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True Blood Season 5 Premiere: Turn! Turn! Turn!

15 Jun

ImageBy the time most shows make it to the fifth season, I find myself both pleased the show I like has survived but I dread that this might be the season the entire narrative falls apart. It tends to be a challenge by the time American television programs make it to the fifth season.  Part of the reason, I believe, is that the seasons are longer than in the UK and other countries and sometimes you can only drag out stories so far. Sure it is easy for me to criticize; I’m not sitting in the writer’s room struggling to see the overall season arcs and trying to keep the network executives pleased.  I felt the only redeeming element of True Blood Season 4 was the death of Tara (Rutina Wesley).  Why do I dislike the character so much?  It isn’t the actress, Rutina Wesley — she is doing the best she can with a severely flawed character.  It’s bad enough in real life when people don’t learn from their mistakes but on television shows, unless there is something extraordinary about their character that makes them a truly tragic figure (and this wasn’t the case with Tara), it is hard to keep excusing their stupidity.  Now, I will admit that Tara throwing herself between the bullet from Debbie’s gun and Sookie (Anna Paquin) did make her a hero, it also would have also potentially ended Tara’s tragic existence in Bon Temps on a high note.  And… it was time for Tara to meet her maker, so to speak.  It certainly wasn’t time for Tara to ‘meet her maker’ as the True Blood team intended for Season 5.   Thankfully, the evil Debbie Pelt had no opportunity to come back, of course, when you try to kill Sookie Stackhouse, you are almost guaranteed some sort of true death for your supernatural species.

Since I am never bowled over by the Season Premieres of True Blood, I am hoping things will pick up over the next couple of episodes.  Jason’s (Ryan Kwanten) fling with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) seems to be going nowhere fast and while he might be developing true feelings for her, she can’t seem to settle down with anyone.  I actually felt sorry for Jason when she kissed that loser college boy in front of him.  What is more interesting is watching Jason grow into an actual human with feelings (yes he is human but he’s growing up…finally) and resisting a quick lay with a sorority slut for revenge.  It would be a welcome change to see Jason grow as a character and develop a bit more depth.  I’m not even going to comment on the creepy Gay Vampire American scene.  It wasn’t that he was a Gay Vampire American that made it creepy.  It was that he is creepy Reverend Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) with fangs.

While the witches might be gone this season, there will be no shortage of werewolf angst.  At the forefront of this season’s first supernatural issue is Alcide (Joe Manganiello), the reluctant werewolf leader.  He is going to go up against the evil matriarch, Marcus’ mother, Martha (Dale Dickey).  I’m beginning to wonder why there are so many middle-aged to older evil women that dominate the stories.  While the evil Russell Edgington had a somewhat strange comical edge, none of the maniacal women have any comedic outlets.  They are always a deadly threat.  Marnie, Maryann the maenad, even Bill’s maker, Lorena is an out of control harpie.  Too bad she didn’t have an “M” name as well because I could use French film critic Raymond Bellour’s obsession with women in Hitchcock films whose names begin with the letter M to discuss how these women subvert the narrative through violence, and how, like in Hitchcock’s films, they must always be contained to keep order in society.  Lucky for me, Lorena begins with an L, but it is something to think about.  The truly violent women all suffer a true death while the other women in the show are actually contained because of their subservience to their need for love.  Even Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten), who is by far the most violent female on the show, serves Eric (Alexander Skarsgård).  Now, we get to experience a woman who is not only slighty older, she is a scorned mother.  Will there be any redeeming features in her character? I’m hoping so because it would be a welcome change to see a threatening female who goes beyond the one dimensional threat they usually represent on True Blood.

It’s amazing what Pam is sometimes willing to do to get back into Eric’s good graces.  Pam is the type of character that shows there is some hope for adding depth the the villainous females on the show.  She mixes humor, violence and anger in order to convey her emotions – and love for her maker, Eric, her true only reason for living, both figuratively and metaphorically.  In some ways, Pam is the most admirable character on the show, since she demonstrates true loyalty to Eric even when he rejects her.  The only bright spot in the premiere is the moment Pam sees the two bloody bodies of Debbie and Tara and she declares, “Color me impressed, you guys know how to party.”

Finally, Eric and Bill (Stephen Moyer), Sookie’s rejects and vampires on the lam, are quickly loosing their luster.  Although, I felt that Bill was more of a doormat all last season, at least he does show some loyalty to his feelings for Sookie even when he is dumped which is better than Eric turning to the arms of his ‘vampire sister’, Nora (Lucy Griffiths), and screwing her as soon as he gets the chance.  Both vampires must face the Authority.  Hopefully that will at least entail some excitement.  Because we are going to need some if we are dealing with Sookie’s grief over Tara seemingly turning into a killing machine and Lafayette’s (Nelsan Ellis) grief over the death of his lover.

Although the premiere ratings were down slightly from last year, True Blood was still the most watched show on cable last Sunday.  Let’s see if it can hold it’s grip or at least sink its fangs into the audience with a bit more compelling storylines as the season progresses because honestly, I don’t give a shit about Jessica’s teen angst any more.  She’s had it for a couple of years now.  Between her feeling sorry for herself, then cheating on the guys who care about her, and Tara being a victim for four seasons, sometimes it’s hard going watching these episodes.  At least Sookie killed Debbie out of hate and admits it.  That gives me a tiny ray of hope.

I’m not convinced I’m going to love this season but I’ve been a fan for the previous four, so I’m hoping I’ll at least be entertained.  And I don’t think “bad Tara” will really do it for me.  Nor will the bromance of Bill and Eric.  Maybe I’ll go ahead and order Season 2 of The Glades because I might need something else to fill up my Sunday nights.

Once Upon A Time: “Desperate Souls” episode review

13 Jan

This is the episode where we learn exactly how Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) turned… evil.  Not that he didn’t have his issues before he was imbued with magic.  And in Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mr. Gold join in an unlikely alliance for her to become sheriff.  He also gives Emma Sheriff Graham’s old walkie talkies so she and Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) can play together.   A rare moment of kindness on Mr. Gold’s part.

It’s almost disarming to witness Rumplestiltskin as a kind, loving, and protective parent.  His son (I actually thought it was a girl at first oops!), is about to turn 14 and be drafted into the ogre wars (seriously?  ogre wars?).  He’ll do anything to make sure his son doesn’t have to fight including running away.  And this isn’t the first time, apparently, as a young man, he deserted his army and caused many lives to be lost in the ogre wars.  Who knew ogres could move so fast and fight so efficiently?  So now a chief knight has it in for Rumplestiltskin once he and his son are caught but the son shows he has integrity.  He’s willing to be drafted and fight.  And while he gets high on his own testosterone, Rumplestiltskin gets some advice from a beggar (Brad Dourrif) on the side of the forest road:  he should get the dagger that holds the Dark One’s name and then he will have power over the Dark One (at this point we have only seen the Dark One be commanded by the knight and he can do some magic but we don’t know the full extent of his power).  Rumplestiltskin takes his advice and with the help of his son, sets fire to the castle, breaks in and retrieves the dagger.  It turns out the old beggar is really the Dark One and Rumplestiltskin ends up killing him with the dagger and inherits all the magic powers.  Now at least we have some idea about him.

In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold deliberately starts a fire at City Hall and Emma saves Regina (Lana Parrilla).  She becomes a hero but discovers Mr. Gold was the culprit and outs him at the debate for the upcoming Sheriff election.  She stands up to Mr. Gold and Regina then walks away from her political debate resulting in her getting elected as Sheriff.  Later, Mr. Gold reveals that he orchestrated everything because he knew she’d stand up to him and gain the people’s trust.  Either way, now Emma has moved into a better position against Regina.  I’m hoping for a lethal, nasty fight.  Because that’s just the way I am…

House of Lies: Pilot “The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments” review

12 Jan

I’ve been a fan of Kristen Bell ever since Veronica Mars so I was enthusiastically looking forward to this series. But this isn’t really in any way Veronica Mars especially since it is a Don Cheadle vehicle.  So if you were in any way hoping for any type of Veronica Mars-like elements, just let it go.  I had to.  This show is all about Don Cheadle’s character, Marty Kaan, the Hank Moody of Management Consultants.  Now, the only real problem with this is that Management Consultants are not actually glamourous.  They are um…. boring.  At least all the management consultants I’ve met.  So, I’m looking forward to seeing if House of Lies created by Matthew Carnahan (Fastlane, Dirt) can keep me entertained this season.

Now, I will give the pilot points for the clever beginning because as I watched Marty try to dress his naked and very wasted sex partner only to discover as his son walks in (SPOILER ALERT!) that this is his ex-wife, Monica Talbot (Dawn Olivieri).  Even more surprising is that about halfway through the episode we discover (SPOILER ALERT again) that she’s his chief competition in the consulting business and usually smarter than him – she has the #1 Consulting firm to his #2.  There is something refreshing about the line Marty says to Monica, “… you’re a sociopath and an addict and I can’t even stand to look at you right now…” and her reply is, “Right back attcha…”  Then you suddenly have a clear idea of the characters you are dealing with.  Fatally flawed.  The show has some hope.  Because seriously, who wants to watch normal characters?  If I want to see normal, I’ll go to Ralph’s and watch people shopping.  I don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for that.

Domestically, Marty has a full plate, his live-in retired psychologist father, Jeremiah (Glynn Turman) fully judges and doles out advice, ignoring, for the most part, the fact that he helped shape his sociopath son into what he’s become.  An even bigger handful seems to be Marty’s skirt-wearing adolescent son, Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.), who announces he’s trying out for the role of Sandy in his school’s production of Grease.  We learn by the end of the episode that not even Roscoe’s dreams are safe from Marty’s desires as he negotiates his son’s hard won lead role away from him so he can sleep with his stage rival’s mother — during the performance of the show.

Professionally, Marty and his Pod (his consulting group – I really hate business jargon – I’m convinced it’s created by men with very small penises) must win the New York City mortgage banking client, MetroCapital (one of the evil companies that helped ruin our economy).  His contact and rival, Greg Norbert (Greg Germann who has never failed to entertain me yet), go head to head although they really should be on the same team.  Marty and his Pod expense a night with strippers as a legitimate business dinner.  Really?  Ok that was really just pathetic.  No, I’m not a prude, but strippers?  That is just unimaginative and honestly, the only thing that saves that narrative misstep is the payoff when Marty’s stripper pretends to be his wife at business dinner with Norbert the next night.

By the end of the first episode, I’m intrigued enough to want to keep watching this show, because the characters are appropriately flawed and will do things that will get them into enough trouble to keep me entertained.   And it looks like Greg Germann will appear in more episodes and he’s a great foil every time.  Not that Marty’s greatest foil isn’t simply himself and his screwed up desires.  But a little extra always helps.

Californication: Season 5 “JFK to LAX” premiere review

11 Jan

I was not sure how I felt about Hank Moody (David Duchovny) coming back for another season.  Not that I don’t love Hank.  I do.  But after last season and the whole statutory rape trial and the ending, which seemed like a series finale more than a season finale (which is how the producers meant for it to look since they were not sure if the show was definitely coming back at that point in negotiations), I didn’t know where Hank could go to be happy.  Or miserable.  Since he is always happiest or maybe at peace when he is mostly unhappy with everything.  But I shouldn’t have worried on Hank’s account.   Hank is still Hank, even if Tom Kapinos takes us a few years into the future at the beginning of Season 5.  Because in this episode, Hank leaves New York City to come back to Los Angeles for work and to get away from the most recent crazy woman he dumps.  Since there are always a few crazy women in Hank’s life.  Hank’s written a new best seller, titled what else but…. Californication and now he’s been invited out to the West Coast to work with a notorious rapper/actor, Samurai Apocalypse.  Or Apocalypse Samurai (does it really matter with a name like that?) played by RZA.  Can’t anyone just have kind of normal names anymore?

SPOILER ALERT:

A plane ride with Hank would not be complete if he didn’t at least try to get laid while in the air.  He does try, but fails.  Not because his participant, Kali (Meagan Good) was unwilling, but because an old lady needs the toilet and kicks them out.  She leaves without giving him her information, but we know they will meet again.   This is Hank Moody after all.  But Hank doesn’t have time to dwell on lost partners because Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) has arrived in the quintessential Hank Moody ride, a convertible black Porsche, complete with his two and a half year toddler in tow, spawn of Charlie and Marcy (Pamela Adlon).

If I tell you all the sexual situations you encounter, it will take away from the fun of watching the episode yourself, which you can currently watch online at Showtime.  But you won’t be disappointed.  Marcy and Charlie are divorced.  Karen (Natascha McElhone) has remarried her former professor (also a novelist), Richard ( Jason Beghe), who got in a fist-fight with Hank in a previous season.  The only reason Hank probably doesn’t assault him now is that Richard doesn’t like Becca’s (Madeleine Martin) new boyfriend, Tyler (Scott Michael Foster), who is essentially Hank at 24.  Karma’s a bitch Hank…

Since things seem to be going a bit too smoothly in Hank’s life, we get to discover, along with Hank, the chick who almost entered the mile-high club with Hank, Kali, is Samurai Apocalypse’s girlfriend.  And seriously, wouldn’t you be looking elsewhere as well if your boyfriend has a stupid name like that?  I, for one, am looking forward to all of Hank’s screw ups this season.  And unlike a real boyfriend, I can forgive him for all his character flaws since he keeps me entertained.

Dexter season 6 finale: “This is the Way the World Ends” episode review

9 Jan

This is one of those seasons on a television show that I actually don’t care about the main storyline. I just care more about how the characters react in the story which says, yes, this show is getting a bit old. But by the end of this episode, I have hope that new life will be brought to the Dexter series next season. As this particular episode stands, they could have cut out the entire DDK segments and I would have been perfectly content.

SPOILER ALERT:

When Dexter (Michael C. Hall) gets rescued by a Cuban refugee boat as he floats in the ocean and almost gives up, it almost seems too convenient, until we see the human smuggler is a bad guy.  It makes us wonder how much fight Dexter actually has left in him after almost becoming a human marshmallow roast in the ocean.  Apparently he still has plenty.   There is something so very satisfying watching Dexter stab the coyote/human trafficker who tries to rob all the refugees.  It felt cathartic to watch Dexter openly murder someone with a group of people who were grateful for his violence and — relieved.

While I know I should be worried about Harrison’s welfare and whether this season will end with him becoming the next sacrifice in Dexter’s life, even in his cute little lion suit, I am far more concerned whether or not Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) is going to reveal her incestuous feelings to her brother.  Not concerned in a bad way because I find it sickly fascinating if the show goes there.  This just goes with my overall dislike of the DDK storyline.  It’s not that Travis (Colin Hanks) doesn’t do an excellent job at being a creepy loser, he does.  End of the world storylines just never interest me.  I was also banking on the fact that it was bad enough they made Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) another Harry (James Remar).  Okay, evil Harry.  But if they were going to kill Harrison as well, I would give up on the show.  Because that would signal they had run out of fresh sick ideas.  But the incest story line, in my book, qualifies as a fresh sick idea. It gives me hope that next season might be really screwed up.  And there is nothing I love more than screwed up characters.

While there is drama between Batista (David Zayas) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) who he wants transferred, it doesn’t go very far.  Quinn fights back by talking to his Union rep and claiming he has a problem with alcohol.  As far as Quinn is concerned, he is staying put.  Perhaps there will be increased tension between the two next season.  That could get interesting.

Travis is obviously on his way out.  Nobody breaks into Dexter’s apartment, eats his cereal and drops it everywhere, steals one of his shirts and then lives.  Dexter does not violations of personal space.  Especially by those he is hunting down.  When Travis does take Harrison from the children’s pageant, it seems almost anti-climatic.  As if Dexter will let anything happen to his son… And he doesn’t.  The whole scenario quickly (thankfully!) ends with Travis knocked out and tied up in back of Dexter’s car.

In the meantime, Deb does her best to lead the manhunt for Travis.  She must be having quite a hard time concentrating, especially since at the beginning of the episode she rushes to Dexter’s apartment, hugs him while he is shirtless, looks like she’s in complete bliss and declares her love for him.  He reciprocates by telling her that he loves her too (but most likely in a brotherly way).  Too bad for Debra Travis’ actions interrupt their intimate moment and they get called to his latest crime scene.  But it’s Debra’s excitement about her declaration of love for Dexter that motivates her to go visit him while he does one last sweep of the church… just in time to watch her beloved brother plunge a knife into Travis’ heart.  And for Dexter to realize he’s actually been caught.  NOW I can’t wait for next season.

Dexter: “Talk to the Hand” episode review

26 Dec

I think this Dexter episode might be my favorite this season. It has just the right mix of perverted sex, death and a bit of suspense. And I like the title.  This show was originally going about going to dark places and sometimes, over the last few seasons, I felt like it didn’t always go dark enough; however, with this episode, I can see we are back on track.  You can’t get much darker, really.

SPOILER ALERT:

Dexter (Michael C. Hall) gets called to his own crime scene, something I always find amusing. By the time he arrives, the police have fished Holly’s body out of the water.  Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) recognizes Dexter’s victim, Steve Dorsey (Kyle Davis) and Louis (Josh Cooke) informs Deb that he told Batista (David Zayas) about his lead last episode (regarding Steve Dorsey and his address), which leads Deb to ask where Batista is and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) rushes there just in time to disrupt Travis’s (Colin Hanks) plans to shoot Batista.  But Beth (Jordana Spiro) has already left to create Wormwood at the Miami Metro PD building in Deb’s office.

Beth makes it into the office with Batista’s ID/key card and waits to talk to Deb.  Dexter passes her on his way in and once he starts looking up Steve Dorsey, he notices a picture of Beth and makes the connection.  He rushes out just in time to see Beth following Deb into her office pushing the button to discharge the poison gas.  Dexter pushes Beth into an interrogation room and we get to see her gas herself.  It’s a gross but fitting death for a nutter.

Deb’s doctor sees the siblings together recovering from the Wormwood aftermath and brings up Deb’s feelings for Dexter in their session.  And yes, she says what you never think you will hear broadcast on American television, that Deb has incestuous feelings for Dexter.  Of course, Deb blows a gasket and denies it but later, she has a very vivid dream that lets us know that yes, she does indeed harbor romantic feelings for her brother.  The big question now is:  what is Deb gonna do about it?

Louis, aka Creepy Man, has also lost the plot.  It looks like perhaps he is going to try to be his own serial killer, or at least a demented stalker and he starts his real life game by sending Dexter the Ice Truck Killer’s hand in the mail.  It looks like we will be seeing more of Louis next season.

In the meantime, Dexter’s been slightly poisoned by the Wormwood gas but still goes after Travis.  First by getting his attention, defacing an Angel in the museum courtyard where Travis works, then by sending him a taunting video.  Travis obviously takes the bait but when Dexter tries to attack, he has a dizzy spell and a bloody nose and Travis injects Dexter with his tranquilizer.  Dexter wakes up on a boat, tied up and surround by gas canisters.  Travis plans on creating his own burning lake of fire, which he does.  Dexter narrowly escapes and knows he must hunt down and kill Travis before the DDK deadline…

Dexter: “Ricochet Rabbit” episode review

26 Dec

As we near the end of this season, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) closes in on Travis (Colin Hanks) – almost  – while Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) seems to slowly realizes that Dexter is the number one man, as well as person, in her life.  What exactly does that mean?  I think we all know what that means.  Yes, I’m going there because that is exactly the path the writers are leading us.

SPOILER ALERT:

Dexter tracks down Holly, the victim Travis previously freed, but not in time to save her from Travis’s new found followers, the crazy loser couple, Steve (Kyle Davis) and Beth Dorsey (Jordana Spiro), who believe in “Gellar’s” prophecies.  Holly, who ironically is a whore, and it appears disliked, gets herself murdered on her lover’s yacht, the Ricochet Rabbit.  Because going on a boat alone is the smartest thing to do after a homicidal maniac almost put you in a death tableau once.  Fortunately, for Travis and company, her stupidity makes their successful murder of her go as easy as pie.  She also managed to give them the privacy they needed to cook up.  Smooth move, Holly.

In the meantime, Deb has more moments with her therapist realizing how important Dexter is to her.  She also does some quick detective work and discovers who was with Jessica, the murdered prostitute.  She turns to Dexter for advice.

Louis (Josh Cooke) tries to show Dexter his homicide game which is about becoming serial killers.  One of the characters the player can be is The Bay Harbor Butcher, in other words, Dexter.  He gets offended and tells Louis to find another idea.  Louis gets upset but still manages to work through his disappointment and ID Travis’s accomplices.  Or at least the husband.  Batista (David Zayas) goes to follow up the lead on his own since Quinn (Desmond Harrington) is MIA.  Most likely, hung over.  Probably not the best idea…

By the time Dexter discovers the boat, it’s too late.  Holly is dead.  Dexter spots someone on the boat in a hazmat suit and knows something bad is going down.  He mistakes Steve for Travis, attacks and kills him, only to discover it’s not Travis in the suit.  And while Dexter makes an anonymous call to 911 about poison gas because this is too big for him to handle, Batista finishes questionning Beth Dorsey and realizes she’s lying and working with Travis, just in time to be hit over the head by Travis and become his next prisoner and potential victim…

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