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ABC’s Missing: soapy anger and violence

12 Apr

I decided to reserve judgment on ABC’s Missing.  Not because I didn’t like the pilot, I did.  It was slick, compelling and full of clichés, yes, but still, I didn’t get distracted or want to turn it off.  No I was drawn into the screwed up world of Becca Winstone  (Ashley Judd).  Who was this woman?  Why did someone blow up her husband, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean) in Vienna?  Why did her son, Michael (Nick Eversman) get kidnapped in Rome?  Most importantly, when she encounters her first bad guy, how the hell did she learn how to fight like that?  And she only had a clothes hanger for her initial weapon.  We also discover that housewife Becca Winstone isn’t actually a housewife, she’s a retired CIA operative and apparently had a hot affair with Interpol stud, Giancarlo Rossi (Adriano Giannini) and it seems that CIA Paris guy, Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis) has a soft spot for her as well.  They help her throughout the series, when they are not getting in her way.  Strangely, she does get passed between them for the sake of the plot, creating a love triangle without any sex (so far), but it still manages to work.

Gregory Poirier (Creator and Executive Producer) explains how the show got made, “This episode was never conceived as a stand-alone pilot. We already knew we had 10 episodes ordered when we wrote it, which gave us a lot more freedom. “ Poirier and his team were able to get the financing for the 10 episode order by explaining to ABC that it was cost-prohibitive to go shoot the pilot in Prague, then wait and go back and start over again if the show got picked up.  Instead he mapped out the entire 10 episodes for ABC and they green-lighted the project.

This approach allows the show a more organic feel.  The pilot was written knowing how it would be integrated into the next episode, which is usually not the case.  Sure, when pilots are pitched there is a series bible and a proposal about how the season should play out, what the character arc will be and the big plot points but things can change drastically between the shooting of a pilot, its subsequent pickup and the shooting of the rest of a television season.

The first three episodes of the show, the pilot, “Hard Drive” and “Ice Queen” flow seamlessly into each other.  We follow Becca as she bargains with heads of international government organizations, battles bad guys in gun battles and hand to hand combat.  She gets shot, falls into the Seine and still comes out alive.  And she seems to be able to drive anything with a motor.  Expertly.  Between Revenge and Missing, I’m beginning to like ABC’s drama again.  Yes, it is slick soapy drama but it is also network television.  And there is just something cathartic for me watching Ashley Judd kick someone’s ass every week.  She might be a pacifist but I’m not.

Missing airs on ABC, Thursdays at 8/7central

For streaming episodes, click here.

Revenge: “Infamy” episode review

24 Jan

Sometimes in a series there are episodes that just don’t grab me.  This one falls into that category.  I had to restart it 7 times.    There is too much and not enough happening at the same time.  Instead of wasting my time, writing about an episode that took me about 3 hours to watch with me continually zoning out, I’m going to give a very short recap.

Conrad (Henry Czerny) gives Daniel (Joshua Bowman) partial access to his trust.  He can have the cash but he can’t have voting shares in the company until he is 30 or married.  Gee, I wonder where that story line is going…

Mason Treadwell (Roger Bart), an author made famous by writing about David Clarke (David Tupper), comes back for a visit.  We get to watch flashbacks in which poor Emily, then still Amanda Clarke, decides to trust Mason Treadwell and sadly believes the lies he ends up writing about her father, having no idea at the time the Conrad and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) bribed him.  I do like how Emily (Emily VanCamp) decides to get this wanker back though… first she sends faux Amanda (Margarita Levieva) to talk with Treadwell and sets up a contentious meeting between the two, then (SPOILER ALERT),Emily burns down Treadwell’s house while Nolan (Gabriel Mann) pretends to be interested in hiring him to do his biography.  At the same time, Victoria wants Treadwell to find out from faux Amanda why she has returned to the Hamptons.

Amanda is ramping up in every sense of the word.  Kissing girls in the bar, pretending like she’s staring in Coyote Ugly, and getting more jealous by the minute about Jack’s (Nick Wechsler) closeness with Emily.

One thing Emily rescues are the taped interviews with her father and she finds out some news I know I suspected from the start – that Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) is his daughter.  We all know Emily won’t be welcoming her with open arms.  Poor Charlotte is probably really screwed now…

Revenge: “Duress” episode review

12 Jan

Before Christmas, Emily Thorne’s plan for revenge was starting to unravel.  Her short hiatus from the ABC broadcast schedule did not allow her time to regroup.  No.  She hasn’t regained control and it doesn’t help when you throw a psychotic misanthrope into the mix.  One of the best descriptions of Tyler (Ashton Holmes) in this episode:  Cold Turkey meets Hot Mess.  I might actually miss him once he implodes completely.

SPOILER ALERT:

Conrad (Henry Czerny) and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) start divorce negotiations.  Both want Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) and Grayson Manor.  It seems like it might be a long, bitter battle.

Emily (Emily VanCamp) suggests they celebrate Daniel’s (Joshua Bowman) birthday by throwing a clambake.  [Aside: There are tabloid rumors these two were hot and heavy in Paris over New Year’s in real life.]  Victoria knows that’s Emily’s idea even though Daniel pretends it’s his.  And who is catering the affair?  None other than Jack (Nick Wechsler).  Because that won’t be uncomfortable.

Emily apologizes to Nolan (Gabriel Mann) and they rejoin forces.  With his help, she searches Tyler’s belongings and discovers Tyler’s psychotic and off his meds, as well as recovering Nolan’s stolen secret camera.  Later, Emily announces Tyler’s little secret to Daniel and Ashley (Ashley Madekwe).  She can’t really defend a psychotic hustler any more.  Daniel’s disturbed enough to want to take a gun to his clambake.

Tyler lets everyone believe he’s left the area but instead he attacks Nolan, ties him up and goes to the clambake to take his own revenge.  Daniel lets his guard down and puts the gun away.  Stupid move, Daniel.  Tyler appears at the clambake, threatening to divulge all the information he knows.  Conrad doesn’t look pleased.  He’s even more tense since faux Amanda Clarke (Margarita Levieva) is also a guest at the clambake and could learn the truth about her father.  But we all know that information is already common knowledge between Emily and faux Amanda.  Just as Tyler is about to shoot Emily, Nolan and Tyler’s brother appear.  Tyler’s subdued and perhaps now some of Emily’s plans can get back on track…

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…

Dexter: “Get Gellar” episode review

23 Dec

This might be my shortest Dexter review to date, most likely because it feels more like there are highlights in this episode rather than a story, which, sometimes is not a bad thing… especially since I am not loving Dexter’s redemption storyline this season or the DDK fiasco.  Yes, there are some great sick tableaus, however, that doesn’t make up for the subject matter, religion, which I find overused.  How many times can an idiot decide they are going to help bring on the end of the world?  According to Hollywood, thousands of times.

SPOILER ALERT.

We experience a great therapy moment as the therapist explains to Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is a chair, not a table.  He’s been a chair all his life and now Deb expects him to act like a table.  Now if Deb had realized this back when Dexter was 17 or 18, maybe he could have become a table-chair hybrid but now, he is simply a chair.  And she tells him he’s a chair, which baffles him to no end.  I think that it’s the best part of the entire episode.  In fact, this particular episode does an excellent job with the characters.

In other news, Travis (Colin Hanks) agrees to help Dexter track down Gellar (Edward James Olmos).  Dexter puts him up in a motel to keep him safe.  That doesn’t seem to stop Gellar from leaving bloody messages on the wall later in the episode.

Quinn (Desmond Harrington) continues imploding.  He ends up losing his gun in the back seat of a stripper’s mother’s car.  And no he didn’t sleep with the stripper but her mother.  And he took photos.  Maybe the best and most comedic humiliating moment for Quinn in the history of the series.

Deb decides to pursue Jessica Morris’ death much to La Guerta’s (Lauren Velez) displeasure.

Louis (Josh Cooke) gets advice from Masuka (C.S. Lee):  when it comes to matters of the heart, always follow your dick.  Louis ends up taking home Batista’s sister, Jamie (Aimee Garcia), and they sleep together.

The next DDK victim is an arrogant professor who ends up laid out dead with the bowls of wrath.  Fairly disgusting but par for the course for DDK.  If you liked Carrie, you will enjoy the body discovery scene.

Later, Gellar seems to have knocked out Travis in the church while Dexter prepared to capture him.  Dexter discovers a trap door to a basement, then a freezer.  Inside the freezer is something Dexter was not expecting:  Gellar’s frozen dead body.  Oops.  I guess it was Travis after all.  And that means, sadly, that they made Gellar like Harry (James Remar), which I think essentially is a sort of cop out.  It’s just a bit too convenient.  I was truly hoping that wasn’t going to happen.

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