruption of the episode's flow.

" that Gary Sinese shooting up the block?"

And yet...there is definitely something about this show that is compelling. Most of it is how Montgomery's Carrie Wells is one of those people who seem to enjoy her particular talent; so many other crime dramas like this seem to delight in showing us how unhappy these people are with being unique, and seeing Carrie reel off facts and figures with that uniquely sexy smile on her face is simply fun. But I have to wonder if all there is. The twist in the mystery, quite frankly, was so thunderingly obvious you had to wonder why no one in the squad brought up the possibility and the overarc (because every single CBS Crime Drama needs to have their leads haunted by a Case They Never Solved) is still so sketchy as to be unreadable at this moment.

Whether this series succeeds beyond an initial thirteen week commitment rests on whether the producers managed to build a compelling enough structure around Wells; if all they're giving us is just another CBS Crime Drama with Poppy Montgomery--who, let's be honest, hasn't had to carry a show by herself before--they might find their watching populace...dwindling. But for the time being I'll give it an episode or two more.

The Office: Yes, it's not a new program, but it's the first one with James Spader in the driver's seat, so it's a new show to me. And, as anyone who listens to my podcast knows, Spader is one of my favorite actors. Hell, I put up with the miserable bullcrap David E. Kelley shoveled on my head during the four years of Boston Legal just to get a weekly dose of Spader-y goodness.

Beware James Spader and his enigma-stare!
Which brings us to this episode, and Spader's first turn as CEO of the titular office. I gotta be honest--I found the show thoroughly inpenetrable...but since Spader's Robert California seems to be a willful spanner in the works, intentionally finding ways to put everyone off balance to keep them on their toes in the name of 'positive reinforcement', it really doesn't matter that I don't know who anyone is. There's a certain joy in seeing California behave in this strange, enigmatic way that only Spader can pull off just to see how the people around him will react. So yes, because it's James Spader, I am going to watch some more.

Yep...only good thing in this show...

Whitney: This however....God, this show (watched only because it's between The Office and Prime Suspect) is a microcosm of everything I hate about the modern sitcom: people who just don't interact like real human beings and speak in great gobs of exposition, supporting characters who seem to have no life outside of the scenes they're in, plotting that's on the rails to the point of predictable...and all delivered by an actress who is admittedly hellacute (and fills out a naughty nurse outfit quite admirably) but seems devoid of charisma. Whitney Cummings has this weird habit of acting through her forearms--every statement is punctuated with this rotating of her hands outwards until they're at a right angle from her body--that is truly and sincerely annoying. It also doesn't help that the actor playing her boyfriend is thoroughly bland. I hated these people about five minutes in, wanted them all to die, and hope to never have to think about this show ever, ever again.

Prime Suspect: Admittedly, I wanted to see this pilot not because I was intrigued--even though I think Maria Bello is a Hell of An Actress--but because the rumor was that this was a legendarily bad first episode.

Don't look at me that way. Everyone loves a train wreck.'s Maria a funky hat!  Don't you wanna
watch now?
And to be fair, this pilot--directed by personal favorite Peter Berg--is not legendarily bad. Oh, it has bad elements to it, but it also has some pretty good elements to it as well. Once you get past the sweeping overhead shots of New York, there's a definite subdued look to the show with an emphasis on whites and earth tones. I also like how many of the actors surrounding Bello tend toward the subdued as well, as if they're trying to shore up the fact that this is a serious show. I particularly liked Aiden Quinn's turn as the Chief of Detectives.

However...there is a definite schism in how this series see itself, and only half of that schism works. When we have Bello waving around her gun to harass a taxi driver or blackmail her fiance's ex-wife into giving him visitation, the show just falls to pieces. On the other hand, when we have Bello telling a child who witnessed his mother's murder that she would help him kill the murderer or utilizes her knowledge of vice to exonerate a suspect, the show works. The show runner is really going to have to decide whether this is going to be a character drama where the characters happen to be cops or a 'case of the week' show...because as much as I disliked all the character drama stuff, I still think Bello could pull it off by sheer dint of talent, but being pulled in two directions like she was in this pilot, the show will never find its footing.

I am going to give this some more viewings to see if the producers resolve the show's schizophrenic nature.

Next Week...two pilots I didn't cover from this week, plus dinosaurs and Christina Ricci in a tight stewardess' dress.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ten Statements About....KILLER ELITE (2011)

The truth?  The guy in the chair would kick the ass of
the guy with the gun any day...
1) The pre-title sequence is extremely well-crafted. In just a few minutes, we get a real sense of the relationship between Statham's Bryce and DeNiro's Hunter, learn a little bit about both them and their partner, see them in action and find out why Bryce walked away. It's the sort of quick storytelling that the film really needs...and that we don't see again.

2) The film is frequently in danger of being stolen by Dominic Purcell's Davies and Aden Young's Meier. These two work off each other extremely well--and off Statham--that I sort of wish we could see the three of them put together for an real caper flick. As it is, they light up the screen, and their presence is missed in the film's second half.

3) While I understand that the film is based on a non-fiction book recounting events set in 1981, there's no reason why the film needed to be set in 1981. We never get a sense of the film taking place in the past, and the themes and elements contained within are just as pertinent to a modern day story. On top of that, I'm sure the film is so fictionalized that saying it was 'based on a true story' is questionable (thus the 'suggested by the book' credit at the end). Hell, except for the crawl at the beginning and end of the film, I wouldn't have noticed it was a period piece.

First Stallone, now deNiro...Statham is specializing in
starring with Ass-Kicking Grampas!
4) Look, I know Yvonne Strahovski is uncommonly tall--you only have to look at the shot of her and Statham kissing to realize this--but she still looks weirdly like a much taller woman squished into the form she's in now. That being said, she does her thankless task as Bryce's Girl admirably and with grace, and it's refreshing to see her act with her natural accent.

5) Once again, the shakey cam is a detriment. Hey, I understand that using shakey cam allows the director to hide the use of stunt doubles, but you don't hire Jason Statham and Clive Owen, two of the most physically capable actors around today, and then blunt our attempts to appreciate their physicality by giving the cameraman a triple cappuccino with added sugar.

6) It's real nice to see that director Gary McKendry allows deNiro a small but effective fight sequence to remind us that at one time he was as physically capable as the other two leads.

7) And speaking of deNiro, I do like that the script from McKendry and Matt Sherring presents his Hunter as someone who is proud of Bryce for walking away. All too often, we get the mentors who try to pull their proteges back in, but McKendry realizes the story is about things other than that.

8) I gotta wonder if the sudden appearance of a third player in this film's intrigue just complicates things needlessly, since that aspect of film disappears just as quickly as it is introduced.

Jason Statham is about to kick a guy's ass tied to a chair. 
This is why he is Cooler Than You.
9) I also have to wonder if the secret society of S.A.S. agents, The Feathermen, is truly necessary to the plot. We only see them two or three times giving orders to Owen's Spike, boasting about how they control things...and yet, we never see any proof they do. Isn't the concept of 'Mercenaries Vs. S.A.S. Bad Asses' enough to sell your story?

10) And speaking of The Feathermen...this movie is supposedly 'suggested by' a book named The Feathermen, and yet somebody--McKendry, the producers, whoever--decide to pass on that mysterious sounding name for something as relatively generic as Killer Elite? I suspect someone had Peckinpah on their mind after all.

Overall...meh. Nothing to write home about that could've been better.

Back to the Atlas this time, and another show where someone forgot to turn on the projector lamp until it was time for the trailers. Hearing the audio-only soundtrack to the Firstlook and imagining your own visuals does not make it better. Trailers included The Grey (Daniel Craig versus wolves...shrug), Paranormal Activity 3 (double shrug), J. Edgar (which is really intriguing) and The Rum Diary (which I want to see...the prospect of Johnny Depp returning to Hunter S. Thompson at a point in his career prior to the events of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the influence of an outre director like Terry Gilliam is...fascinating).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ten Statements About....DOCTOR WHO SEASON SIX, EPISODE ELEVEN: The God Complex (2011)

Nooooes!!!  Creepy Dummy Alert!  A roomful of them!
"Your civilization is one of the oldest in the galaxy. Now I see why. Cowardice isn't quaint, it's sly, aggressive. It's how that dune of gutlessness has survived while so many others have perished. Well not today. No one else dies today. Right?"

1) seems, at least in part, that this episode is going to be taking the piss out of the Found Footage Film...either that or telling us how cool the Stanley Kubrick Shining was...

2) Okay, I think we can add Amara Karan's Rita to the list of One Off Reboot Who Characters Who Should Have Been Companions...and I'm not just basing that on the fact that she, like Carey Mulligan's Sally Sparrow, is Wicked Hot.

3) You know...this feels like another one of these episodes that should've been aired earlier in the season, before we got deep into the Demon Run stuff at the break. The fact that we've had three stand-alones with almost no nod towards the Big Epic Storyline the first half of the season built up is stealing a lot of momentum from the overarc. Hell, it's almost like we haven't returned to the overarc at all since the end of the first half, and that could prove fatal to the season flow as a whole.

Trust's not what you think.
4) So that's how we got the Weeping Angels into this season...and since it's not Real Weeping Angel Stuffage, the power of those monsters stays intact.

5) This is--given that this is an entire episode obstentively set in a hotel--surprisingly stylish. Between the 'found footage' shots, the deep focus pulls, the tracking and the subliminal text messages, it gives this episode a look and feel quite apart from the other episodes we've seen this season.

6) I do not trust this Gibbis guy (this is being written at the 16:21 mark)--the way he reacts after Amy tries to comfort him, reminding her that there's a room out there waiting for her, then smiling gleefully...

7) I love the scene with The Doctor and Rory...and once again, Arthur Darvil drives home something that is supposed to be part of the overarc--reminding the Doctor that sometimes small victories matter as much as the larger ones, and not everything has to be about Saving The Universe.

8) I can sorta see why this episode is in this season, as it deals head on with the way the Doctor can potentially wreck the lives of his companions, and how to give the minotaur the release it asked for he has to destroy the faith Amy has in him. It all ties in with the motivations behind the Silence Conspiracy and yet...there's something hollow there.

Oh, if only there was room in the TARDIS for you, my
lovely Rita...
9) Ahhhh....yet another connection to old Who...although I have to wonder if, of all the monsters we encountered in the classic series, we really needed a shoutback to the Nimon.

10) I would perfectly accept this as the final goodbye to Amy and Rory...if the whole Silence Conspiracy/Demon's Run/New Mexico Death thing wasn't hanging out there in space. Hell, I have this sneaking suspicion that Moffat intended 'Let's Kill Hitler' to close off that thread for a while. If that's the truth, I worry that's the first major misstep Moffat has made.

In short...I can see the whys and wherefors of this episode--but the placing of it toward the end of the season when it should've be at the beginning, and the willful ignorance of the overarc except in setting up a sympathetic resonance inhibits it from being a great episode. Pity, because there are some great performances in here, especially Ms. Karan.

This has proven to be a very frustrating season.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ten Statements--No Wait, Eleven!--About....TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Episode Ten 'The Blood Line' (2011)

Would that Gwen had that gun trained on Russell T. Davies
to prevent him from ever writing anything again...
"You take care. Don't do those stupid, lame-ass Torchwood things.  Be a professional for once."

1) much as this ten weeks have thoroughly eroded my affection and love for Eve Myles, there's a moment at the five minute, fifteen second mark where she teases Oswald Danes with the idea that Death is about to return to Earth. She then smiles ever-so-slightly, and I was suddenly reminded why she is so supremely sexy, and why Gwen Cooper, through most of the series, was one of the few characters I actively liked.

2) Once again, we're getting Russell T. Davies trying to prove he knows how to use Google in place of natural dialogue. That being said...

3) I give him props for following one of the precepts for making Effective villains--namely, that the villains should never think they're the bad guys. Frances Fisher, as the unnamed face of The Three Families, really sells the idea that this group is not motivated by malice but a true desire to make the world a better place. It's just a pity that Fisher, and her character, was nowhere to be seen for the first eight episodes.

"You mean I have to come back if there's a 5th
season?  Awwww, man...."
4) I know that Davies wrote that scene between Jack and Oswald as something truly profound and meaningful, with a final line that's supposed to stir us up for the coming climax. But it doesn't. Even the basic idea of comparing the two and trying to make them into similar people only diminishes Jack.

5) And once again, Kai 'The Jason Segal of Wales' Owen proves in one brief scene why he is my favorite character in the history of the show.

6) I swear, this is the single dumbest CIA unit in the history of media. Marina Benedict's Charlotte did everything short of putting on a mustache and twirling it when she planted the bomb.

7) As engaging as Fisher was--the dumbass on the Buenos Aires end of The Blessing (I'm assuming this is Chris Butler, who's billed as 'The Cousin') was a prime example of how not to play the bad guy. Cackling, loud and boisterous, he takes away a lot of the gravitas of this final stand-off. Everytime he shares screentime with Fisher, he actually makes her less effective.

8) Could someone please point out to Davies that when Angel (for that is what Torchwood has always been, the darker, more 'adult' Angel to Doctor Who's Buffy) broke away from its parent show fully, it divested itself of those remnants of the original? Constantly citing the Doctor and his mythology only reminds us of a better show--and prolly pisses off Stephan Moffat to no end.

9) Again, I have to reiterate--if the Rex that we got in this and the previous episode, who proves again in this episode that he's a lot cleverer than he seems, was the Rex we got from Episode One, I might have a higher opinion of this show.

Somehow, I think it's appropriate that this season ends
with a funeral...of the series itself, I'm thinking.
10) Okay, you've just spent ten weeks reminding us that Gwen is The Angel of Freakin' Ass-Kickery...and yet, she struggles against pampered, tiny lil' obnoxious Jilly Kitzinger? Fuck you.

11) Oh. My. Lord. Surely Davies doesn't think that we're going to buy that the computer screen zoomed in on Charlotte's name as it plays out on Rex's cellphone? Because if he does, he must think we're stupider than I ever imagined.

Overall...I was alllllmost tricked into begrudgingly liking this episode thanks to a particularly strong first half hour. But then reality crashes in and we're treated to some ludicrous stuff, a climax that, quite frankly, explains next to nothing, and a set up for what I know Davies is hoping will be a second season of real bald-faced X-Files rip-offery. With this, Davies has frittered away all the good will he earned with the Chidren of Earth arc, and hopefully will disappear into the same black hole that apparently claimed such similar charlatans as Chris Carter and Tim Kring.

Fuck this season.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


"Let me resolve this quickly, 'cause I have a finale to attend
next week."
"It's all fun and games until you get my foot up your ass."

1) See that slight, red-headed kid next to Ryan Hansen's Dick Casablancas in the opening scene? That's Kyle Gallner, straight from the Smallville episode 'Run,' playing Cassidy 'Beaver' Casablancas. He may not even be called by name at this point, but trust me--he's going to become one of the most important cast members of Season Two.

2) See, this is an example of an A Plot that works: no bad actors, no stoppage of the overarc plots whenever it's onscreen, and a villain who is clever enough to figure out who is behind his harassment and step things up when the A Plot needs complicating.

3) Since the A Plot (and the 'Missing Duncan' thread of the overarc) involves some cyber-snooping, it's time for Tina Majorino to return as Mac. I have to wonder if Thomas and company looked at the chemistry between Bell and Majorino and decided that this was their Holmes and Watson, because Wallace slowly starts being de-emphasized as the series moves forward--to the point where he even disappears from the show for a while in Season Two.

4) One of the reasons this A Plot works is due to Natalia Baron's Carmen. Unlike last episode's turn by Claire Titleman's Mandy, Baron shows a degree of subtlety in her distress, choosing to underplay her feelings while being very clear about them. In fact, the only time she threatens to get cartoony is when we see the glimpses of the 'Popcicle Girl' video, which comes off as someone trying to act scandalously without truly wanting to be scandalous.

5) At the eighteen minute mark or so, we hit a scene that is ostensively about the continuing Logan/Veronica relationship, and seems to end two minutes or so later with Aaron Echolls telling Veronica how he is happy with the two of them together. It's a wonderful scene that makes you feel good...and it is the Single Greatest Swerve in Season One. Writers Phil Klemmer and John Enbon block this out so well--and at this point we identify with Veronica so much that we look upon it as a stamp of approval--that we're not going to realize how badly we've been played until this story fully plays out.

TV's Cliff McCormick...smoooooth.
6) Man, I would pay to see a Daran Norris and Kristen Bell buddy-cop movie. I'm sorry, but they work so well off each other.

7) If there is one thing that bothers me about the A Plot, it's that Klemmer and Enbon play around with tying the situation between Carmen and Tad with one of the show's major themes--namely, class. It's implied several times that there is a perception among some people in the school of Carmen dating Tad to get out of the neighborhood, and of her being with him because she wants to be white..but it's never fully explored. It's an issue that's sort of left out there in the fringes of this story, brought up but never fully addressed.

Yeah, I didn't mention this...but this
happens.  A lot.

8) And now, a positive thing about our writers for this episode--the way they manage to skillfully dovetail the A Plot right back into the overarc, setting us up for the resolution of one of the major mysteries that have been playing in the background since the pilot, is just amazing.

9) And in a similar vien--not only does the final scene feature a clever callback to the pilot, it further pushes the series back onto the track for the climax. We don't even realize that we've experienced the last A Plot some ten minutes ago and Everything Is Going To Be Answered until it's too late.

10) And yes...this is the final A Plot of Season One. The final two episodes will be all about the overarc...and trust me when I say things are going to be getting fast and furious from here on out. excellent episode that masterfully transitions us from the A Plot structure to what amounts as a two-part finale for the overarc. Lots of juiciness overall.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....DOCTOR WHO SEASON SIX, EPISODE TEN: The Girl Who Waited (2011)

It's not the lackluster robot that's the center of this episode,
but the man it's laying its hand on...
"I got old, Rory. What did you think was going to happen?"
"HEY--I don't care that you got old. I care that we didn't grow old together."

1) You'll notice that at this point on their journey, Amy has consistently reached out to Rory...and it's Rory that she entreats to save her--and it makes sense here, since this story is about them (which is fortunate, given how I suspect this is the Second Unit episode).

2) As someone who really, really hates needles, the 'secondary delivery system' of the handbot is pure nightmare fuel.

Believe it or not, this leads to one of the most wonderful
moments of this episode.
3) Wow...the moment when we see how Red Waterfall works is wondrous--which is something we missed these last few episodes.

4) I know there are a lot of people who give Karen Gillen flack for her performance as Amy Pond, and I suspect many of them write her off as another actress who was hired for her looks and not her abilities. I hope that this episode shuts those people up, because I think we really see how deep those abilities are when we are exposed to Red Waterfall Amy.

5) See, I'm wondering more where did Red Waterfall Amy get a samurai sword, and how did she learn how to use it. Sod the Sonic Probe.

6) The real brilliance of this is that it should have been titled 'Rory's Choice.' This episode represents the flip side of the usual situation this couple finds itself in--it's Amy who suffers the tragic fate, it's Amy who dies (metaphorically and, in one case, physically), and it's Rory who has to make the decisions that will map out Amy's fate.

7) This is what these Second Unit show should be about--taking a single character and illuminating them fully. Now the Davies Second Unit episodes tended to illuminate original characters (and this is not a knock at Davies, for the Second Unit Episodes did give us the awesomeness that is Sally Sparrow)...but I like how Moffat, in this episode and last season's 'The Lodger' has used them to create a depth for his main characters. I understand what makes Rory and Amy tick a lot more than I ever understood what makes Rose or Martha tick because I've walked inside their heads for forty-five minutes.

So what's scarier than Amy with a samurai sword?  Well....
8) Yeah, I'll admit...I wish I had a woman promise to tear apart time for me.

9) I sincerely hope this episode will finally shut up all the idjits who have accused Rory and Amy of being Mickey and Rose Light. I'm sorry, but Mickey was never anything more than a convenience to Rose, and there is a real, true and solid love between Rory and Amy, ably facilitated by the chemistry and the skill of Darvill and Gillen.

10) And now we've got another reason why Rory is simply one of the best companions in the history of the show--not only is it clear that Rory loves Amy unconditionally, whether she's Now-Time Amy or Red Waterfall Amy, not only does he always try to find the non-violent way out...he calls the Doctor on his own bullshit when he realizes what making the choice he's asked to make will do to him. I love this character, and I love how Arthur Darvill has brought him so vividly to life.

In short...easily my favorite episode of this season so far, and among my favorite episodes of the rebooted show thanks the the outstanding performances by Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten Statements About....TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Episode Nine 'The Gathering' (2011)

I think Rhys' expression speaks for me...
1) Oh,'s supposedly two months past the point of the previous episode, and still people are talking in factoids Davies gleaned from Google?

2) For the first time in nine hours of television, Davies has finally allowed Mekhi Pfifer to actually act and not run around screaming at everyone. Okay, granted it's to try and make a big ol' chunk of exposition feel somewhere in the neighborhood of natural, but it's the difference between night and day. Sure, it happens far too long after we ceased caring about anyone in this stupid story, but still...honest-to-goodness acting.

3) So since Davies was able to force his Holocaust metaphor back into play, we've now got Gwen's dad playing Anne Frank... Look, I know that science fiction allows us as a culture to address things more frankly than if we addressed them straight on, but surely Davies realizes that copying these things he wants to address so plainly sort of nullifies the whole point of gussying them up as science fiction, right?

"For the last time, I'm not Q, and I don't have the power
to remove this stupid show from your resume, Mekhi.
4) I just want to emphasize this--if this was the Rex we got from episode one, a Rex who was smart and clever and not in everyone's face, who was competent all around (although curiously without the constant pain and suffering Pfifer was forced to mime throughout the earlier episodes), I wouldn't have hated him so much.

5) can't have both a Cooper family who are so on red alert they've got elaborate plans to avoid their patriarch's detection by police and one so oblivious that Oswald Danes just walks in--while they're all under surveillance, no less!--to tease Gwen by playing with her daughter.

6) It's nice to see that Davies still hasn't given up the idea of Danes being here primarily so everyone else in the show can rail about how disgusted they are with, actually, that was sarcasm, and It's not.

7) Okay, here's the fundamental flaw with all the big revelations we're finally getting. Since we had the side trip with the ovens (which went nowhere, as we're told as of this episode that the ovens are back in operation), and the side trip with Angelo (which proved to be a dead end that ate up an episode and a half), any step forward will seem inconsequential. Davies has effectively told us that any success his Torchwood team has is going to be fleeting at best, so we don't care when the big success starts coming together.

8) Okay, now we have Esther herself pointing out that the Three Families changed their name with Oswald Danes in the room. Is Torchwood so thunderingly dumb that they haven't speculated once that maybe the Costerdane family changed their name to the Danes family? And that they've got a member of that family right under their noses, whether Oswald is aware of it or not?

Not content to ruin Mekhi Pfifer's career, this episode sees
Davies try to put the stank of bad television on Frances Fisher 
9) I think I understand why they decided that Rhys gets to come up with the big revelation about The Blessing...but I still marvel at the fact that not one of the superior minds in the room didn't get up and point out that having the civilian truck driver crack a major clue that's been literally staring the Big Bad Detective Types in the face from episode one only makes it clearer how stupid they all are....

10) And once again, we have something that I think Davies thought would look wondrous--namely, the blood being attracted to The Blessing--looking seriously goofy.

Overall...the only reason I haven't gotten as worked up over this episode is because..well, ennui has set in. There's nothing so thoroughly stupid as some of the stuff in the previous episodes here, just a series of stupid moments that I've come to accept as par for the course.

Lord, please let this be the last season.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE NINETEEN 'Hot Dogs' (2006)

"Hi...this dog is responsible for this actress'
inability to be act...have you seen it?
"Congratulations. You've been named the world's biggest cockroach. This award is given in recognition of your unparallell lack of decency and humanity. Bravo. You're gonna die friendless and alone."
"Hey everyone knows you're the biggest--"
"Shut up! If I want you to speak, I'll wave a snausage over your nose. If you use Mandy again to try to convince yourself you're not a loser, I will ruin your life, got it?"

1) This episode is a loose adaptation/take-off of the classic Ed McBain 87th Precient novel King's Ransom--that in turn served as the inspiration for one of my favorite Kurasawa films. High And Low. I mention that as a matter of establishing the historical position of the episode, and also to avoid talking about it much, because it's not very good at all.

2) So skillful is the way Thomas and his writers--in this episode's case Dayna Lynna North--have set up all their pins for this final act that an innocent scene between Weevil and Veronica ends up fraught with possible menace. Yes, Weevil inquires about who could have killed Lily out of a desire to know who murdered someone he cared about...but because we saw all of Veronica's re-enactment, the questions end up sounding sinister.

3) You'll notice that a lot is spent with the B plot focusing on the Ecchols family. Now on first viewing you'll prolly assume this is because Logan just took a big giant step into being Someone Important in the series...but Thomas has an ulterior motive, and it's to his credit, and the credit of Harry Hamlin, Jason Dohring and Alysson Hannigan that we simply don't notice what these scenes are really giving us until after the fact.

4) Boy...Dayna Lynne North hands Lisa Thornhill a scene that could serve to rehabilitate Celeste Kane's character, give us some insight and maybe some sympathy for her...and she cocks even that up. Why she was cast, I will never know.

Hell, after you act your ass off beating your daughter's
boyfriend, you'd want to take a rest as well...
5) Back to the B Plot again...once we get to the halfway mark, starting with the scene between Trina and Aaron, I have to marvel at the acting assayed by both Hannigan and Hamlin. The trick is you know one of these people is lying--you don't know that both of them are until this plot pays out. And in the long run, Thomas uses this scene to give us another clue-in-plain-sight to the resolution of the Lily Kane case. I think Hamlin knew this was a role worth giving a damn about and gave it his all to the benefit of everyone.

6) Okay...Jason Dohring. The amazing thing about what he does in this and the remaining episodes of this season is take a plot development that was absolutely necessary for the mystery to resolve (Veronica never gets vital clues to close the case if she doesn't enter into a relationship with Logan), and sells it totally, all the while giving Logan added depth and smoothing the prickly edges over enough for us to accept him as Veronica's new beau. Granted, in future seasons this relationship becomes an albatross to the show as if becomes something of a shipper's playground but right now, it's the best thing that could have happened.

Heh...a little something for the 'shippers...
7) And sadly, because we need to have Veronica and Logan together right now, we have to say goodbye to Max Greenfield's Leo, who gets dumped (and, to Greenfield's credit, behaves pretty realistically hurt about it) and provides some back-up for the resolution of the A Plot. Pity, because I liked his character, and had problems with how his storyline resolves when he's brought back next season.

8) And speaking of that A Plot...once again, you'll notice I spent very little time talking about it. And the big problem with the A Plot is that Claire Titelman, who plays Mandy, plays the awkward, withdrawn loner so earnestly--and the way her withdrawn-ness is broken is set up so obviously--that it's painful to watch her on screen. I have this horrible feeling that Thomas may have wanted her to be a semi-recurring character like Corny and the Casablancas kids (she does show up in 'Blast From The Past' later on in the series), but thankfully she faded from the series' rear view fairly rapidly.

9) It also doesn't help that, once again, the villains prove to be clots that it should never have taken Veronica that long to find them.

10) I love how this script seemingly exonerates Weevil as a suspect...only to have him thrown back into the active suspect's pool with the final scene of the episode. Granted, it's all one big red herring to keep us distracted while Thomas continues to put the final touches on the final act.

Overall...thankfully the last really bad A Plot episode that's still absolutely essential viewing to get some of the biggest clues to who killed Lily Kane. At least you'll get some great acting from the B Plot cast....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ten Statements About....DOCTOR WHO SEASON SIX, EPISODE NINE: Night Terrors (2011)

When you try to make something ordinary into something
monstrous, sometimes you get the Weeping Angels, and
sometimes..sometimes you get The Paper Mache' Heads...
"I've come a long way to get here, Alex, a very long way. George sent a message, a distress call if you'd like. Whatever's inside that cupboard is so terrible, so powerful that it amplified the fears of an ordinary little boy across all the barriers of time and space...through crimson stars and silent stars and tumbling nebulas like oceans set on fire, through empires of glass and civilizations of pure thought and a whole terrible, wonderful universe of impossibilities You see these eyes? They're old eyes...and one thing I can tell you, Alex. Monsters are real."

1) I'm three minutes in and I've got this real nagging feeling that Mark Gatiss is about to tell me how much he liked the Poltergeist movies for forty minutes.

2) That being said...I like how Gatiss has effectively split up the crew, so that we get the Doctor doing Doctor stuff, and some well-needed Ponds one-on-one time. It's the first time in a while we've gotten some extended interaction between Amy and Rory alone where they're not running and screaming, and this provides some essential reminders of why they're a couple.

3) Once again I marvel at Matt Smith as an actor. The way he's trying, really trying to reign in his impulses around little George to provide an example for him is wonderful. And unlike David Tennant, his physicality is natural and seems to come from his thought processes, not all twitches and tics and twinges and shouty voices like Tennant.

4) Jamie Oran is not great shakes as a young actor--his George is a bit on the whiny side and pretty expressionless, innit?--but there is a definite chemistry between him and Smith, which enables the story flow pretty handily.

"For the last time, Doctor, my name is not Alex!"
5) I do rather like Daniel Mays as Alex, even if he is cut from the same cloth as Craig from last season's 'The Lodger'...and like Craig, he becomes a defacto companion for this one, strange adventure, grounding us in reality.

6) ...and that might be at the core of why this episode never gets higher than okay. It's one of those entries in the series that seems composed of elements cobbled together and repurposed from other episodes--a little SF craziness in a blue collar setting from 'The Lodger,' a little child being plagued by strangeness from 'The Eleventh Hour' and/or 'The Girl In The Fireplace,' the old house that's occupied by Something That Shouldn't Be There from 'Day Of The Moon,' the creatures that seem to convert others into mockeries of themselves like 'An Empty Child,' the child that unwittingly releases horror on those around them like 'Fear Her,' etc. It's a bit of moving the deck chairs in an attempt to give us a breather between acts--and also to give Smith, Gillen and Darvill some time to reclaim center stage after being observers in Moffat's River Song story of the last few episodes.

7) Okay, I stand corrected...this isn't Mark Gatiss telling us he loves the Poltergiest films; it's Mark Gatiss telling us how he loves the old Twlight Zone episode 'It's a Good Life,' with some Poltergeist love thrown in for flavoring.

8) I'm surprised, given how much stuff Rory and Amy have been through in their time with the Doctor, that they didn't notice that the thing they were using to block the door is a Big Honking Spool of Thread.

Prolly the funniest moment in the episode, ladies and
9) Once again...the joys of watching Gillen and Darvill interact is how they can say with three words and a little body language what other actors would take a whole scene to say. And the joy of Moffat as a producer is how he allows them to do that without hitting us over the head with extra exposition (I'm looking at you, Davies).

10) While I've marveled in the past at Moffat's talent for plotting everything out to the ultimate degree, I wonder if we really needed that little sing song stinger at the end to remind us that we've got only four more episodes to deal with the whole Lake Silencio thread started in 'The Impossible Astronaut.'

In short...I understand why this episode exists, to give us a breather before we pick up the overarc (especially given how it looks like next episode, 'The Girl Who Waited,' is going to be this season's Second Unit Episode)...but much like similar place setters like Season Two's 'Fear Her' and 'Love and Monsters,' it's sorta inconsequential. Being a big ol' jambalaya of elements from previous episodes didn't help much, either.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ten Statements About....A KNIGHT'S TALE (2001)

"Dumbass."  "Jackass"
"He hits like a hammer. It's amazing!"
"But not perfect. He aims high on your chest. Roll your shoulder back when you strike. His blow may glance to your right."
"If he strikes on my right! If he strikes me on the left I'll be obliterated!"
"Well, I didn't say it wasn't a gamble."

1) The beauty of this film is that Brian Helgeland takes a moribund, long-dead Hollywood genre--the boxing/wrestling soap opera--and by resetting in another time, not only making the sensibilities of that genre fresh again but giving the whole storyline something of a relevance to the modern audiences.

2) And unlike the Renaissance Pictures' television series that I suspect inspired Helgeland to attempt this film, he utilizes the modern rock soundtrack to create ties to the modern concepts he wants to address while still making his cast act more or less like how we moviegoers expect medieval dwellers act. When he does slip an anachronism into the language--like when Paul Bettany's Chaucer refers to William/Uther as 'The Rock', or how William declares Jocelyn a 'foxy lady'--he manages to squeeze it in without drawing attention to itself.

3) And about that modern rock score...I like it because Helgeland wants us to recognize that while it may be based loosely on historical fact, it's first and foremost a work of fiction, a fantasy...and we should realize that the moment we see the gathered peasants and nobles singing along to Queen's 'We Will Rock You.'

"Can you believe the future I'll be stuck fighting CGI
monsters in a string of dumb action films and you, you're
going to be a gay mercenary killed by a robot car..."
4) Someone needs to get into Paul Bettany's ear and convince him to abandon his quest to become yet another glowery action star and try some comedy again...because he has a true gift for it.

5) You remember how so many people, after The Dark Knight were going, 'Wow, Heath Ledger really pulled it off! He's a great actor!" I already knew that after watching this. You see, a film that's such a big ol' stew of disparate ideas, some having different intents and purposes, needs an actor with the force of personality and the skill to take this totally seriously. If a lesser actor chosen for being a pretty face had taken this on or--even worse--did this with a knowing wink and a sense of irony, the film would have failed. But Helgeland got Ledger, and surrounded him with actors equally skilled like Bettany and Alan Tudyk and Rufus Sewall able to keep the reality of this fantasy world intact, so the film succeeds. And speaking of Sewell...

6) I have no idea why Rufus Sewell doesn't have a bigger career. Maybe it's because Alan Rickman managed to corner the Nasty English Bad Guy market, but Sewell excels at playing the villainous Count Adhermar by underplaying him, keeping his voice thoroughly level and never losing his cool even as he's trying to fix a fight. In fact, the one part of the film that drags does so because Adhermar is sent off to the war for a stretch.

Somehow, I can't buy this as medieval fashion...or her as
a medieval fashion plate.
7) Look, I know this was the film that launched Shannyn Sossaman into a brief turn as Hollywood's 'It Girl' (until, apparently, Hollywood realized she kinda stunk on ice as an actress)...but I just. Don't. Get. It. She's arguably the sourest note in this film, the only one incapable of keeping her Medieval Ladylike persona...and she's got this strange face that seems badly fitted onto her face that's sort of off-putting. She's far from the best looking of the women in the film--I was rather taken by Laura Fraser's blacksmith Kate myself--and her lack of keeping herself within the film detracts from the veracity of the movie's world.

8) Okay, remember what I said about how Helgeland skillfully put the modern stuff into the film? Well, Kate's carving the Nike swoosh into William's armor...not so much.

9) Admittedly, this film runs a bit long at two hours and ten minutes. I would trip the third half hour a little bit...but only so I could expand the film beyond the climatic joust. You see, I sort of want to see a little bit of how the now-justly knighted Sir William ends up. Just a simple scene of William and Jocelyn happy together in their castle with his dad would have satisfied me as opposed to that nonsensical scene of William's retainers farting that was the after-credits sting.

10) As much as I've defended the film's use of modern music as a whole, I think I would have preferred the music handled more like it was in the 'Golden Years' dance sequence, where composer Carter Burwell created a nice bridge that eased us from the naturalistic sounds of a medieval band playing to the David Bowie track. Sure, I can still accept the more abrupt cues throughout the film, but the handling of that one scene showed me how much more cool this aspect could be handled.

But don't take my word for's the sequence so you can see for yourself how skillfully Burwell handled it...

Overall..a great little fantasy/sports soaper given a greater sheen by some smart casting, clever writing and a rather remarkable juggling of its rather discordant disparate elements. Later films that tried this mix of modern and period fell flat on their face...which makes me wonder if this was a case of lightning in a bottle.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ten Statements About....TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Episode Eight 'End Of The Road' (2011)

Oh, if only John Delancie took over the entire show the way
he takes over this episode....
"Go get me a sandwich. Tomato and swiss on sourdough. Let's see how well you cope with that...and then you can find me a prostitute."

1) So lemme get this straight--we build up Angelo, do everything but say outright, 'hey, he's a key component in the mystery of the vampir--EXECUTIVES! I mean executives causing Miracle Day', and then in the first five minutes Nana Visitor's Olivia tells us that no, he has nothing to do with this, he just wants to keep Jack SAFE? And you went through all the trouble of kidnapping Gwen's family and all to do this?

I am still shocked that Jane Espenson didn't get up and call shenanigans on Russell T. Davies for the blatant bait-and-switching. But then, I'm still shocked Espenson and John Shiban didn't walk out by this point out of sheer frustration.

2) God...did Nana Visitor have a bet with Lauren Ambrose as to who could give the most annoying performance in this season? Because her sing-song sarcasm is making me want to choke a former-Star-Trek-guest-star....

Either Nana Visitor is stunned at the awfulness of this script, or
she's been hypnotized by the shiny buttons on Jack's coat.
3) I just paused this episode at the 7:21 mark...and I have to wonder how incredibly stupid the Torchwood gang is to not make the obvious connection to Oswald Danes after hearing that one of the three families that 'purchased' the secret of Jack's Ressurection was the Danes family. I mean, I'm with Alyssa of the Big Red Podcast in considering Torchwood the most incompetent agency in the world, but even they can't fail to realize one of those names is identical to the pedophile lunatic they spent two, three episodes chasing around!

4) Okay, I've now found the second character in this whole misbegotten season I like--I like John Delancie's turn as Shapiro. Delancie has enormous amounts of fun in the driver's seat, and I even laughed at his line about Jack's dress styles. He provides a much needed dose of energy to a show that's been lacking it even with all its running around screaming about how exciting it is.

5) Davies has spent almost ninety minutes of screen time trying to convince us that Jack's love of Angelo is as deep as his love for Ianto was...and I simply don't buy it. There's a sense of artificiality to this thread in the story (well, greater artificially than most Torchwood plot threads)...and evoking Ianto's name in his farewell to the aged Angelo only throws that artificiality into much sharper relief.

6) The sight of Bill Pullman doing that rigor-mortis smasmo-dance will haunt me in my dreams for weeks. And I know his ordering Lauren Ambrose to find him a redheaded woman is supposed to come off as creepy...but it's just silly, and continues to expose how amazingly, stupidly inept this storyline is at its core.

"So you've found a way to make the audience even more
weirded out--AND I get to dance all herky-jerky?  HOT DOG!"
7) So now Jilly has a mini-me in Constance Wu's Shawnie Yamaguchi? Good Lord, this is the storyline that just. Won't. Stop. Sucking. I just hope Shawnie reveals herself as CIA soon and puts bullets into the head of everyone involved in this whole ick-making plot thread.

No, wait, scratch that. Should've known she'd get killed because keeping Shawnie around made too much sense.

8) You know what I really like about Sharpio? In less than an episode, he's gotten more done than the Torchwood crew did in seven...and he's also the apparently the only person who is able to get into Jack's face and get him to actually do something constructive as opposed to bulling around everywhere.

9) Why is Russell T. Davies convinced he can still build sympathy for Oswald Danes after having everyone act all disgusted and disapproving around him for seven episodes. I honestly think that he expects the audience to feel bad that the prostitute is rejecting him and hinting that there's 'Category Zero' in store for him. Surely somebody must have expressed some trepidation at this scene when they were at read-throughs or something....

10) I'm sorry...but having Esther Drummond break down crying about how she doesn't know where she's going doesn't make much of a cliffhanger because, quite frankly, I just wish she'd crash into a tree and end this already.

Overall...the bright spot of John Delancie's Shapiro nonwithstanding, it's more of the stupidity and lack of attention to logic that's been this season's trademarked. But at least this episode is 'The End of The Road,' right? So there's no more...

What? Two more? Damnation...

(and incidentally, the last episode is called 'The Blood Line'...because it's about vampi--EXECUTIVES! I mean executives...)