This week ended the Holiday hiatus of the best Sci-Fi series on TV by bringing onboard none other than Doc Brown himself, while Xena and Lila from Dexter had some steamy sex, Star Wars villains rose from the dead, and Jacob from Lost returned to suck the blood of the innocent (as he did the souls of Lost fans everywhere).
FRINGE (Ep. 53 “The Firefly”) The midseason premiere of Fringe opened up with the classic Muppet Show song Mahna Mahna, as Walter boiled a serum in his kitchen and dropped trou to inject said serum into his ass. So continues a season packed with lunacy, and brilliance from John Noble’s richly layered Walter Bishop. I couldn’t have been happier after the long winter break to finally have Fringe back. Hearing that rousing tune of my childhood just sweetened the deal. Sure, Fringe is now on the Friday death slot, but I’m hoping now that it has less competition it will pick up in the ratings. The cherry on top of this sweet return was this weeks guest star, none other than Doc himself, Christopher Lloyd. No lie, just last week I was pondering with my wife where Christopher Lloyd has been and why he’s no longer popping up in great roles. Ironically, he returns a week later in my favorite Sci-Fi show. Lloyd played Roscoe Joyce, a former keyboardist for a fictional band Walter once loved. This week also marked the return of The Observer, whose hairless bowler cap-wearing persona set a new time frame into motion by using Lloyd’s character as a pawn from which to lure Walter. The Observers are the fixers of the two worlds, reminding me of the Strangers from the film Dark City with their ability to manipulate time and space to their liking. It was quite a complex setup, relying on levels of predictive thinking and instinctual foresight. The Observer once saved Peter from dying, an event that threw off the balance of time, and led to the breakdown of the preordained order of things. In the end, it was all a test to see if Walter would be willing to let Peter go, which he was. Expect the Observers to use this later in the season to attempt to kill off Peter, who may or may not be a source of the world’s ends, or a savior to all of mankind. We shall see. Anyways, it was great to see Lloyd (who could play twins with Robert DeNiro) and I hope this is proof that he plans on revitalizing his acting career.
SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA (Ep. 1 “Past Transgressions”) Gods of the Arena is the prequel series to Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Having only seen bits and pieces of STARZ first Spartacus series, I didn’t expect to like Gods of the Arena at all. Well you know what, I did, A LOT! There were things I hated about the style of the show, which I’ll get too later, but overall I found it to be a high energy, character driven work of fun and intrigue. The show is about competing factions of lanistas (managers) who buy and train slaves to compete in Gladiator battles. I have no idea how accurately it follows the lanista tradition, but I found the whole concept to be unique and refreshing. It’s nice to see the behind the scenes politics of the Gladiator trade, a profession that is brutal both in ethics and in battle. I Loved the HBO series Rome, and while Gods of the Arena may be a bit inferior, it’s still a strongly welcomed addition to my DVR. Lucy Lawless (Xena herself) plays the fiery Lucretia, while Jaime Murray (Lila from Dexter and HG Wells from Warehouse 13) plays the seductive Capua Gaia. There are LOADS of steamy sex scenes in Gods of the Arena, be it girl on girl, man on wife, or Gladiator on Gladiator (yes, you heard correct). The Gladiators themselves are slave, prisoners who are proud of their trade, but kept under the controls of their lanistas. The fight scenes are great, but suffer from their desire to steal a page from 300. 300 was a stylized movie from beginning to end, and the slow motion, color contrasting battles blended nicely with the scenes off of the battlefield. Gods of the Arena employs a similar style to their fights, however the rest of the show is absent of such a style. The slow motion hits take away from the seriousness of the series, accentuating the bloody battles in a comic fashion, much like the POW/BAM titles in the original Batman series. As much as the style takes you out of the drama, the show remains a gritty and original look at the ancient city of Capua. With lines like, “words fall from your mouth as shit from ass,” and scenes set in ancient public restrooms, I’m sold.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (Ep. 58 “Witches of the Mist”) With the introduction last week of Darth Maul’s brother Savage Opress, I was a bit disappointed that the series didn’t play on the family drama that they could have. This week, they heard my call, pitting Opress against his own conscience as he chose not to be a slave to the Dark Side, but rather, embrace it for the sake of his people. At the end of the episode it was reveled to Opress that his brother was the great Darth Maul, and that Maul lives in exile in the Outer Rim. Wait! Maul is alive? Can’t wait to see this play out. There were a few great battle scenes between Opress, Ani, and Obi Wan, as well as an epic three-way battle between master and apprentices, with Opress, Dooku, and Asaij Ventress. If you follow the Clone Wars, you know that the show exists in a deep universe of characters and places, but if you don’t, its really too much to try and summarize any episode. What I can say is that this show has grown into a much more mature story ark than I had ever anticipated. I only wish the folks at Lucasfilm would do the same for the post Return of the Jedi Universe as well, creating a series that follows the Heir to the Empire saga laid out in the popular book series. I know, I’m sounding like a hopeless Star Wars geek right now. Oh well, I am!
BEING HUMAN (Ep. 2 “There Goes the Neighborhood Part 2”) I still honestly can’t hate on this show, thou I’m only wearily optimistic. I know that parts of the drama are a bit much, and reminiscent of CW faire like Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. And I know that many people love the original series on BBC, but I’ve honestly never seen it, so have nothing to compare the US version with. That being said, I enjoyed part 2 of the pilot almost as much as I did part 1 (which surprised me in a good way). The shocker of the episode was that Rebecca, the girl Aidan drained and killed last week, was actually turned by Aidan’s maker Bishop. I have fears that this vampire storyline will take a horrific b-line into Twilight territory soon, but for now, its pretty dark. Mark Pellegrino, known for playing Lucifer on Supernatural and Jacob on Lost, plays Bishop. Bishop is the devil on Aidan’s shoulder, trying to siphon the evil recklessness out of his bloodletting desires. Josh is the angel on Aidan’s shoulder, an angel who turns into a werewolf killing machine from time to time. Together, Josh and Aidan really do desire a normal human life, but so far, the death toll is rising as their monsters seem to have the better of their human personas. Also living in their apartment is Sally, my least favorite character on the show. Sally sulks around the house (she can’t leave) stuck in the limbo of her once happy life. Sally is the boring emotional heart of the trio, and I fear that her storyline will play out a little overwrought. The narration at the beginning and end of each episode of Being Human is bit too similar to the Grey’s Anatomy formula of TV drama, where the protagonists attempt to journalize their thoughts into some neat little emotional package. It works for me, but I honestly fear that the action and horror will fade, and Being Human will soon become like any other drama on TV; self-aggrandizing.
Next week, more Fringe, Spartacus, and Being Human, as well as a look at the new Syfy series Face Off and the season premiere of the FX series Archer. Stay Tuned!