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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Melancholia and Martha Marcy May Marlene

Spoiler free

Melancholia is about a depressed woman on her wedding day, which also happens to be the day the world ends when it collides with another planet. Now, the movie captures bleakness and depression well, it looks great, and it has good acting. But it’s about a depressed woman on her wedding day, which also happens to be the day the world ends when it collides with another planet.  You don’t care if she gets better or repairs her familial relationships, because the movie is going to end with this collision and you know that from the first five minutes. There’s no “beauty in the fleetingness of life” message or anything, because it’s about depressed rich people. Also, the whole “unknown planet hiding behind the sun and then crashing into us” thing is scientifically unlikely.

Melancholia is on-the-nose regarding our modern condition. Secular beliefs about the world are that it is going to end, we are all going to die, there is nothing after this. As a society, we are rich and comfortable, yet we are lonely, selfish and unhappy. But is it fun or helpful to watch a movie about this? Not really. There’s not a lot in the way of plot. And holy balls, this movie was boring! This movie is not entertainment; it’s art. It’s only laudable in its ambition. Film majors and hipsters should watch it, but normal people will want 2.25 hours of their lives back. Jack Bauer was in this, so we thought he would save the world. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t. Someone also beats the crap out of a horse (as if this movie wasn’t depressing enough without animal abuse).

This movie has been rightly called the opposite version of The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life had uplifting, life-affirming messages about loving others and living with grace. This movie is a lot like that one, only not as pretentious (close though) and also not as profound. Melancholia made us like The Tree of Life a lot more by comparison. We’d raise our grade for that movie to a “B” after seeing this. Melancholia has been described as “oppressive,” but it didn’t pack enough of a punch to oppress us. It was a little weird, sure, but it wasn’t disturbing. It was just cold. We don’t think the director wanted anyone to enjoy Melancholia. It is pretty impossible to connect with the movie or care about the people in it.
Visuals: A
As art: B+
As gripping entertainment: D-
As a movie: C-

Martha Marcy May Marlene is about a young woman named Martha who escaped from a cult and went to live with her estranged older sister, Lucy, and Lucy’s wealthy husband. Martha was able to leave the cult, but she is unable to ditch her shame and paranoia. The movie slowly lets us know what happened to Martha and what the future could hold for her. For a quiet psychological drama, this movie felt a little like a thriller and it didn’t even feel like the movie had to try hard to achieve that feeling.

It was appropriately creepy in places and it got us to care about all the main characters. The cult subject matter was gripping and scary. The mix of flashbacks and present-day scenes of Martha’s turmoil kept us on edge. It was entertaining most of the way through. The movie was only an hour and 41 minutes. Elizabeth Olsen was very good and perfectly cast in the lead role.

The movie sucks you in and stays with you hours after the credits roll, but then it doesn’t quite know what to do with the viewer once it has him/her in its grasp. We felt a little jolted by the ending, and that’s the reason for the mildly above-average grade. We wanted to see a little more, and we wish the movie had the climax it was building toward. We put more of our thoughts on the ending in the comments section of this post, so don’t go there unless you want to see spoilers.
Movie grade: B-

Neither of these movies are recommended by this blog, however if you are interested in either, we won't scream at you to stay away like we would worse movies.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Touch- Your new feel-good crowd pleaser with fixable flaws

Spoiler free

We’ve now seen four episodes of this show and feel it is time to weigh in. The biggest strength of this show is probably Kiefer Sutherland, an actor who brings an urgency to every scene he is in. For a guy who isn’t even hot, he can sure carry a show. It’s nice to have him back on TV, but other than his penchant for yelling “dammit” all the time, his character is nothing like Jack Bauer. Martin sometimes gets into fights and that’s where we see that he is no Jack Bauer. He hasn’t spun around a wall and cracked someone’s neck yet. While that is disappointing to Ern, your resident die-hard 24 fanatic, it’s realistic and Ern will accept it.

Martin Bohm is a baggage handler with a mute son, Jake, who has been diagnosed with autism. In reality, Jake is an advanced child who can see connections between people and psychically feel their pain if their problems are not resolved. That’s where Martin comes in. Martin has to follow Jake’s clues, expressed through numbers, and make sure the right things happen. Really, Martin just has to show up and do what he feels is right and the pieces all fall into place.

Your enjoyment of this show may depend on your ability to accept the premise. Are you a person who believes that we are all connected? Are you a person who believes that energy and fate are forces of their own? Can you at least believe these things long enough to watch a TV show with a premise relying on such concepts? It’s likely that viewers could appreciate this as magical realism if they cannot grasp the premise as possible reality. One thing is for certain: This show recognizes the loneliness of our high-tech, shallow connections-oriented nation. It knows that we want to make a difference and it knows that we need to collide with each other.

One possible downside is that viewers will need to watch the show carefully to catch all the connections that occur each week. In order to fully appreciate how everything comes together in the end, viewers will need to be paying attention. Sometimes it feels contrived and like it is trying to connect too many people in one episode. Episode three indicated that connections from previous episodes will be far-reaching. It would be better to just have a separate group of connected people each week. It’s already too complicated for a procedural.

Right now, the show is effective, but can it work months from now? This show needs to quickly establish the extent of Jake’s gifts and put limits on them. It needs to work a little more at establishing why this premise is possible (see the DVDs What the Bleep do We Know and Everything is Spiritual). If it can’t do that, it needs to do some world building regarding its fantastical elements. Stronger writing is going to be key in helping this show thrive.

One thing we like about Touch is how it doesn’t have all the characters from around the world speaking English. This is not a lazy show. When characters are in foreign countries, they speak their languages. Leeard was excited to hear Russian in one episode. Another good thing is that the relationship between Martin and Jake feels real and tugs at the heartstrings. Martin’s struggle to reach and protect his kid grounds the show and gives us a reason to return each week. Martin needs to be onscreen more.

Some might call this show manipulative, but screw those guys. We liked it. The pilot was one of the best in the last year. The messages of the show are positive and uplifting. There is drama and tension, but each episode ends on such a hopeful note that it has a “chicken soup for the soul” effect. It’s hard to hate a show that repeatedly tells viewers that we are all in this life together and that our actions affect each other. The show leaves you smiling each week. We like watching it and we like how we feel after watching it. It’s fun, adventurous, magical, and original. We are rooting for it, but it has work to do.

Pilot: Grade A-
1 + 1= 3: Grade B
Safety in Numbers: Grade B  
Kite Strings: Grade B-

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Make It Or Break It - Smells Like a Winner + It Takes Two

What Happened - Kaylie, Payson, and Lauren (ugh) are accepted into the US Training Center. There, they will be vetted and trained for the Olympics for the next eight weeks. They have a new coach, Coach McIntire, and he’s pretty hardcore. Coach McIntire will pick five girls for the Olympic team and ranks all of the girls daily. On campus, Austin shows Kaylie a bust of a man named Otis. The Otis statue is good luck, so every year a team steals him and other teams try to steal him back. Whoever has Otis at the end of camp always medals at the Olympics. The girls try to steal Otis back from the wrestling team who has him, but they are thwarted and someone rats them out to the coach. The coach tries to get the girls to let go of their devotion to The Rock and their little Rock clique, so he makes them burn their Rock jackets. It’s really depressing. Payson gets a letter from Max breaking up with her. She later finds out that he is bisexual and didn’t think Payson could handle that. Payson is so upset that she lets her sad romantic life affect her performance and her ranking drops.

Lauren starts experiencing dizziness and fainting spells. Like an idiot, she hides her condition and blames the new perfume she is developing. Yes, Lauren has her own fragrance and should call it “Stankest Bitch of All Time.” Or something like that. Meanwhile, Payson receives a letter from Max asking to end their relationship. She is so distraught by the break up that it affects her performance at practice.

We meet a young, small, and annoying gymnast and junior champion named Wendy Capshaw. She always rubs the fact that she is young into the older girls’ faces. We also meet Jordan Randall, another junior champion, who hitchhiked to camp and convinced Coach McIntire to let her into the Training Center by showing him a tape of herself doing a hard trick on the uneven bars. Leeard is pretty sure she's the worst and only there to distract the audience from the fact that Lauren is also the worst.

In the second episode, Coach McIntire pairs all the girls with a partner who will room and train with them. He tells them to choreograph a floor routine for their partners that will showcase their strengths. The pairs are Wendy/Jordan, Kelly Parker/Kaylie, and Payson/Lauren. Kaylie has trouble trusting Kelly, and Kelly won’t admit her gymnastics weaknesses to Kaylie. They don’t take each other’s advice and end up dropping in the rankings. Afterward, they have a talk and decide to start fresh.

Lauren attempts to raise Payson’s spirits by secretly setting her up with a cyclist named Brad. Brad’s BMX-riding friend, Rigo, steals the date for himself. Payson and Rigo hit it off, but Payson is furious when she finds out that Lauren orchestrated a setup. Rigo makes it clear that the setup wasn’t with him and Payson forgives Lauren. Lauren is still having secret dizzy spells. Austin loses an endorsement and seeks a career in broadcasting. He doesn’t get one, but Kaylie is able to make him feel better.

Comments - This is balls, you guys. First, we miss Emily Kmetko, and we think it’s weird that no one on the show talks about her or knows what happened to her. They should bring her back so that we have some closure (but they probably won't). Second, the premiere was too happy and cutesy. The second episode was a little back to form, but the show still isn’t the soapy, melodramatic guilty pleasure it was in seasons two or three. There was also too much of that Christian-sounding girl pop they play.

Finally, we miss the parents and Sasha. We got as attached to Sasha as we did to the girls in the first two seasons. The move from The Rock makes sense, story-wise, but it still bums us out. Are Sasha and Summer still dating? We want all the parents, Summer, and Emily in the series finale or the penultimate episode. Can we see Emily’s baby? Pretty please? Can we just hear news about her? Can we know if she's alive even?

We like that there are new girls on the show and we also like the addition of Kelly Parker to the US Training Center. Wendy is growing on us, but she annoyed in the first episode. We thought Jordan Randall would be Emily Kmetko 2.0, but she is kind of an Emily Kmetko meets Lauren Tanner, only not as bitchy as Lauren. Ern admires Jordan and hopes that the main girls make friends with her soon, but Leeard can't stand her. We don’t like her as a villain, but it’s good for her to start out as one so that she doesn’t just become an Emily replacement.

Why are Kaylie and Payson close with Lauren? Have they forgotten that Lauren is the ever-loving worst? We haven’t. Hopefully she is dying or something. We are quicker to forgive Kelly Parker than Lauren. Kelly has a horrible mother. Lauren is just horrible. We LOVE watching Lauren be horrible because it infuriates us and stirs up drama. Hopefully she goes back to being an enemy. She's a character we love to hate. We like the new coach's strong marriage to the nutritionist, especially because we fell for the adultery trick in the first episode. This show knows how to show people with integrity without coming across as cheesy or lame.

Payson is a really bad crier. She needs one day of acting lessons for that purpose only. It’s good to have her single rather than hooked up with Max. Keeping her single adds plot possibilities. Rigo isn’t our type, but you can’t deny that he has more game than anyone his age should have. That’s some nice confidence and gumption. We loved when he stole the date and rode Payson around on his bike.

We want Payson to get the gold medal at the Olympics. Normal, reasonable people would leave Otis alone, but if it will really help Payson win, the girls need to steal it. One thing they don’t need to do (Lauren) is WebMD symptoms. That website always convinces us that we are dying every time we use to find out what sicknesses we have. Everyone should just go straight to the doctor, if they can. Complaints and nostalgia for The Rock/adult characters aside, we are glad this show is getting this short third season to wrap things up. We know it will entertain.

Episode 1 grade: C+
Episode 2 grade: B-

Smash - Hell on Earth

What happened - Karen lands a national orange juice commercial that Ivy was going to audition for. Ivy is back in Heaven on Earth, but she is still on her prescription medications. She takes nearly a whole bottle, goes on stage, and makes a huge fool out of herself. Karen is watching the performance in the wings, waiting to give Ivy her sunglasses back. Ivy is upset that Karen saw her fail, but they go into Times Square together, drink, and sing along with the street performers (Rihanna’s "Cheers (I’ll Drink to That)").

Eileen, Derek, Tom, and Julia work to come up with a name for the show and cast a movie star as Marilyn. Frank finds sheet music for a love song that Julia wrote for Michael. She tries to act like it’s just a song, but Frank sensed something at the workshop and already suspects Julia of cheating. Julia comes clean. Frank storms off and confronts Michael the next day. Michael accidentally tells Frank that the affair happened twice. Frank punches Michael and ends up moving out.

Ellis tries to get a producing credit by securing a movie star to play Marilyn. The movie star is named Rebecca Duvall and will be played by future guest star Uma Thurman. Tom finds out that his boyfriend is a Republican and struggles with that news. He finally accepts it and attends a political fundraiser for his boyfriend’s former roommate. Finally, Julia and Tom pick a name for the musical: Bombshell.

Comments - Frank had better be back to sing a real song, dammit. Ern is obsessed with his voice, especially in The Wild Party. Him messing around and trying to seduce his wife last week didn’t count. It almost counted that he sang Julia’s song at the piano, but that was more the show teasing us than actually showing us how well this guy can sing. He’s better than anyone else who has sung on this show, we’ll tell you that. If he comes back, the song he sings had better show him off properly. Sadly, we will still have to look at him while he sings, and that may ruin it.

We were impressed that Frank figured out that Julia was cheating. He’s smarter than the caveman he looks like. We are glad he finally found out, but their fight was a hard scene to watch. We don’t even care about these characters and that was really sad. We wanted to tell Frank to relax, because it wasn’t even hot cheating. “Bro, like, if there were a TV audience watching, no one would have even been titillated.” It was also sad that Julia didn’t talk to Leo about her cheating after he found out. With his attitude, it probably would have been a disaster, but as a parent, she should have tried.

None of the songs were any good this week. Last week’s awful episode featured that pop song by Kat McPhee playing slutty, and that was catchy. But it wasn’t good and it was so out of place in the show. We like that Ivy and Karen are back on the same footing. With both of them as underdogs, maybe their characters will be used better. We are still digging the idea of both of them ending up as Marilyn, with Karen playing her before fame and Ivy playing the icon version. We sympathized mildly with Tom. Believe it or not, dating someone with different politics than you can cause problems. Good luck electing a gay Republican in New York…or anywhere, for that matter.

We finally got to see Heaven on Earth. Ivy’s meltdown was funny, and we thought it was a great burn when Karen told Ivy that Derek wanted to sleep with her (Karen) first. We liked them as friends. We know it wouldn’t be as interesting if the ice fully thawed between them, but they had great friendship chemistry last night. We are sick of Karen being so perfect, so it was nice to see her fight back a little bit. We like the title of the musical, but we wish Smash had made the musical about something other than Marilyn Monroe, which has been done to death. It’s too late now.

Episode grade: B

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shameless - Fiona Interrupted

What Happened - The kids come home from the hospital, and Fiona cleans up Monica’s blood in the kitchen, crying. Jimmy helps. Fiona invites Jimmy up to bed with her, but they are interrupted by Carl and Debs, who need their older sister to hug them. They end up sleeping in Fiona’s bed.

The next day, Fiona tells Jimmy that she wants to meet his family. Jimmy’s parents are wealthy, still married, rich, and blessed with two other good-looking children. It’s all a front though, because we recognize Jimmy’s dad as the same guy who slept with Ian last week.

Jody and Sheila care for Karen’s baby. Karen wants the boy gone, so she calls the police to take him to social services. The police show up and refuse to take the baby away, realizing that it’s better for him to live with Sheila than on the people’s tax dollars. Karen gives her mother an ultimatum: Karen or the baby. Sheila chooses the baby and Karen walks out, despite Lip’s good advice and warning that she will regret her coldhearted decisions.

Meanwhile, Frank tries to get Monica out of the psych ward, but she signed up for a couple extra months of care. Frank sneaks into the ward with Debbie to break Monica out. They succeed, but Monica runs away with a new girlfriend (screaming “I love you Debbie” as she drives away).

Frank runs home looking for alcohol and takes Ian’s case of Old Style. Ian confronts him and Frank hits him. Estefania runs to the Gallagher home after Marco beats her. When Estefania sees Frank hit Ian, she hits Frank over the head with a frying pan. They move Frank outside to sleep in the snow. Lip goes home and back to school. He crashes on the couch in Estefania’s arms. With all the kids in bed and asleep, Fiona and Jimmy finally have sex.

Comments - After all the devastation of the last episode, Shameless decided to go out on a happier, quieter note. It’s a nice place to leave the Gallaghers until next year. We are glad that Monica is gone. She served her purpose this season, but she made a good decision leaving her family alone again. She even tried to stay in rehab for a long time. Frank ruined that though.

Our first thoughts when we saw Fiona and Jimmy cleaning up Monica’s blood was that they should put gloves on. Who knows what’s in that blood. After that scene, Fiona had better be sure that Jimmy is a keeper. He handled all of this drama like a pro. The scene where Fiona comforted Carl and Debbie was so sad, but it was good for Jimmy to see why Fiona could never have left home in last season’s finale. These kids need her.

When we saw the baby, our first thought was that it looked nothing like a newborn. However, it must be hard for the show’s casting people to find Asian babies with Down’s Syndrome who are available to act. We laughed so hard when we saw that Ian slept with Jimmy’s father. This show doesn’t have sex without consequences.

We liked the twist with bringing Estefania into the house and family. This show is already overstuffed with characters though, so she had better be used wisely. Estefania is clearly a train wreck, but anything is better than Karen, Lip. At least Karen showed some emotion over Sheila and the baby this week. She is still the freaking worst. Those cops were awesome. Sometimes rules need to be broken.

The thing that made this finale good to us was Lip going back to school. Yayy! It’s also cool that Fiona got her GED. We don’t know how long she and Jimmy will live in bliss, but they are clearly endgame and we love them together. Frank’s shenanigans were the most disgusting to us this week. They just showed how much he doesn’t really fit into this family that continues to fight for each other, despite being so screwed up.

Yeah, we are supposed to laugh at them and they are supposed to make bad decisions. But at the end of the day, we root for this unconventional clan and hope that the whole series ends with all the Gallagher kids having futures and Frank dead. His death had better be funny and epic.

Episode grade: B+
Season 2 grade: A-

Game of Thrones- The North Remembers

What Happened- The show opens with an attempt to recap everything that happened in 2.5 minutes. Yeah right, show. Like anyone who didn’t watch it last season can follow that. King Joffrey is still the worst. He is killing men for insulting him, talking smack to his mom, doing no actual ruling, and keeping Sansa around as arm candy. Everyone in the kingdom knows that Joffrey is really Jaime’s son, but since he has all the power and actually sits on the throne, everyone still accepts that he’s the king. Which is totally ridiculous, since he is the worst. His people should rise up against this twat, stat. They don’t. Instead, the troops go out, on orders, and kill all of King Robert’s bastard children.

Once gets away though. The one with the bull helmet. He is travelling north with Arya, who is still dressed like a boy, hiding from Cersei. Joffrey confronts his mother about his parentage and she smacks him. He threatens to kill her, but gives her another chance to never smack him again, or whatever. Meanwhile, Tyrion shows up on Joffrey’s doorstep to run the kingdom. Tyrion is the new Hand of the King and needs to bring this brat to heel.

Robb Stark is in the North, fighting. He wants the North to be its own kingdom, independent from Lannister control, and Robb has won several battles. Robb wants to trade Jaime for his sisters, but Cersei doesn’t have Arya, and Joffrey would rather have war than his uncle/dad. Robb drags Jaime along with him on his campaign, as a prisoner.  Occasionally, Robb stops by to taunt Jaime and threaten the Kingslayer with his direwolf.

Joffrey and Robb aren’t the only potential kings. Oh no. The second book is called A Clash of Kings because everyone on this show wants to be king. The whole show is called A Game of Thrones for heaven’s sake. So you have a few more to keep track of. Stannis Baratheon is the guy married to the creepy redheaded lady, Melisandre. He is dead King Robert’s brother, and one of his men thought it was folly for him to seek the throne. This guy ends up dead after trying to poison Melisandre. She is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

We hear that Stannis has a brother, Renly, who also wants the throne. The two are on the outs, obviously. Jon Snow is taken by his leader beyond the wall, even more northern than north. There, he meets an old, powerful guy who has as many daughter as he can and then marries them. Then he has more daughters with those daughters, and so on. Yuck. Jon and his boss hear about Mance Rayder, a man who wants to be king of the north. Mance used to guard the wall/do what Jon does, but he defected and got his own army.

We have one more potential ruler, and that is, of course, Daenerys. Her dragons are still small, and she is still walking around with her savage-looking people, looking strong and morose. Back in Winterfell, Bran is ruling in the absence of his brother. We also think that we should mention that there is a red comet in the sky which serves as some sort of omen. The trouble is, no one agrees about what it signifies. We agree with Nymphadora Tonks, who says it means dragons.

Comments- We missed this show a lot more than we thought we would. One of us has read enough of the series to know that this season is going to be better and more eventful than last season. If you loved season one, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you haven’t gotten into this show, go ahead and pick up the first season or book, then catch up. Don’t start in this season.

We were glad the premiere started with characters we know. If we remember right, the second book started with Stannis Baratheon. Season two kicked things off with Joffrey being a brat, which is probably to lure us in so that we are sure to see him get killed (which he must, for he is Joffrey). This actor is the kid who should have played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, but he was too young.

About 12 minutes into the premiere, we realized that this season is a heck of a lot more fun than last year. It doesn’t drag as much, the quips are funnier, and there is a war going on. This should mean that the action is going to get amped up too. Sansa is already cooler (as is her brother, Robb). Tyrion is still a freaking bad ass and also continues to get laid more than anyone else on this show, weirdly awesomely. We then saw the Starks and Dany.

Dany sends her men out riding in search of nearby towns, since her people and horses are starving. This was a great idea that Dany should have thought of weeks ago. Finally, we are shown the new character, Stannis. From the first lines he speaks, Stannis shows that he doesn’t have the charisma to lead. In this episode, he also shows that he has some honor and smarts. He insisted on keeping Jaime Lannister’s title in his name, because even though Jaime is kind of a dick, he’s still a knight. The smart thing Stannis does is sending the news of Joffrey’s parentage everywhere.

We are seeing more of Jaime than readers of the books would think. That’s a good thing, since he’s one of the best characters in the series. In the second book, he’s pretty sidelined, but the show is careful to keep him around the action. That way, we won’t forget about him. Now, Jaime pushed a child out a window and boned his twin sister. He boned her more than once too. We know viewers of only the show hate him. But we are going to go ahead and spoil this fact (don’t worry, we won’t ever spoil anything shocking or important): He gets better.

Sometimes people realize they suck and try to change. The thing about Jaime is that he’s not a straight bad guy, through and through. He’s complicated, and we think people will end up liking him a little more. This episode should get an A just for letting us watch Joffrey get smacked again. He must be sick of getting slapped, but no one is sick of seeing it. The show ended in an un-fun, morbid way with all the baby killing. Still, it shows that this series is still unafraid to pull punches and show us the story as it is written.

Question: Does anyone need us to do a list with a rundown of all the characters, along with pictures? There are lots of people on this show, and it’s easy to get confused. Also, if anyone requires a recap of season one, let us know and we will do one. 

Episode grade: A-

Mad Men - Tea Leaves

What Happened - Betty has gained some weight. It’s noticeable, and it’s supposed to be. She sits around the house in robes and housedresses, and Henry’s mother stops by and tells her to lose weight. Betty goes to get diet pills, and the doctor finds a node on her thyroid. Betty calls Don, panicking.

She goes to see a specialist and sees a friend who has terminal cancer. This, a fortune teller, and a creepy dream freak Betty out. The node is benign, but the episode ends with Betty stress eating. Don calls to check on Betty, Henry answers and tells Don that Betty is fine, and Henry does not tell Betty that Don called.

At work, Don has a new black secretary, Dawn. The Heinz client wants the Rolling Stones to be in his commercial and sing a jingle. Harry and Don go to see the band’s manager, but Harry messes everything up. Don expresses concern for a young girl at the concert. She steals his tie.

Pete gives Mohawk to Roger, but then takes all the credit. Roger is ready to resign, but Don tells Roger that Betty has cancer. This sobers Roger up, and he lets things go…for now. Peggy is tasked with hiring someone. The young man she hires is clearly and stereotypically Jewish, too genuine, fun, zany, and always says the most awkward things. Fortunately, he is talented, creative, and stuffed with provocative ad ideas.

Comments - While last week was all about Megan, this one was all about Betty. AND BETTY GOT FAT. One of us doesn’t hate Betty and has always been annoyed on her behalf because of all Don’s cheating. Yeah, Betty couldn’t handle Richard Whitman. But maybe Richard would have been worth handling if Don had been a good and worthy man in the first place. Just that blogger’s two cents… We know everyone else hates Betty, and this is a great gift to people who have been waiting to see her get cut down to size. One of us doesn’t hate Betty, but everyone else must be thrilled.

It’s mean and chicken that Henry didn’t tell Betty that Don called. We like that the show is doing something new with Betty’s character. It must be her greatest fear to lose her looks. January Jones did not gain all that weight. It’s half that she is pregnant and half that the show used makeup and a fat suit. They made Peggy fat in season one and now they’ve applied their makeup skills to Betty. All that said, Betty is still really pretty. We don’t know how offended we are that the show has bought into the weight gain = failure philosophy of our culture, but if it takes Betty somewhere interesting, we will forgive it. 

One thing we won't forgive is the swipe at Mitt Romney's dad. One line referred to George Romney as "a clown." We aren't attached to George Romney or anything, but it's annoying when shows smugly slip in their writers' political preferences into entertainment. 

They hired a black secretary! Yay! Good job, firm. Of course, Dawn/Don is already confusing everyone. We liked that Don said, “She was the most qualified” and left it at that. We were happy to see the cute daughter from Lie to Me getting work as the Rolling Stones groupie. We think she has magnetism. We also liked seeing the older, concerned version of Don continuing. He’s turning into our grandparents and we love it. After all, our grandparents lived in that world.

We also kind of like the new guy. Most of the characters on this show need to lighten up. Adding Megan was a breath of fresh air. The era is starting to liven up, and we don’t know if professional Don will be comfortable in the changing world this season. Bringing the new guy, Megan, and the Rolling Stones to the show works for us. Overall though, this episode bored us a little. We guess it was a little funny. Mad Men is always stylish and packed with commentary, but it’s only rarely gripping. When it is, it knocks our socks off.

Episode grade: B-

Once Upon a Time- The Stable Boy

One of us just this weekend finished a huge school project that has lasted since January and will also have no exams until May. This means that April should be a strong blogging month around here. We know you guys want a Once Upon a Time recap, because someone almost always requests one and they get high ratings/numbers. So that's what we will give you first!

What Happened- In the Enchanted Forest, Regina is a young woman with rich parents. Her ambitious mother, Cora, has magic and is played by Barbara Hershey. Regina is in love with her father’s stable boy, Daniel. When King Leopold and his daughter Snow White are travelling through their town, Cora casts a spell on Snow’s horse, causing it to run away and lose control. Regina saves Snow’s life as she passes. Leopold is touched and proposes to Regina. Cora tells the king, “Yes.”

Regina runs to Daniel and tells him that they have to run away together. They kiss and Snow sees it. Regina runs after a distraught Snow, who wanted Regina to be her new mother. Regina explains that she is in love with Daniel and Snow understands. Snow promises that she will keep Regina’s secret. Cora senses that Snow has information and manipulates the child into telling her about Regina and Daniel’s plan. Snow’s intentions were good, but they result in Cora killing Daniel by ripping his heart out and squeezing it until it is dust. Regina finds out that Snow broke her word.

In Storybrooke, King George is D.A. and he interviews Mary before the trial. He antagonizes Mary until she admits that she wanted Kathryn gone. Emma and August find a piece of a shovel at the crime scene. They break into Regina’s garage and find a broken shovel. The shard fits. Emma then gets a warrant, but someone tipped off Regina. Regina bought a new shovel. Emma confronts August, and he seems hurt that Emma suspected him of betrayal. Later, Emma finds a bug in her office. She apologizes to August and he quickly forgives her. Just then, Ruby screams. August and Emma run toward the scene and find Kathryn looking confused and dirty, but totally alive.

Comments- Finally, we know why Regina hates Snow. Yeah, it’s crazy to blame a child that young when your evil mother should be the object of your vengeance. But whatever. One of the themes of this show is that “evil is not born, but made.” We disagree with that (we noted previously that we think it is a combination of both born and made), but we agree with the show that one of the ways evil is made is through grudges.

The overriding lesson of this show is that revenge is not sweet. Regina is still miserable and she is a far cry from the kind, passionate young woman she was. We didn’t mention the scene where Regina confronts Mary in her cell, because it wasn’t really important plot-wise. However, it was a great scene that showed just how much Regina has lost it.

We are annoyed that Emma doesn’t know Sidney isn’t on her side. Between that, trusting Gold, and not knowing that August was trustworthy, we are forced to believe that she made up her “superpower” for Henry’s benefit. Emma is not a human lie detector and never has been. Parts of us suspect that the show decided to drop that talent and pretend it never brought it up. It’s like the show has realized that if Emma can’t be fooled, that ruins many potential plot points.

We are happy that August didn’t decide to be mad at Emma for the next couple of episodes. That would have been needless meandering on the show’s part. We like him better now that he forgave Emma right away for her suspicions. He’s not as hot as Sheriff Graham, who we will always miss, but he’s a better substitute than most. Due to August’s aversion to lying and shin splints attack at the troll bridge, many people are starting to think that August is Pinocchio. We don’t know if we are digging that. One of us isn’t a huge Pinocchio fan. At all.

Bailee Madison, the young girl who played 12-year-old Snow White, was perfect. Leeard thinks she is adorable and has seen her in other stuff. Ern saw her in Brothers with Natalie Portman and was blown away by Bailee’s acting skills. She cried and spoke like a real kid the entire time, and Ern forgot she was acting. Ern thinks she is right up there with Haley Joel Osment circa The Sixth Sense as far as child actors go. In this, Bailee didn’t feel as authentic as she did in Brothers, but it was because she was imitating Ginnifer Goodwin’s line delivery and mannerisms, rather than acting from the heart.

But how impressive is that?!! The best example of Bailee imitating Goodwin is the scene where Cora tricks her into breaking her word. This kid did the best impression of Goodwin we’ve ever seen. And she looked just like her. Perfect casting, brilliant kid. The show didn’t give her much to work with either. Those lines seemed designed to make her sound dumb and wooden, and they forced her to change emotion at the drop of the hat. Remember the scene where Regina told Snow that she loved Daniel? She went from distraught in one line to elated in the next.

Barbara Hershey is making a career as the worst mom ever. She can do both! As seen by Beaches, she can be a good and terrible mom. This was the best episode centered around Regina yet. It kind of made us like Regina a little more. Not much more, since we will never forget that she killed Graham. We loved the line where Emma told Henry that she left the code book at home. It’s so cute to see the mother and son doing operation cobra together, even if Emma has no use for the secret words Henry makes up. We are glad Kathryn is back. We had just started to like her. Everything in Storybrooke moved along swiftly. We feel like we are finally making plot progress there. This was yet another good episode.

Episode grade: A-