Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dexter, Season One

Following my own advice, I've been using the hiatus to catch up on some shows I've missed, and to finish off some DVD box sets that have been sitting around the house.

Last night, I plowed through the last three episodes of Dexter. Once I got to episode 10, "Seeing Red," there was really no question of stopping until I got to the end. I feel sorry for the folks who had to wait a week between these episodes. This is why I DVR and watch later, or wait for the DVD sets. I just lack patience these days to wait for next week.

In any case, this was some of the best-written TV I've ever seen. The characterizations were spectacular, and the use of voiceover nothing short of brilliant. And the acting was, across the board, nearly flawless. Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Dexter; Julie Benz (Angel, Taken) already won a Satellite Award for hers as Dexter's girlfriend Rita.

Yes, I liked it.

The plot was great, the story nicely convoluted and not too predictable. And I liked the fact that they had a single story unfolding through the twelve eps, and that we got a satisfying conclusion to that story, rather than way too much left hanging for next season. But what really makes this series work is the characterizations.

Within the first fifteen minutes, I understood Dexter. Really "got" who he was and why he was, and why I would want to spend time absorbing his story. By the end of the first episode, I was rooting for him. And the writers managed this with every character. Nobody on this show gets short shrift. I don't think there was a single character I didn't understand by the end of the season. And even when a character wasn't initially likable, they got moments that showed us enough of what motivated them to really get where they were coming from, and to sympathize, and often even to begin to like and respect them. LaGuerta struck me this way, as did Doakes.

In the hands of lesser writers, we'd be left wondering why not one, but two women fell so hard for serial killers. But the characterizations in this show made it all make sense. Deb was probably the one whose mistake would be hardest to explain. She's a strong, self-assured woman, a cop. How did Rudy manage to snow her so thoroughly? The answer is simple. Who does Deb look up to most in her life? Dexter. Of course she's going to fall for a man who has personality traits similar to his. The fact that she's modeling her ideal man after a sociopathic serial killer--well, that's just a bummer. As for Rita, the very qualities that have made it hard for Dexter to establish a relationship are exactly what allow her to thrive. He has no real emotional attachment, and so demands nothing of her. And his lack of demand allows her to find her own strength. At the same time, Dexter seems to change under her influence.

The finely constructed portrait of Dexter also gives us an ending where the conclusion isn't immediately obvious. In most shows, when Dexter is faced with the choice between his biological brother, the Ice Truck Killer, and his "fake" sister, the stalwart and talented detective, we would immediately know what his choice would be. But in this show, we hold our breath, waiting, because we know Dexter is capable of killing Deb. And if he'd made that choice, it would have made sense--maybe more sense than not killing her. But in the end, he saves her, and we see a Dexter who has made a choice that, while right in the world of normality, in many ways is against his basic nature. Is Dexter changing? Actually learning to feel? Maybe. And since this show's already been picked up for a second season, maybe we'll get a chance to find out.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What (and Where) to Watch During Hiatus Season

Lots of shows are available online now, so if there's anything you've been wanting to catch up on, this is your chance.

At ABC watch streaming feeds of all of this season's episodes of Grey's Anatomy (which you've missed because you're watching Supernatural, right?), Desperate Housewives, Lost, Brothers and Sisters, Ugly Betty, and What About Brian.

At NBC, catch all the available episodes of Friday Night Lights, Heroes, and Identity.

CBS has CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, How I Met Your Mother, Jericho, NCIS, Numb3rs and Survivor.

Fox makes things harder to find, but on their MySpace page you can see episodes of Prison Break, Bones, The Loop, American Dad, Standoff, Vanished, Talk Show and 'Til Death.

The CW is supposed to be beta testing streaming video of some of their shows, including Supernatural and Veronica Mars, but in the meantime these shows are available at iTunes (and no, you don't have to have an iPod or a Mac to watch these--in fact I find them easier to watch on my laptop because the screen is bigger), along with lots of others. It appears they've upgraded the quality of the files, too, making them even more worth the $1.99 per episode.

So, if there's a show you've been curious about, or have just missed catching up on, take advantage of these new outlets to sample or get back up to speed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I ran into this show a while back on BBC America when I was at home, hopped up on Vicodin (I had kidney stones). I thought what I saw was pretty cool, so I tracked it down so I could find out if it really was cool, or if it was just the Vicodin talking.

Unfortunately, it seems it was mostly the Vicodin. I remember when this show first came out on Sky One in the UK, back in 2004, people compared it favorably to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some people even said it was better than Buffy, which I pretty much ignored because that's just crazy talk. Of course there are similarities--blonde girl with lesbian best friend discovers legacy of superpowers, is seduced by demon lover, etc. etc. But the writing and the characterizations just don't compare. There are pretty actors and actresses, and the germ of what should be an intriguing story, but it seems to be to be all over the place. The pilot episode was, for me, dead boring--if I'd started with that one instead of the eisodes I caught on BBCA, I would have given up halfway through the first hour. I found it extremely slow, and what was probably supposed to be edgy, witty banter just struck me as an overabundance of sex jokes. Cassie is an unappealing character--she's a bitch to pretty much everybody, including the long-suffering Thelma (the only character in the show I actually like, though Ella has shown some promise)--and I could see no earthly reason for her hooking back up with Azazeal after his abduction of their demon child. She was possessed when the kid was conceived, then all of a sudden she's claiming she loves the guy, and she's jumping back into bed with him... it just didn't make any sense. And Azazeal, the demon lover trying to conquer the world with his hordes of Nephilim, is kind of a blah character, as well. He's good-looking, certainly, but his evilness seems kind of petty and watered down compared to, say, the Angelus of BtVS Season Two. (I think Azazeal needs "Sending the World to Hell" lessons. Lesson One: Be Scary. Lesson Two: Wear Leather Pants.) Then there's the big plot twist early in Series Two, completely eliminating the person we thought was supposed to be our Plucky Heroine, and a couple of episodes later I'm still wondering where the hell (no pun intended) they're going with this. The characters seem to develop different personalities in every episode, depending on what plot twist they need to serve, and the plot itself doesn't seem to know where it's going.

In any case, I have about nine episodes to go, and I don't know if I'm going to be able to stick it out to the end. If I do, and the show redeems itself, I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


According to this article from BBC News, the BBC is planning to make shows available for download/online viewing outside the UK through a partnership with Azureus, a popular file sharing program that uses BitTorrent technology. Hopefully this means US viewers will get to see shows like Torchwood and Dr. Who shortly after their airing in the UK, rather than having to wait a year to see a hacked-up and censored version on BBC America or the Sci Fi Channel. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing but good here.

More and more movies and TV shows are being made available legally online, via iTunes, MySpace, and various individual network sites, and production companies have made distribution deals now with BitTorrent, Kazaa, and now Azureus. While I will always prefer downloadable files to streaming video, the move toward dispensing content over the Internet is a good move, and I'm glad to see these industries moving in that direction. The music industry could learn something. What's the best way to manage rampant electronic distribution of product? Brutally smash those people doing it, driving them farther underground, while adding protection to your product that can crash people's computers and basically piss off everyone? Or find out what people are doing and figure out how to make money off it by providing a good quality product, easily accessed, for a reasonable amount of money so people will buy rather than download? The answer to that one seems to me to be a no-brainer.

The next step is for production companies to jump onto Internet-only productions targeted to niche audiences. How many people would pay a monthly subscription fee for a show like Firefly or Wonderfalls? Quite probably enough to finance it. Somebody needs to jump right on that bandwagon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Lost Room--The Eye and the Prime Object

The Lost Room winds its way to a conclusion--sort of--showing us a bit more about the Objects, the underground cabals, and just what these people are willing to do to get their hands on these odd mystical items. But in the end, the origin of the Objects is left unexplained, as are several other plot points. I blame Sci Fi for not treating this as a miniseries per se, but as a possible kickstart to a weekly series. The trouble with that is that if the show doesn't get picked up, we're left with a story that has far too many loose ends. I have no idea what the ratings looked like, or if SciFi has any intention of continuing the story. It would have been nice for this to have been self-contained, though, rather than working so hard to build up a lot of intriguing questions, then leaving them unanswered just in case.

Miller and Kreutzfeld gather more information and a collection of objects--the clock, the scissors and the key--which together will open the vault where the Collectors hid several of the Objects forty years ago. The scissors, which cause things to rotate, seem fairly innocuous at first, until Miller gets his ass rotated out a window.

Miller and Kreutzfeld finally track down the vault, using Barbara Stritsky's Polaroids, then use the Objects to make their way inside it. It's here that Entertainment Weekly's comparison of the show to Riven started to really kick in for me. They have to figure out how to use each individual Object to make their way into the vault. I'm terrible at those games. This is about where I would have started Googling walkthroughs.

In the meantime, Jennifer determines Kreutzfeld is trying to duplicate the Conroy experiment, and thus is up to no good. This is, in fact, true. He abandons Miller in the vault. Fortunately Miller has the bus ticket and uses it to escape. Kreutzfeld is, indeed, trying to save his son, but the boy doesn't have leukemia--he's been dead for nine years. The only way to bring him back is by changing reality with the Objects.

While Kreutzfeld prepares his experiment, with the addition of the glass eye, Miller reunites with Wally (the earlier owner of the bus ticket) to track down the Occupant of Room Ten, assuming he's the Prime Object. A beef here--it didn't appear that the glass eye was used in the earlier experiment, so how and why did Kreutzfeld decide to use it here? Also, its powers weren't sufficiently explained. It can heal all damage to the user, but at the same time causes people to disintegrate. And the scene where Kreutzfeld prepares to implant it? Ewww.

In a strange subplot that doesn't seem to tie in elsewhere, Martin is dumped in the desert with the Gallup Polaroid. In it he sees a "vision" of the Occupant (possibly just a hallucination, because the Occupant looks just like Martin). When he is finally rescued, he tells Bridgewater and Margaret that he's now the Prophet of the Objects. It's not clear if something has really happened to him, or if he's just gone off his nut.

Miller finally tracks down the Occupant by finding a spot in the US where none of the Objects have ever been. Somehow the Occupant was ripped out of reality when the Objects came to be, and he himself was also turned into an Object. He tells Miller he can help retrieve Anna, and they head for the Sunshine Motel (actually referred to in this episode as Motel Sunshine), where Kreutzfeld's experiment is already underway. As the time rift comes into existence, the Occupant and Miller walk into the room. The Occupant tells Miller the only way to get Anna back is for Miller to kill him and become an Object himself. Miller is reluctant, but does so, and is reunited with Anna.

Overall, I found this miniseries interesting, though if I hadn't been blogging it I probably would have given up after the first installment. And the conclusion didn't really conclude, which I found disappointing. I understand why they did it that way, but I wish they'd chosen to go a different direction with this particular story. There was enough there to manage a satisfying ending and still leave elements available to spin into a weekly series, without leaving all the loose ends they did.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Lost Room--The Comb and the Box

Somewhere about the thirty or forty-five minute mark of Part Two, The Lost Room finally got interesting.

Framed for the murder of his partner by Martin (Dennis Christoper, Angel), his supposed ally, Miller continues to search for the Objects in order to rescue his daughter. His search leads him to the Sunshine Motel, in Gallup, Texas, where there is no Room 10 (you have to use the Key to get there), and Room 9 is home to mysterious goings on that have literally driven people insane. While Miller forges an uneasy alliance with Kreutzfeld (Kevin Pollak), who's trying to collect the Objects to cure his son's leukemia, Martin makes an even uneasier alliance with the Order, who want to collect the Objects in order to communicate with God.

Miller also hooks back up with Jennifer (Julianna Margulies), who wants to destroy the Objects because they and Room 9 drove her brother insane. But it's Room 9 that brings them the first information about Anna, when they use Objects in tandem to bring back a woman trapped in the room since 1966 as a result of her experimentation. She tells Miller she's seen Anna.

The introduction of a few more characters, most notably the leader of the Order, played by Harriet Sansome Harris (another familiar face--she was Frasier's nutty agent Bebe, and played Dr. Sally Kendrick, aka Eve, back in Season One of The X-Files). The Order seems willing to stop at nothing to acquire the Objects, and have built a religion around them. In addition, there's an Object tracker, Suzie Kang (Margaret Cho), who won't have anything to do with them, but seems to be making a nice income off of telling people where they can be found. We also learn about a few more Objects--a comb that stops time, the watch box, which dampens entropy, and a Polaroid photo which, when taken to the right spot at the Sunshine Motel, shows Room 10 exactly as it was in 1961, just before the objects changed to the Objects. It also shows a man in the room. Miller thinks the man himself is actually the Prime Object, and thus a new quest is begun.

This episode gave a stronger sense of the conspiratorial nature of the Objects and those wanting to collect them, making these groups feel more intrinsic to the plot rather than just the obligatory shadowy cabals. The Objects themselves start to make more sense, as well, as their seemingly random powers start to form pieces of a larger picture. Though the beginning had some painfully trite moments (Martin and Helen sitting at opposite ends of a really, really long table, for example--and please, who has a table like that in real life?), the story finally began to take off. I still see no earthly reason for the sheer weirdness of Harold Strizke (aka the Guy With the Comb), though. Unless they provide a really good explanation for his behavior later, that was just over the top. The only thing I can think of right off is that somehow the comb made him odd, but the Objects don't seem to have that kind of effect on other people.

In any case, I hope Part Three lives up to the promise of the last three quarters or so of Part Two. Back to the DVR...

Tim Minear+Nathan Fillion=Drive

It appears to be official, since it's been reported by Hollywood Reporter. Tim Minear's on again/off again pilot, Drive, about an underground cross-country car race, is definitely on, and none other than Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is now attached.

Is this a match made in heaven, or what?

Back when Drive was still off again, Tim Minear showed the first six minutes of it during his "Breaking the Story" presentation at the Creative Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles, which I attended. Directed by Greg Yaitanes (Bones), who is still attached to the project, what I saw of the pilot was an intense, frenetic, yet very watchable piece of TV. As the camera seemed to swoop and glide from car to car, several characters were introduced at whirlwind pace, with bits and pieces of the backstory woven in with the introductions. The presence of an orange phone in each car, used to communicate with the people running the race, tied all the story elements together. It felt like a roller coaster ride, and I found it very enjoyable.

I was happy when I first heard Drive had gotten the go-ahead after all--I'm even more pleased now that Fillion is involved. This is definitely going to be a show to watch.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Day Break Officially Cancelled


This makes me very sad, but according to futon critic, Day Break has been pulled from ABC's schedule:

"ABC is shuffling its deck chairs once again, pulling both Wednesday newcomers "Show Me the Money" and "Day Break" from its schedule effective immediately.

"As for their replacements, ... various repeats of "The George Lopez Show" and "According to Jim" will fill the network's Wednesday schedule on December 20 and December 27."

So they're taking a really good, well-written, intricate drama and replacing it with reruns of George Lopez and According to Jim. *headdesk*

Please note, though: "The network is expected to stream the seven remaining episodes of "Break" on"

I'll be there watching.

Damn, I need coffee...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Day Break--What If They Find Him

I'm still liking this show a lot. The story is moving along briskly, and each episode brings a take on the day different enough to hold our attention, yet with enough elements carried over to keep us oriented. And I like that things that have been stated as solved on previous episodes, such as the situation between Andrea and Eddie, remain solved here, thus enforcing the conclusion that Hopper is, indeed, able to make cumulative changes and, presumably, will be able to eventually resolve his situation.

This week, Hopper had to deal not only with some new twists and turns to the conspiracy he's slowly uncovering, but also with the unexpected consequences of his actions last week. Because Hopper stole the murder book--and continues to do so--both Damien and Chad are killed.

These two events comprise the whole of this episode's Day One. On Day Two, Hopper tracks down Damien to question him about Miguel Dominquez. Damien knows him as a sort of mythic boogieman figure, and won't have anything to do with him. He does, however, offer to help ID the Jane Doe. This leads them to a nun who's been safeguarding illegals for a long time. They find her picture in a box of photos--her name is Isabella Contrares. Damien then bails on the investigation. Chad is once again gunned down, only this time the killer is revealed as Hopper's sister Jennifer.

On Day Three, Hopper is able to snag the picture right away, and tracks down Isabella's mother, who is living in her own world where her daughter is still alive. The conversation with her leads them to a Mr. Detweiler, who got Isabella a job at a high-class club. Because he's with Damien, Hopper is able to prevent his death, but Damien leaves without him, apparently not all that grateful. Hopper discovers Chad was killed.

Day Four. Hopper tracks down Detweiler, who proves to be one of the guys from the gravel pit. Hopper goes postal on him and is threatened by Detweiler's wife. On Day Five, Hopper manages to stay calm for a while, but then threatens him, leading to Day Six, in which Hopper hands over the murder book and the hourglass to Detweiler and asks him to just make it all stop. Detweiler says it's not that simple, and apparently it isn't, because when he turns the evidence over to his boss, said boss is not pleased. Hopper has planted a bug with the evidence, though, and hears the boss order everyone killed. Hopper puts the pieces together--this is why Chad was shot. With several phone calls, he is able to abort the planned murders of Damien and Chad. At the quarry, Detweiler is buried in a dump truck load of sand. The shadowy boss then lectures Jennifer about the difference between a warning and an example.

So we get yet another layer of the mystery. Hopper's father is brought up again several times, but his connection to the past case, as well as the current, is still not made clear. Jennifer's reveal as a cohort of the bad guys is a surprise. This leads me to believe that the bruises on her arm weren't caused by an abusive husband, after all, as Hopper assumed, but were a result of something that happened between her and the shadowy boss or perhaps Detweiler. If Hopper's father was involved in the old Jane Doe murder, how is his sister involved in the current conspiracy? All questions I hope the show will be given enough time to answer. Unlike some other shows currently on the air, I have the feeling the writers know exactly where they're going with this one, and if they just get the opportunity to air enough episodes, we'll see some satisfying answers.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bones--Judas on a Pole

Tonight's recap/review is a bit shorter than usual. Boy, it's a hectic time of year...

I've been looking forward to this episode, largely because of David Duchovny's turn as director, but also because the story sounded promising, furthering the plot involving Brennan's parents, which hasn't been touched on much since the first episode of this season. And I thought this episode really delivered. Duchovny's direction was solid, with individual touches that put his fingerprints on the episode without being distracting, and the plot had a nice array of twists and turns, without being overly obvious.

With a bit of a departure from the norm, this week's episode opens with a depiction of the actual murder that will make up the case. A man is killed, hung on a pole, and set on fire in grisly fashion. As the evidence comes together, it appears that the murderer was none other than Brennan's father, Max.

The victim proves to be an FBI agent who was involved in a frame-up twenty years ago. Evidence is planted on his body in the form of a handwritten note inside his mouth, and it turns out Max robbed the bank where the evidence about the frame-up was being held in a safe deposit box. Max murdered Delaney because the FBI knows he knew about the frame, and have been threatening Brennan and her brother to keep him in line. He delivers a message to back off via an old friend, a Father Coulter (Ryan O'Neal).

Booth's sense of justice leads him to jump right on the case, which leads him to the conspiracy within the FBI. He is suspended for going over the heads of his bosses, and things get pretty hairy for him and Russ before it's all over. Turns out the Deputy Director who suspended Booth was also part of the conspiracy. It also turns out Father Coulter is not what he seems to be. The plot is nicely convoluted, with the twist not depending on the identity of the killer this time, but on other elements of the story.

In the B plot, Zack defends his dissertation to a panel of forensics folk, one of whom is played by Kathy Reichs. He wants to continue working at the Jeffersonian if he gets his doctorate, but Cam tells him his appearance doesn't make him a credible witness if he has to appear in court. Enter Angela, who performs a makeover. Of course, we knew Zack wouldn't be leaving the Squint Squad, but the way this plays out is charming without being overwrought or treacly, and gives Zack a nice little spotlight.

The Brennan plotline here is interesting, with Booth and Brennan taking unexpected but very in character stances toward Max. Brennan has softened a great deal toward her brother, and the growth in their relationship is nice to see. It was also nice to see Caroline again, from last season's "The Man in the Morgue." She's fun, and I love the way she makes Booth all twitchy.

One thing I really have to wonder about, though, is why didn't Brennan recognize her father's voice?

Booth: "I'll take a stand-up crook over a crooked cop any day."
Booth being more concerned about losing his car than about losing his job.
Placebo singing Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill at the end. Great song, great use of it in this ep.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

He's Out...No, He's In...

Holiday activities prevented me from watching anything tonight (WEEPS), much less blogging it. However, the Heroes he's, wait, he's, wait, he's not sure yet... controversy frankly has me a bit miffed. From what I saw, it was pretty clear they were developing Zach as a gay character, which I thought was cool. Now suddenly everybody involved in the show is pulling back from that. Tim Kring's response doesn't help much. He's equivocating enough that I wonder if he's afraid of losing his job if he speaks out any more firmly. Yeah, I don't blame Kring for this. And I'm not convinced it's the actor's issue, either. I'm convinced it's the suits at NBC making them pull back, because network suits, as a general rule, are tweebs. I'm sure there's an exception somewhere, but probably not at NBC. I mean, this is the network that, in spite of putting Will & Grace on the air, refused to let Will have a boyfriend for ages, and then when he did they barely smooched at all (unless it happened in the last couple of seasons, which I didn't see). They seem to want to pretend they're progressive, but they're not really willing to put it all out there.

Anyway, I could be wrong about all of this, but that's the way it looks to me. I suppose we'll see how things fall out, not that it's terribly likely we'll ever hear the whole story. In the meantime, Pffffthhh to NBC for putting the brakes on a bit of prime time diversity.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Lost Room

Tonight's two-hour intro sets up our premise. There are mysterious Objects spread throughout the world. Singly, they have magical powers. Some of these powers are cool, some deadly, others lame. There's a pencil that makes pennies, a nail file that puts people to sleep, a TV that makes you three inches taller if you tune to the right station, a pen that microwaves people, a watch that hard-boils eggs. And there's a secret cabal called the Legion gathering all the Objects to destroy them. Apparently there's also another secret cabal trying to collect them because supposedly if you have all of them you can see the mind of God.

The Object in play in the main plot is a motel room key that can open any door. When you use it, you end up in a particular hotel room, where supposedly some Very Bad Things happened. Upon leaving the room, you can apparently go wherever you want to go just by thinking about it. Our hero, Detective Joe Miller, comes into possession of this key. Unfortunately, in a run-in with the Bad Guys, who want the key, his daughter Anna disappears into the Very Bad Hotel Room. When the door is shut, the room resets itself, and things that are put into it disappear, including Anna. As if that alone wasn't dramatic enough, she disappears on the eve of a custody hearing with Miller's ex-wife.

Miller's quest of course becomes to regain his daughter. He encounters members of a sort of underground, all of whom have experienced the powers of the Objects. They suggest several plans for getting Anna back, all involving collecting certain Objects, including a Prime Object, a clock, that controls all the other objects. (One clock to rule them all?)

While I was intrigued enough by the premise to tune in, I found tonight's installment to be rather slow, and it didn't really hold my attention. Although things picked up a bit at the end, at this point I'm wondering how they're going to stretch this out for six hours. Peter Krause's forays into badassitude were unconvincing, and at times the seemingly promising premise became laughable. It's the kind of setup that could work really well in the hands of a Neil Gaiman or a Clive Barker, but this presentation is just missing that certain something that makes the viewer willing to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride.

And this really bugged me--Miller has a tiny little closet, and the door opens inwards. Why in the world would you have a door that opens inwards into a coat closet? That's just bad architecture.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Lost Room

In the face of multiple reruns and hiatuses this week, I'm going to catch The Lost Room on Sci Fi starting Monday night. Starring Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night) and Julianna Margulies (ER), as well as Dennis Christopher (Deadwood, Angel) and Kevin Pollack (Santa Clause 3), this miniseries looks pretty promising. Entertainment Weekly describes it as "Riven meets Lord of the Rings."

This week's TV Guide has a short article about the show, in which Julianna Margulies says, "I'd never heard of hte Sci Fi Channel when I was offered this role." Sorry, but I gotta wonder what rock she's been living under...

Friday, December 8, 2006


Eric Kripke is trying to kill me.


From the previews, tonight's episode seemed to promise zombies. Instead we got something entirely different.

Penned by John Shiban (The X-Files, Enterprise), "Croatoan" (and yes, that's Croatoan, not Croatian, as both IMDB and my DVR are trying to convince everybody) proved to be a taut, claustrophobic episode reminiscent of "Ice," from Season One of The X-Files. People are being infected, going crazy, and slaughtering each other in a small town in Oregon. The Winchester boys' only clue is the word "Croatoan" carved on a tree. Sam recalls this as the only clue left behind after the disappearance of the Lost Colony at Roanoke . Dean doesn't make the connection because apparently everything he knows, he learned from Schoolhouse Rock. (I will not judge. I passed my US Constitution test in Jr. High by singing, "We the people...")

Theorizing that the insanity is being caused by demonic germ warfare, the boys try to control the situation. Dean responds by shooting down half a family in near-cold blood. They're infected, so they're not human, so they die. He doesn't even think twice. Sam confronts him--Dean is crossing the line, he says, not thinking enough about what he's doing. This leads to a confrontation over the fate of one Duane Tanner (Da-wayne in Dean-speak...), who was originally brought to us courtesy of Sam-O-Vision. Sam argues against killing him until they're certain he's infected. Dean argues in favor of killing him before he becomes dangerous. In the end, Dean stays his hand, and Duane proves not to have been infected.

Then the unthinkable happens. Sam is exposed. And we find out what this episode is really about. While Sam puts on a brave if tearful front, offering to kill himself so Dean doesn't have to, Dean settles in to meet their shared fate. He won't leave Sam, no matter how much Sam begs:

Sam: You can keep going.
Dean: Who says I want to?

Dean is tired. And broken. Dean gives up his car (his car!) to save the others so he can stay with his brother. In this beautifully underplayed scene, a tearful Sam confronts Dean about the changes he's seen since their dad's death. But Sam, of course, doesn't understand that the weight on Dean's shoulders isn't the job, isn't the death of their father, but is instead the knowledge John passed to Dean before he died. And Dean promised John he wouldn't tell.

Five hours later, Sam's blood is still clean, and the town is completely deserted. The Tanner samples are clean now, too, now that time has gone by. Dean is more angry than relieved, because they don't understand what's going on. This sudden resolution of the Monster of the Week seems anticlimactic--but that's because we haven't gotten to the actual climax yet.

Elsewhere, Duane is on his way out of town, with one of the other townspeople. He says has to make a call. But there's no phone service... And before you can say Yellow-Eyed-Demon, Duane bleeds Sarge, just like Meg did the trucker back in "Scarecrow", and makes his "call" with the silver chalice. No more tests are necessary, he says. The Winchester boy is immune as expected, and nothing has been left behind. So the destruction of the town was a setup by the Yellow-Eyed Demon and his cronies, specifically to test their demonic virus and whether Sam, as one of the Favored Children, would be immune to it. But what exactly were they up to? Would the Tanners have returned to normal if Dean hadn't shot them, or would they have been disappeared by the demons like the rest of the town? Was Duane, after all, the only person Dean should have taken out? Or would it have made no difference? If Dean had shot him, the demon probably would have just body-switched to someone else. And why did Dean finally back off? Was he truly questioning his own judgment, or did the demon manage to comple him not to shoot?

In a quietly emotional denouement, Sam prods Dean again about what's bothering him. Dean's assertion that they should take a break, go to the Grand Canyon, try to bang Lindsay Lohan, is made all the more poignant by the fact that we know they won't. (Especially that Lindsay Lohan thing, cause... eww.) And finally Dean drops the bomb. That before he died, John told him something about Sam. With Sam's pained demand to know what, the episode ends.

And the show won't be back until January. Will Dean even spill the secret then? I have a feeling he will, because Dean's way to avoid answers is to just clam up, and once he starts to talk, he generally finishes. So, with luck, will get some answers in...gah...three or four weeks?!

I really hate cliffhangers...

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Day Break—What If They're Stuck

This show just gets better and better, making me even sadder about what seems to be imminent cancellation. But maybe if it does get cancelled, it'll get a break, like Smith, which just showed up on iTunes. I haven't watched Smith at all, but at $12.99 for the entire series plus a booklet outlining the last five unaired episodes, it's damned tempting.

Anyway, back to Day Break.

Day One this week is a quickly executed series of missteps. Hopper takes the hourglass to the police lab to have the print pulled. Unfortunately, his timing goes awry, and not only is he unable to get any information about the print, he's arrested and again ends up at the quarry. This time Rita is there, and is executed within his hearing.

On Day Two, Hopper prepares better, getting Dodgers tickets to bribe the lab guy with so he can get his information. Trying to get his hands on the murder book for the case, Hopper ends up pulling a gun on Chad.

The rest of Day Two revolves around this hostage situation. He demands that Rita and Jennifer and her kids be brought to the station so he'll know they're safe. In the process of trying to get Chad to tell him where the book is, Hopper ends up spilling his whole story--that he's repeating this day, that he's seen Rita die three times and can't bear to see it happen again. That he's afraid that if he just decides to give up and let a day reset so he can try again, it'll turn out to be the last day, and Rita will end up dead forever. Chad doesn't buy this crazy story...but maybe he does. Completely calm through his ordeal, but visibly sheened with sweat, Chad seems to gradually begin to believe, particularly after Hopper's impassioned speech about not wanting to lose Rita. And, at the very last, Chad tells Hopper that, if he's right about the day repeating, the murder book is in the front seat of his car.

Several tidbits are dropped, pieces to add to the expanding puzzle. Something bad happened with Hopper's father back in the day--the clues tonight seem to indicate some kind of mental illness. Was Hopper Sr. caught in a repeating day, as well? This would be a bit like Tru Davies (Tru Calling) finding out her mother also repeated days, so maybe that's not where they're going. But obviously the 1991 case and Hopper Sr.'s involvement in it is an important part to Hopper Jr.'s story. The fingerprint from the hourglass, however, proves to be that of a criminal who's been in prison since 1989, so the connection there isn't immediately clear.

Another interesting note--the crazy guy from lock-up in the police station, whom Hopper's encountered before, seems to recognize Hopper the third time they run into each other. Is he tuned in to the repeating day somehow? Just because he's off his nut, or because he's part of the unfolding conspiracy?

And at this point, some kind of conspiracy seems likely. The first time the SWAT team moves in on Hopper, Chad spies a .45 leveled at Hopper's head and pushes him out of the way, saving him from death at the shot. When Hopper asks him why he did it, Chad says because the hostage team wasn't following protocol. The second time the SWAT team converges, a gun has been trained on Rita, and the targeting light doesn't disappear until Hopper confesses to Garza's murder. All this implies to me that the police are deeply involved in whatever's going on.

On Day Three, Hopper gets the book out of Chad's car, setting off the alarm. In a nice touch, he also leaves the money Chad said Hopper owed him, because when they were partners, Chad bought coffee twice as often as Hopper did.

So Chad has come around, just a bit. And may I take a moment to wax fangirlish about Adam Baldwin? Because he's just doing a bang-up job with this role. I was a bit disappointed at first, because it seemed like they'd just tossed him into another brutish bad guy part, but damn, Chad actually has layers. He's rough and arrogant and more than a bit of a prick, but tonight we finally got to see exactly why Hopper trusts him to take care of Rita, and why Rita would have fallen in love with him in the first place. I applaud some well-written character development, executed nicely by a very underrated actor.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Bones—Season One

Since there's a rerun on Bones tonight, I've contented myself with mainlining Season One on DVD. I watched the entire series straight through from last Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, and I enjoyed every bit of it. The show stands up well to repeat viewing, moreso than most procedurals, because the point of the show isn't so much the crime as the characters. If the only reason to watch were to find out whodunnit, there'd be no point in watching again. But Bones offers so much more for your entertainment dollar than the Forensic Mystery of the Week. It's not a particularly deep show, but it's fun, with likeable characters and clever writing.

The show itself is great, but the extras on this set are sparse. There are two episode commentaries--Hart Hanson and Barry Josephson supply commentary for the Pilot, while series stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel expound on "Two Bodies in the Lab." (This commentary doesn't enlighten us much about the episode, but it's worth a listen just to hear Boreanaz make jokes about his own hair.) The three short featurettes don't really add much, but the show itself is worth the price.

Highly recommended.

Day Break--What If His Ratings Suck?

Sadly, TV Squad and others are reporting that Day Break is conspicuous by its absence from ABC's latest scheduling announcements, covering the period after the first of the year. This isn't entirely unexpected, as the ratings have been horrible. But it's sad, as this is really a very good show.

I think, however, that it was doomed from the start. The plan to supplant Lost with thirteen episodes of an entirely different show to appease the viewers who didn't want so many re-runs didn't make sense in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, an entertaining and well-written show has borne the brunt of the failed experiment. I'll still hold out hope that we'll get to see all thirteen episodes, or, barring that, a DVD set at some time in the near future.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Supernatural at iTunes!

All 8 Season 2 episodes of Supernatural are now available at iTunes for their usual $1.99 per ep. This makes me very happy.

Heroes — Fallout

It used to be that about this time of the year, the networks would start airing annoying holiday season reruns. But now they've given a fancy name to the last episode before the usual holiday hiatus, and that's going to make it all better. Now it's the Fall Finale, it's hyped as such, and tonight is the fall finale of Heroes.

This was another solid episode, again bringing several pieces of the puzzle together while driving the story forward. Several of the Heroes' plotlines intersected tonight, as they begin to realize they're not alone in the world. Claire has unloaded her big secret on her dad, only to be told he's known about her powers for a long time, and has been trying to keep her safe. Unfortunately, "keeping her safe" seems to involve memory wiping her brother, her best friend (who forgets not only her powers but also their entire friendship), and her mother. This episode, and particularly this turn of events, made me very much not like Mr. Bennett—not that I was particularly fond of him before. He seems to be very much an "ends justifies the means" guy, and while I can understand him wanting to protect his daughter, he's hurting her too much. The scene where she realized Zach had lost all memory of their friendship was heartbreaking.

Matt is using his telepathic powers for good—or trying to—acting like a sort of lie detector during interrogations. He's also popping Advil like M&Ms. That can't be good. And when he tries to read Claire's mind, he encounters static. This is explained when it's revealed that Mysterious Black Dude (whom Eden refers to as "The Haitian," so we can call him that now) is lurking around a corner. Later, even with the Haitian present, Matt is able to suss out a single word from Bennett—Sylar.

So what is Sylar up to this week? He's in a cell at Bennett's stronghold, which seems to be a sort of research facility/hospital/holding pen. Bennett wants him dead, because Sylar seems pretty determined to get Claire's powers so he can be indestructible, but his bosses put the kibosh on that. Eden's on Bennett's side and suggests that she tell Sylar to kill himself.

Elsewhere in what Eden refers to as "the reservation" (she's Fun Nickname Girl, isn't she?), Isaac is sketching again, but now he's off the heroin so he's pretty sure nothing he's drawing is precognitive. Eden assures him he'll be able to access his powers without the drugs. He just needs to practice. She gives him a cellphone and a number to contact Hiro.

Hiro is excited to hear from Isaac. Hiro is definitely still my favorite character on this show. Even faced with failure, he's determined to soldier on. He and Ando meet up with Isaac. Isacc is, indeed, drawing precognitively without benefit of drugs. And now he's drawing an exploding man. This really can't be good, people... And even worse, after Hiro and Ando encourage him to draw some more, he conjures a picture of Future Hiro facing off against a dinosaur. Okay...there's a twist I didn't expect. Really have to wonder how that one's going to play out.

Elsewhere in Heroes-land, Jessica pursues DL and Micah, while Nikki tries to reassert control. And DL can phase-shift around bullets—in a very cool moment, a bullet passes right through his head. In the course of "protecting" Micah, Jessica hurts him. Spurred by this, Nikki regains a foothold, and finally she takes control and turns herself in to the police. This plotline so far has been pretty minor, and I'm a bit confused as to what's going on with Nikki/Jessica. I assume Nikki is asserting control over her powerful but evil alter ego, and that eventually they'll assimilate into one person. In the meantime, it's not always clear which one is which in this episode. Maybe that's on purpose, to show that they are starting to merge. But in the middle of the Nikki/Jessica faceoff I started picturing them as Gollum/Smeagol, and that made me laugh. No, seriously. Picture Nikki making those faces. It's funny. Trust me.

Okay, never mind.

Eden calls Mohinder, telling him she's going to kill the man who murdered his father. She then confronts Sylar, ordering him to kill himself. But Sylar overpowers her from his cell, and Eden kills herself before Sylar can help himself to her powers of persuasion.

The big cliffhangers of the episode lie with Claire, and finally with Peter. The Haitian comes into Claire's house, where she's alone, and tells her he's been sent to make her forget, as he did to her friends (interesting that he tells her anything at all, since Eden stated earlier that he couldn't talk). But he's not going to do it. He wants to know if she can keep a secret.

In his holding cell at the police station, Peter has developed a cough and a penchant for hallucinations. The kicker hallucination comes at the end of the episode, when, coughing, he collapses on the steps outside the police station. He finds himself in a deserted New York City, full of empty cars and buildings. The Heroes appear, but move away from him. Claire mouths, "I'm sorry." Peter starts to glow, and then explodes...

Cut to the police station steps. Nathan tries to revive his brother, who has stopped breathing.

So Bennett's sidekick, the Haitian, is working another agenda, probably that of the higher-ups who ordered Bennett to keep Sylar alive. But what is this agenda, and how does Claire play into it? The twist of Peter being the exploding man makes sense—what if he inadvertently absorbed the powers of Radioactive Man, had no idea what was happening to him or what power he'd absorbed, and lost control of it? Boom? It seems likely.

Looks like we'll have to wait until January 22 to get any more answers.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day Break-—What if He Can Change the Day

Hopper's day takes a very different turn today, as, true to last week's title--What if He Lets Her Go--he temporarily abandons his quest to save Rita in a quest to save Andrea. Andrea, it seems, has gotten mixed up with Eddie, a former cop who's now having drug issues. It was his body we saw at the end of the last episode, and now I feel dumb that I didn't recognize him, because he was Batmanuel Nestor Carbonell.

In any case, Hopper pursues parts of his usual pattern, but drops others, as he goes through two more full days and part of another. A second package enters the picture--it was sent to Hopper's sister. So the days focus on helping Andrea with Eddie and her situation with Internal Affairs, and on working out the meaning of the second package, which contains a photograph from a crime scene from 1991.

Hopper focuses on gathering all his evidence in this episode, spending a day at a bar writing down everything that has happened so far and trying to make connections. Since all these notes presumably disappear the next time he wakes up, he must be developing a heck of a memory--although the repetition probably helps.

More and more details about Andrea's IA situation and her relationship with Eddie accumulate over days Two and Three. On Day Three, Hopper is offered a deal by one of the men from the quarry--bring the pictures and he'll get all the answers he needs. But in the end he chooses to help Andrea, instead. The picture from the package turns out to be from a case Eddie was involved in--Hopper's father was the lead on the case and evidence disappeared, leading the case to fall apart. At the beginning of Day Four of this episode, Hopper goes to get the first package and this time finds a fingerprint on the hourglass.

So we have a few more clues, and in the end Eddie is saved. But I have to wonder how all this will help. Hopper can spend an entire day changing something, but when he wakes up the next day, the clock is reset, and if he isn't there to facilitate each situation, how will it play out differently?

But aha! The writers have worked this out. On Day Four, Hopper gets a phone call from Andrea first thing in the morning, which hasn't happened before. His meddling on the previous day has carried over, and now Andrea is able to handle her situation herself. So as Hopper works through each piece of this puzzle, presumably it'll get to a point where his changes all carry over, and the mystery is finally solved, everything fixed, all wrongs righted. Finally there's a light at the end of the tunnel--an indication that Hopper can, indeed, eventually escape the endless loop. It's a neat twist, and I assume gives us an idea of how Hopper will approach his dilemma in upcoming episodes.

As an aside, why does Nestor Carbonell always look like he's wearing eyeliner?

Bones—The Headless Witch in the Woods

Tonight's case offers a fun homage to The Blair Witch Project. Except in this case, the filmmaker didn't become famous--he became dead and decapitated in the middle of the woods. I hate when that happens.

The episode starts off on a spooky note, with a headless body found deep in a forest supposedly haunted by a supposed witch, Maggie Cinders, who was killed there in 1783. As it turns out, the victim, Graham Hastings, was making a documentary about the Maggie Cinders legend. His videotape, recovered by Angela via digital restoration, seems to show the victim's death at the hands of the witch.

The case maintains a nicely paranormal air almost to the bitter end, when the pieces finally come together and the killer is revealed to be Graham's non-ghostly brother, Will. It turns out to be a well- played twist, with several plausible red herrings dropped along the way. Will claims to have been possessed by the witch, which of course is ridiculous. Or is it? Because then there's that eerie, inexplicable video image Angela discovers right at the end...

To really enjoy the case here, you have to assume Bones exists in an alternate universe where The Blair Witch Project never happened, but that's okay, because I've seen that kind of thing done before, and in this case I think it worked. In fact, I don't think it would have worked as well if they'd made it less obvious they were riffing Blair Witch. If you're going to go there, might as well go all the way there.

The rest of the episode is solid, too. Brennan busts Booth on his relationship with Cam when a spooked Cam grabs Booth's hand for comfort during the initial viewing of the video tape. Then Brennan, finding common ground with Will, who also lost his parents as a teenager, tentatively pursues a possible relationship. All this leads to an awkward but heartfelt--and funny--conversation in which Booth and Brennan dissect their own relationship. In other relationship developments, Hodgins reaps the benefits of the oh so scary video tape when Angela insists he stay with her while she watches it, so he can comfort her. Hodgins gets just a bit too smirky about that, but I think Angela is tough enough to smack him down if she has to. I think these two are fun together, and I hope they can continue to be fun together, since by TV rules Booth and Brennan can never get together, and by those same rules Booth and Cam are doomed eventually.

I also liked the little spotight Cam got in this episode, talking about her supernatural encounter with her mother. It added some depth to her character, and made her a bit more accessible. I'm undoubtedly in the minority in that I like Booth and Cam together. She's a strong woman who has proven herself capable of taking him down a notch or two when he engages in his occasional macho posturing. So is Brennan, but again, see TV rules.

I thought it was kind of too bad that Will turned out to be the killer. He could have made a good temporary romance for Brennan, over a few episodes, given their similar backgrounds. He also played a good foil to her perceptions of her brother, making her give some thought to what Russ went through for her, and how things might have been if both she and Russ had made different decisions. But unfortunately psycho killers make lousy boyfriends, so I guess that's not going to work out.

Favorite Line:
Booth: I'd prefer not to be a woman, if you don't mind.

No Bones next week--weh--but in two weeks comes a new episode directed by David Duchovny. This makes me happy, as I'm a big Duchovny fan, and I thought his directorial work on The X-Files was solid. Can't wait to see what he does with Bones.

And can I just air a gripe? I'm getting really tired of Fox showing bits in the previews that are cut out of the final episode.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bones News

Hart Hanson, the creator of Bones, has an interview at TV He discussions some items regarding upcoming shows (spoilers ho!), including some tasty tidbits about Booth. But most importantly, he states that Bones will be retaining its Wednesday night timeslot in January. Since early news had the show being shuffled off to Friday nights, the Timeslot Where Good Shows Go to Die, I was very glad to hear this confirmed.

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

Just another thought about Heroes. They saved the cheerleader, but how did they save the world? Well, if Sylar's power is, indeed, to absorb other folks' powers on a permanent basis, then if he'd killed Claire and eaten her brain (or whatever it is that he does), he would be unkillable. So was the world saved because Sylar is just really, really powerful and not invincible?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

House—Finding Judas

Tritter continues his quest, which is starting to paralyze the hospital, while House and his team attempt to diagnose a six-year-old girl with mysterious abdominal pain. Of course what initially seems to be a simple, if unusual, case of gallstones, becomes something far more serious. House concentrates on the case while the rest of the gang deal with Tritter's bullying tactics, and House resorts to his own bullying tactics to treat the little girl over her parents' objections.

In a way it's almost hard to understand why the team sticks to House so loyally. They all know he's addicted to Vicodin, and he treats all of them like crap. But in another way, it's perfectly easy to understand, because we've seen the relationship these people have with each other, and even though it seems ridiculous that they'd stick with him, it also makes complete sense. They've all, at one time or another, seen past House's facade.

However, House off his Vicodin is even nastier than House on his Vicodin. His vitriol hits Cuddy particularly hard. In the meantime, Tritter backs off, leaving the gang to assume somebody has finally caved in and agreed to testify against House. Tritter goes out of his way to make it look like it was Chase.

But the big confrontation comes when the gang challenges House's diagnosis, which this times proves to be wrong. Though Chase "wins" with the correct diagnosis, he also takes a fist in the face. (The final diagnosis is porphyria, an acute sensitivity to light which some people believe is behind the vampire legends.) In the end House is betrayed, in true Biblical fashion, by the one who is closest to him.

The storyline with Tritter has felt a bit melodramatic from the beginning. Plus we've been down this road before, more or less, with House being called on his addiction and a hospital administrator trying to remove him from the hospital both back in Season One. So in a way it feels like a retread. But it's also not. Basically, I have mixed feelings about the storyline, although the dramatic potential is great and has been mined in a pretty skillful fashion, overall. It's just really pushed some limits, I think, among them the show's believability. One has to wonder, even moreso than usual, exactly why anyone puts up with House in the first place. I mean, those pretty blue eyes can only get him so far. On the other hand, the writers have done a spectacular job using this situation to pull out some really powerful character moments for the entire cast, so it all balances out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Heroes—Six Months Ago

"My name is Hiro Nakamura. I'm here to save your life..."

And so Hiro arrives, "Six Months Ago," to save Charlie's life.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit more than I have the last few. It was unexpected to see so many questions answered and so much backstory filled in--and all of it fit and made sense, which was great. The main plot of the story didn't really move forward, but that's okay, because I think it was time to take a step back and fill in some blanks. And I think they did a great job of it. My interest in this show has been uneven, but this episode did a lot to drag me back in.

In an unexpected twist, the writers use Hiro's trip into the past to show us what happened with all the Heroes six months ago. We already knew from previous mentions that this was about the time when the superpowers began to manifest. So we spend the episode checking in with several familiar faces, to see where they were when it all started hitting the fan.

Suresh Sr. has just begun his search for the Heroes, which was spurred, it turns out, by the fact that his daughter died from a genetic mutation. He zeroes in on a watchmaker named Gabriel, but things turn sour when he determines Gabriel has no superpowers. Jealous, Gabriel lures one of Suresh's contacts to his death, then apparently absorbs the other man's power. Oh, yeah, and he decides to call himself Sylar. Gabriel Sylar can sense when and how things are broken--but does he also take other Heroes' powers? Does he do this by extracting their brains? This seems likely--during last week's confrontation he seemed to have a nice medley of powers, rather than just one, like the other folks we've met.

Claire gets her Big Break to become a cheerleader, and her healing powers manifest for the first time. In the meantime, her father finds Eden and lures her to the Dark Side...or at least to help him get Claire's name off Suresh's list. Interesting factoid: Mr. Bennett is immune to Eden's mojo, as is Mysterious Black Dude, whose origins and powers are not explained further. So why is Mr. Bennett immune, and what exactly is MBD's deal? We've seen him do something to other Heroes--including shutting Matt's powers down cold. Maybe his presence makes Mr. Bennett immune?

Niki meets up with her absentee father at an AA meeting. We discover she had a sister named Jessica, who is dead. Turns out Daddy killed the sister in a drunken rage, and Niki becomes Niki/Jessica (for the first time?) after her father has a confrontation with Micah. I'd be tempted to say Niki doesn't even have a super power, that she just has multiple personality disorder, except that Jessica seems to have some sort of preternatural strength thing going on.

Peter's hair was still in his face six months ago, implying he keeps that haircut on purpose. He and Nathan discuss Nathan's decision to go up against their father's biggest client, who is a crook. The client sends a truck after Nathan and Heidi, smashing into the back of their car. Nathan's power manifests as he flies out of the car, leaving it to crash, thus putting Heidi in a wheelchair. He abandons the case after their father dies of a heart attack. Nathan claims he doesn't remember what happened to him during the accident, but is this true? Was this really the first time he'd ever flown? Or did he do it on purpose to save himself? Either option seems likely--Nathan seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, which could imply either shell-shocked ignorance or carefully schooled cover-up.

Matt's story is a bit shallow here, but he's there, with his telepathic powers just beginning to manifest. Pulled over for drunk driving, Eden mojos him into eating donuts, then he fails his detective test for the second time, apparently due to dyslexia. How unoriginal is that, though, making Matt eat donuts? I would have made him scrub all the police car tires in the fleet with a toothbrush, or chop down the largest tree in the forest with a herring.

It turns out Charlie is dying of a blood clot/anyeurism in her brain, and has fallen for Hiro. Unfortunately he jumps just as she's about to kiss him, and ends up in Japan, unable to jump back. This begs the question--was Charlie killed by Sylar, after all, or did she die of natural causes?

After his accidental jump, Hiro returns to the diner. He tells Ando he failed, and that he can't change the past. He loved Charlie (awwww), but his power is bigger than him.

And we are back at the end of last week's episode.

Rome—Season One

Just in time for Season Two, which according to recent reports is set to start airing on HBO in January, I finally finished watching Season One of Rome. Since I wasn't able to catch it live, I Netflixed the DVDs instead.

Originally airing from August to November of 2005, Rome is a co-production of HBO and the BBC. True to its parentage, the show is beautifully put together. The production values are as high as or higher than any bigscreen production, the acting and writing nearly flawless.

Rome begins with Julius Caesar's return to Rome after the conquest of Gaul, and ends with his brutal murder on the senate floor. The story of his rise and fall alternates with the "smaller" stories of Marcus Verenus and Titus Pullo, two ordinary Roman soldiers whose fates become inextricably entertwined with Caesar's.

I was very impressed with the writing on this show. The story not only presents a series of complex plots, but also works hard to give us insight into an alien world which has been whitewashed and modernized by so many other fictional representations of it. It also takes full advantage of being aired on HBO, with explicit sex and violence and nudity and swearing. Everything about it, from the wrenching violence to the brutal emotionality, feels authentic, to the point where it's sometimes painful to watch. I found it involving, entertaining, heart-wrenching, and powerful. And, while being suitably appalled that the Romans entertained themselves watching people being hacked apart, I had to remember that I was entertaining myself by watching the same thing, even though it was, of course, all fake. In the end, are we really all that different?

Sunday, November 26, 2006


This news from TV Squad makes me very happy.

I attended Mr. Minear's "Breaking the Story" panel at Screenwriting Expo 5 in Los Angeles last month, where he screened the first six minutes of the pilot of Drive, and the whole room was suitably impressed. At that time, Tim was feeling pretty down because the pilot had been nixed, but between then and now, it was picked up, though apparently with some recasting being tossed into the mix. I'm very pleased this show will be appearing on my TV in the near future. I just hope Fox doesn't screw it over like they did Minear's last two shows, Wonderfalls and The Inside, which definitely deserved much better treatment than they received.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Clearing the DVR—CMT Crossroads

A few weeks ago, my boss, knowing I am into all things Johnny Cash, told me Rosanne Cash and Steve Earle were going to be on a show on CMT called Crossroads. I'd never heard of the show—I wasn't even sure I got CMT. But I found it and recorded it on the DVR.

Due to being somewhat DVR-clueless (hey, I just got the thing in August), I managed to accidentally record several more episodes of the show. I'd enjoyed Rosanne and Steve, and the other episodes looked interesting, so I saved them.

Crossroads is a pretty neat show. The premise is that they take two artists of usually very different musical styles and put them on stage together, where they perform each other's songs. The performances are interspersed with short interviews, and sometimes audience Q&A. The result is a show that's fun to watch, anchored by entertaining performances and occasionally insightful interviews (some of these are just fluff, but not always). It's amusing to watch artists who are starstruck by each other, and obviously a little nervous to be singing somebody else's song right in front of them. Though the pairings always feature a country artist, you don't have to be a country music fan to enjoy the show—just a fan of good music.

What I found on my DVR:
Steve Earle and Rosanne Cash
Martina McBride and Pat Benatar
Bon Jovi and Sugarland

For more info on Crossroads, check out the show's page on CMT.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Tidbits

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.

Some tidbits for Turkey Day:

Creative Screenwriting Weekly has a nice two-part interview with Anne Cofell Saunders of Battlestar Galactica.

Part One
Part Two

Unfortunately, it looks like the Lost fans aren't hanging around for Day Break.

Sad Story Here

This makes me sad. Weh.

Okay, off to eat pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Day Break—What If He Lets Her Go

I'm even more impressed with this show after this episode than I was after the pilot. Rather than retreading old ground already covered in last week's show, this week Hopper manages to go off on a completely different tack, investigating different layers of the complex story of his Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. A completely different plot is thus spun out of these new elements, showing us entirely new information about the characters and the case. A "previously on" segment is narrated by Hopper, orienting us to where we are in the story, and quick flashbacks help us remember where we've seen people before (or, in my case, that we're supposed to remember where we've seen them before but we can't because the short term memory is the first to go). This worked well, I thought.

Tonight we discover that Hopper can heal during his repeating days, as his gunshot wound isn't bleeding as badly when he wakes up at the beginning of this episode. However, this precludes a repetition of the shower scene from last week, which is a bummer, although he does spend some time shirtless in front of the mirror bandaging himself up. He convinces Rita to take the day off so he can keep her close, then he saves Coffee Shop Lady, but Rita insists on helping the victims of the bus accident. Hopper retrieves the package mentioned on his voice mail and finds an hourglass inside. I'm thinking Time Turner here--maybe if he turns it upside down at the right time, he can save Buckbeak.

At the hospital, Rita is seeing to the accident victims when Chad drops by to check on her. He tells her Hopper killed Garza, and that she's wanted for questioning. Hopper arrives and sticks a gun in Chad's back and tries to get Rita to come with him, but she refuses. He runs.

Hopper meets up with Andrea. They trace the call regarding the package to the home of US Attorney Nathan Baxter, who was involved in one of Hopper's previous cases involving a gangbanger turning state's evidence, then getting nabbed from the safe house. They go to Baxter's house and find a dead woman in the swimming pool. Hopper thinks this is who called him.

Chad convinces Rita to let him take her home. He offers to check her house and spend the night to protect her, but she refuses. After she leaves his car, his phone rings (an aside--who the hell has the William Tell Overture as a ringtone?). It's Ominous Bearded Guy, who's been surveilling Hopper's place. He wants to meet Chad at a bar for hot sexy boy loving unknown reasons.

Rita confronts Hopper over his weirdness and finally asks him to leave when he refuses to explain. Hopper is abducted by Damien, who's bit annoyed that he ratted for Hopper and then got abducted out of his safe house. Damien has Baxter in the trunk of his car. Damien is sure either Baxter or Hopper gave him up at the safe house. Hopper asks for more time to find out what exactly happened, and who really ratted Damien out. Damien agrees, and then shoots Baxter dead.


Rita wakes up alone at 6:25. Hopper is already dressed. And morose. This time he catches the soap dish with hot sexy vampire-like reflexes. He tries to explain his dilemma to Rita in generic terms. She tells him to solve the case rather than trying to protect the target, of course unaware the target is her. He heads out and saves Coffee Shop Lady again, then goes to get the package. This time he confronts Ominous Bearded Guy and his crony in their car Their backseat tussle ends with Hopper being tossed out of the car onto the street, but he's snagged OBG's phone.

Trying to keep the woman at Baxter's house (Eva) from dying this time around, Hopper finds out Garza told her to call him about the package. OBG's phone rings (and what is with the lame ringtones? Dixie? Wtf?) and finds Baxter on the other end calling OBG to tell him Hopper is in his house. Of course Hopper knows this, and confronts Baxter. While they're in each other's faces, Damien and his sidekick show up and shoot the woman, who flies out a window into the pool. Hopper ends up in the trunk with Baxter. Baxter admits to Hopper than he ratted out Damien.

Elsewhere, Rita has agreed to an interrogation by AD Skinner Detective Spivak. Chad prevents a line of questioning they apparently want to use against her. She is obviously appreciative, and this time when he takes her home she accepts his offer to stay the night--just to make sure she's safe, you know. Hey. He's Adam Baldwin. He has huge hands. He can sleep on my couch any time, even if he is a Republican.

There is a car accident (from the POV of the two guys in the trunk--cool!) and a lot of gunshots and Baxter and Hopper are liberated from the trunk by OBG, who slugs Hopper in the face for taking his phone. After an Angel-reminiscent blipvert to make us think we're moving on to day three, Hopper wakes up in the trunk. He finds Baxter dead in the front of the car, and he's been left with a gun. So now he's been framed for two murders instead of just one. He eludes the cops in a musical montage to "Unbound" by Robbie Robertson.

Hopper calls Rita from outside her house and assures her she's okay, and that he'll see her tomorrow. He of course hears Chad being Chaddy in the background. Hopper gets a call from Andrea, who has apparently just killed somebody and I think I was supposed to recognize the body but I couldn't make out the face even on pause with the DVR because the eyesight is second to go after the short-term memory.

The previews look like the next episode will focus on Andrea, and apparently will guest star Nestor Carbonell, aka Batmanuel from The Tick. (Shut up. The Tick was WAY better than Suddenly Susan.)

One-Shot—3 lbs.

The premise: Stanley Tucci (Lots of Stuff), Indira Varma (Rome, Torchwood) and Mark Feuerstein (Caroline in the City--yes, I remember him from Caroline in the City--you want to make something of it?) are transported into a parallel dimension where House and his cronies are Stanley Tucci, Indira Varma and Mark Feuerstein. Seriously, everything about this show feels like it’s trying to be House. The camera going inside people in the teaser, the camera movement around the hospital, the witty banter, hell, even the incidental music sounds like the music from House.

In this case, I think the show would have been better served to be allowed to stand on its own feet, rather than trying to ride on House’s coattails. In my opinion, it’s not nearly as strong a show as House, and these deficiencies are underlined by the obvious attempt at clonage. If it had been allowed to be, say, 3 Lbs., a story about neurosurgeons with an enigmatic title reflecting the weight of the average human brain, it would have been a lot more interesting.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Our Patient of the Week is already in a Horrible Dilemma—he works at Chuck E. Cheese, or rather Chuck E. Squirrel. No wonder he keels over. Not to mention puking all over the birthday presents. Ewww. It turns out poor Jack is the guardian to his younger brother and sister—their parents died, leaving the three of them alone.

Wilson is being harassed by Tritter, aka Thermometer in Rectum Cop Guy, who’s trying to get him to testify against House. He ends up with his prescription privileges revoked, so he can’t even prescribe drugs for his patients.

House sets up a “game” based on what tests the other doctors will try to diagnose the patient. Foreman, Cameron and Chase all try their theories, with no clear results, while House claims to know what’s wrong. They end up treating Jack for Hepatitis A. Of course this won’t work because it’s only a quarter after eight and House never makes a definitive diagnosis before a quarter to nine. On cue for the commercial break, Jack breaks out in spontaneous copious bleeding.

House goes the rounds trying to get a Vicodin prescription from somebody. The entire team turns him down.

Chase goes through the Dumpster at Chuck E. Squirrel with Chuck E. Squirrel himself, looking for samples of Jack’s puke. Ewww. Foreman gets samples of spinal fluid with the non-AMA-approved assistance of Jack’s little sister, who interrogates him. Jack exhibits a new symptom—brittle bones.

Back with Jack, Foreman diagnosis syphilis, while Cameron diagnoses Eikenella (a bacterium), and Chase finds botulism. So Jack is a veritable bacteria zoo.

They clear the infections, but now Jack is having seizures, which of course they can find no explanation for. House thinks Jack might have drugs trapped in his fat cells, so they put him in a sauna to get a tox screen. He has a seizure in the sauna and they take a blood sample which proves drug-free.

Cameron refuses to give House a Vicodin prescription and gives him PMS pills, instead. Given House’s usual moodiness, this might prove to be a good idea.

Cameron, Foreman and Chase do another brain scan and find something that looks like a tumor. Then a few more. Then lots more. Just in time for the commercial break.

Countdown about ten minutes to the definitive diagnosis…

House heads to Cuddy for Vicodin, who writes him a prescription. The brain “tumors” prove to be infections from aspergilla. House determines Jack has a genetic illness. House and Wilson have a standoff over the other doctors—Wilson needs one of them to help him with prescriptions and House refuses.

House decides they need to give Jack a bunch of infections at once to find out which one gains the most ground, which then will show them what the root cause of his problems is. House administers a viral cocktail, then tells Jack it’s not exactly approved and he should keep it a secret. This was highly featured in the promo, and turned out to not be a big driver of the plot, which makes me wonder if it will surface again later, or if we’ve just been duped again by the Fox promotions department.

Jack gets sicker. Cameras zoom inside his body, which is never a good sign. Chronic granulomatous disease proves to be the final diagnosis, meaning Jack’s immune system is extremely compromised, and he’ll be continuously sick. House recommends a bone marrow transplant. Jack’s little brother Will is a match. Foreman tries to convince Jack to do the transplant, but he refuses. House and Foreman confront him, House wanting to prove Jack’s motives aren’t as altruistic as Foreman believes. House proves “right”—Jack is overwhelmed by his responsibility and feels he’s too young to be his siblings’ father.

Wilson has decided to shut down his practice because he can’t prescribe medications. He confronts House and tells him he should turn himself in and get help, then he throws House out of his office. Wilson tells House his shoulder pain is because he feels guilty, and that House has basically hung him out to dry. Once again Wilson knows House better than House knows himself, but this time House has completely failed him.

Jack decides to let his younger siblings go into foster care. Foreman gives him a pep talk, but Jack doesn’t really buy it.

Wilson is left alone on a rainy park bench. House drives by and they don’t speak. Damn. My favorite TV couple has broken up. Weh.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The promos this week have been all about the catchphrase, “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” This episode was supposed to explain this warning. Well, by the end of the hour, one cheerleader is saved, one has had her head sliced open, and we still don’t know if the world’s been saved.

The major focus of tonight’s plotlines lie with Claire and Peter, whose storylines converge, and with Mohinder, who’s still soul-searching in India. Minor storylines follow Jessica/Niki, Micah and DL, as well as Hiro and Ando, with the latter also involved in Peter’s search for a cheerleader to save. Nathan appears briefly in an attempt to “save” his brother by being an asshole. (His talent is supposed to be that of flight—seems to me his superpower lies in, you know, being an asshole.)

The episode is called “Homecoming,” so of course there’s Homecoming at Claire’s school, and she’s elected homecoming queen, in spite of having nearly killed the star quarterback, who of course deserved it a lot. Elsewhere in Heroes-land, Peter is determined to “save the cheerleader,” even though Isaac’s painting seems to presage Peter’s own death. And he really should get his hair cut so he doesn’t have to keep pushing it out of his face cause that’s driving me nuts. Isaac should have painted a big ole portrait of Peter at Fantastic Sam’s getting a fauxhawk.

Peter hooks up with Hiro and Ando, trying to get them to Odessa, TX to help him “save the cheerleader.” Hiro, however, has blipped back in time to try to save Charlie (“Memory Girl” from last week’s episode) from horrible bloodsplattery death at the hands of Sylar, who likes to open up people’s heads like tin cans. To quote Jayne Cobb, when does that get to be fun?

In India, Mohinder searches for the boy who popped into his dreams, whom his father had listed as a gifted child who can manipulate other people’s dreams. The kid proves far too easy to find. He claims to be some sort of oracle who’s drawn into people’s dreams to help them answer questions. He’s all enigmatic and shit and about as helpful as oracles usually are. In the end his main task seems to be to supply the incredibly obvious password to Mohinder’s dad’s computer, so Mohinder can see the list of people his father had discovered to be mutant Hero freaks. His crisis of conscience over, he determines to go find all these people and tell them what they are, so they can all save the cheerleader and save the world—or something.

In the Jessica-DL-Micah storyline, Jessica (aka Bad!Niki) is pursing DL with harmful intent. Micah knows about Jessica, which begs the question of how much he’s seen of her murderous bloodsplattery antics. Therapy, anyone?

Isaac is still being force-fed heroin by Horn Rimmed Glasses Guy (aka Claire’s dad) and Eden so he can paint prescient pictures that will hopefully help them stop Sylar and “save the cheerleader.”

Claire is grounded by her father, begging the question of why the hell she wears her damn cheerleader uniform everywhere. Is it so Peter will know she’s the cheerleader so he can save her? If so, it doesn’t work, because Peter hones in on Jackie. Events begin to come together, recreating parts of Isaac’s paintings. Jackie is grabbed and strangled by a dark figure who telekinetically slices her head open like a tin can. This, then, is Sylar. Sylar has some wicked telekinetic powers, like throwing locker doors down a hallway.

Peter sends Claire away and confronts Sylar himself. They both hit the concrete from a don’t-try-this-at-home height, and things look very bad for our semi-heroic Petrelli brother, who ends up lying in a big pool of blood with most of his limbs facing the wrong way. Ew. Of course, Peter’s been in close proximity to Claire, so he’s absorbed her healing powers (just stick him in spandex and call him Rogue) and is able to fix himself in spite of his multiple gross injuries. But Sylar’s already escaped. He meets up with Eden, who mind controls his ass into unconsciousness.

The episode ends with Hiro arriving at Charlie’s diner six months in the past, just in time for her birthday party.

So there we go. Cheerleader saved. Was the world saved? Who the hell knows. Maybe we’ll find out next week.

Interesting Item of Note:

One of the kids at Claire’s high school is wearing a Battlestar Galactica T-shirt.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day Break—What if They Run (Pilot)

Last season, viewers of Lost registered a good number of complaints that they didn’t like having to sit through reruns, and that they wanted uninterrupted first-run episodes instead. ABC’s response to this? Run 6 episodes of Lost in a row, then pull the show completely off the air until February, after which they would run the rest of the season uninterrupted. Now, of course, Lost fans are complaining that their show is off the air for twelve weeks.

In any case, for the hiatus we’ll be treated to a new show, Day Break. The premise: Taye Diggs and a collection of ex-X-Files-ers team up to turn “Monday” (a season six X-Files episode in which Mulder relives the same day over and over until he is able to stop a bank robbery and save Scully from blood splattery death) into a thirteen-part mystery. (Or it could be the season eight X-Files episode “Redrum”, but I liked “Monday” better.) The production staff is stellar, including Rob Bowman and Jeffrey Bell from The X-Files (and, in the case of Bell, Angel). In front of the cameras we have Taye Diggs, also serving as a co-producer, Adam Baldwin (The X-Files, Angel, Firefly), Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), and, in a minor role, John Rubinstein (Linwood Morrow from Angel).

Wednesday night’s two-hour introduction presented a nicely convoluted tale, but for me the highlight was Diggs and Baldwin wrestling repeatedly in the elevator. I’ll tell you what, I could have watched that for the entire two hours. Well, with a break or two to look at Taye Diggs shirtless, another definite highlight of the episode.

Anyway, our story starts with our hero, Detective Brett Hopper, waking up with his girlfriend Rita. Several odd things happen so he’ll have a way to realize his day is repeating once we get to that point—there’s a car accident outside the apartment, he breaks the soap dish (remember Mulder’s waterbed leak and how he kept tripping over his shoes?). And of course we get all the background we need to set up our basic story. Assistant DA Alberto Garza has been murdered, and our hero has been framed for that murder. He’s taken in and interrogated. We find out his sister’s husband abuses her, and that his girlfriend Rita was once his ex-partner’s wife, and his ex-partner is now leading an Internal Affairs investigation against Hopper's new partner, Andrea. Then he’s kidnapped by goons who tell him he has to confess to the murder or they’ll kill his girlfriend. Well, actually they’ve already killed his girlfriend, and they show it to him on tape, then demonstrate that they are prepared and positioned to kill his sister and her kids, as well. They also tell him in a dramatically echoey manner that every decision has a consequence. And then he wakes up back in bed with Rita, faced with reliving the entire horrible day. Just to add insult to injury, rather literally, he wakes up with all the wounds he received on the previous day. This could be a problem.

Thus is our hero’s dilemma. Everything he does or doesn’t do creates a chain reaction throughout the day (and his major choice determines the title of the episode, talk about pressure), with different end results. Hopper acts based on knowledge gained in the previous repetition of the day, but he doesn’t know what the right mix is. In this respect he’s a lot like Tru Davies in Tru Calling, but he doesn’t have to run everywhere and he lacks Eliza Dushku’s cleavage.

Overall, this all worked better than I expected, given the difficult premise. Each repetition of the day reveals a few more details behind the conspiracy surrounding Garza's murder, adding layers to the mystery and the plot. I’m still curious to see how they manage to play it out over the full 12 episodes (13 if this one counts as 2), but so far, so good. And as long as Diggs keeps taking off his shirt and wrestling with Adam Baldwin in the elevator, I’m all good.

Day Break Official Site.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Supernatural—Crossroad Blues

If David Boreanaz is the hottest hottie on TV, then Jensen Ackles is a very, very, very close second. By like a hair. Or, in Ackles’ case, a freckle. Mmmm, freckles. I’ve had a long-term relationship with Boreanaz, starting when I discovered Buffy, so I guess Ackles is my approaching-midlife-crisis fling with a younger man.

Yeah, Padalecki’s okay, too, but for me this is the Dean Winchester show. He’s hot and conflicted and tormented and angsty and bow-legged and freckled, with limpid green Anime eyes that emote more pain than a human being could possibly bear and the prettiest mouth I’ve ever seen on a man. Yeah.

Over the last few weeks, Crossroad Blues, based on the legend of blues great Robert Johnson, emerged as one of the most highly anticipated episodes of the season. Thematically, it promised tons of angst, because there was no way they could manage a case about deals with the devil without addressing what happened in In My Time of Dying, when John traded himself for Dean. Dean knew this implicitly, but not explicitly. The anticipation was that the dynamic would change in the course of this episode, and that Dean would take a painful trip into angst-ville, having to face full-on the fact that not only is he alive and his father isn’t, but he’s alive because his father isn’t.

Penned by Sera Gamble, Crossroad Blues definitely lived up to the hype. While the main plotline of folks bargaining with the devil was a bit pedestrian, it proved a perfect backdrop for Dean’s soul-searching encounter at the Crossroads, and a brilliant and hot performance by Ackles. Seriously, whose ovaries didn’t explode when Dean went from OMG I am in such pain with my limpid green Anime eyes to Gotcha complete with smirk when the demon stepped under the Devil’s Trap?

Even the Hellhounds plot had some great moments, though. The scene where the surgeon was torn apart on the hotel floor by the invisible Hellhounds was genuinely creepy, as were the brief incursions of the demons into the hotel manager and Evan’s wife. Evan’s bargain to save his wife was, of course, a good complement to Dean’s dilemma, and John’s decision to trade himself for his son. We’ve known since In My Time of Dying that Dean was eventually going to find out what happened, and that when he did, it was going to fuck him up. And guess what? We were right.

The final conversation between the demon and Dean left some highly charged questions unanswered. Like Sam, I have to wonder if John is really in hell, or if the demon was just taunting Dean. I think it could go either way…but the first option is probably the most likely, given this show’s tendencies and the storyline’s high potential for pain and angst and Dean being hot while conflicted and emoting with his limpid green Anime eyes.

And I am so looking forward to that.

Favorite Moments:
Sam pouting because Dean has a police record and he doesn't.
Dean: Usually I like a warning before I'm violated by demon tongue.