Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fringe “Midnight” Late Night Mystery Murders

Photo from Fox

This episode of Fringe (Fox) “Midnight” reminded me a little of an old X-Files episode where a guy picks up overweight women and then feeds on their body fat. In this case, we got a woman who picked up men to feed on their spinal fluid. Unlike the old X-Files episode, this one seemed to tie the story in very nicely with the current theme of someone trying to terrorize through the use of bioweapons or toxins, or just experimenting on people.

I became a little worried when we got a little too much personal drama from Olivia’s sister Rachel, and I think even Olivia was getting a little tired of it too. It was a good thing that they didn’t dwell too long on the matter, although I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it. There is nothing like a drama queen to suck the interest out of a show.

This episode began with a news report of a gruesome murder. Viewers may have been lead to believe that a man, who has a hunting knife on him and also seems to be lying to his girlfriend about where he’s going that evening, is the killer. But he’s not the killer, he’s the victim, being killed by a woman with bright blue eyes who looks like she’s only out for a night of fun, yet she seems to have torn his neck open. Ick.

Meanwhile, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is at home with her sister Rachel, and they seem to be entertaining a couple who are telling them that they met through an on line service called TwoSinglesTogether. (Drama queen warning!) Rachel goes to answer the door, and finds that her husband is serving her with divorce papers. She seems devastated. Olivia is temporarily spared from the personal drama when she gets a call to check out the crime scene. When Olivia and the rest of the Fringe unit, including Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) check out the scene, it appears the victim was torn apart, and he also shows signs of human bite marks. Walter seems intrigued at this, thinking it was done by something exciting. It matches some of the same traits of the previous murder victim mentioned on the news the night before.

When Olivia brings Broyles (Lance Reddick ) up to speed, she tells him the victim’s car is also missing. She also asks him if he was satisfied with his divorce attorney. Clearly Boyles never told her about his divorce, but she said she just was able to pick it up. When he gives her his lawyer’s information, he comments about her sister, and indicated she not the only one who picks up information.

At the lab, Walter is autopsying both bodies, and says their spinal columns were drained of spinal fluid, and they also have the syphilis bacteria – but an ancient strain. Peter, who was handling Walters tools that were in the body without wearing gloves, blanches at this information and states, "Great, so the killer has syphilis…should have worn gloves."

Olivia is able to track down who ordered this strain of bacteria from the CDC, and she is also told that the same person who ordered the syphilis bacteria also ordered other samples used in bioweapons, one of them used to kill people from an earlier case where their mouths, eyes, and every other body orifice closed shut with skin. She guesses this could be the work of “ZFT.” She arranges a team to enter the home of the man who bought these items, and they find an angry, caged dog with bright blue eyes, and a man in a wheelchair working on an animal whose body has been opened up. The man is Dr. Nicholas Boone (Jefferson Mays), a scientist, and they bring him down to the FBI for questioning. Hey question him about ZFT and he doesn’t seem to be denying anything. He tells him someone did get dosed with the bacteria, but adds he can’t tell them anything else unless they save his wife – ZFT has her. He says they are punishing him because he tried to get out of the organization when he realized how they were using his work.

Olivia believes his story, and is growing tired of all the deaths being racked up since she’s become involved in the Fringe division. Broyles goes along with her assessment of Boone, and Boone gives them an address in Chinatown where his wife is being held. It seems the power company says this location is drawing five times the power than normal. While Olivia and the assault team are on their way, and Olivia gets a call from her panicked sister (drama queen alert!), who is frantic that her husband is now filing for sole custody of their daughter Ella. Olivia remains calm and tries to calm the apoplectic Rachel , saying they will talk about it when she gets home – she has to go into a “meeting”. (I cringed during this scene, not all interested in Rachel or her issues, and hoping she doesn’t drag down the episode or the show.)

When the team gets to the Chinatown location, they find a lab, but Boone’s wife is not there. When an annoyed Broyles gives Boone this information, Boone asks to speak to Olivia. Olivia is also not happy with him, but he points her to a location where a few vials of the contagion are housed. He also admits they did not take his wife Valerie, they dosed her, and he needs the contagion to make an antidote. She’s the person who is out there killing people.

Meanwhile, Valerie Boone is stalking another victim, and gets one. She develops razor sharp teeth and gets ready to dig into him.

They also had found a video camera in Boone’s home, with a recording on it only three weeks ago showing Boone with his wife, Boone walking around quite normally. He admits that Valerie feeds on spinal fluid and he was giving her some of his own in controlled doses, but it was not enough for her. She is burning through spinal fluid faster than he could give it to her, so she is killing so she can feed. He also admits he created the other skin growth contagion and ZFT used it to show off, which was not his intention. He wants to work on the antidote, and they set him up to work with Walter in Walter’s lab. They seem to hit it off very well, having a period of mutual scientific respect, intermixed with scientific geekiness. They conclude they can cure the super syphilis with super penicillin and they get to work on it. The topic also touches on Walter’s former partner William Bell, the head of Massive Dynamic.

The first victim’s car, which has been stripped, including the car’s GPS. But Peter has a connection that may know about the car, and he takes Olivia to a chop shop. Much to Peter’s dismay, she pushes the owner hard about his illegal activities but manages to get the information on where they originally found the car before it was stripped and dumped. When they arrive at that scene, Peter and Olivia find yet another body.

While Peter wheels more bodies into the lab, Boone tests the antidote on a rat, and it dies. Once they realize all the bodies had a stamp from the same club on them, they head there, Peter armed with a heat sensor, since Valerie is literally running hot. They track her down, and Agent Francis (Kirk Acevedo) is staked out outside the club, catching Valerie as she exited with another person. They shoot her up with tranquillizers.

As Olivia and Peter head off to the lab with Valerie, Peter enjoys driving with the siren blaring. What they don’t know is Valerie is coming out of it and she attacks Olivia. As Olivia screams for Peter to get the tranquilizer, he does so, and Valerie gets dosed again, putting her out.

Back at the lab, Walter thinks there is still something missing in the antidote, and Boone says that it needs some cerebral spinal fluid. He knows that his spinal fluid is compatible and says he has enough left. Walter goes for it, despite Astrid’s (Jasika Nicole) warning not to. While Walter removes the fluid, Boone spies the video camera. Later, they realize Boone lied about how much fluid he really had left, as his health fails and it appears he has had a stroke.

When Valerie is taken into the lab, they strap her down. She comes out of it a bit and begins to flail and scream. Walter injects Valerie and he watches her eyes as they return to normal color. But Boone has died. Walter gives Olivia the video camera, saying Boone wanted him to do so. On it is a video with Boone telling her about ZFT. The next we see Olivia, she has tracked down Broyles in a restaurant sating that Boone told her the man funding ZFT is none other than William Bell.

I know that William Bell is supposed to surface before the end of the season. I personally cannot wait to see how or if he and Walter will have interaction, and how it will play out. Walter seems to know much more than he lets on, then again, how much is buried in his memories that he just cannot access at this time? While the weird cases and the deaths pile up, Olivia, Peter, and Walter will certainly be in the thick of things.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

House “House Divided” Doesn’t Stand

Photo from Fox

Monday’s episode of House(Fox) “House Divided” was one of those episodes that highly annoyed me, yet I think the annoyance was necessary to make a point about House’s mental state.

Most annoying to me was that this episode was very hard on the eyes. It seemed as it was filmed with the brightness turned up, so much so that everyone seemed to have a soft glow. I think this effect was done in order to simulate the heightened sensations that House (Hugh Laurie) was experiencing as he hadn’t had a full nights sleep since Kutner’s suicide. That was also made evident when at one point, House’s vision of everyone else in the room besides his hallucination of Amber (Anne Dudek) seemed to fade. I felt like my eyes were being assaulted for the entire hour.

Which brings me to the second annoyance – the bringing back of a character who is dead. It doesn’t matter that she’s only a hallucination. It seems that many shows can’t really kill off a character, they have to bring them back as a dream, hallucination, or in the cases of the soaps, some sort of twin or doppelganger. It's trite. In this case, Amber has returned as a figment of House’s mind, and yet it seems to be House’s own mind that Amber represents. It gets to the point where House likes the fact that he seems to be able to talk out loud with his own mind, even going to the point where he sticks a bluetooth headset in his ear to make it look like he’s talking on the phone to someone. The funny thing is, Amber looks like she had put on some pounds since becoming a dead person. I wonder how that works?

The next annoyance is one scene with the patient where they flashed lights at him in order to induce a seizure. Flashing lights are an almost instant migraine trigger for me, and I had to look away from the screen and cover my eyes just so I wouldn’t get a headache. Frankly, I thought that the viewers would be the ones to get as seizure from the flashing lights, not the patient.

And yes, there was a patient in this episode. He was a young man who happened to be deaf, who seemed to have an "event” while in a wrestling match where he seemed to scream out in pain from something going on in his head. House uses his brain’s hallucinations to try to come up with the correct diagnosis and thinks that having access to his own mind in the form of Amber is a plus for him, so he decides to continue to stay awake and not take the sleeping pills that he got from Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). The bottom line is that House and his team continue to just throw out their best guesses and treat the patient accordingly. There really is nothing special about a medical team that just treats by speculation and doesn't get it right the first time. House, however, one-ups his own staff and the patient when House decides, as Chase (Jesse Spencer) has already opened up the patient’s brain, that they might as well put in a cochlear implant so the patient can hear. This was done without the patient’s wishes and the mother’s approval, and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) gives him hell over it, and puts Forman as lead on the case. House still does what he wants to anyway. Cuddy is a wimp - House should have been fired.

Overlaying all this action is that House decides he is going to take the ball from Wilson to arrange a bachelor party for Chase. Chase knows that Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) won’t be happy with whatever House plans, so he asks House to have him “kidnapped.” When House arranges Chase to be taken in by fake immigration people, Cameron is on to it as the fakery is completely transparent.

House also has Foreman (Omar Epps) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) scope out exotic dancers. Thirteen asks Foreman for some money to give to the dancer and she is clearly attracted to her, and Foreman seems to be OK with it too. Later, at the actual bachelor party, Foreman admits that he even paid for Thirteen to drink a shot that a dancer was holding in her bikini top. It seemed a little creepy to me and frankly I think these two truly are becoming the odd couple. It isn't because of Thirteen's bisexuality, it's just that she and Foreman have no chemistry.

Things take a turn for the worse when Chase has an allergic reaction to a strawberry body butter used by one of the ladies at the party – which by the way House had set up in Wilson’s apartment – and Chase goes into anaphylactic shock. House thinks that he subconsciously wanted to kill Chase because he knew that Chase had a strawberry allergy and he specifically asked one of the ladies who used the strawberry body butter to come to the party, knowing Chase would be drinking shots off her body. At the same time, the patient – remember the patient? – has another problem and the doctors are all called in to consult. Of course, they have all been drinking, and Cuddy’s answer to that is to just give them breath mints and let them treat the patient. She is officially an idiot. But House doesn’t come in to the hospital, he goes home, realizing that his hallucinations are causing destructive behavior. The next day, Cuddy tells him that he was wrong on the diagnosis (gasp!), and House asks her for some sleeping pills, explaining that he hasn’t slept a full night since Kutner killed himself.

House goes home and takes a sleeping pill and seems to sleep well, looking around and not seeing the hallucination. He thinks he has the problem licked, until he turns around and sees Amber standing there. Clearly, he is having mental problems.

I could go on and on about the failings of this episode, but I do have one positive comment about it – it correctly conveyed a building problem within House’s mind. At the end, it was no surprise to me that his hallucination of Amber was not going to be erased, and it left me with an unsettled feeling about what problems are coming up for Greg House. In fact, everything that annoyed me about the episode seemed only there to heighten this unsettled feeling about House’s future. In that aspect, the episode worked very well.

I can only hope, though, that the “I see dead people” thing with House is short lived. It seems a lazy way out for the writers to bring back a character that the show should have never gotten rid of in the first place. Personally, I think that dead people should stay dead. But, since it looks like House is going to go a little nutty, though, we may be seeing more of Amber until his mind is fixed. Hopefully, it won’t last too long.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fringe “Bad Dreams” Olivia's Wake Up Call

All photos from Fox

As a person who has always had very real and very vivid dreams, I found this episode of Fringe (Fox) “Bad Dreams” very believable and compelling to watch. I also think it was one of the best episodes of the season. It is clear after watching this episode that there is some hidden power within Olivia – and possibly a very strong one. Was she engineered as a child for some later purpose? First, we have to look at what happened in this episode for the clues.

The episode opens up with a woman who is walking alone in a subway station, singing to her daughter as she pushes her in the baby stroller. Her voice is echoing in the emptiness and there seems to be an unsettled feeling in the air. When she gets to the subway train platform, we see her daughter untie a red balloon from her stroller, and the woman moves to grab it before it floats off. But as the train approaches, we suddenly see Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) on the platform with her, and Olivia gives her a hard shove, pushing the woman into the oncoming train.

As Olivia shocks herself awake, she seems to pass it off as a bad dream, until she hears a news story about a woman jumping in front of a subway, killing herself. When she gets to work, she asks Broyles (Lance Reddick) if she can go to New York to check out the case. Broyles is worried because Olivia seems distracted the last few weeks, and she tells him she just hasn’t been sleeping well. He gives her 24 hours to check it out.

Back at the university lab of Walter Bishop (John Noble), Olivia tells Walter, Peter (Joshua Jackson) about her dream. After Walter scans her with a Geiger counter to check for radiation (finding none) and they discuss the dream, Olivia tries to convince them it was more than that - she could smell the subway platform area. She is worried that somehow she caused this woman’s death. Peter accompanies Olivia to the scene in New York, and despite the fact that Walter seems excited to go to New York to catch a show, Peter tells him to stay in Boston.

Olivia and Peter get to New York and talk to the detective working the case, and Olivia asks to see the security camera footage. Before they get down to the platform area, Olivia tells Peter to look for a red balloon on the ceiling, as that is what she saw in her dream. Sure enough, the red balloon is there. But when Olivia and Peter look at the security camera footage, of course Olivia is not in the picture, and it looks like the woman did suddenly leap in front of the train. Olivia takes a copy of the video back with her.

Back in Boston, they confer with Walter, and he says it is possible to murder someone with their own mind, but Peter is skeptical, saying that is ridiculous. Walter comments – unless it happens again.

Olivia picks up some caffeine pills to stay awake, but we then see her at a restaurant, watching many couples that seem in romantic moods. Suddenly, she sees one woman begin to shout at her husband about him flirting, and the next thing you know the woman has a knife in her hand, and Olivia’s hand is also on her hand, helping the woman to stab her husband right at the table. It seems despite the caffeine pills, Olivia has fallen asleep and she startles herself awake again. She calls Charlie, and tells him there has been another murder.

Olivia and Peter head to the hospital where the stabbed man is dying, his wife at his bedside. Olivia questions her, and the woman tells her she was overcome with a feeling her husband was going to leave her, and she got angry and stabbed him. But Olivia seems to think otherwise and tells the woman it wasn’t her who did it. Peter pulls Olivia aside, wondering what is going on with her. Later, when they meet with the restaurant owner, Olivia gets physically pushy with him, demanding to know if he saw her at the table by the window. He described a man with blonde hair and a scar who sat there, and the owner is very agitated at Olivia’s behavior.

Back at the lab, Astrid (Jasika Nicole) plays back the video from the subway and Olivia sees a blonde man with a scar enter the frame. Walter asks if she remembers seeing that man in her dream and she does not. He thinks she is dreaming the events from that man’s perspective.

When Olivia, Peter, and Walter get to the FBI building, Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) tells them the man is a former mental patient named Nick Lane. Broyles pulls Olivia aside and angrily asks her what is going on, as suddenly she is drawing people and resources on this matter. She tells him a man is either making her kill people or making her watch people get killed. Olivia is very convincing and Broyles decides to authorize the support she needs and makes it an official case.

When they go to the mental hospital where Nick had lived, they find that Nick, who was there voluntarily being covered by a military insurance program, checked himself out once a man arrived and told Nick about a large inheritance. The doctor in charge tells them that Nick was hyper-emotive; he could make people around him feel the same way he did, and Nick seemed to think he had been trained to be a soldier in a future war. But when Astrid calls Peter and read back to him a section from Walter’s manifesto, Olivia realized that it sounds similar to the language Nick used in the hospital. Peter also tells her that Nick was born in 1979, in Jacksonville Florida, the same place where Olivia was born.

Back at the lab, Olivia and Peter talk with Walter, Olivia asking him if he knows about the drug cortexophan. He tells her it could alter reality through the user's mind. Olivia thinks Nick is transmitting his emotions to people around him. Nick may have felt suicidal and passed it to the woman on the platform, and he may have felt abandonment in the restaurant and passed that along to the man’s wife. Olivia wonders if she was given cortexophan, and Walter says if she was, this could help them to find Nick.

While Walter induces a hypnotic controlled REM sleep, Olivia sees herself go into a club with adult dancing. She sees a woman dancing, makes a connection with her and they kiss. Back in the lab in her dream state, Olivia tells him that Nick is sexually excited and transferred those feelings to the dancer. In her dream, Olivia and the woman leave the club, go to a hotel room, and back in the lab, Olivia moans – Nick and the dancer are having sex. Afterwards, Nick feels hatred and loathing for himself, and transferring that feeling to the dancer, she breaks a glass in the bathroom, and Olivia, in her dream, helps the woman slit her own throat. When she tries to wake herself, Walter warns her to remain calm and still dreaming and enlists Peter’s help to keep her calm. It works, and Olivia sees where Nick’s apartment is located.

But, when Olivia and the FBI arrive, Nick is not there. All that is left is a wall of articles and pictures that depict what seem to be weird deaths. Walter sees a note written on the wall, 'What is written will come to pass'. Something has “activated” Nick. Meanwhile, Nick is walking down the street, and as he does so, one by one, people begin to follow him.

Charlie tells them that Nick was spotted downtown entering a building, and his is not alone. It appears he, and the others, are standing on the edge of a tall building, ready to jump. Olivia thinks she can get Nick to stop, and thinks she may be immune to his feelings. On the rooftop, Nick seems relieved Olivia has “heard” him, but he wants her to end it for him. Nick says he recalls Olivia from his childhood - he calls her “Olive” – and he says he could just not forget. He waited to be called up to the special army, staying fit and focused, he blended in, but the call never came. Nick adds that a man with glasses came to him in the hospital and said they needed warriors, and what was written would come to pass, and he said he knew how to wake him up. He pulls a gun on Olivia, and says sometimes when we wake up, we can’t be put back to sleep. He wants to stop hurting people. He tells her to take the gun and begs her to shoot him, as he can’t take this much longer. As she begs him to listen to her, he cries out and a woman drops herself off the edge of the building, crashing onto a car below with Peter and Walter standing right next to it. Peter reacts, but Walter doesn’t seem to flinch, saying dryly “ I do hope Agent Dunham meant to do that. “ Nick insists Olivia shoot him or he will continue to hurt people. She tells him she is sorry, and shoots him in the leg, causing him to drop down, the others on the roof collapsing down safely with him, coming out of Nick’s emotional pull. He tells Olivia that he wished she had killed him.

Later, Broyles takes Olivia to a locked room, where Nick is in a drug-induced coma. Also later on, Charlie comes to Olivia’s apartment and brings her Nick Lane’s file, reminding her of the risks he took to get this to her. Meanwhile, Walter is back at the lab, looking for a video. He finds a tape recording of a session where we see a young girl, sitting in the corner of the room. People are talking in the background, asking if the “instrument is contained” and if she is OK. We hear someone say she is fine. Then Walter hears his own voice telling the girl, whom he calls “Olive” that it is OK now, no one is angry with her, she didn’t to anything bad, and everything is OK. As Walter sits alone and watches, a look of sadness, maybe guilt comes over his face.

Walter clearly knows Olivia from the past, and was involved in some experiment involving her and likely other children, seemingly to give them some sort of power they could use at a later date. This recent meeting with Nick – someone from her past of whom she has no recollection – may be an early warning for Olivia that she may have something inside her over which she may have little control.

The star of this show still seems to be John Noble, who brings Walter Bishop’s eccentric behaviors to life. Who else but Walter could have pulled off such a casual comment right after a person has dropped to their death, right next to him? Walter also seems to be knee deep into this mess. Was the look on his face guilt for what he had done in the past? Or, was it worry for something that he fears will be coming down the road for them? Does Walter remember more than he lets on, or are all these things coming back to him as he gets more involved in Olivia’s cases? Things can only get more interesting.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

24: 2AM – 3AM; Jack Faces His Betrayer

Photo from Fox

In this week’s episode of ”24” (Fox) Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) realizes that he has been betrayed, and by a person who is close to him, Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard). Jack is also feeling the worsening effects of the pathogen.

But the episode begins with a new twist. Tricia, who is Jonas Hodges’ (Jon Voight) attorney, gets a call telling her that Hodges was arrested at the White House. As she opens her front door to leave her home to go to his aid, she is overcome by a man who knocks her out with a spray. Another woman comes in who looks just like Tricia, and she takes on Tricia’s appearance by also taking her glasses. (Let’s all hope they share the same eyeglass prescription.) The intruders also copy Tricia’s thumbprint and takes Tricia’s ID to guarantee her access to Hodges.

The FBI also discovers that the person who escaped from Starkwood is an ex-Special Forces soldier named Galvez (Gabriel Casseus). Tony has heard on the FBI radio that they are searching for Galvez, and, in order to cover up Tony’s own implication in Galvez’s escape and to help get the canister out, he shoots himself to give the appearance he was shot by Galvez. When the FBI arrives to his aid, they also find Agent Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) dead. Yes, he looks VERY dead.

Meanwhile, back at the FBI, we get a wasted scene with Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) and Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching). Kim is leaving because Jack has refused her help, and he stem cells, to aid in his recovery from the pathogen. Please Kim, leave quickly.

Renee also finds out that Larry is dead, but she realizes that she still has work to do, a tear streaming from her face. Janis (Janeane Garafolo) tells Renee she will give Larry’s ex-wife then news.

Jack is trying to give his report to an agent before his memory goes bad. (I yell to the TV for the agent to just read my blog recaps, but for some reason he doesn’t seem to hear me.) When Jack learns that Larry is dead, he looks mildly distressed.

After Tony gets some medical attention, he moves off and calls Galvez, telling him that Galvez needs to take the C-4 explosive and rig a building to blow up, find a diversion to get as many agents into it, and then blow it up. In a nanosecond, Galvez rigs the building just right and also manages to overcome an agent, get his radio, and calls in a fake sighting of him going into the building in order to draw them in. It's one of those times where I wonder how they can do thing so quickly in the "24" Universe.

Let’s not forget while all this is going on, the fake Tricia has gotten access to that little jail that they keep at the White House, and speaks with Jonas. She tells them that he jeopardized their plan, and that the weapon was not intended for his personal use. She makes a threat to his family, and she hands him a pill that will cause cardiac arrest. She tells him to do the right thing. As the attorney leaves, they ready Hodges for his move to the FBI. Afterwards, the fake Tricia contacts someone and relays the information that Jonas is being moved, and adds that they can count on Tony to deliver the bioweapon.

When Jack and Renee arrive at the scene where Tony and the very dead Larry Moss are waiting, Jack notices that while Larry was killed with armor-piercing shells, Tony was hit by a 9mm. There were also casings from a .45 on the scene, and Jack wonders if someone else was on the scene.

We also have another completely wasted scene with Kim, who makes a phone call to her boyfriend Steve. She tells him Jack us dying, staying at his side would only make things worse, and she didn’t tell Jack about her daughter – Jack’s granddaughter. I find that I could not care less. Kim says she will get on a flight to come home. I hope that we will not see her any more this season but I suspect that won't be the case.

Back at the scene, while they continue to search for Galvez, Jack requires another injection of medication to help control his symptoms from the pathogen. Meanwhile, Galvez has finished his sabotage of the building with C-4, overcome and agent, and successfully faked a sighting in order to draw the agents in. And it works – Renee takes a team in, but Jack decides to stay behind, as he isn’t well enough to go along.

Back at the White House, as Jonas is being led out, he notices a tattoo on one of the guards and comments that he recognizes it. The guard tells Jonas he worked with Starkwood people while he was in Afghanistan. When Starkwood asks how he would rate those men, he says they were good men, and Starkwood tells him he just made his day. While they drive off, Jonas takes the pill and begins to have a heart attack, and they stop the van to check out Jonas, and then they speed off to the hospital.

While Renee and her team are searching the building for Galvez, Jack gets a call from the agent to which he had previously been giving his report, and the agent noticed that there is a discrepancy with the name of the person Jack mentioned was Tony’s contact. But when Jack notices something on one of the FBI monitors, he cuts the call short. It appears that the transponder from the radio of the agent who made the call about the Galvez sighting is not inside the building. Jack senses the trap and calls Renee to alert her, and as they try to escape the building, Galvez sets off the explosives.

After the explosion, Jack tells the FBI team not to pull their people off the original search, that this is what Galvez wants. Galvez, meanwhile, blends in with the FBI people, and with Tony’s help, escapes with the canister into an ambulance. Jack, after finding that Renee survived the blast, calls back the agent to get clarification on what he said was a discrepancy with Tony’s contact, and he finds that Tony’s contact is alive and unharmed, despite what Tony had told him. Jack, realizing that something bad is going on with Tony, pulls a gun on him, but it’s after Tony had helped Galvez into the ambulance and the ambulance had sped off. Tony tells Jack that he cut a deal with his contact for the information, and says Jack’s judgment s being affected by the pathogen. When Jack collapses in an apparent seizure, Tony takes his gun, and tells the medics Jack needs help.

Galvez, meanwhile, kills one of the medics and holds the other at gunpoint, telling him to keep driving, making his escape.

While we did have a few wasted scenes – with Kim of course – and a few scenarios that stretch believability – like getting the building wired so quickly with explosives – the episode still provided a lot of excitement and tension. It seems more obvious that Tony has his own agenda. And it looks more and more like his intentions aren’t good, although I still hope that Tony had not gone completely bad. Somehow, I feel we have not seen the last of Kim Bauer, and if her stem cells are Jack’s only hope, we have to assume that somewhere down the line Jack will realize that he needs to live in order to be there to bring down Tony and get to the bottom of the bigger web of terrorists. As we saw in the preview of next week, Jonas Hodges is still alive and Jack goes to see him for information, using Jonas’ family as a pressure point. Jack Bauer is like the Energizer Bunny – he just keeps going, and going, and going…

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

CSI “A Space Oddity” Goes Where No CSI Has Gone Before

All Photos from CBS

In this light and entertaining episode of CSI (CBS) “A Space Oddity” the show pokes fun at the sci-fi genre and its fans. It seems to take the old Star Trek culture and throws in a bit of the “new” Battlestar Galactica’s as well – including quick cameos by BSG star Grace Park, who is seen in the crowd right before (new) Battlestar Galactica’s producer Ron Moore yells, “You suck!”

But let’s start from the beginning. There is a sci-fi convention going on, it’s the 4th annual WhatifitCon, and Hodges (Wallace Langham) is there. He’s watching a scene from the old (fictional) sci-fi show “Astro Quest” and haggling with a dealer on buying the original “space force micro probe” that was used by Commander Artemus Bishop on the show. He buys it, and then runs into his work colleague Wendy (Liz Vassey) who is dressed as “Yeoman Malloy”. She proceeds to comment, “You have a micro probe” a comment that most men would get offended by if they weren’t really holding a sci-fi micro probe in their hands. But things get dicey when someone finds a dead body at the convention – it’s Jonathan Danson (Reg Rogers), who is working on a remake of Astro Quest – a “redux” of the show. Hodges places a call to Captain Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) - and when Brass doesn’t seem to know who he is, Hodges has to tell him he’s from Trace. When Hodges tells him where he’s at, Brass asks him where he got his number. When Hodges tells him they have a situation, and Brass asks him to be more specific, Hodges tells him, giving a the classic "Dr. McCoy" Star Trek line – “He’s dead, Jim.”

When the CSIs come to investigate the scene, Nick (George Eads) tells Hodges and Wendy to beam themselves back to the lab to get them out of their way. While Nick and Riley (Lauren Lee Smith) work the scene, Brass speaks with Melinda Carver (Jaime Ray Newman) who has been putting up the money for the Danson’s project. Brass wonders if that was a motive for Carver to kill Danson.

While everyone is working on the case, Hodges is busy fantasizing about Wendy, placing them both – in his mind – in various scenes from the show. Very, very funny stuff, and right on target as far as the mimicry of the original Star Trek series.

Later. the lab support team, along with Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda), are back at the lab, watching a video taken from the night before. It showed Jonathan Danson talking about the Astro Quest Redux that he was working on, which is grittier and darker. In fact, it was a great – and funny – parody of the newer version of Battlestar Galactica. This is where Grace Park and Ron Moore are spotted, and I think I may have even caught a fleeting glimpse of Rekha Sharma, who played Tory on the new BSG. It seems that Danson couldn’t measure up, in his mind, to the original mythology of the show because those people were “fictional constructs”. He decided to go into this new darker direction, and when he shows a clip of his vision of the new show to the audience, we get a rather visceral reaction from the crowd, and Ron Moore yells out “You suck!” I am sure that Rom Moore heard words just like that when he did his own remake and vision of Battlestar Galactica.

Despite the fact that the team finds evidence that Danson used the convention set as a place to have a “whole lot of geek love on the command chair” (as Nick said), it seems that Danson’s escapades aren't what got him killed. It was his vision of Astro Quest Redux that did it, and by none other than Dr. Penelope Russell (Kate Vernon). Russell said Danson stole his entire idea from her. By the way, Kate Vernon had a prominent role on this last season of Battlestar Galactica as well, playing Ellen Tighe (who turned out to be a cylon!).

Sorry. I digressed for just a moment into sci-fi nerdery.

The whole case served as the perfect backdrop for the show to have some fun as it parodied the genre and Star Trek, both in Hodges’ fantasies, and in some of the lines delivered by the cast. For example, when Brass enters the upstairs sci-fi playroom of two sci-fi geeks much to their surprise, he states dryly, “Red alert.” And when “Super” Dave (David Berman) is asked by Doc Robbins (Robert David Hall) to finish stitching up the body, David says, “I’m not a seamstress. I’m a coroner’s investigator, dammit!” Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 40 years, most viewers should be able to pick up on all the references to Star Trek.

Staying somewhat in the background this episode was Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger). This was fine with me, because the show needed some lightening up a bit, and Marg is looking a little too scary lately. There was one scene she was in where her face looked a little alien to me. I think it’s time for a new look for Marg.

It’s the inner struggle of the geekish Hodges, who has normal desires where it comes to Wendy, that is the real point of interest in this episode. But, he’s hampered by rules covering relationships at work, plus his own inability to express his true feelings. Using the normal geekery of sci-fi as a backdrop couldn’t have been more perfect for the both of them as they navigate a possible step forward in their relationship.

CSI “A Space Oddity” was highly enjoyable. I think the show excels when they get away from the dark, seedy side of their murder cases. Death is never funny, but in this case, I think it’s OK to make an exception.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fringe “Unleashed” A Monster

All photos from Fox

Yesterday’s episode of Fringe (Fox) “Unleashed” brought out the stereotypical scary monster episode. It was complete with all the typical mistakes one expected people to make in horror stories, for example, like opening a door that one knows should not be opened, and not climbing back into your car when you see an abandoned animal control truck and hear strange animal noises.

The episode opens with a few activists who broke into a animal lab, and they set the animals free. But one of them goes behind a locked door and unleashes an animal that was a genetic mutation. Meanwhile, the scientist who created the mutant is killed as he moves to secure the door. Likewise, the son of another scientists running the lab – the son also being one of the activists – is killed as the group tries to escape the lab. The monster, now free, manages to catch up to their fleeing car and, causing an accident, kills the remaining activists after their car crashes.

Things get dicey when the monster decides to run around the neighborhood, being spotted by others. As animal control is called out, they later find themselves added to the list of victims. When Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) is called out to investigate, he sees the abandoned animal control vehicle and, upon finding a bloody body inside, decides to go into the woods further instead of retreating to the protection of his car while waiting for backup. He’s injured, but not killed. He decides to go home to his wife without getting checked out at the hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the lab of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), Walter and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and lab assistant Astrid (Jasika Nicole) try to find out what kind of monster they are dealing with. Walter believes that the monster is based on something he tried to create years ago, and he shows Peter the information he had from his records. Peter is incensed that his father withheld this information. While they continue to discuss the matter, Astrid notices that the body of one of the activists seems to be moving inside the body bag. When they open the bag, they find the body itself is not moving; it’s larvae from the monster, which has taken over the body and is reproducing.

They immediately contact Charlie, and bring him into the lab to find if he also contains the larvae. He does, and they are growing at a fast clip. Walter becomes very concerned, as he is not sure he can halt the progression and save Charlie. After much thinking and some testing, he realizes that only the blood from the mother injected into Charlie will deter the larvae, as they will stop feeding on him if they sense their own mother’s blood in his system, and starve to death.

Walter’s guilt over what he sees as a monster possibly created from his own research, he decides to make a personal sacrifice. When he, Peter, and Olivia realize that the monster is moving through the sewer system, they use some of the larvae from the dead body to attract the mother to its brood. Walter locks himself in one of the sewer tunnels and decides that he will be there to bait and help bring down the monster. He also drank poison, so that if the monster should decide to take a bite, it will kill the monster as well. Peter and Olivia frantically break open the locked door, just in time to see Walter shoot the hideous-looking monster.

Lucky for Walter he made sure he had an antidote for the poison, so once he got back to the lab, the antidote could be administered and he could go on to save Charlie. Of course, the larvae inside Charlie die, and when he asks what happens now, Walter replies, “Now you crap ‘em out!”

At the end of the episode, when Olivia returns home and gets in bed and turns off the light, she hears the wind coming through the window. Here eyes growing wide, she shows a twinge of fear as she turns the light back on and goes back to bed.

While the episode had its stereotypical scary story scenarios, it also added in the question of a deepening relationship between Peter and Olivia’s sister, Rachel (Ari Graynor). When Peter calls Olivia’s house, she seems stunned that he was really calling for Rachel. We see a twinge of hurt and maybe even jealousy in Olivia’s face as Rachel walks away with the phone, clearly in an engaging conversation with Peter. Olivia does bring the call up to Peter later, and Peter seems intrigued that she seems curious about the relationship, maybe even jealous.

All in all, a solid episode despite the predictability. Walter Bishop is such an entertaining character, full of quirks and oddities, that it is fun to watch him as he tries to understand the mystery of the day. He’s what you would expect from a mad scientist, but with the added blunt commentary thrown in. It’s that bluntness that makes Walter so different from everyone else in television. He says exactly what is on his mind, and John Noble seems to enjoy it. Walter can get away with it because everyone knows he’s just a little nutty. But there are glimmers of a Walter Bishop who seems to have second thoughts about the research he’s done in the past. If anything has been unleashed on the world, it’s Walter Bishop. Maybe what is in his sometimes fragmented mind means even scarier things to come for Fringe.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"24" Day 7, 1AM - 2AM: Tony Goes Bad?

All photos from Fox

I have been trying very hard to stay “spoiler free’ for this season of ”24” (Fox), which has helped the season seem a little more exciting to me. Despite that fact, it seems there have been little surprises for me. Maybe since I’ve been watching this series since Day 1, and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has some very predictable behaviors, nothing has happened that seems unexpected.
That was until last night. It seems in the wee hours, Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) has gone over to the dark side.

Last night’s episode revolved around a meeting that President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) is forced to have with business executive and terrorist, Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) and his sidekick Greg Seaton (Rory Cochrane). It seems that Hodges wants a “seat at the table”, in fact, he seems to want THE seat at the table and the table along with it. His recent act of terrorism was his proof that he and his company needs more control with the military, and it was also his bargaining chip in the blackmail.

What Hodges doesn’t realize, is that despite the fact Jack Bauer has been exposed to the fatal toxin and his brain and body are starting to feel the effects, Jack is still on the job, trying to save his country. Likewise, his cohort Tony is still on the premises of Starkwood, Hodges’ company, and Tony thinks he can detonate an explosive to destroy the fuel tanks that is fueling the missile Hodges threatens to launch, carrying the deadly toxin. Jack successful convinces the President to let Tony blow up the tanks, which would render Hodges’ threats useless, and the President agrees – but not officially. Jack and the FBI must run the operation covertly in order to protect the President in the event their plan fails.

Meanwhile, the show takes a concerning turn when Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) returns to see her father. I call it a concerning turn as Kim Bauer is one of those people I hoped never to see again on 24, because besides bad acting, bad storylines follow her. I was glad to see her father rebuff her – at least it seems for now – because I don’t want her to come back. Somehow I feel we have not seen the last of her.

While Hodges is trying to strong-arm President Taylor, Seaton looks on. Something about Seaton still seems wrong to me. He doesn’t seem completely comfortable with how this is going down. And when Hodges complements Seaton for his previous diversion, something tells me that Seaton is not completely on Hodges side.

Despite the fact that Tony runs into some interference which causes him to drop the detonator into a grate of some sort, he manages to grab it at the last minute and blow up the fuel tanks. While I am cheering, I am wondering what else the show has up its sleeve, since we have a few more hours remaining in Jack’s day. We get a glimpse of problems to come after the President is notified that Hodges’ fuel tanks have been destroyed, and the missile with them, and Hodges and Seaton are arrested. Hodges makes a threat that it’s not over until it’s over – that there are other bigger and badder people out there that won’t take kindly to these events.

When President Taylor congratulates Jack on a job well done, his health is beginning to falter. But he has enough strength to ask the President to consider the fact the Tony was the man who blew up the fuel tanks, and she should keep this in mind when Tony is taken in to answer for Tony's previous crimes. As Agent Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) takes Tony into custody, Larry expresses his thanks to Tony. But their celebrations are all cut short when word gets out that someone has managed to kill two agents and escape from Starkwood with a canister of the deadly toxin. While Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) works at the FBI offices to help shut down the escape routes, Larry makes chase in a helicopter, and since he was bringing Tony in to the FBI, Tony is also with him. When they catch up with the man and his canister, the helicopter lands and they are met with gunfire, the helicopter pilot being killed. As Tony and Larry try to gain cover, there is still heavy fire, and Larry is shot. Things take a shocking turn as the gunman with the canister approaches, his gun ready to fire, and as Larry tries to warn Tony, Tony seems unphased. Larry can’t seem to understand why Tony isn’t more concerned; that’s until Tony decides that Larry isn’t dying fast enough from the gunshot wound, and Tony begins to choke him.

Now that’s cold.

As Tony squeezes the life out of Larry Moss, Larry’s face turns to horror as he seems to realize that not only is he going to die, but maybe countless others as Tony seems to have been a traitor in waiting all along.

As I wonder about this twist – Tony going bad and murdering someone in such a cold fashion – I remind myself that this is “24” and there could be endless ways that this scenario could eventually play out. For example, if Tony really has gone over to the dark side, he will likely end up dead before the season is over. But, maybe there is a rational explanation for Tony’s actions. After all, the infiltrators in the FBI may not have all been flushed out. Could Larry have been one of the bad guys? Did Tony kill him for that, and also to further infiltrate Hodges’ organization to find out who really is pulling all the strings? Did Tony fake Larry's death in order to further infiltrate the group and give Larry a chance to live? Does Tony have another dark agenda that we are not privy to? With “24” anything is possible.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Today Show Dredges Up The Dugger Family - Again

The Today Show (NBC) really is beginning to reach into the bottom of the barrel. I find that I am watching it less and less every week. Now they are lucky if I am tuned in past 7:30 AM.

The problem with today’s show was that they dug out the “Dugger” family again, in order to cover a big announcement the family was going to make. You may recall that the Dugger family is Jim Bob and Michelle Dugger – and their 18 children. That’s not a family, that’s two baseball teams. But the Today Show seems obsessed with this family, to the point that if one of them does something like ovulate, it seems Today has to cover it. The minute I heard that they were gong to cover another Dugger news flash, I decided that as soon as they were finished with the high points of news and weather, I was tuning the show out – and I did, sometime before 7:30. I found out later that the big news was that the eldest Dugger son and his wife are expecting a child.


I find it silly that the Today Show wants to spend any time on the Dugger family, whose only claim to fame is that they can pump out a lot of babies. Are we now going to be subjected to hearing about the family as every child of theirs pumps out kids of their own? It certainly looks that way. If the Today Show continues to cover this kind of unimportant event, then I likely won’t be tuning in at 7:00 AM anymore. It is a story like this that makes me think that the Today Show is losing its edge.

With all that is going on in the world these days – the weak economy, global warming, rising food prices, poverty, politics, war, pirates, genocide in Africa, etc. - I would think that on a scale of 0 to 10, the Dugger family rates about a –5 on the scale of importance in the grand scheme of things. Sure, even in tough times people need to be entertained, but do we have to see the same people over and over again? C’mon Today Show – show some creativity. There are plenty other people out there in the world that are actually doing good things to help make this world a better place. Take a cue from your colleague at Nightly News, Brian Williams, who often features news stories about people who are really making a difference.

As far as the Dugger family, please bury any future stories and any more like them. These stories really are beneath you.

For those of you who must watch, here’s the Dugger appearance on the Today Show. I refuse to look.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

CSI NY “Prey” Viewers Are the Victims (Recap and Review)

Photo CBS

The episode of CSI NY (CBS) titled “Prey” could have been a great episode. But, it almost fell into the “clip show” category when they highlighted a pattern with previous cases the CSI NY team had investigated. It also featured American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee as a stalked singer who murders. Maybe she can sing, but thankfully she didn’t have much talk time, because she can’t act.

When the episode begins, we are taken to a time 6 months prior, and we see a woman killing herself just as a man – who we later find is her brother – runs in and catches her in the act. But it’s too late, she jumped to her death.

Back in the present time, Detective Flack (Eddie Cahill) and Detective Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier) are playing “cuff the cop to the bed” when Flack gets a call alerting him to a murder. It seems that a murderer had taken it upon themselves to snap a picture of the victim’s body and send it to the police. When the CSI NY team gets on the scene, they find various bits of evidence that seems to have no connection whatsoever. As the body of Marshall Baxter (Tim Fields) was located in a back room area of a theatre, where they also have found a fist mark in the wall, they focus on the theatre director James Copeland (Samuel Ball). They later find Copeland only had minor issues with the Baxter who was simply an egotistical jerk who kept parking in Copeland’s parking space.

Later, Dr. Sid (Robert Joy) has found that the bullet that killed Baxter had been removed from the murder victim’s body, presumably by the killer. As the team begins to run through the evidence which seems to be all over the map, Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) makes a leap that she thinks she has a connection to the case. It seems that she taught a forensics class as the request of one of her previous professors (Tony Amendola), and she thinks the murderer used what she learned at the class to create a diversion for the CSI team. The episode descends into “clip show” mode, where we see scenes from previous cases that Stella used as examples for her class. I always dread when shows rely on past clips in order to create a story – it’s more forgivable if clips are used as part of an on-going story line - in this case, the clips seemed more like filler. They really didn’t need to show all the past cases from which the murderer gleaned the information they used to fool the forensics team.

When Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Hawkes (Hill Harper) check out Baxter’s apartment, they proclaim him a pack rat. What I saw was not the apartment of a pack rat, but one of a real slob. It’s not that Baxter kept things, it’s just that he kept things in a messy manner. Hawkes finds a box full of photos, and by looking at the style of the photos – seemingly taken at a distance and apparently without the subject’s knowledge – they believe that Baxter was a stalker.

The team also realizes the body was packed in dry ice to throw off the calculation for time of death. They conclude this is why the murderer had to send the photo to the police in order to tip them off before the effects of the dry ice on the TOD calculation would possibly be lost.

Another suspect turns out to be a bust when a card with a phone number on the reverse was found on the body. It traced back to a guy who said a girl named “Odessa” gave him the card with her number on it, which turned out to be a rejection phone service. But he is able to help them when he identifies the woman in the pictures found in Baxter’s apartment and also from a previous stalker complaint from a woman by the name of Dana Melton as Odessa (Katharine McPhee). What I don’t get is when Stella heard the voice of Dana Melton - which was on an audio file from her stalking complaint against Baxter – and she easily identified her as one of her students in the class. Why couldn’t she have identified her from the picture in the file or from Baxter’s photos? And really, how well can someone really recognize a voice from one of many that one may hear in passing in a given day, week, or month? I would say if the speaking voice was as non-descript as McPhee’s, it would be impossible, and it should be easier for a person to recall a face over a voice in most cases.

They hone in on her location by checking out Baxter’s receipts and plotting his locations. They question people at those locations and are lucky a postman just happens to be emptying the mailbox at that time. They show him the photo of Dana/Odessa, and he recognizes her and points out her apartment right across the street. Of course, she’s already moved out, her mail piling up. Hawkes gets upset when he sees her stuffed mailbox and finds harassing postcards from Baxter in it. It seems Baxter had tracked Dana Melton down, even though she’s got her new name of Odessa. Lucky for Mac and Hawkes, they see a nearby sign of a club that appeared in one of Baxter’s photos and they decide to go there. Hmmmm – I wonder why they didn’t decide to go there just based on seeing her in Baxter’s picture with the club to begin with? When they reach the club, Odessa is on stage singing – after all, you can’t have an American Idol runner-up on the show without having her sing. After she gets off the stage and she knows why they are there, Mac tells her he has to do what he has to do, even though the evidence is circumstantial. Hawkes tells her without a confession the charges likely won’t stand up. So while they walk her out, I find myself asking – HUH? This is a cold blooded murderer who planned a murder, staged the crime scene for a diversion including packing the body in dry ice, and Hawkes basically telegraphs to her to keep her mouth shut? I know he felt sorry for her, but still, there is NO excuse for murder. Personally, I could see her claiming some sort of mental duress and getting put away for a while, but Hawkes was wrong to tip her off to keeping her mouth shut. Likewise, Mac was wrong by tipping her off that there was no direct evidence to tie her to the area like DNA. It was just - wrong.

Thankfully, Lindsay (Anna Belknap) was missing from the episode, otherwise, we would have had a complete and utter disaster on out hands. Still, while the episode was entertaining for the first 20 minutes, it quickly descended into a dull case written around a bad actress who can sing. And that was the real crime here.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fringe Returns – American Idol Botches It

I was planning on writing a review of last night’s episode of Fringe (Fox) “Inner Child” but I won’t be doing that today. That’s because I didn’t get to SEE the whole episode of Fringe. Why? Well, it seems that Fox had completely lost control of the time on American Idol, and the show ran over a full 8 minutes. This created a cascading DVR nightmare. You see, the DVR doesn’t automatically adjust for those overruns, so it cuts off anything that airs after the show was originally scheduled to end. What makes it worse is that even if I wanted to manually set the DVR timer to compensate for the overrun, it was already recording two HD programs at 10:00 PM – Law & Order SVU and Without A Trace. Since I don't think they haven’t invented a DVR that can record more that two HD programs at once, or automatically adjust for a show's incompetence in controlling its time, viewers will continue to be shut out when shows unexpectedly run over.

It’s really too bad, because Fringe was setting up to be a very interesting episode. While demolition people were readying a building for implosion, they discover and underground room, and in it, what seems to be a young boy who has been in there a long time, since the area had been sealed off for 70 years. He looks like a boy, but they really weren’t sure of his age, he could have been older. While he can’t speak, he can write upside down, and he also seems to be able to be able to tap in to events dealing with a murder case on which Olivia (Anna Torv) is working. After that, I can’t tell you much since sleep came over me – this wasn’t the show’s fault, I was just really tired last night. I suppose I will have to watch the episode with my husband on-line later on.

Let me now vent my annoyance with American Idol. I find it completely inexcusable that a show like this can run over so long. Usually this far into the process I’ve started watching the show, I usually wait until they whittle it down to 8 contestants or less. I haven't seen anything yet in clips from the show to make me want to watch as yet. But from snippets that I HAVE seen, it seems that the new judge Kara DioGuardi (I had to look up her name, I had no idea who she was) is causing them to run over. I did see one segment with her a few weeks ago, and she just went on and on and on and…well, you get the idea. I’ve also heard that the judges take so much time on their critiques in the first half of the show that it causes them to rush in the second half To me, this is completely disrespectful of the contestants. But for a one-hour show to run 8 minutes over – well, there is just no excuse for such poor time management for any show, even a live one.

The overrun gave me a chance to see clips of all the remaining contestants. Let me add that the local Fox News station shows clips of American Idol on their newscasts ad nauseam, so I have seen them all before, but the clips they showed last night was like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears. I cringed at every one. I did get to see the last contestant (Adam Lambert) perform his rendition of “Mad World” - not the original “Tears for Fears” version, but the haunting Gary Jules version. I thought Lambert's performance was absolutely horrid, it was wobbly, and it was off key in places. Yet Simon stood up and announced that words were unnecessary and he was giving him a standing ovation. That's when I made my decision – if that’s the kind of singing that he thinks deserves a standing ovation, it truly is a “Mad World” – and American Idol is off my viewing list this year.

Adam Lambert “Mad World” – Listen at Your Own Risk

“Mad World” Gary Jules Version – Excellent

The Original Tears For Fears “Mad World” Version – Great for is time

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

House “Simple Explanation” Very Complex

RIP Kutner (Image from Fox)
Yesterday’s episode of House(Fox), “Simple Explanation” provided anything but a simple explanation. This episode was more about the death of one of their own, rather than the treatment of the patients. So let’ s get the patients’ story out of the way.

The patients happened to be husband and wife, Eddie (Meat Loaf, the person, not the food) and Charlotte (Colleen Camp). Eddie is dying, surrounded by what seems to be family and friends. But while he feels life slipping away, his wife becomes ill and he is temporarily re-energized as he calls for help. It turns out she has acute respiratory failure, and Eddie seems to be actually getting better. The doctors keep them together while they treat them. To make a long story short, it turns out that what Eddie seemed to be dying from is curable, but sadly Charlotte’s illness is not. The show takes a ridiculous turn when House (Hugh Laurie) and his staff actually consider taking the man’s liver to save his wife, allowing him to die on the table. Even though he was,at the time, near death, there is no way any hospital (at least one in the U.S.) would allow any such operation and transaction to take place. There are very strict rules as to when organs can be removed from a person for transplant, and Eddie’s situation didn’t fit any of those scenarios. Ultimately they cure him, but Charlotte will die.

The big story in this episode was the suicide of one of their colleagues, Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn), There had been talk of a death on the show, and some had been speculating it would be Taub (Peter Jacobson), as he seemed to be in quite the funk lately. But the minute that it was mentioned that Kutner seemed to be MIA, I figured that they wouldn’t like what they found when they did locate him. The scene where Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) and Forman (Omar Epps) find Kutner’s dead body was very well done by both actors, conveying the horror and hopelessness of the situation. Later, Foreman, in seemingly trying to deal with the event, completely shuts out Thirteen, which seems to cause her great anguish and hurt.

House, on the other hand, seems stymied by this unexpected event, and begins to try to find an explanation for why Kutner would take such a drastic step. He even goes to the extreme of trying to place blame on Kutner’s adoptive parents as they were white and he was not, making it seem like Kutner was having a crisis of cultural identity. When this happens, Foreman tells House to get out of the Kutner home, while Kutner’s parents look stunned. This behavior causes concern with Dr. Cuddy, who is beginning to look more and more like those paintings with the girls with the big, sad eyes done by Margaret Keane – and that is not a complement. Even Cuddy seems more worried about House than she did about that fact that a member of her staff killed himself, leaving no letter and no clue as to an explanation. (I am finding less use for Cuddy with every week.) House was at least trying to wrap his head around Kutner's death, to the point that he looked at murder as a possible explanation.

Taub, on the other hand, who in the previous week’s episode ”Locked In” stole credit for a diagnosis that originally came from Kutner, is the only person who seems to be focused on the patient. In fact, he seems almost angry that Kutner didn’t respect his own life, so Taub decides to work on the people who want to live. In a way, Taub’s behavior should have been more cause for concern for Cuddy, since it seemed to show either a cold streak, or a person who is unable to cope with loss.

Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is also concerned about House’s singular focus on Kutner’s death, especially when House begins to search Kutner’s apartment looking for clues. Wilson later realizes that House himself may fear that he can’t see the answer to everything

But at the end of the episode, we see a better picture of how this death has affected everyone. At Kutner’s funeral, Foreman and Thirteen originally stand alone, but later, he reaches for and holds her hand, clearly trying to mend the relationship. Taub later takes a seat in the hallway, and cries, his grief rising to the surface. House, still trying to solve the mystery, is not at the funeral, but is back in Kutner’s apartment, looking through photos. He finds many where Kutner appears happy and adjusted, but finds one picture where Kutner is looking off, with no smile, and a very sad, introspective look. This seems to symbolize the Kutner that no one saw or really knew.

I found myself thinking of the episode from a few weeks ago, ”Here Kitty” as a possible trigger for Kutner’s suicide. Kutner was clearly superstitious, and “Death Kitty” seemed to be staring at him very strangely when Kutner saw the cat return to House’s office. Maybe Kutner felt that this meant it was his time to end it all. If there was something bothering him, and if he was as highly superstitious as they seemed to make him, the cat could have acted as a confirmation that he would be the next one to go. I know it’s s stretch, but the way Kutner looked at that cat in that episode made me wonder when I first saw it what was going through Kutner’s mind at the time.

This was an excellent episode and I feel it accurately conveyed what happens to those who are close to a person who commits suicide. Years ago, I worked with a woman whose brother took his own life. Even though he left a note of explanation, it was still not enough to fully understand his actions. Many times there are warning signs, but sometimes there aren’t, and in those cases, trying to comprehend the death can haunt people for many, many, years. I sense in the case of House, while it may not completely change him, it may give him something to think about for a long time.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

CSI “Mascara” Bad For The Eyes

Photo CBS
The 200th episode of CSI, “Mascara” was an odd episode that was actually a chore to watch. The show seemed to make a point of noting it was the 200th episode, but then only features the long-time cast members for only very short scenes. It was, however, directed by William Friedkin, who also directed “The French Connection.”

It seems that a woman that was once a student of Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) was found murdered. She had been working on her thesis, and it seems while doing the research, she appears to have stumbled on a serial killer. Since Langston knew her, he decides to work the case.

The problem is that the victim never became interesting. And Fishburne’s handling of the case was somewhat lifeless and plodding. It didn’t help any that the suspects involved a bunch of masked wrestlers, and there was too much time spent on wrestling scenes. There was one mysterious section where one of the wrestlers, who was in a tanning booth, is shot and killed by the woman’s murderer as the wrestler exited the tanning booth. As they both struggle, the wrestler who was shot seems to incapacitate the shooter in a choke hold, but then the shooter picks up the gun and shoots the other guy dead. And then…nothing. It was like that this killing had never happened, because they seemed to cut to the killer’s arrest for the murder of Langston's friend and that particular shooting was never mentioned again.

Langston also had a completely out of character meltdown - at least out of character for what we know of him. He breaks a few windows in his anger over the woman's murder and the murderer himself. Is this part of a plan to give Langston a dark, unpredictable side, and make us wonder if he really is the controlled, stable man he appears to be? It’s a shame that that he had such a meltdown over a character that viewers may not have cared about, in an episode that was so forgettable.

On a side note, Fishburne is starting to look pregnant, and Helgenberger looks even more skeletal. They need to swap diets for a while.

My opinion that this 200th episode of CSI was a dud and it was a shame that the episode didn’t better honor the veteran cast members of the show that the fans have come to appreciate all these years. As for me, I’m getting out the makeup remover to clean “Mascara” out of my mind.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lie To Me: “Depraved Heart” Lightman’s Family Secret

All photos Fox
Lie To Me (Fox) is one of those shows that can grab you and get deep into your head when you least expect it. Last night’s episode, “Depraved Heart” showed an inner pain that Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) has been carrying around for a long time. His own inner pain is the backdrop for a group of suicides that law enforcement seems to want to write off, but Lightman just can’t let go of it. He sees a mystery in this group of suicides, which seem to involve Indian women.

While he investigates the case, he seems to be preoccupied with watching an old home movie of a woman who seems to be talking about how happy she is and how well she is, and it’s obvious that things were not what they seemed. When Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) tries to dig into why Lightman seems so driven by understanding the suicides and why he seems obsessed with this home movie, Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams) tells her to back off and leave it alone. She does tell Torres that Lightman has watched the movie for thousand hours over the years, and it also helped him to discover how to read a person’s micro-expression. But, like Lightman, Torres isn’t one to let things go, and she tries to push the issue with Lightman, thinking that the woman was once a patient of his that he failed to diagnose properly.

In tandem with this case, Foster (Kelli Williams) and Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) are working on a case where a man stole millions of dollars from investors, in a Bernie Madoff-like scheme. It seems that every show has to get in their Madoff-inspired storyline these days. While Foster wants to get the man and his daughter to help tell where the money is hidden so it can be recovered for the investors, Loker shows clear contempt for the man, to the point that Foster dismisses him from some of the interviews. When Foster realizes that it’s the man’s daughter who embezzled the money, and the man, who is dying from cancer, is taking the fall for her, she wants to try to work a deal with him to recover the case without implicating the daughter. This plan goes bad when someone leaks this information to law enforcement, and they move in on going after the daughter. Foster is livid, and turns her suspicions on Loker, who flat out denies he was the one who leaked the information. She reads his expressions that he’s not lying, but somehow she does not believe him. Afterwards, Loker pulls Torres aside and admits to her that he took a tranquilizer to calm his facial expressions so he could fool Foster – and he really was the leak. He had to tell someone, so he told Torres. She tells him that he’d better admit it to Lightman because Lightman WILL find out the truth.

Lightman is able to crack the suicides, and with it, a baby surrogacy “mill” where women were brought in from India and impregnated, and being held in horrible conditions until their babies were born. After the births, they were released, with no money to call their own, despite being promised thousands, and the shame drove them to suicide. Lightman was able to find that one of the women phoned the man running this baby mill right before she killed herself, and they charge him with a “depraved heart” murder, much to his shock.

Lightman’s daughter Emily (Hayley McFarland) also makes an appearance, and she sees her father studying the home movie and also the suicides. She brings him food and tells him to eat, clearly trying to show her concern for her father’s immersion in the case. We find that the mysterious woman in the home movie had killed herself after getting a weekend pass from a mental facility as the doctors felt she was well enough, and she killed herself that weekend. We also find this woman is not just any patient, it was Lightman’s mother. At the end of the episode, he has decided to explain the story to Emily.

Cal Lightman always seems to be a rather secretive person to a point, and in this episode, he seemed to draw himself inside even further in order to solve a case that had personal meaning. That meaning wasn’t with the women who had killed themselves, it seemed that Lightman may feel that he needed to understand their deaths so the things he learned from the death of his own mother would not go to waste. It is as if he wanted someone to speak for people that have inner pain that society does not let them show, and which is so hard to deal with that the person sees no reason to live. It also showed that Lightman, when he is focused, can be rude and even cruel to others. He’s a different character than Dr. Greg House (House -Fox) - House is more calculating in his meanness, where Lightman is just brutally honest and sometimes rude because he can’t understand why people , including his colleagues, aren’t as focused and enlightened as he.

It also seemed that tensions were running high with everyone in this episode, Loker was angry at the embezzler. Foster was angry at Loker’s behavior. Torres is constantly trying to dissect things and Foster and Lightman seem slightly annoyed at her for that. Lightman seems to be put out that Foster isn’t right there when he snaps his fingers. It’s a more realistic work environment, where despite the fact that we have very talented people on the job, they still get annoyed at each other and let it show. I suppose when someone can tell just by looking at you if you are lying or not, it doesn’t make any sense to hide your feelings. And I won’t hide me feelings either – “Lie to Me” is a very interesting show and compelling to watch!

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.