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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Vampire Diaries - The Ties that Bind

Mothers never turn out well on this show, do they? We have Matt’s who sucked and made out with Tyler and abandoned him. We have Carol Lockwood, who is just a grade-A annoying bitch. There was Elena’s bio-mom, who was played by the worst actress ever and who sucked. Sheriff Mommy Forbes wins the Mother of Mystic Falls award, and she’s the one who raised Caroline, a girl who didn’t become tolerable until she became a vampire. And, finally, we have Bonnie’s mom who also abandoned her 15 years ago for what sounds like no good reason.

After Bonnie dreams about the fourth coffin, she realizes that her dreams are telling her that she needs to find her mother in order to unseal the mystery coffin and find out what’s inside. Bonnie and Elena take a road trip to find Ms. Abby Bennett Wilson, lying to Stefan about their whereabouts. Unfortunately, Klaus had already sent a hybrid to compel Abby and her adopted son, Jamie. Jamie was the son of one of Abby’s ex boyfriends, who abandoned him. Bonnie’s meeting with her mother was painful, especially when Bonnie found out that Abby was able to raise a youngster that was not her. While it was really depressing, one of us has never liked Bonnie more. Kat Graham knocked it out of the park there.

Stefan quickly figures out that Elena and Bonnie are at Abby’s. He shows up and Elena tries to talk to him outside in this barn-thing. Jamie appears, mid-argument, shoots Stefan with a wooden bullet, and ties Elena up. He must not have taken rope-tying classes, because he did a shoddy job. Elena was able to break free, grab Jamie’s shotgun, and knock Jamie out. Elena may be our hero. Elena digs the wooden bullet out of Stefan’s gut, and Stefan notices that Elena is “different.” Stronger. Tougher. Thank you vampire-hunting lessons by Alaric. We would pay $100 an hour for those. $150 if Alaric would kiss us goodbye after every session…

Meanwhile, Abby drugs Bonnie and takes her to Klaus’ hybrid. When Bonnie wakes, Abby tells her that if Klaus isn’t told where the coffins are hidden, Jamie will have to kill himself, because the hybrid compelled him to. Bonnie refuses until Abby shows Bonnie a way that she could warn her friends to re-hide the coffins. Well. At least one of the coffins. Damon chose to move the fourth, locked coffin. Abby offers Bonnie her help in unsealing that coffin, even though she lost her powers when she left Mystic Falls.

Oh yeah, and Abby was also the one who sealed Mikael in that crypt, because Mikael came looking for Elena when she was a baby. Elena’s adoptive mother and Abbie were best friends, so Abbie did a difficult spell that nearly killed her in order to protect Elena. Then Abbie realized that she enjoyed living in another town where she didn’t have to be a witch, so she stayed away. Not a good enough reason to leave your child. We disapprove. In fact, parental abandonment has to be in our top ten least favorite things, ever. It's up there with human trafficking and Two and a Half Men.

Klaus is able to get his family back by threatening the witch ghosts, saying that unless they show him the caskets, he will end the Bennett line. When Klaus moves the coffins to his home, he finds out that Damon undaggered Elijah. What fun! In other events, Elena tells Stefan that she and Damon kissed, because she feels guilty for keeping it a secret. She doesn’t feel guilty about the kiss itself, she says. This prompts Stefan to look sad and walk away from Elena for a few minutes. She follows him and he apologizes for nearly turning her at the bridge, which was nice. But then he goes right back to Mystic Falls and punches Damon in the face. Obviously, he still cares. Shocker.

In B plot, Bill Forbes returns in order to help Tyler break his sire bond to Klaus. In order to do this, Tyler must transform into a werewolf again and again, until the transformation is no longer painful. That way, Tyler will have nothing to be grateful to Klaus for anymore. Man, Daddy Forbes is smart. In C plot, Damon is concerned about Dr. Meredith Fell and her possible psychopathic tendencies. After all, she is showing interest in Alaric, and Damon can’t have Alaric’s heart broken again, because Damon loves Alaric with an epic bro-love. It is revealed that Meredith likes to attain vampire blood to help heal her patients. That’s cheating, doctor. But Alaric likes that her heart is in her medicine that much. They kiss.

Favorite lines? “We kissed. Now it’s weird.” And “I like to wave at newborns through the window.” Oh Damon. Complaint: Bonnie’s mom looks way too young to be Bonnie’s mom. Shipper news: Ern ships Stelena after re-watching season one and realizing how perfect that was. Delena needs to happen for a while, yes, but Stelena needs to be end game. It’s not fair that Nina Dobrev has chemistry with EVERYONE, but it’s good for the show. We love that they didn’t drag out Stefan finding out about the kiss. Do you even have to ask if we liked this episode? This show has yet to make a bad one. B- is as low as we could ever go with The Vampire Diaries.

Episode grade: A-

Southland - Wednesday

This show is the most realistic and grittiest of cop shows. Another thing that puts it over the top in quality is its good character development and tracking of random encounters police have with people. Most cop shows track one case and then focus on people hooking up on the side. This show has one big case and a bunch of little encounters, always keeping us entertained. When people do…get together, we actually care, because there has been build up and we care about the characters’ personal lives. As always with this show, it’s time to settle down, pay attention, and shut down all open internet windows, because this is a show that you have to actually watch. It’s not background noise. You can’t follow it that way.

This Tuesday night, season four of Southland premiered with an action-packed episode and guest star Lucy Liu as Officer Jessica Tang. We like Liu, and her character isn’t even remotely annoying, so that’s good. She’s not a GREAT cop though. She spent most of the episode trying to get to a taco truck to have her favorite lunch. While a man was hanging himself with pantyhose, Jessica was checking her phone, tracking the taco truck. We can’t really judge her for putting food first though. We usually do.

Jessica is “famous” for a youtube video that sparked plenty of nicknames from the other cops. Jessica chose Cooper as a partner, as he recently returned from rehab. He got a back surgery and is better than ever, lifting weights, working out, and stopping runaway cars. It’s nice to see that. Things are still a little awkward between Cooper and Ben though. Sammy’s new baby, Nate, is six months old, and absolutely adorable. Six months might be the cutest age of baby.

An old CI of Lydia’s who grew up in Lydia’s neighborhood showed up on Lydia’s porch, wanting to be relocated for her own safety. Except that CI had already been relocated and got into trouble in her new area too. We are going to take a shot at spelling the CI’s name…Danell? Lydia was annoyed that the CI grew up in the same circumstances as Lydia and yet made nothing of her life. Yep, Lydia showed off her serious, judgmental side for a change, haha. Was that a water bed in the hotel Danell stayed in? In a HOTEL? After Danell was arrested in a drug bust, Lydia told her to hit the road. Of course, Danell ended up getting brutally murdered. The line, “I guess she finally got a chance to see the ocean” was overkill. We got it, Lydia.

Ben Sherman, now partnered with Sammy, tangled with a cop named Ferguson. A suspect was shot in a bathroom and Ferguson’s response was, “That’s a perfect resting place for that piece of shit.” Ferguson also taunted the man as he was dying. Later, Ferguson allowed a child to play with a dead body, saying, “Let the animals be animals.” You just knew that Ben was going to get sick of this guy before the end of the day. Sammy tried to calm Ben down, saying that Ferguson was a capable, street-smart cop. Sammy also tried to calm Ferguson down, saying that Ben was new and didn’t going how the job really was yet.

We were on Ben’s side completely. In every difficult job, there is a jaded cynic who has lost all will to do the job the right way, like Gandhi would or something. It’s the same thing with lawyers and even doctors sometimes. People lose hope that compassion and integrity actually make a difference. We think that’s wrong now. Ask us what we think after 20 years of working though.

Things escaladed between the two after they encountered an attempted rape. Ben chased the suspect back through the suspect’s neighborhood and we saw the suspect take out a gun. We were actually scared, because since Nate’s death, we’ve realized that anyone could die on this show and we wouldn’t hear about it first through either spoilers or hints. That’s the beauty of this show. The suspect was then HIT BY A BUS! On any other show, that would just be sensational, but on this one, it was really shocking.

A crowd gathered to look at the suspect, upset that the cops weren't helping him. Ben started trying to stop the bleeding. Ferguson thought this was ridiculous, and the suspect ended up dying anyway. Back at the station, Ferguson and Ben almost got into a fight when Ben gave Ferguson lip about doing the job right, because citizens don’t see people, they just see a uniform and attach one man’s bad behavior to all cops. True. 

As if this episode didn’t have enough going on, a random guy came to the police station and started shooting. (Might it have been someone in that crowd watching Ferguson’s behavior?) The guy shot Ferguson through the face and in the vest, just as Ferguson shot him. Poetically, it was Ben who sat over Ferguson, telling him he was going to be ok and checking his injuries. We like that Ferguson wasn’t a flat, villainous character, especially if we are going to continue to see him. He was very brave in charging the gunman at the police station.

The show made us wait the entire episode to see Jessica’s youtube video. It wasn’t funny like we thought it would be. At all. It showed a big guy beating the tar out of her. We are amazed that the other guys in the station would joke about this. This episode kept our attention and got us viscerally. Lydia’s plot didn’t really grab us and we disliked her attitude through it. Overall though, this was a good premiere.

Episode grade: A-

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Feds have shut down Megavideo and Megaupload

Man, the government is really cracking down on all those copyright laws on the internet this year, no?

R.I.P. Megavideo. You will be missed.

The Justified opening credits are amazing and that song is extremely catchy, no?

The Good Wife - Bitcoin for Dummies
A lawyer, played by guest-star Jason Biggs, is arrested under suspicion of being an online programmer who illegally invented a currency traded over the internet. Basically, this whole episode was watching Kalinda be a brilliant investigator and figure everything out. People said “Mr. Bitcoin” a lot. Too much, we think. Kalinda turns over evidence implicating Will for bribery in order to save Alicia from possibly losing her bar license. That should turn out to be interesting. This episode was a little "meh" to us, if still technically good. This season as a whole has rocked though. This is a show that can afford an average week. 
Episode grade: B-

Gossip Girl - The End of the Affair?
Of all the STUPID reasons to keep Chuck and Blair apart, (and there have been many) this takes the cake. Blair promised God that she would honor her vow to Louis to marry him, if only Chuck would pull through after their car accident. After Blair said “amen,” a nurse came to tell her that Chuck had woken up. OBVIOUSLY Blair can’t tell Chuck and Louis this “secret” and must only confide in Dan Humphrey and a priest who says this is “between her and God.” WHAT?!! Priests aren’t allowed to give advice when it is so sorely needed? Serena came through on the theology front when she told Blair that God wouldn’t want Blair to marry someone she doesn’t love. Thank you, Serena. However, Blair decided that if she didn’t marry Louis, something bad might happen to Chuck. We guess this fits Blair’s superstitious character, but COME. ON. Ughhhhhhh

Nate finds out that the accident wasn’t completely the fault of the paparazzi. Someone tampered with the breaks. Gossip Girl is going to help Nate find out who did it, in exchange for his help, probably on getting Gossip Girl back in business. Everyone is sending Serena blasts now instead of Gossip Girl. Serena decided to start posting a few, always keeping her conscience in mind. Also, Blair and Chuck got in the wrong car that fateful night. The car that was tampered with was meant for Nate. Lily hires a private detective to track down Charlie. He finds the real Charlie, but Lily just thinks that there are two people with the name Charlie Rhodes and the PI found the wrong one. We assume Lily will find out the truth this season. Vera Wang guest stars.

While this episode entertained us, we cannot believe the lengths to which this show will go in order to keep the Chair drama alive. How is this wedding still going on? Stupid, stupid, stupid. In other news, did you guys know that Blake Lively, the actress who plays Serena, doesn’t drink? While her character sometimes sets a bad example, we admire the example set by an actress who doesn’t roll with what the world at large is doing, even if we don’t condemn drinking if you are of age and able to handle it. We like when people aren’t partiers and are proud of that (as long as they aren't holier-than-thou about it). Keep being yourself, Blake.
Episode grade: C+

Parenthood - It is What it Is
Zeek gets bad news from his doctor and chooses to keep it from his children…for now. Crosby kisses the cellist and tries to take Jabbar to one of her shows. Jabbar’s mom and her boyfriend insist on attending the show as well, where we see that Jasmine is jealous of Crozby’s new girl. Amber helps her boss out at an event, and he asks her to have a bite to eat with him. Amber turns him down but is obviously confused as to whether this is romantic interest or not. Julia starts to worry that Zoe might want to keep her baby when Zoe starts experiencing some rough emotions. Poor thing, seriously. Haddie gets into Cornell, her dream college, and her parents realize it’s going to be hard to fund Haddie’s education in this economy and on their current income.

This episode was sweet, well-acted, and well-written, as usual. This show continues to be one of the best dramas on TV and absolutely the best ensemble family show. Yep, we’re looking at you, Modern Family. While the shows are different, Parenthood beats MF in overall quality. 
Episode grade: A-

Justified - The Gunfighter
Raylan is off his game after being shot, but that doesn’t mean he can’t outsmart a new bad guy. It looks like the “Dixie Mafia” is going to be the force to contend with this season. Question: Why is Ava still alive? Not only do we hate the character, the actress who plays her is clearly a yankee. That accent isn’t working, girl. We haven’t talked about this show before in the past because we just caught up on it this week! What you need to know is that the dialogue is out of this world. The show has some of the best-written lines on TV. The show is overrated though. The main character looks like a young and way cuter Billy-Bob Thornton, which is something that is annoying after you notice that (sorry for pointing it out, haha). The show fails miserably in creating romances that the audience will care about. Everyone Raylan Givens has ever bedded on this show (a grand total of two girls that we remember) could drop dead for all we care.

We don’t know what the show is doing with Boyd Crowder and we never have. But this show is like a modern-day Western mashed up with a Flannery O’Connor short story. The action is pretty great and it’s just an overall, well-written, entertaining show. This season opener was a little hard for one of us to follow though, and we pride ourselves on being at least smarter than the average TV viewer. Being too complicated can work against a show and we hope this one has the sense to lay a few things out for the viewer later in the season. We’re excited to cover season three, but we miss Mags Bennett. Who doesn’t? The new big bads have some mighty shoes to fill. Did you see that Dexter alum? (Quinn)
Episode grade: B+

Revenge - Commitment
It’s Revenge. Of course it was a good episode! Amanda shows some hesitance about her revenge plan when she realizes that it affects people she does not intend for it to hurt. The person affected is Jack. He is beaten and has to endure Emily/Fake Amanda leaving him. Originally, Amanda intended to frame Emily for burning down that house, but instead comes clean with Emily about her revenge plan and convinces Emily to leave town, for her own safety. Daniel proposes to Amanda (in the rain! On a boat! We love him!) and Amanda says yes. Sidenote: Daniel was so sweet to his mom in this episode, too. We really hope he isn't the dead body from the season premiere. We want him to survive.

Amanda has second thoughts about the engagement, because she has a heart after all. We loved seeing that side of her. But when Victoria tells Daniel that David Clarke raped her, and this is how Charlotte was sired, Amanda asks Daniel when the wedding date will be. Ha! Muah haha! We love this show. Charlotte is basically disowned by the only father she has ever known after Amanda releases the information about Charlotte’s paternity to the Grayson couple. They are so awful. We love it. Charlotte doesn’t know why she has to move back into her mother’s house, but she is not happy. Nolan continues to rule. This show continues to rule.
Episode grade: A

Fantasy and Sci-Fi (Once Upon a Time, last week's Fringe, and the return of Being Human)

Fringe - Back to Where You’ve Never Been
After Walter refuses Peter’s request for help returning home, Peter must go to the alternate universe to ask the next best thing…Walternate. We think Peter should have used the argument “if you help me get home, I will be out of your hair and not threatening your fragile sanity” on Walter, but apparently geniuses sometimes fail at basic persuasion skills? We find out that Walternate is not behind the shapeshifters being sent to “our world.” September the Observer appears to Olivia after having been shot and tells Olivia that he has been to every possible future, and in all of them, Olivia must die. Eerie. This episodes pacing was better than some Fringe episodes, but we’re not sure about this Peter arc. It still needs to pay off for us, and we wonder if this alternate timeline will be relevant if Peter makes it home. We like this show, but it has serious problems. For one thing, the first half of season one was almost completely unwatchable. For another, we are starting to wonder what the point is and where it's all going. We still want to know though. 
Episode grade: B-

Once Upon a Time - True North
Storybrooke: Nicholas and Ava are living on their own, stealing food from local stores, because their mother passed away and they don’t want to be separated in foster care. Emma will not stop until she finds their biological father and gets him to take custody. She succeeds! Emma was the least annoying she has ever been in this episode, and we think it has to do with the fact that she got a new outfit. It looks so good and so much less tacky. In the fairy world, Nicholas and Ava were Hansel and Gretel. The Evil Queen separated the twins from their father in order to get them to steal the poisoned apple from another witch…the one living in the candy house. Hansel is an idiot and never speaks, but he almost ruins the plan and gets himself eaten. Gretel saves everything and is both honest and capable.

Hansel and Gretel are not reunited with their father at the end of the episode and must search for him, with the help of a compass he gave them. At the end of the episode, Emma and Henry see a stranger ride his motorcycle into town. He is the first newcomer, other than Emma, to come into the enchanted area. Things are changing since Emma arrived…. We wonder who he is (Henry's dad? Sheriff Graham reincarnated?) and if he has any connection to the fairytale world. We usually aren’t fans of anything with multiple child actors, but this episode worked, in a family-friendly way. We felt for the twins and started to like Emma more, which is good, since she’s the main character.
Episode grade: B

Being Human - Turn this Mother Out
Aidan is taking care of Bishop’s followers by feeding them blood packets, much to Josh’s annoyance. Aidan is waiting for Mother, the vampire queen, to arrive in town and give orders. Nora, Josh’s girlfriend, moves into the house and secretly fears that she is going to turn into a werewolf soon, since she was scratched about a month ago. Nora questions Josh about what it’s like to turn furry while trying to keep her secret fears from him. Sally attends her high school reunion and gets stronger/more able to move things around the house. Sally also finds out that she is able to dream, even though she is dead. She has a freaky dream. We wonder if that will turn into anything.

When Mother arrives, she decides that Bishop’s “orphans” are to be killed. She names her own daughter, who sounds crazypants, as head of Boston, and she orders Aidan to be her second-in-command. Aidan now has to assist “Daughter” in return for freedom from the council, as promised by Mother. What are the chances she intends to keep her word? Aidan is forced to kill some of Bishop’s turn-ees in order to prove his loyalty to Mother. Mother orders Josh shot and killed by council members so that Aidan is not distracted from his duties. The night of the full moon, both Josh and Nora turn into werewolves. Josh is shot by the vampire Heggeman. Everything ends on that cliffhanger.

We are enthused to have this show back. Mother is a great new villain! We can't wait to meet her possibly unstable daughter. Our hearts lie with Josh, but our interests lie in Aidan’s doings. If they could make Sally’s ghost life scarier, as it has been a little creepy in the past and it was eerie in the dream, the show would be perfect on all three fronts. This show is by far more interesting than its premise would have you believe. The season two opener was action-packed and decently emotional. We love all three main characters. There wasn't a moment that was not entertaining. What more could you want? Maybe a love interest for Aidan that pulls the heartstrings? Can this show do romance? We'd like to see it try. 
Episode grade: A

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Glee - Yes/No

Cooter and Beiste eloped! Beiste showed off her ring and new marital status to Sue and Emma in the teacher’s lounge. Emma looks sad, which means Beiste’s situation is about to become all about her. And people gave RACHEL trouble for making things all about her this week? Uh uh, Emma was way worse. At least she prefaced her taking over of the episode by assuring Beiste that she was so happy for her, but it was like a disclaimer. Emma imagines a version of “Wedding Bell Blues” with Sue and Beiste as backup singers. The song is all about how Emma is sad that Will hasn’t proposed yet.

There are a myriad of good reasons for this. Emma has mental problems. Emma and Will have not had sex, that we know of. This being Glee, we think we would know if they had. Emma has shown no indication that she will ever be able to have sex. Will just got out of another marriage. They haven’t been together that long. Emma’s parents are more insane than she is. But Emma has supposedly been expecting a proposal. So she runs up to Will and proposes. Then she takes it back, sort of, and runs away. Will gets the message. He goes to New Directions and asks them how he should propose, because he thinks that CLEARLY it should be done via song.

Artie’s idea is for will to sing a song where he can show off his dance moves, next to Mike Chang, which leads to “Moves Like Jagger,” sung by Artie. It was hard for us to want to watch this and we didn’t like the experience of doing so. The girls in the group sing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” It’s sweet, but forgettable. One thing we hated was Rachel crying during it. We get that she loves Finn and drama, but we thought it was annoying. Also, when you cry, you get a lump in your throat. She would not sound normal if she were crying and singing at the same time and she sounded like she always does.

Mercedes runs out of the theater when it’s over, stealing Rachel’s drama, and cries in the bathroom about loving Sam more than her current boyfriend. Good. Speaking of Sam, the episode started with him and Mercedes singing “Summer Nights” from Grease, our second-favorite number of the night. It was cute and it fit both the show and story.

Will goes to Emma’s parents to ask permission to marry him. How did he THINK that was going to go? They don’t want him to marry Emma, because he is not red-haired. When they denied Will permission to marry Emma, they actually had a decent reason. Because of Emma’s OCD, she would not be able to handle children and all the mess they make, what with poop and vomit coming out of their every orifice at all times. However, marriage doesn't HAVE to lead to children. Just saying. Will goes to Emma and passes those concerns onto her. Emma tells Will to make up his mind if he wants her or let her go. Ballsy, Emma. She also lets him know that she’s been taking her meds and is getting better.

Will realizes he needs to step up, so he proposes to Emma at the school pool. The Glee club and synchronized swimming club have pooled…heh…their resources to create a performance of “We Found Love” complete with pool dancing and Artie in a floating chair. Best part of the entire episode (and probably season, and maybe series): Artie rolling his wheelchair into the pool. The look on his face was priceless.We want to be able to swim in those adorable outfits the girls were wearing. Will must think he is Jesus now, because he walked on a clear surface that made him look like he was walking on top of the water. He walked right up to Emma and proposed to her. We were surprised she thought it was acceptable to be near public waters. People pee in pools, Emma. Emma says yes. We don’t know if we liked the performance. We will think about it.

Speaking of the synchronized swimming team, Sam joined up in order to get a letterman’s jacket to impress Mercedes, since her boyfriend, Shane, has one. Sam cannot imagine another reason why Mercedes would pick Shane over him. We can't either. The team is coached by guest star NeNe Leakes, who wants to let the world know that black people can, in fact, swim.

We got to hear Becky’s internal monologue voiced by Helen Mirren, which might be our favorite thing about the episode. It worked and it was hilarious. We hope Helen does this for Glee again. Becky has a crush on Artie, so she asked him out. She watched one of his performances and then had dinner at Breadstix. Becky then decided it was time to make love. Sue tells Artie that he should treat Becky just like he would any other girl he was not interested in.

Artie used a great breakup line that we are going to use (“I like being friends with you, but I don’t think we should date”) and Becky was crushed. She knew it was because she had Down’s. Becky went to Sue, who comforted her with ice cream, TV, and kind words. Sue was the sweetest she has ever been throughout this whole episode, and it felt right, rather than forced, weird, and unfunny, like when she volunteered with the homeless or visited cancer kids.

The most emotional part of the episode happened when Finn tells Will that he is planning to join the army to be like his father, a man Finn has revered for the entirety of his life. Will tells Finn’s parents about Finn’s plans, wisely deciding that they should counsel Finn before Finn signs up. Carol tells Finn that his father did not die in Iraq. A part of him died. Finn’s father had a drug problem after his horrible war experience and died of an overdose. Finn freaks out and we feel really bad for him. He no longer has a role model, even though Carol says that there was so much more to his father and his father’s life than the time he spent as an addict.

Rachel sings “Without You” in the club to inspire Will, to everyone’s derision. It was our favorite number of the night, so screw all you other Glee club members. We love when this show swaps the genders on a song. Rachel usually doesn’t sound great singing popular music, but this song worked for her. She inspired Finn instead of Will. Finn decided that Rachel was the best thing about his life and future. He takes her to the auditorium, gives her a sincere and wonderful speech, and then Finn proposes. Rachel’s face holds a myriad of emotions, so we wonder if she will say yes. Our advice to her would be to say no, since she is so young. Our other advice to her would be to get rid of the bangs already! We’ve forgotten if she has a forehead.

This was a sweet episode that lacked wtf moments and Kurt. It wasn’t as funny as former entries, but it brought the heart we’ve been missing. Glee runs hot and cold, and this episode was hot.

Episode grade: B+

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cougar Town Return Date!!

Cougar Town is returning on February 14th! Now all we need is Community and all will be right with the world.



We were excited for this show because of its former LOST star, J.J. Abrams pedigree, writers, and return to an island, but we kind of hated the idea of the premise. The FBI hires a female detective and a scholar to track down Alcatraz prisoners who disappeared in the 60s and are turning up now, having not aged a day. This premise has all the makings of a crime procedural, and we don’t need more of those. We already have the new Person of Interest for our procedural with a sci-fi twist needs. They have a LOST alum too (and a better one, in our opinions). There’s also Fringe, a show that is similar to Alcatraz. It even feels similar.

However, the pacing of Alcatraz is more viewer-friendly, which is a blessing. The pilot and second episodes were good starts. We wonder if the weekly cases can stay interesting and if there will be enough overarching plotline to keep the blogger who hates procedurals. If you’ve been paying attention, you will know that blogger is Ern. This show is everything we expected, which is good because our expectations were high.

The show isn’t perfect or particularly original yet, but there is vast potential. We think it’s one to watch. There were two episodes with two criminals driving the plot of each hour. The first episode featured a criminal who was a little sympathetic and decent looking. This was a good idea for the first criminal, in order to hook us. This man, Jack Sylvane, was imprisoned federally for robbing a grocery store (because it doubled as a post office) in order to feed his family after serving in the military oversees. Jack’s wife, whom he loved dearly, divorced him and married his brother. Harsh.

The Deputy Warden was arbitrarily and unnecessarily cruel to Jack, putting Jack in solitary confinement on visiting day. This criminal will probably recur more in the future, because he did in the second episode where Hauser tried to get information out of him. Another good thing is that both criminals so far had a back story, distinct killing methods and motives, and different personalities. The more unique and interesting the weekly murderers are, the better the cases will be. The second criminal, Cobb, was all creepy and weird with his picnic breakfasts, penchant for dining alone, OCD, and mad shooting skills.

The criminals don’t seem confused as to what they are doing in the future. Jack Sylvane also killed a man seemingly on orders, because Jack had no beef with this man. Jack also killed the (now very old) former Deputy Warden who tormented him. It looks like these criminals were saved for a purpose by some greater power and the FBI wants to find out who and what that power is.

We liked the cute-as-a-button heroine, Detective Rebecca Madsen, and hope her character soon gets developed more. Her partner was recently killed, and she realized that he was killed by her grandfather, another escaped/reappearing inmate. We hope Hurley…excuse us… DOCTOR Hurley gets more to do and has a personality beyond “nerd.” His name in this show is Diego Soto, but you can’t expect us to remember that at all times, since he will always be Hurley to us. Forever.

We like the sinister ally in the FBI’s Emerson Hauser. He strikes us as a little too happy to be imprisoning people. Hauser has a facility in the woods, hidden, that is modeled after Alcatraz where he is storing the prisoners once he recaptures them. Hauser was a guard at Alcatraz when he was younger and saw the prison on the night everyone, guards and prisoners alike, disappeared. Hauser has aged, so we know he didn’t disappear. Hauser works with a doctor named Lucy (the girl from Bend it Like Beckham!!). In a flashback, we saw Lucy, looking the same age as she does in the present, working as Cobb’s doctor in Alcatraz.

So, as you can see, there is a lot there and it was all pretty well-executed so far. We will be tuning in next week for more mysterious festivities and we hope everyone else will too. There were good ratings for the show last night. We want it to last long enough for us to see where it goes. Much better than Undercovers, J.J.!

Pilot grade: B+
Second episode ("Ernest Cobb") grade: B

Pretty Little Liars - Let the Water Hold Me Down

Hanna sat in her bedroom with her friends around her, questioning her about what happened with Lucas. Hanna wasn't ready to talk about it. We knew Lucas wasn’t dead, and so did Hanna. She had a feeling that he was ok, which was intended by the show to confirm our thinking. Because people worry about the worst possible scenario, we think it would have been more realistic for Hanna to have worried that she murdered Lucas. Just a thought.  Just about everyone also knew Lucas was a red herring and we were right. Lucas is not A, nor does he appear to be working for A, unless that story he told Hanna and Caleb was completely made up. He had enough time to think about it. Hmmm. Dun dun DUNNN. (That’s supposed to be scary music.)

While Lucas was missing, Caleb questioned Hanna about what happened and she told him nothing. Caleb was panicked about finding Lucas and wondered why Hanna wasn’t. They bickered and Caleb took off to find Lucas. Of course, Lucas snuck into Hanna’s house to talk to her. AT NIGHT. Why would anyone do that? Caleb arrived just in time to serve as protection, if needed. And it wasn’t needed.

Lucas said that he was traveling and selling his old nerd stuff (comics, collectables) to raise money. Apparently, Caleb left $4,000 with Lucas when he went to his mom’s, Lucas gambled it, and Lucas lost it on the sketchy website he had up on his computer a few episodes ago.  He didn’t want to tell Caleb but knew he had to. He was trying to rope Hanna in to help tell Caleb so that the blow would be softened by the presence of Caleb’s girlfriend. Good plan in theory, Lucas. In practice, it’s never good to start acting scary and weird around a girl. Rookie mistake. He’s in high school. He’ll learn.

Mona was dumped by Noel Kahn and got comfort from Spencer. She's the best. Emily found out that Maya hooked up with a boy while she was away and that boy has been sending Maya unwanted texts. Emily is ok with Maya having a romantic dalliance with someone else while she was at camp, but Emily is surprised that the hook up was male. Emily got Maya a fake ID so that they could go out together. It was one of Aria’s. Emily thought it passed because a) it was the best option Emily had, b) Aria is the same height as Maya, and c) Aria has the same hair color as Maya. But Emily: One is black and the other is white. But they were going to Camden, so it's not like it mattered.

Spencer found evidence in her lake house, leading her to the city where Melissa lives and Jenna went to school for the blind. Spencer was unable to get information about Jenna from the school, so she stole a logbook. Wow, that’s not smart smart. Or even smart. That woman saw Spencer and the blind kid got Spencer’s name. If they called Jenna, they could get Spencer’s last name. Speaking of the blind kid: Spencer talked to a cute blind guy who knew Jenna. He was really impressed and inspired by Jenna’s focus and attitude. In the logbook, Spencer found information that showed that Garret checked Jenna out of the school the night Alison disappeared and the two never checked back in.

Holden asked Aria out and she accepted. They went to a play, like a couple of literature jokes (not that there’s anything wrong with that) because Aria was pretty sure Ezra would be there. They saw each other. The world stopped, music played, Aria’s hair blew a little in slow motion, Ezra looked constipated, then Ezra avoided Aria and left the theater. We are a little annoyed with that, because Ezra has made us watch this love affair for nearly two years and now he’s not even going to fight for it? Not even take a risk? Chicken.

Holden noticed everything and figured out that Aria’s parents were forbidding Ezra and Aria to see each other. Don't let the smart one go, Aria! Holden impressed us there. Rather than be offended, Holden thought of a way that he and Aria could help each other out. He asked her on another “date.” It seems that they will be covering for each other, like a couple of beards, so that the Ezra/Aria affair can continue. It’s really Ezra who should have to nut up and concoct a plan for the two to be together, but we guess Aria has to do everything herself.

If we were the four girls, we would start setting up hidden cameras everywhere. We thought it was pretty cool when A put the boat in the flooded school sink, but it’s just another example that A goes everywhere and could be filmed at some point, if the girls are tenacious and creative with cameras. We also liked the worms in the food. One of us kind of wants to do that to someone, so watch out if you know us, haha. Good pranks this week, A. This episode was more character-driven than action-filled, and while we like action, it was time for a quiet, creepy episode like this one.

Adios for now. We are off to blind schools to find hot guys who are so blind that they don’t notice that we are not good-looking enough for them. Woo hoo. We always get the best ideas from this show.

Episode grade: B+

Great news for fans of the Glee Project

The Glee Project has been renewed for a second season! Yay! We are excited, because we love seeing real, talented kids nurtured and treated well while they get a chance at stardom. This show quickly because more interesting, entertaining, and heartfelt than the show it was based on (Glee). Now, if only they would release MP3s of the performances on this spin off.

There has been a change. Instead of 12 selected contestants competing, the show will start with 14. We can't wait.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Napoleon Dynamite - Thundercone and Scantronica Love

Ern loved the Napoleon Dynamite movie and really wanted this to be a funny cartoon. This isn’t a matter of Ern not having the right sense of humor for Napoleon Dynamite, because every joke in the movie sends her into laughing fits. The unfortunate thing about the cartoon is that it’s not the same. At all. The humor is a little wacky and cartoonish, rather than flat and weird.

Also, one of the funniest things about the movie was that these were real, funny-looking people wearing those 80s clothes and being dorky. A cartoon being dorky is not out of the ordinary. A version of this with sets and the real actors, weekly, would have worked a lot better. Those sets and costumes can't be very expensive. 

The show doesn’t add much to the movie’s jokes (it repeats them a lot). The writing isn’t funny. The plots aren’t good. The original voices are there, which is good. If you smoke weed, this show might be a good thing to leave on while you do that, but we can’t imagine another use for it. There were a few mildly amusing lines, but overall, this show is a humor failure. It’s better than a lot of adult cartoons though. 

It could get better, but we’re going to have to hear that from a credible source before we watch this show again. The movie lost all the laughs in the transition from movie to weekly cartoon. If the show went back to the original tone and humor type, it might have a chance, but for now, it sucks. Ern is disappointed. Gosh!

Show grade: C

Sunday, January 15, 2012

If We Ruled The Golden Globes, These Would Be the Winners

Is anyone else sick of Golden Globes coverage on the TV and internet? Well, too bad, because we want to put our two cents in before the show airs tonight. After that, it will all be over and we will finally have new red carpet dresses to look at.

Best Motion Picture – Drama
The Descendants----OUR PICK
The Help
The Ides of March
War Horse

The Help was more of a popcorn flick than something worthy of awards because of its blatant emotional manipulation. We think War Horse has the same problem. While it looks great, we don’t like plotless pastiches of tear-jerking scenes. The Ides of March is too smug for us. Hugo was good, but it was too long and we didn't care about the characters. That leaves Moneyball and The Descendants, two movies we really liked. We’re going to have to go with The Descendants, because when it was emotional, it was genuine. You know you instantly teared up in the pool scene. There were laughs as well. Moneyball’s ending was accurate but worked against it, leaving a ho-hum taste in our mouths.

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
The Artist
Bridesmaids---- OUR PICK
Midnight in Paris
My Week With Marilyn

We haven’t seen 50/50, The Artist, or My Week with Marilyn. We don’t really want to see the latter two, but we feel like we have to, eventually. Midnight in Paris was cute, but Bridesmaids had more heart, more laughs, and was less snooty than anything Woody Allen has ever made.

Best Director – Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants---- OUR PICK
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

We dug Alexander’s tone in The Descendents. He kept it emotional without letting it get super depressing. We are really annoyed that David Fincher isn’t in this category for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Brad Pitt, Moneyball---- OUR PICK

We only saw Clooney and Pitt’s performances, but we like the other three guys as actors, so we are sure they were good. We think Fassbender should get points for taking a role lots of actors would run from. For now, our pick is Brad Pitt, because we forgot he was Brad Pitt when we were watching Moneyball, and because there were better things about The Descendants than George Clooney's performance.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love---- OUR PICK
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson is in this category? Really? Do they mean it ironically? In Midnight in Paris, we thought he just played a writer version of Owen Wilson. Hardly any acting was done. We love Brendan Gleeson but didn’t see The Guard. We’re going with Ryan Gosling in order to reward him for Drive along with it. He probably won’t win though, because Crazy Stupid Love was a generic rom-com (that one of us loved anyway).

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo---OUR PICK
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Speaking of movies we don’t want to see—Albert Nobbs. It looks boring. Same thing with The Iron Lady, even if it's based on a fascinating woman. Plus, Meryl has enough awards. We Need to Talk About Kevin just came out, so how is anyone supposed to have seen it? We thought Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer were just as good as Viola Davis. The one that stands out for us is Rooney Mara for hard work, total commitment, study, and talent.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy
Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult---- OUR PICK
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage

Charlize made us feel sorry for a character we hated. We were rooting for the villain to get better while we were loathing her and laughing at her. We haven’t seen Carnage, and we probably won’t, because Roman Polanski directed it and he rapes children. We adore Kristen Wiig and would be happy if she won, too.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive---- ERN’S PICK
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Christopher Plummer, Beginners----LEEARD’S PICK

Hey, we finally disagreed on something! Jonah Hill, we liked you better fat. Viggo Mortensen, we liked you better as Aragorn. And nice facial hair in A Dangerous Method. Good to know you’ve celebrated your 80th birthday. Kenneth Branagh, no matter what you do, we will never forgive you for that hideously boring Frankenstein movie. Albert Brooks is Ern’s pick, because he was genuinely scary in Drive. Leeard is rooting for Christopher Plummer, because that’s always a good idea.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help---- ERN’S PICK
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants--- LEEARD’S PICK

Shailene proved that not everyone on The Secret Life of the American Teenager is bad at acting, given proper direction and a good character (which Leeard has been saying forever, so thank you, Shailene). Octavia is a little-known actress having a big moment for proving she is a laugh machine. Everyone should be eating Minny’s s*** at the Globes, in Ern’s opinion.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Midnight in Paris
The Ides of March
The Artist
The Descendants
Moneyball---- OUR PICK

Midnight in Paris had a sweet and true message about nostalgia, and it’s one of the more universally tolerable messages a Woody Allen movie has carried. However, we think they made Hemingway weird. That’s not how we pictured his personality.  We are going to pick Moneyball. That script was funny and intense. One of us doesn’t really care about sports, but this movie was entertaining to her anyway. Any movie that can make baseball that interesting, and allows for non-sports nerds to use the word "sabermetrics" accurately deserves some awards.

Best Animated Feature Film
The Adventures of Tin-Tin
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Puss N Boots
Rango---- OUR PICK

Rango is our choice, if only for having the guts to make its main creature such an uggo.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
The Artist
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo---- OUR PICK
War Horse

Because this is the only CD we would consider buying. Also because Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross should be scoring every movie ever. However, on further reflection, The Artist absolutely deserves (deserved, now) to win. In a silent film, other than the acting/body language, the music is the most important thing to set the tone of the scenes.


Best TV Series – Drama
American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones---- LEEARD'S PICK
Homeland---- ERN'S PICK

WHERE THE HELL IS BREAKING BAD DAMMIT? Sigh. Fine. Be that way, Globes. American Horror Story is too loud and weird to win, probably, and it wasn’t our favorite of these anyway. Boardwalk Empire is the likely winner because of its shocking ending this season, but we are still bored by it and angry at it for making us watch so much Steve Buscemi sex. Steve Buscemi is literally the last person on Earth we wanted to see having sex. We hear Boss got really good, but we didn’t stay with it. We’re not hard to grab, so that says something. Game of Thrones is Leeard’s pick because of the way it designed that world and brought the best of George R.R. Martin’s characters and dialogue to the TV screen. It looks like a real labor of love. Homeland is Ern’s pick, because nothing else gripped her that much this year. It’s 24 for smarter people and that needs to be rewarded.

Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy
Modern Family
New Girl---- OUR PICK

New Girl won’t win, but it’s our choice. We laughed more watching this show than the others, even though Ern is annoyed with an age 30+ woman who doesn’t know not to wear overalls on a date. Why is stupid sexy and cute? Zooey is gorgeous, talented, and charming, but this (hilarious, wonderful) show is a huge step back for women. Still, it’s prime comedy so we hope it wins. Modern Family is currently on its weakest season, Glee is still uneven, and Enlightened is more dramady than comedy. Not that this will stop Enlightened from winning. Episodes would be our second choice, even though there weren’t as many laughs as expected and Matt LeBlanc was the only good thing about it.

Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Kelsey Grammer, Boss
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Damian Lewis, Homeland--- OUR PICK

Hello shows that only Ern has seen! Weird. Leeard is floored that Ern isn’t automatically picking Bryan Cranston, because Breaking Bad should go home with something for this awesome season. But Ern doesn’t want to be hasty. Ern usually likes Jeremy Irons, but The Borgias sucks. Kelsey Grammer was not only good, he’s also FRASIER, which is a longtime Ern obsession. Damian Lewis kept his character interesting and believable. Buscemi is such a good actor that no one minds that he’s such an eyesore. Cranston has been rewarded  for his show already. If Aaron Paul were in this category, it would be a Breaking Bad slam dunk, because it’s time for Aaron Paul recognition. Damian Lewis for the win.

Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland---- ERN’S PICK
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeline Stowe, Revenge---- LEEARD’S PICK
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness

Julianna Margulies spends most of her time on The Good Wife wearing a poker face and speaking in a professional tone. Most people mock Mireille Enos’ acting on The Killing, so we’re not touching that (even though Leeard would be fine with her winning). Leeard watched Necessary Roughness and doesn't understand how Callie Thorne got nominated. Leeard is picking Madeline Stowe for her great comeback on one of Leeard’s new favorite shows. Ern is going with Claire Danes for all the crazy and all the heart. She and Damian were equally good, and we picked him. It takes two to tango.

Best Actor in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
David Duchovny, Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory---- LEEARD’S PICK
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes---- ERN’S PICK

This is where Ern picks Matt LeBlanc for spoofing himself and single-handedly saving a show. This is also where Leeard reminds everyone that she loves The Big Bang Theory.

Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl---- LEEARD’S PICK
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C---- ERN’S PICK
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation- more of an ensemble thing

You might expect us to pick Amy because of how much Parks and Rec love happens on this blog, but we think that show is too much of an ensemble achievement to just reward one cast member. Laura Dern left us concerned, not laughing. 30 Rock appears to be past its prime. Leeard loves Zooey Deschanel. Ern thinks Laura Linney carries The Big C and kept it from being too dark this season.

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones---- OUR PICK
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

This is a no-brainer for both of us. If you disagree, you obviously haven’t seen Game of Thrones.

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story---- OUR PICK
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce

This is one time our pick will probably (hopefully) be the actual winner. Jessica Lange doing her thing never gets old, and American Horror Story should come away with something.