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.