26 Jan

TVEye for January 26: Fringe, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, & Being Human

Posted by Tony Nunes | Wednesday January 26, 2011 | TVEye

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 300300 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!

18 Jan

TVEye for January 18: Being Human, The Cape, Bob’s Burgers, & Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday January 18, 2011 | TVEye

Fringe premieres this coming week, and the real promising premieres won’t come until March and April, so last weeks picks were a bit random, and for the most part, surprisingly well liked by my usually critical self.  The premiere of BEING HUMAN, THE CAPE, and BOB’S BURGERS each brought something to the table, while STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS disappointed with its promise of awesomeness.

BEING HUMAN (Ep.1 “There Goes the Neighborhood Part 1”) When I first heard the Syfy channel would be co-producing a remake of a BBC Three horror/drama about a twenty-something vampire, werewolf, and ghost living together, I thought, “here we go again.”  I’m not a fan of the Twilight phenomenon.  Can’t say that I was a huge fan of this past season of True Blood either, for similar reasons.  Look, teen drama is fine, but when angst-ridden teenage girls meet sparkly vampires and buff werewolf wild men, I have to draw the line.  I loved Teen Wolf, that was a fun flick, but this emo, hot-topic nonsense is killing me.  So, I figured Being Human was just going to be another OC meets Buffy with less edge and more whining.  Last nights premiere surprisingly proved me wrong, and a little bit right at the same time.  The beginning of the episode was a pretty dark and ballsy start, including a well-executed werewolf crossover, a violent and murderous bloodletting, and the setup for a pretty intriguing premise.  The shot following the title credit sold me; the werewolf character Josh lying naked and dirty beside an eviscerated buck.  Suddenly I thought, “hmm, this show might be edgier than I thought.”  You know what?  It was.  It had its Twilight-esque elements, such as the vampire lead Aidan looking an awful lot like the ladies man vampire Edward, but honestly, I found them to be generally subtle.  The show has a great sense of humor around its core characters, Josh and Aidan.  Here are two guys filled with such self-hatred for their monster-selves that they decide to step back and try living more normal, human lives.  This includes getting an apartment together, which they soon discover is inhabited by a young recently deceased ghost named Sally.  Sally, Aidan, and Josh are all in their early twenties, so they are all a bit love-locked in their own ways, and I’m sure that some love connection drama will ensue as the season progresses.  But what I didn’t expect was the violence and boldness the show thrust its characters into with such deep emotional repercussions.  The style and acting is better than I had expected, and I actually look forward to seeing where this series takes its characters.  I really didn’t expect to like this show, but here it is, and I have to say, it’s not too bad.

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10 Jan

TVEYE: 2011 Mideseason TV Preview with Game of Thrones, The Cape, Being Human, and More.

Posted by Tony Nunes | Monday January 10, 2011 | TVEye

January brings cold weather into our days and really bad movies into our theaters.  Luckily, TV provides a small glimmer of warmth, and I don’t mean the channel that plays that burning fireplace all day.  Call it what you will, midseason television, whatever, it’s that winter mix where new shows start, favorites continue their seasons, and we prepare for the new offering Spring will bloom onto our tubes in a few months.  I’ve gathered a list of some of the best offerings in Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, and just plain cool TV to get you through the next four months of hibernation.  This is the TVEye guide to midseason Television.

In terms of ambition and grandeur there really hasn’t been a show to match 2005’s epic scale series Rome.  That show was amazing, but sadly only lasted two seasons on HBO, no doubt a result of budget restraints.  But now, HBO promises the most epic Television series yet, with the serialization of George R.R. Martin’s beloved NY Times best-selling fantasy series of books, GAME OF THRONES, set to air in mid-April.  I personally have never read the books, but my wife, and fantasy fiction connoisseur assures me that the series is one of the best.  From the previews, the show does indeed look like an epic undertaking, and I’m psyched to see if they can pull off a multi-season series of this scope.  If anybody has the means to do it, it’s HBO.  What better network to stage a family drama of noble and fantastic struggle than the home of the Soprano and Fisher families?  HBO’s other current family drama BIG LOVE will begin it’s final season on January 16th.  The Mormon Polygamist series promises to end on a high note, and as a fan, I really hope they don’t disappoint.  The other HBO series of note is the animated rambling’s of the Ricky Gervais podcast on THE RICKY GERVAIS SHOW, premiering its hilarity and Karl Pilkington ignorance on January 14th.

Over on the networks, NBC premieres THE CAPE on January 9th, a superhero show that actually looks pretty cool.  I’m surprised that NBC, whose once popular show Heroes dwindled into obscurity, has the boldness to put on another caped hero series.  The circus element, and inclusion of Keith David (They Live) and James Frain (True Blood) in the cast have me interested.  FRINGE continues its stellar third season on FOX January 21st.  Unfortunately, FOX has moved the show to Fridays, a common kiss of death for a series.  I blame the inability for these great Sci-Fi, high-concept shows to find an audience on their networks ridiculous scheduling.  Fringe has a devoted and huge audience, but when you put it up against CSI and Grey’s Anatomy (both HUGELY popular shows) of course its going to pale in comparison.  Elsewhere on the networks, the hilarious COMMUNITY continues its second season on NBC January 20th, while ABC’s alien-invasion saga V premiered its second season on January 4th.  CBS’s superbly acted supernatural crime series MEDIUM ends its seven season run on January 21st.

Syfy launches its new series BEING HUMAN on January 17th, a U.S. remake of the BBC series about three roommates; a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf.  Sounds like a good concept, but I fear it will fall into Twilight territory with sophomoric storylines and soap-opera-esque angst.  We’ll see.  Also coming to Syfy is the 2 hour pilot for BLOOD AND CHROME, a prequel series to Battlestar Glactica that may succeed where Caprica failed.  Following a young Adama in the early stages of his Battlestar service, Syfy promises a science fiction series heavy on realistic action and war, like a futuristic Hurt Locker or Restrepo.  Its uncertain when the pilot will premiere, could even go to the Fall, but Syfy will most likely wait on the ratings before green-lighting an entire season.

The second season of the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand has been pushed back due to the illness of lead actor Andy Whitfield.  In its place, Starz is premiering a prequel series, SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA on January 21st.  Starring Lucy Lawless (Xena) as Lucretia, the series will follow in the heavy gladiator action of Blood and Sand.  Starz will be launching another new series on April 1st, with their take on CAMELOT, a fantasy series starring Joseph Fiennes (FlashForward) as Merlin.  Is this a blatant counterstrike against HBO’s Game of Thrones or what?  Other interesting premieres on cable include the boxing drama LIGHTS OUT, premiering on FX January 11th, and AMC’s newest series, THE KILLING, premiering in March.  With the murder mystery series The Killing, AMC, the most consistent programmer on cable brings another dark tale to their lush lineup of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead.

After the airing of the BBC One mini-series Sherlock in the states last year, I can only hope that the BBC Four mystery series DIRK GENTLY also finds a U.S. audience.  Based on Douglas Adam’s cult novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, the series first aired in the UK in December 2010.  It looks fantastic and fun, and I only hope BBC America begins airing it soon.  Speaking of BBC, Series six of DOCTOR WHO begins in early Spring, and the prehistoric science fiction series PRIMEVAL began it’s new season the first week of January.  Can’t say I’m really into either Doctor Who or Primeval, both a bit too cheesed even for me.  Speaking of cheese, the sometimes hilarious, often eye-roll inducing Adult Swim series ROBOT CHICKEN returns for its new season on January 9th, a season sure to be filled with 80’s pop-culture references and more fart jokes then I care to entertain.  Also returning on the cartoon network, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS continues its third season with the introduction of Savage Opress, brother of Darth maul.  How’s that for a damming name?  Savage Opress!

In cool reality TV (yes there exists such a thing) MTV’s new show VICE GUIDE TO EVERYTHING continues its first season with freshly produced vignettes on Pakistani gun markets, Mexican Narco Cinema, and all sorts of international strangeness that only Vice can deliver.  While the show is interesting and hip, it pales in comparison to the longer investigations offered on the VICE TV website.  Everyone’s favorite faux news outlet, the Onion offers two new shows of satirical promise.  Comedy Central premieres Sports Center spoof show, ONION SPORTS DOME on January 11th, while IFC premieres ONION NEWS on January 21st.  My favorite critic, and Pulitzer Prize winning author Roger Ebert returns his thumbs up/down movie criticisms to TV with the relaunch of ROGER EBERT PRESENTS AT THE MOVIES, to be aired on PBS beginning January 21st.  With Ebert producing, and great critics like NPR’s Elvis Mitchell hosting, its sure to be a welcomed return to the standard he and Siskel set some years ago.

Be sure to stay tuned to Cinema Suicide as my weekly TVEye reviews/recaps continue next week.

19 Dec

TVEye: Best of 2010

Posted by Tony Nunes | Sunday December 19, 2010 | TVEye

There are an estimated 327 million Television Sets in the United States, of which I’m guilty of owning two, on which I admittedly watch quite a bit of TV.  To throw some more statistics into the fire, there are at least 300 channels offering 24 hours of various programming each day.  That’s over 7,200 hours of shows to choose from daily, or 2,628,000 choices in a year. Among these endless options there is bound to be a handful of quality programs rich in story, acting, and substance.

Here are my picks for the best 2010 had to offer.

Boardwalk EmpireBest New Show – BOARDWALK EMPIRE
The odds are always against the success of a new show. Just peak at the stats I listed above and you’ll realize there is a ton of competition out there.  My pick for 2010’s best new show is HBO’s Prohibition era crime drama BOARDWALK EMPIRE.  With great writing, excellent performances, and epic production value, Terence Winter has done away with the limits of television by ramping up the action and quality to levels normally reserved for the movies.  Add the incredible pilot directed by Martin Scorsese and it’s clear to me that Boardwalk delivered more than any other new show this year.

Runners Up:  If not for the disappointing finale, zombie/drama THE WALKING DEAD may have resonated higher with me, but there is no doubting the staying power of this visceral new show.  The intricately witty, modern day take on SHERLOCK, although only a mini-series, will be a welcomed return in 2011.  HBO’s incredibly real, always inspired DIY series THE NEISTAT BROTHERS was another new favorite I hope returns in 2011.

HavenWorst New Show – HAVEN
No contest here. Syfy’s original series HAVEN was by far the worst new offering of the year, yet somehow it was renewed for a second season.  Plagued with horrible acting, gaping plot holes, atrocious effects, and loose, laughable even, connections to an obsure Stephen King short story, I absolutely hated this show.

Runner Up:  NBC’s perpetual mystery yawn THE EVENT.

Breaking BadBest Episode – “Fly” BREAKING BAD
More than any hour of television all year, the BREAKING BAD episode “Fly” was the most revealing and simplistic.  Two men, two incredible performances by Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston which connected two of televisions most tortured souls in one amazing hour of revelation.  The elephant in the room turned out to be the smallest, buzzing annoyance of a fly, the Jiminy Cricket to Walter White’s conscience.

Runners Up:  Sincerity and baggage in the MAD MEN episode “The Suitcase,” and lessons in directing from Martin Scorsese in the BOARDWALK EMPIRE pilot.

Bryan CranstonBest Actor – Bryan Cranston as Walter White on BREAKING BAD
Bryan Cranston’s consistent portrayal of Walter White on BREAKING BAD is layered in deceit, betrayal, and an escalating tension that makes the tragedy of Walter the most compelling character study on television.

Runners Up:  Michael C. Hall as the always edgy DEXTER, Jon Hamm for a sobering (not literally) season as Don Draper on MAD MEN, and Benedict Cumberbatch as the intelligently neurotic SHERLOCK.

Jennfer CarpenterBest Actress – Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan on DEXTER
Jennifer Carpenter’s Debra Morgan provides DEXTER with it’s soul.  The foul-mouthed Debra’s conflict with work, love, and a vigilante that unbeknownst to her was her brother, really made her grow to a point she had yet to on seasons past.

Runners Up:  Kelly Macdonald’s strong-willed immigrant Margaret Schroeder on BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and Chloe Sevigny’s religiously befuddled Nicolette Grant on BIG LOVE.

Emily RoseWorst Performance – Emily Rose as Audrey Parker on HAVEN
Yes, I’m back to HAVEN hating.  Was Emily Rose reading off of cue cards?  Nowhere else on television this year did I see such a disconnected, annoying performance from another Actor.  Just Really Bad!

LostMost Dissapointing Season – LOST
LOST.  Come on; was there really a more disappointing series finale ever in all of TV history?  I didn’t think so.  To go back and end on the most predictable of outcomes, not answering the questions fans wanted most, LOST really made us regret years of theorizing and obsessing over a show that in the end couldn’t give a shit.

Runner Up:  Losing focus amongst the clutter, TRUE BLOOD failed to provide anything more than a hodgepodge of sexy/violent mythical creatures.

John Goodman as Creighton BernetteSaddest Departure – Creighton Bernette on TREME

HBO’s new post-Katrina drama TREME killed off its best character, Creighton Bernette, played by the always great John Goodman.  An apparent suicide, I fear the loss of Bernette “jumped the shark” and really took me out of the series.  Too bad really.

Runner Up:  While it was certainly its time, LOST will still be missed.

CommunityFunniest Show – COMMUNITY
For the COMMUNITY zombie/Aliens parody episode “Epidemiology” alone it’s worth the pick for funniest show.  Referential geek humor at its best!  What’s better than a half hour filled with pop-cultural brilliance, space shuttle simulations, endless blanket forts, and stop-motion angst?

Runner Up:  Danny McBride’s over-confident Kenny Powers spent a memorable debauchery filled season in Mexico on HBO’s EASTBOUND AND DOWN.

The Neistat BrothersBest Reality – THE NEISTAT BROTHERS
Reality is a word and genre thrown around far too loosely.  My picks for Best reality TV present life as it is, real reality.  There is no other show quite like THE NEISTAT BROTHERS.  The premise is simple; two brothers document their lives and adventures.  The execution is anything but simple.  This is Do It Yourself filmmaking at its best, as Casey and Van Neistat present their lives in some of the most creative and artful uses of editing, stop-motion, and mixed media that I’ve ever seen on TV.  These guys bleed style in a world that is too caught up in formality.

Runner Up:  The artfully produced, culturally enlightening world of Anthony Bourdain’s NO RESERVATIONS.

FringeBest Sci-Fi/Horror – FRINGE
FRINGE succeeds where so many shows fail.  Its strengths in acting, effects, creepiness, and story have propelled it into the realm of truly great Sci-Fi.  Crossing universes lead to character developments and revelations that would make the greats of the genre proud.  And with John Noble’s uniquely unstrung take on the Walter Bishop character, Fringe is also one of the quirkiest shows on TV.

Runner Up:  Syfy’s funny, smart, and witty EUREKA is like a scientific cornucopia of personality.

Show of the Year – BREAKING BAD

BREAKING BAD built on its tension like a master architect, plotting and planning every move Walter and Jesse made in the intersecting downfalls they endured.  The totally unpredictable season had me at every twist, turn, and uncharacteristic shock.  When Walter saved Jesse by running down those dealers I literally jumped onto my couch and yelled at the TV.  And that finale, well, no new season has me more excited for 2011 than Breaking Bad does.

11 Dec

TVEye for December 11: The Walking Dead & Boardwalk Empire Season Finales

Posted by Tony Nunes | Saturday December 11, 2010 | TVEye

With the two biggest new shows of 2010 ending their first season runs this week, I decided to scale back this weeks TVEye to cover the season finales of THE WALKING DEAD and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

The Walking Dead: TS-19THE WALKING DEAD (Ep. 6 “TS-19”) Sunday’s season finale for the very short first season run of The Walking Dead was, in a word, disenchanting. Walking Dead successfully supplements drama for spectacle in a genre that has for too long relied on filler over substance. This deeper understanding of the human condition is what sets The Walking Dead apart. A world overrun with zombies leaves a lot of options to play around with, and thus far, the show has wonderfully blended the fun and surreal with the bleak and downright visceral. In episodic drama, stories tend to move along episode to episode, bringing about some minor revelation at seasons end. Characters grow, both closer and apart, from each other and reality, and the first five hours of the Walking Dead series had excelled at this. But at the end of episode five something happened, something that brought this show down quite a few notches for me. As Rick and his group of survivors walked into that brightly lit CDC building, show creator Darabont was taking a major step away from the source material, breaking down some of the strengths he has cultivated over the season. The illusion of safety the CDC represented could have been a decent mid-season excursion, but instead turned into nothing more than a pointless diversion from story, character, and originality. This was the season finale for crying-out-loud. Finales are supposed to give us something new to ponder, a tease to bring us back next season, foaming at the mouth for answers. This was like any other episode, a side note of peril that was predictably overcome. Sure, the characters thought this great white light inside the CDC was their savior, a place they could live safe and at ease. That’s a dramatic idea, and Rick, Shane, Lori, and co. had a joyous, wine-soaked dinner to celebrate. But really, we all knew that this was going to be a brief diversion, whether we’ve read the comics or not.

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4 Dec

TVEye for December 4: Dexter, The Walking Dead & Boardwalk Empire

Posted by Tony Nunes | Saturday December 4, 2010 | TVEye

With such a light offering on the Tube last week, with Thanksgiving and all, I was thankful for Sunday’s offering of new WALKING DEAD, DEXTER, and BOARDWALK EMPIRE for me to feast upon.  So to get you ready for this Sunday’s finale of Dead and Boardwalk, here is a review/recap of last weeks episodes along with a review of last weeks Dexter as well.

Dexter: In The BeginningDEXTER (Ep. 58 “In the Beginning”)  It was DIYM (Do It Yourself Murder) week on Dexter, as the Dark Passenger pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker on the road to the killing room.  Where does this road lead?  It’s clear that even Dexter is riding blind, unsure of who is even driving.  It seems like he has shed some of his sociopath shell, and grown a new, more human skin in which he is still not entirely comfortable.  As great as this new emotionally awakened Dexter is, it has unmistakably impaired the calculative nature which has for so long kept him safely blanketed in caution.  So many times season to season, we’ve watched him barely squeeze by the prying detectives he works with daily.  Always one step ahead of everyone else, he has thus far managed to remain an airtight enigma.  But now, I see a Dexter so deep in lies, false pretenses, and veiled connections that he will undoubtedly unravel by seasons end.  Deb, and the rest of Miami Homicide are becoming dangerously aware of the layers of the barrel girls case.  As they comb thru each layer, they get closer and closer to discovering Lumen, and ultimately discovering Dexter’s connection as well.  They know there is a 13th victim who has escaped the fate of Jordan Chase and company, and Deb thinks this 13th girl is engaging in vigilante homicide, slowly taking out each of the 5 rapists with her own hand.  Deb’s right!  What she doesn’t know, is that the 13th is being aided by her homicidal vigilante brother.  Dexter’s association with Lumen has him backed into a corner, with Deb and Jordan Chase both trying to close in.  Who poses more of a threat?  Jordan Chase, the proponent of the TAKE IT mantra prefers to manipulate others into taking things for him.  Using Deb and Miami Homicide, Jordan’s attempts to have Dexter caught during a kill come up empty.  Deb on the other hand seems to believe in what the vigilante is doing.  There is no doubt in my mind that if, or should I say, when she finds out the truth about Dexter (albeit watered down), she will back him up.  The real threat in Dexter’s world is Libby, Peter Weller’s hard-boiled jackass role as the sleaziest of selfish cops.  Libby has taken on surveillance of Dexter as a pet project to save his job. With photos of Dex and Lumen dumping garbage bags into the bay at night, and video of their knife plunging practice kill, Libby has quite the case.  Surely Libby will suffer the same fate that Doakes did, teaching the detective world not to pry in matters of Dexter Morgan.  Lumen was the one who did the killing this week, taking out the 5th rapist in the skillful dance of death taught to her by Dexter.  He even gave her a gift of a matching pair of his black OJ kill gloves.  That’s a sweet gift, lets just hope they fit.  As interested as I am to see what comes of Lumen and Libby, I am FAR more curious to see if my season long prediction of Deb meeting Dexter’s Dark Passenger will come true.

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27 Nov

TVEye for November 23: Dexter, The Walking Dead, Fringe & The Event

Posted by Tony Nunes | Saturday November 27, 2010 | TVEye

Editor’s note: Big apologies to Tony this week for running his column so late. A combination of the holiday season and savage, violent illness had me on the ropes for most of the week. Tony is nothing short of prompt with his columns excluding the previous installment when he was out due to, you know, his wife having a baby. So everyone take a second and congratulate Tony and the fam on the new addition.

TVEYE is back this week, with a Dexter Morgan, Rick Grimes, Olivia Dunham threesome, and a towel thrown at the most uneventful Aliens on TV.

Dexter: Teenage WastelandDEXTER (Ep. 57 “Teenage Wasteland”)  You want a review/recap of this week’s Dexter? TAKE IT!  You want answers to your questions and more questions to go with your answers?  TAKE IT!  I missed reviewing last week’s fantastic episode (“Take It”), so I have to compensate this week with some random shout outs of the TAKE IT motto.  This week, Dexter took the motto to heart, turning the tables and taking something from the “TAKE IT” man himself, Jordan Chase.  Turns out Mr. Chase, the perpetrator of this whole Lumen, young woman rape and murder scheme wears a trophy around his neck, a small vile of blood, a keepsake perhaps?  A dangling necklace of blood in Dexter’s presence is akin to waving a Breaking Bad DVD in front of a meth addict.  Of course, the blood-addicted expert feels the need to TAKE IT, and extracts a bit.  Jordan Chase finds out, and, well, the chase is on (so sorry).  This week also marked the return of Astor, who delivered her defiant preteen angst to a surprisingly “cool dad” Dexter.  With a friend in tow, she showed up at her old house, looking to throw back a few on the down low (shouldn’t she be at home listening to Bieber?).  This of course led to the obligatory Lumen encounter, and forced Dexter to open up more than he ever has to the unofficial daughter he obviously cares deeply for.  Dexter unleashed some angst of his own on the stepfather of Astor’s friend, an abusive prick who gets his ass handed to him by a serial killer.  I guess you could say he’s lucky?  This visceral moment of care even led Harry to show up and tell Dexter he now thinks of him as “more than a monster.”  Gee, thanks Dad!  The rest of the episode saw some more selfish posturing by La Guerta, who seemingly alienates everyone she comes in contact with.  All the while, the best cop on the force, Deb, was sent to the file room on an undeserved suspension.  Deb pulls the files of the barrel girl case, and the episode takes a nauseating spiral into the squirm-inducing tension Dexter (the series) excels at.  Deb finds out about Lumen, everyone discovers Dexter’s interest in Jordan Chase, Liddy (Peter Weller) and Quinn have pictures of Dex and Lumen dumping a body, and Chase calls Lumen to warn her and Dexter to watch out.  The nail-biting tension as the season reaches closer to its climax is so close I could reach out and…TAKE IT!  I predicted in my Fall preview that Deb would find out the true nature of her brother by seasons end.  Looks like I might be right.  I love when Dexter seasons get to this point!  Excited for next week?

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10 Nov

TVEye For November 10: The Walking Dead, Dexter, Fringe, Sherlock, Hollywood Treasure, & Caprica

Posted by Tony Nunes | Wednesday November 10, 2010 | TVEye

New WALKING DEAD, DEXTER and FRINGE, along with a brief word on the finale of the SHERLOCK miniseries and a look at Syfy’s new show HOLLYWOOD TREASURE.  Finally, I give you my take on the sudden end of CAPRICA.

The Walking Dead: GutsTHE WALKING DEAD (Ep. 2 “Guts”)  As great as the pilot was, I thought it a bit too over-advertised, almost to the point of beating down any surprise with over-saturation.  We were shown most of what to expect, but now, were in unknown territory.  I even thought, hey, I’ve read the comics, I still know what to expect.  Wrong!  Darabont and the Walking Dead team are totally committed to making this series their own, and this week’s episode proved that nobody can predict where they are going to take us.  The pilot followed generally close to the comics, with a few deviations along the way.  Sunday’s episode strayed way off the comic course, causing me to conclude that my constant comic to screen comparison doesn’t give the series the chance it deserves to find its own legs.  Tonight, I treat The Walking Dead Television series as its own unique story.  Hell, it deserves it.

The episode started off by briefly introducing us to some of the survivors in the camp outside Atlanta.  Here, we see Shane and Rick’s wife Lori have an icky little lovemaking session literally in the shadow of Lori’s wedding ring.  Picking up exactly where the pilot ended, we move back down to the tank where Rick lies dormant.  Glenn walks him through his escape, a tense zombie obstacle course that leads him to the roof of an abandoned Macys.  Here we meet a number of survivors, some straight from Kirkman’s comics, and some new and divisive new characters created for the show.  Merle Dixon, the standout among these survivors, is played by the menacing Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).  Dixon is the stereotypical ignorant redneck, refusing to cooperate with his multiethnic group and even throwing out a few N-Bombs at T-Dog, another new character.  The group does not welcome Rick at first, rather blaming him for the growing horde that is now surrounding the department store.  The tension grows as Dixon beats down T-Dog, leading Rick to intervene and handcuff him to the roof.  The obvious play of power directs the others to trust Rick, electing him to lead their escape back to camp.  This is where things really got nasty.  The episode title “Guts” is an understatement.  The title should have been putrid rotting guts, which tickle the gag reflex with the tear inducing stench of death and decay.  Rick drags a dead, err, second-stage finally dead zombie into the store, ready to cut it up into pieces.  In the most honest moment of the episode, Rick stops himself, removing the zombie’s wallet and acknowledging it as the man it once was.  Acknowledging the sacrifice, Glenn comically adds that the man was an organ donor.  Let the mutilating begin!  AMC does not hold back with the gore like I thought they might, and Rick hacks away at the body in grand and gory detail, pieces of flesh, bone, and, well, guts, flying all over the place.  The actors really sell the stench as they gag and spread the filth all over their clothes, a deterrent to hold back the zombie horde.  Rick and Glenn hold them back for a while, camouflaging themselves as walking dead, but the rain washes the stench off before they have a chance to reach the van they are trying to take.  They get there in a slightly over-the-top execution of zombie logic, and slight lack of consistency.  Some zombies run, some walk, some can think of using rocks to break glass, while others can’t climb ladders.  Zombie details are tough, but I feel a lack of existence thus far for The Walking Dead type.  In the end, they get the truck out of Atlanta, leaving Dixon cuffed to the roof, while Glenn hilariously follows in a sweet Dodge Challenger.  T-Dog attempts to be the better man and free Dixon, but loses the key in the hectic pace of the moment.  I have a feeling Dixon will survive, and be a pretty strong villain for this initial season.  Definitely a great episode, even though I found some of the rooftop scenes a bit too reminiscent of the Dawn of the Dead remake.  I applaud the show for finding it’s own route away from the comics, and can’t wait to see what comes next.

By the way, The Walking Dead has just been picked up for a full 13-episode second season.  Woo Hoo!

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2 Nov

TVEye: The Walking Dead Review/Recap

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday November 2, 2010 | TVEye

This week, a special TVEye reviewing/recapping THE WALKING DEAD, the biggest premiere of 2010!

The Walking Dead premiers on AMCWhen news broke in January that Robert Kirkman’s beloved comic series, The Walking Dead was being adapted for Television, comic and horror fans began to shake with anticipation.  In July, the massive advertising campaign began, as the Frank Darabont helmed Television series premiered at Comic Con in San Diego.  At this point, the shakes turned to heated anticipation as Walking Dead fever began to spread.   Anticipation was long mixed with concern, fans generally confident in Darabont’s ability, but filled with questions of how the much-revered comics would translate onto on our small screens.  Sunday night, the fever reached its high point, turning an unprecedented number of viewers into TV glued zombies.  The Zombie Apocalypse has arrived, and over 6 million viewers, zombie fans, and non-zombie fans alike, were treated to the beginning of something truly special.

The big question going into the pilot was, how would Kirkman’s incredible comics, and the fantastic art of Tony Moore translate from cell to screen?  The pacing of the two mediums is generally very different.  Comics tend to focus on more visual storytelling, and diluted drama.  Kirkman’s series is different than most, holding strong in both departments, and succeeding at being the most human zombie story ever told.  The comics are character pieces, and they get very, very dark, and very, very dramatic.  Television pacing can vary greatly, and on AMC, home of some of TV’s best, most-originally bold drama’s, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, they tend to thrive on creative freedom.  There was no doubt that under AMC, and show-runner Frank Darabont, director of the amazing character driven classic, Shawshank Redemption, The Walking Dead was in the most capable of hands.  To my great surprise and admiration, Darabont took the already complex characters of Kirkman’s creation, and drew even more turmoil and despair from them than I thought possible.

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26 Oct

TVEye for October 26: Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Caprica, The Event, & Sherlock

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday October 26, 2010 | TVEye

This week, Fringe is off while new episodes of Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Caprica, and The Event presented some strong plot motifs and character motives into their storylines.  Also this week, I present a new one, the premiere of the Sherlock miniseries, which way exceeded my expectations.

Dexter: First BloodDEXTER (Ep. 54 “First Blood”) Dexter is always looking for himself in others; it’s one of the major symptoms of sociopathic behavior.  Occasionally he’ll take cues from other people and search for normalness in his comparison to them.  Dexter has a narrow and diluted definition of normalcy, and while he understands that he is abnormal, he embraces his differences as supremacy of character and control.  In this week’s episode, he begins to see the personal qualities he cautiously holds dear in others around him.  Caution and control are his constants, the variables that allow him to kill with principal and skill.  But what happens when these qualities reflect in others, and caution comes second to revenge?  Lumen, the girl with whom Dexter has taken a leap of faith and honesty, is his biggest blind step away from caution yet.  In season 3, Dexter revealed himself to Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smitts) in a costly duel of wits, which ultimately led to Miguel’s death at the hands of Dexter.  But Lumen is different, she is touched, revenge driven, desperate even.  Lumen is a loose cannon, and Dexter’s faith in her could lead to an even darker place than his faith in Miguel’s did.  Then again, Dexter sees more of himself in Lumen than he did in Miguel.  Dexter was “born in blood,” his mother murdered before him.  Lumen however, was recently violently victimized, and it is her forever-changed mental state that has been born in blood.  The difference here is that Dexter grew into his sociopathic bloodlust, while Lumen was thrust suddenly and violently into hers as an adult.  This week, Dexter discovered how deep Lumen’s obsession with revenge truly is.  In her motel room, she has an evidence wall filled with newspaper clippings, maps, and photos, a collage of paranoid conspiracy and a desperate desire to regain control over her life.  Dexter is not the only one looking into the deepness of Lumen’s victimization.  Lumen herself is ready to take revenge sloppily, and without much control.  In an attempt to beat her to it, Dexter kidnaps one of the men from her wall, and readies him in the kill room he had created a couple of weeks back for Boyd.  At Harry’s behest, he takes a moment to regain his composure and evaluate the situation he’s created.  It turns out that Lumen was targeting the wrong man, and Dexter almost killed him without caution, or control.  The guy was a creep, but did he deserve to die?  No.  But Lumen didn’t get the memo, and attempts to shoot the man in daylight, in the middle of the sex-offender camps beneath Tuttle Bridge (which are real), with an obvious lack of foresight or care.  Dexter intervenes last minute and prevents her from killing the wrong man.  Freaked out, she decides to take a plane home and out of Dexter’s hair, only to be further freaked by the panic inducing pat down in airport security.  In the end, she stays, and Dexter doesn’t know it yet, but his unclassified role in Lumen’s life has just begun.  The rest of the episode was interesting, but as usual, not nearly as intriguing as Dexter’s actions.  Deb found a big lead in the Santa Muerta case, as well as a disgusting duo of maggot covered, partially mummified corpses that provided the gore moment of the week for the show.  Exciting to me, Peter Weller (Robocop) entered the season as a tough-as-nails Hard Ass cop on suspension that’s agreed to investigate Dexter on the down low for Quinn.  This is going to be an amazing turning point for the season.  The side-stories of Dexter are better than most shows, but it’s the great look into Dexter’s sociopathic psyche that really drives this show week to week.  Seeing himself in others, including his young son, Dexter is the greatest ego on TV.

Boardwalk Empire: Family LimitationBOARDWALK EMPIRE (Ep. 6 “Family Limitation”) There was a load of table turning on this week’s Boardwalk Empire.  The tough guys and gals on this show about 1920’s organized crime were outsmarted by their more intelligent counterparts as big changes shook up the family dynamics in Atlantic City and Chicago.  As the weeks move on, I find that I’m getting more used to these flashes to New York, Chicago, and Atlantic City.  At first, it bothered me, and I didn’t see the big picture that the producers were laying out for us.  I think now I’m starting to get it, or at least grow more familiar with the player’s from each of these cities and how they all tie into the greater scheme of things.  As with most gangster dramas, control is the driving characteristic of almost all of the major players.  In Boardwalk Empire, there are factions in all three cities that are vying to control the same piece of the pie.  In Chicago, Jimmy outsmarted Al Capone to take a more respected seat in the Torio crime family.  Capone, the ever-tough guy of the bunch, had his tables turned by Jimmy’s intelligence and wit.  Capone is from Brooklyn, while Jimmy is from AC, so I question whether these guys may be plants from their hometowns in an attempt to take control in Chicago.  These are the things I still question, but I do feel that the three cities will somehow unify in a more cohesive storyline as the season progresses.  In Atlantic City, Nucky struggles with his righteous upbringing and his overflowing desires of unrighteous behavior.  In an attempt to do good, and be with a more real and respectable woman, he moves Margaret and her kids into a large apartment, where she has ultimately sold herself out as Nucky’s call girl, his concubine.  This shocked me.  Last week, Margaret and Nucky hooked up, and I expected some sort of relationship to form.  It seems out of character for the intelligent, feminist Margaret to stoop to such levels, but I suppose desperation and a desire for a better life can be poison to even the most righteous soul.  In a verbal sparring match with Nucky’s dimwitted hussy Lucy, Margaret compared her to a circus chicken, remarking that her “cunny is not the draw she thinks it is.”  Tables turned, but at what cost?  In the end, Nucky blows off a date with Margaret for a couple of call girls, proclaiming to a topless ukulele player; “I try to be good, I really do.”  Righteousness is a virtue earned not desired, a fact that the episode ends by exploring deeper.  Sitting alone in his room, looking at a picture of Margaret, Federal Agent Val Alden (the creepy Michael Shannon) flagellates himself for having inappropriate thoughts about the young widow.   Balance is formed, as Van Alden suffers for Nucky’s sins.

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