Saturday, March 3, 2007

Robin Hood—Will You Tolerate This

This BBC production of the ever-popular Robin Hood saga premiered on BBC America tonight. I've been a fan of the Robin Hood story for a long time, so I had to check it out.

Tonight, Robin of Locksley (Jonas Armstrong) returns home from the Crusades with his quip-filled sidekick Much (Sam Troughton, Hex). Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) has taken over Robin's estate, and things have gone awry... well, you know the story. Robin fights the good fight against the bad guys, romances Marian, robbing from the rich, giving to the poor, all that.

Unfortunately, in spite of his stylish twelfth century stubble, this Robin is a bit dull, upstaged by his quippy sidekick while Guy (that's SIR Guy to you), oozes his evil hotness all over the screen. Sorry, Robin, but the big blue puppy dog eyes really can't hold up to the evil smirk and the black leather costuming--not to mention the eyeliner. I'll be tuning in next week--but I'll probably be rooting for the wrong team.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Black Donnellys Pilot Free at iTunes

iTunes is offering the pilot of The Black Donnellys as a free download, so if you missed it, here's your chance to catch it.

Click here:

The Black Donnellys - The Black Donnellys, Season 1 - Pilot

Interview with Sera Gamble

Sera Gamble, the pen or co-pen behind some of my favorite Supernatural episodes, including "Faith" and "House of the Holy," has an interesting interview up at Sequential Tart. There are some spoilers for upcoming episodes, particularly the season finale, but they didn't seem to me to be major spoilers.

Sera also has a blog called Very Hot Jews, which doesn't have much about TV writing, but is interesting and opinionated and funny. There is some adult content here—Sera also writes erotica, which is just another reason why I love her.

I think Sera is rapidly becoming one of my favorite TV writers, right up there with the Incomparable Jane Espenson and the Ultimate Drew Goddard.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Fox Offers Shows for Sale on Network Site

Still more options for online viewing/download, this time directly from a major network.

From this article at NewTeeVee:

"FOX is really pushing web and digital distribution (despite a few lawsuits1 to the contrary), releasing episodes on MySpace and DVD shortly after they air (and sometimes before2). We’re pretty sure it’s the first network to offer primetime shows for download on its own sites. Rollout is scheduled for “the coming year.”


Affiliates can sell about 30 percent of ad inventory for the streaming shows, in line with the deal ABC cut with its own affiliates last fall, according to Broadcasting & Cable4."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lost—Tricia Tanaka is Dead

Cheech Marin makes a guest appearance tonight as Hurley's dad.

Backstory: I missed the beginning of this because my satellite reception mysteriously disappeared for a few minutes (weirdly, my kids were still blissfully watching Spongebob in the other room--go fig), but apparently Hurley's dad ran off and left him when Hurley was a kid. The Tricia Tanaka of the title proves to be a TV reporter who interviews Hurley about his lottery win. He's bought a Chicken Shack, which is promptly struck by a meteor, killing Tricia Tanaka, who's inside, thus confirming Hurley's curse. Hurley decides he has to go to Australia to break the curse. His mom tells him he's not cursed, and produces his father to prove it--Dad's come back after 17 years. Hurley thinks Dad just wants the lottery money.

Hurley's dad takes him to a Tarot reader to settle his cursed numbers issues. But she's not for real--his dad put her up to it. Hurley continues with his plan to go to Australia. His dad admits to having come back because of the money, but that's not why he's here now. His efforts to bond are unsuccessful, and Hurley heads for Australia.

Front Story: Hurley talk to Libby, at her grave. *Weeps.* He thinks Charlie's going to die because of the curse. Vincent shows up with a corpsey arm with a rabbit's foot on it. Call Dr. Brennan, we've got body parts to identify. Vincent leads Hurley to a wrecked VW bug in the middle of the jungle with a dead body inside it.

Back at the camp, Sun is trying to teach Jin English via total immersion. He doesn't seem too keen on that idea. Hurley returns with news of the car. He wants to fix it up, but doesn't get a lot of support. Hurley volunteers Jin.

Kate and Sawyer continue to trudge back toward camp. Sawyer has far too much Little House on the Prairie knowledge for true manliness. Kate wants an apology, but Sawyer's not into apologizing. I guess that manly trait is meant to balance the Little House thing.

The dead guy has a Dharma Initiative uniform. He also has a lot of beer. Jin and Hurley accidentally decapitate him when they drag him out of the car.

Charlie confronts Desmond about when he's going to die. Desmond isn't very forthcoming. Sawyer breaks in on their conversation, demanding to know where his stuff is. Apparently the other folks have been rifling his belongings in his absence, including his porn. Dude, messing with a guy's porn--that's just wrong. He shows up at he car site and is enthusiastically greeted by Hurley, who offers him beer to help with the car. They're unable to start the car, but Hurley is determined.

Kate updates Sayid and Locke on the situation with the Others. Kate is determined to rescue Jack. She says she's going to get help and traipses off into the jungle.

Hurley goes to fetch Charlie to help with the car, saying he's moping. Sawyer's teaching Jin English phrases that women want to hear. ("I'm sorry," "You were right," and "Those pants don't make you look fat." What happened to, "Yes, Mistress," and "Please don't fasten the handcuffs so tight"?) Hurley plans to jump-start it by pushing it down a hill. Charlie's going to defy death by riding shotgun. It works--the car starts, and they head back to camp. Sawyer, of course, brings the beer.

In the meantime, Kate's off by herself in the jungle. Locke and Sayid emerge--they've followed her. They offer to help. They're fired upon. Rousseau emerges from the jungle. Even after all this time, Mira Furlan still looks weird to me with hair. Kate asks her for her help, and tells her about Alex.

While this episode didn't do much to advance the core plot, I found it very enjoyable. I like these character study episodes that focus on one character, and I particularly like Hurley, so there's a twofer for the win. And even though the episode was Hurley-centric, they managed to pull in all the familiar faces we've been missing while we've been following Kate, Jack and Sawyer's story with the Others. Moving back to the core characters makes it feel more like Lost to me.

Lost on iTunes
(You're lost on iTunes? Try the table of contents thingie...)

Lost - Lost, Season 3

Jericho—Black Jack

The town is running out of gas for the generator, and people are freezing to death as winter sets in. The town decides to look toward using existing windmills in the town. Hawkins and his old girlfriend/cohort in nuclear crime are reunited. She's quite the badass. Roger suggests they go to a trading post he saw in his wanderings to trade for parts for the windmills. Jake is volunteered to make the trip.

Hawkins is torn between two lovers--Sarah and Darcy. Jake is torn between two lovers--Emily and Heather. Emily is torn between two lovers--Jake and Roger. Eric is still in the dog house because he picked one of his two lovers--but he didn't pick the one he was married to. Johnstone (no longer mayor) is completely whipped by his lover, so he's happy. Bad, bad people are guarding the trading post, and Jake has to overcome adversities to save the town. Dale is having trouble running the general store because the people of the town aren't living up to the bargains they've made with him. In short, all is business as usual in Jericho, as the writers seesaw between post-apocalyptic disaster story and prime time soap opera.

All this probably makes it sound like I don't like the show. I do, mostly because the post apocalyptic disaster part tempers the prime time soap opera part enough to hold my interest. And this week we got a bit more of that, with the glimpse into the outpost at Black Jack, where people have taken a slightly different approach to law and order than the folks of Jericho. A few more hints are dropped about where the bombs came from as Jake and co. find news of the outside world. The government has been fragmented, and small pockets of civilization (or despotism) seem to be alternating with areas of anarchy as people try to come to terms with their new situation.

Overall, I found this episode much more satisfying than last week's, I think because it hadn't promised big revelations that it didn't deliver. Although the Hawkins section in particular of last week's episode made more sense given how tonight played out--maybe there's a similar payoff for Jake's story from last week in the near future.

Jericho at iTunes:

Jericho - Jericho, Season 1

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This Week's TV Guide

The new TV Guide (for March 5-11, with the cast of House on the cover), has several articles of interest.

First, the cover story with the cast of House is an interesting read with some great pictures.

A couple of small bits on Lost, with fans responding to Charlie's apparent impending death, and an article about the falling ratings, and another short article addressing some of the boys' apparent need for sugar mamas (I volunteer--wait, I don't have enough money. Pout).

A short Q&A with Zachary Quinto of Heroes (Sylar).

A review of The Black Donnellys by Matt Roush. (He didn't like it. I think he was unnecessarily harsh.)

An interview with Ali Larter of Heroes (Niki/Jessica).

An interview with Nicolas Cage (yes, that Nicolas Cage), regarding The Dresden Files, which he executive produces.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Heroes—Company Man

Tonight's Heroes really surprised me. While the show has been good, tonight's episode was outstanding. Holding a tight focus on a group of core characters allowed the writers to build more than the usual momentum within the course of the episode, and they worked the atypical story structure to its maximum effect.

The story revolved around the hostage situation at the Bennet home, framed by flashbacks which provided backstory about Bennet, and why he did what he did concerning his family. After weeks of being a shadowy, enigmatic, possibly bad-guy figure, Bennet finally emerged as a fully developed character, a man doing the best he could to protect his family from an organization he's worked for for years, but can no longer trust. Tautly written, strongly emotional, and with a killer of a heartbreak ending, this was the best Heroes episode of the season so far.

We open at the Bennet home, backtracking a bit from last week's episode, as Ted and Matt poke around the house. Bennet shows up, and they confront him. Matt and Ted both are convinced Bennet and his cronies gave them their powers. Bitter about the death of his wife, Ted threatens to kill Mrs. Bennet in revenge. Urged by both Bennet and Claire, Matt shoots Claire to defuse the situation, told she can heal but obviously not completely trusting this. Claire, presumed dead, is taken upstairs to her bedroom.

Layered through this is our flashback sequence, filmed in black and white (to good effect, I thought, though sometimes this can be hokey). 15 years ago, Bennet first joined the "paper company" as a cover for his actual activities (we still don't know how he got involved in the shadow organization in the first place. He's to be partnered with one of "them"--who turns out to be Claude. In another interesting guest spot, Bennet's boss is played by Eric Roberts. Also present in the organization are Hiro's father and Hiro himself (one would think Hiro would have some memory of this--he looked old enough). Mr. Nakamura turns a baby over to Bennet, saying that if she manifests, she will belong to the organization. Bennet doesn't really want to raise a child. A few years later, Bennet's wife begins to suspect something is wrong. The Haitian, as a boy, makes his first appearance to wipe Mrs. Bennet's memory. He's shown wearing a necklace with the ubiquitous symbol.

Back at the present-day Bennet home, Bennet explains that he's been hiding Claire's powers so the organization won't take her away from him. Matt convinces Ted they need to go to the paper factory to get more evidence, but Ted wants to stay at the house. Ted's a little psychotic. He's promised to nuke the house if Matt isn't back in an hour. At the paper factory, Matt and Bennet reach a shaky truce. The Haitian joins them. Bennet confronts him, angry because he knows about Claire. The Haitian says he answers to someone whose orders supersede Bennet's regarding Claire.

In flashback, Bennet has been ordered to kill Claude, because Claude has been hiding a special abilities person and is now considered a security breach. Claude knows this, but has gone with him anyway. Bennet shoots him, but Claude goes invisible.

Back at the house, Claire frees her mom and brother while Ted's distracted by Mr. Muggles. He realizes Claire's not dead. Lyle makes it out but Mrs. Bennet goes back to try to save Claire. Matt and Bennet return with files to placate Ted. Ted finally simmers down a bit. The Haitian takes Claire and Mrs. Bennet out of the house. Bennet tries to explain Ted's situation--he can't be cured and his only way out of his power is to die. (This reminded me of an Ultimate X-Men issue, where Wolverine was sent to kill a teenaged mutant whose powers were completely deadly and completely uncontrollable.) Eric Roberts (did they ever give his character's name?) shows up and shoots Ted. Wounded, Ted goes kaboom. Matt runs. Bennet stays behind, trying to sedate Ted. Claire runs in after him and tells him to give her the drugs so she can do it. He agrees. The radiation burns her badly. The house explodes. Claire emerges, horribly burned, healing as she walks. Her powers are witnessed by the boss man, who looks uncomfortably smug.

Back at the Institute, the boss man has assumed that the Haitian, not Bennet, was hiding Claire. They have Ted in a cell, sedated to control his powers so they can study him. Matt's there, as well, unconscious. Boss Guy has plans for him. Bennet is now expected to turn Claire over. But on the way to drop Claire off, Bennet meets the Haitian on the same bridge where he shot Claude. They've got a plan. Bennet has the Haitian shoot, then mindwipe him so they won't be able to track Claire. And thus we end, with Claire weeping over her wounded father, while the Haitian removes all memory of her escape.

More Online TV Options—Bittorrent

Just saw on Whedonesque that you can now download a good number of TV shows legally through Bittorrent. They're charging the same amount as iTunes ($1.99/episode). They also have movies available to "rent" (you have to watch them within a certain amount of time after download) as well as games and music. I can't speak to quality or download speeds (Bittorrent is peer-to-peer, so it seems like you might have problems downloading less popular titles), but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

EDIT: Just read elsewhere that these files are only playable in WMP 11, and that it's practically impossible to make backups in case of computers crashing. Not so much a step in the right direction. Somehow there has to be a middle ground between the content producers' copyright control and fair use on the part of the consumer. This doesn't seem to be it.

Taye Diggs in Grey's Spinoff

Just ran across this post on TV Squad. (I am so behind--I had over 200 posts sitting on Bloglines waiting for me to read them.) Apparently there's a Grey's Anatomy spinoff in the works, and Taye Diggs is slated to be involved.

This annoys me. I have no desire to watch Grey's Anatomy (although I might cave and Netflix some DVDs for Jeffrey Dean Morgan), nor do I want to watch a Grey's spinoff. But they put a super-hot guy like Taye Diggs in, and now I might have to reconsider (see above reference to Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Pout.

I guess it'll all depend on the timeslot. My major beef with Grey's is not so much that it's not a good show (I have no idea, having never watched it), but that it's on opposite Supernatural and kicks my lovely Winchester boys' asses every week. Rather rudely. And I think they've even tried rubbing rock salt on Patrick Dempsey, to no avail. I would have thought their daddy could have taken care of that while he was hanging out over there (see above reference to Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Dresden Files—Bad Blood

While Harry is entertaining a woman at his place (everybody's crying at the French movie but him, including Bob), Bianca (Joanne Kelly, who intermittently looks and acts weirdly like Morena Baccarin [Firefly]) shows up asking for help. Harry is reluctant. The date ends badly. Poor Harry. Bianca wants to hire him--apparently he owes her a favor. Oh, and she's a vampire.

In flashback, we discover Bianca and Harry shared a bit of nakedness back in the day, and she helped him out once when the High Council was pursuing him after the death of his uncle. Someone's trying to kill her, and she wants Harry to find out who.

As the plot unwinds, we discover more about the High Council as well as the organization of the vampire underworld in Chicago. A few hints are also dropped about Harry's past, during the flashbacks with Bianca. Although it appears Bianca might be the target of the High Council, in the end it turns out she's been set up by her protege/lover Natalie, who's trying to corner the local market of Third Eye, an undead-specific rage enhancing drug favored by portions of the vampire community.

Overall, another strong episode. I had a few quibbles--the bit where Bianca is accidentally dosed with Third Eye seemed contrived to me. Also, I'm pretty sure I remember Third Eye being a different sort of drug in the books--one that enabled non-magical folks to experience paranormal phenomenon. It seems odd to me to just reassign the name to a completely different drug, especially since the book-type Third Eye could be a great catalyst for TV episodes in the future. It seems like they could have used a different name that fit the vampire drug a bit better.

In any case, the show seems to be falling into a good groove. And is it just me, or is Harry just getting hotter and hotter?