20 Oct

TVEye for October 20: Dexter, Fringe, Boardwalk Empire & Caprica

Posted by Tony Nunes | Wednesday October 20, 2010 | TVEye

It was a pretty mild week on television.  No shocking twists or turns, and a few shows were a little tamer than I’ve grown accustom to.  That said, here’s a look back at a new leaping Dexter, Electric Sheep Dreaming Shapeshifters on Fringe, a St. Patrick’s Day where green beer is as illegal as heroin on Boardwalk Empire, and the Sci-Fi 700 Club better known as Caprica.

Dexter: Beauty and the BeastDEXTER (Ep. 52 “Beauty and the Beast”) This was an episode full of conundrums and inner conflicts for all of the characters on Dexter.  Last week’s episode left us wondering what would happen to the young girl who witnessed Dex killing Boyd Fowler, the Animal Control officer with a penchant for murdering young women.  Would he kill her?  If he did, it would be the second time Dexter has killed an innocent this season.  His shoulder angel/devil of reason, Harry, encourages him to kill her, and cover his tracks.  Dexter has been sloppy since Rita’s murder, and the code he uses for killing has been compromised by his own emotions, something completely alien to Dexter.  The young woman is Lumen Pierce (Julia Stiles), the mysterious kidnap victim referred to as the Beauty to Dexter’s Beast in the title of this week’s episode.  While tending to her injuries, long infected whip gashes, Dexter is asked by Harry what the first rule of the code is.  Dex replies, never kill an innocent, but Harry corrects him by saying no, don’t get caught.  The code he’s been following for most of his life is crumbling to a sea of reason and compassion that Dexter didn’t even know existed.  A sociopath of the highest order, Dexter has been the poster boy for narcissistic selfishness.  These traits are still there, evident by him using his son as cover for his sleazy exploits, but they are undoubtedly beginning to fade.  Is Dexter becoming a, GASP, real person?  Dexter grapples with his own reasoning, and holds Lumen captive while he figures out what to do with her.  At one point, Lumen escapes, and Dexter catches her, taking her to the swamp where Boyd has dumped the barrels of his preserved victims.  Showing her one of Boyd’s gruesome trophies, Dexter explains that he’s saved her from this fate, and passes control over to her, even explaining that his wife had just been killed by a monster of Boyd’s character.  He frees her, explaining that he has decided to take a Leap of Faith, and her trust would be a similar leap.  Dexter was able to show trust and honesty with Lila and Miguel, but Lumen is different.  Lumen is a victim, and she warns Dexter that Boyd was just a small part of a larger network of bad, murderous, raping men.  The Lumen arc has just begun, and it will be interesting to see if this connection will help repair Dexter’s disconnected disposition, or reignite his calculating callousness.  There were other Leaps of Faith taken by characters throughout this episode.  Quinn confronts Trinity’s son, Jonah Mitchell with a picture of Dexter, asking if this was Kyle Butler.  Of course, Quinn gets arrested, and his suspicion is about to become public record.  Deb has a dangerous encounter in the Santa Muerta case, and holds back her usual rage to save a victim.  Batista apologizes to the cop he’s put in the hospital, an attempted leap to save his career, that seems likely to cause more conflict in future episodes.  This was a good episode, an appropriate setup for the rest of the season.  It will be interesting to see Dexter juggle his new vengeful, victimized companion between his son, career, and his own need for blood.  Will Dexter be the Harry to Lumen’s rage?  Where do you foresee this new character driving Dexter’s conflicts this season?

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12 Oct

TVEye for October 12: Fringe, Dexter & The Event

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday October 12, 2010 | TVEye

This week, a shorter than average TV EYE looking at a great episode of FRINGE, an even greater episode of DEXTER, and a really lame episode of THE EVENT.  I know, I know, where’s CAPRICA?  Where’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE?  I’m guilty, I cop to it, but next week, I promise more…A LOT MORE.  Anyways, here’s a look at this past weeks episodes of FRINGE, DEXTER, and THE EVENT.

Fringe: The PlateauFRINGE (Ep. 46 “The Plateau”) This week; we are back in the alternate universe where poor Olivia has been unknowingly assimilated into a life that is not hers.  Walternate’s plan to integrate Fauxlivia’s memories and personality into Olivia has taken hold, but we see that things aren’t as air tight as Walternate might think, and his Vulcan mind meld might be slipping.  This week’s episode, like lasts, goes back to the case storytelling that Fringe began with, the only difference being that this week we are in the other universe.  Well, that’s really not the only difference.  The best part of this season so far has been the exploration of what separates the two worlds.  Differences are abundant, and the very nature of the Fringe Division itself is one of the most striking.  In the prime universe, Fringe is a very small division of the FBI, and a very secretive one at that.  Their offices are the dank confines of a Harvard basement, their force, nothing more than a handful of select FBI agents, Peter and Walter.  In the alternate universe, Fringe itself is an entire branch of government, a wholly concentrated body of agents overseen by the Director of Defense, Walternate.  Everyone knows what Fringe is; it’s no secret here.  As we saw this week, their base of operations is anything but a basement, but rather, a huge architectural skyscraper dedicated to the Fringe branch alone.  The epicenter of this building is the Fringe war room, where scores of agents in camouflage suits closely monitor everything on massive, sophisticated computer screens.  It’s a lot like the police station in Demolition Man, if you can remember that gem of a 90’s flick.  Anyways, the protagonist of this week’s episode is the savantiest (new word) of all savants, a man whose brain is so calculating that he can predict chain reactions of even the most infinitesimal event.  This is not Rain Man, this is freaking Monsoon Man.  The world is this guy’s chessboard, and people and probability, his pieces.  Using his ability to create elaborate murders, where probability is more the killer than he is, he seeks revenge on a specific group of doctors, and pharmaceutical reps that made him the way he is.  Yes, another big pharmaceutical company has been testing strange mind-altering drugs with grandiose results in the Fringe universes.  Olivia and her partners investigate, and she is the only one able to outsmart the man, as she is missing the key sensory information that would drive the instincts of someone born in the alternate universe.  Checkmate.  Some more fun facts we learn about the alternate universe are that avocados are rare, air quality can be compromised at any place at any time, and small pox is on the rise.  What’s the deal with the air quality thing?  Any ideas?  At the end of the episode, Walternate lays out his plans to dip Olivia back into that wonderful sensory deprivation tank the Walters love so much.  His hope is that she can seamlessly cross from universe to universe, without doing any damage to her body or the universes themselves.  Looks like Olivia’s about to embark on another bad trip.

Dexter: Practically PerfectDEXTER (Ep. 51 “Practically Perfect”) Dexter is an empty man.  There’s always been emptiness there, emptiness he tries to fill with the knife.  Rita’s death has left him even emptier than I thought possible, and this week, his attempts to fill in this void were undermined by his awareness of the void itself.  Dexter aligns his next kill, Animal Control officer Boyd Fowler, an artificially motivated serial killer with a chilling propensity of taking what he wants.  It’s Dexter’s first premeditated kill since Rita’s murder.  The innocent man he killed in a rage in the season premiere was just a symptom of his grief.  The therapeutic element in Dexter’s murderous exploits is the ability to control every element of them, while doing what he perceives as a favor to society.  He is killing bad people, and controlling the intricate wheels of justice with his own perceived right of trial, and execution.  The kill room, Dexter’s therapy couch, is a room of his own controlled variables.

Well, this week, the control was backstage for Dexter’s performance of preoccupation and paranoia.  Perhaps the steps of the grieving process, which he conveniently skipped, are seeping back into his life.  Loneliness was evident as Dexter found himself saddened by his empty apartment.  Looking at his son Harrison, he became increasingly guilty and afraid that he would grow up to be just like him.  Luckily, his actual therapist comforts him with the fact that Harrison is too young to have been cognitively affected by his mother’s murder.  Then, without missing a beat, the little guy pops the head off of a Ken doll.  Dex denies this grief, itself a stage in the process, which led to some irrational behavior on his part.  Setting up his kill in the middle of the day (against Harry’s warnings), Dexter aligns himself with failure.  He injects the sedative into Boyd’s neck as Boyd turns around to shoot him in the stomach with his tranquilizer dart.  Surprise!  Waking up side by side in an ambulance, the men find themselves in a race against suspicion and fear.  Dexter finally triumphs, sloppily killing Boyd in a makeshift kill room with newspaper covering the walls instead of plastic.  In killing Boyd, Dex receives an ominous warning from him, moments before his death; you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.  I bet that the self motivation guru Boyd was obsessed with, Take It Now’s Jordan Chase, is behind Boyd’s killing spree somehow or another.  Dexter didn’t do his homework.  Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  At one point in the episode, Harry appears with a warning; if you make it mean something, you’ll mess it up.  Dexter’s first calculated kill since Rita’s death is a failure.  Trying to fill the void, he’s created a huge mess.  In the most shocking moment of the episode, hidden in the attic above Boyd’s apartment, Dexter finds a young female prisoner, who has witnessed his kill.  Will Dexter kill another innocent?  Will his grief reach the upward stages before its too late?  It’s going to be another crazy season on the greatest show on television.

The Event: A Matter of Life and Death THE EVENT (Ep. 3 “Protect Them from the Truth”) Maybe The Event shouldn’t have been so quick to answer the two biggest mysteries they had going.  Honestly, there’s not much left to entice a steady stream of viewers.  The cast is decent, but there are no amazing performances, nor is there room for any in the writing.  The characters are all one-note clichés.  The story, well, it’s been done over and over again.  V is currently doing pretty much the same story over on ABC, and they’re doing it better, with a far more interesting cast.  The biggest problem The Event has is its epically boring pacing; an issue that brings yawns in a genre that should be delivering gasps.  This week’s episode started with Sean tending to an injured FBI agent in a motel room.  This led to a pointless jumble of scenes going forward and backwards in time to reveal that a group of ruthless assassins posing as US Marshals are hunting Sean.  This structure makes it seem like the writers lost the script in a windstorm, and were too lazy to put it back together in any meaningful way.  Crafty structure only works if you’re telling a compelling story with equally compelling characters.  This isn’t fucking Pulp Fiction.  Get over yourselves.  I don’t hate this show.  Really I don’t.  I just think the whole government covering up aliens among us plotline has been exhausted in shows like this.  There is little creativity in the writing, and little high-concept in its delivery.  The end of the episode was interesting, posing a new mystery that had me marginally relieved to find my eyebrows raised instead of eyelids sagging.  The dead passengers from the plane, all laid out in a temporary military morgue started choking back to life, one after another.  After scene after scene of the doldrums, finally, here was something marginally interesting.  Too bad it was too late for me.  The episode was titled “Protect Them from the Truth,” but all I was left thinking was, “protect me from falling asleep before this episode gives me enough to write about.”

Next week, more FRINGE, DEXTER, and THE EVENT, along with CAPRICA, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and more.  Stay tuned.

5 Oct

TVEye for October 5: Dexter, Fringe, The Event, Boardwalk Empire, Star Wars: The Clone Wars & Scream Queens

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday October 5, 2010 | TVEye

This week, a look at fatherly turmoil in DEXTER, heady midgets in FRINGE, Alien answers in THE EVENT, abdominal fisting in BOARDWALK EMPIRE, Greedo shoots first theories in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, and a subpar reality in SCREAM QUEENS.

Dexter: Hello, BanditDEXTER (Ep. 50 “Hello, Bandit”) The greatest line of “Hello, Bandit” came during Dexter’s self narration when he explained, “The better killer I am, the better father.”  This sums up the episode.  Tormented by his responsibilities as a now single father, Dexter is torn between making room for his Dark Passenger or a car seat.  He explains that he has no time for the other six stages of grief, just anger.  When renting a moving van, Dex hones in on a small stain of blood in one of the trucks.  Intrigued, he rents the van and holds an impromptu blood examination in the middle of the night, his baby son smiling cockeyed at the glowing fluorescent blood splatter on the trucks door.  Dexter turns his sons intrigue into a wonderful little fairy tale about a mean ogre, blunt force trauma, and a victimized princess on her hands and knees.  If only I was as good a father as Dexter.  Turns out there is another serial killer in Miami.  Serial Killers must enjoy sun, salsa music, and Cuban food, because goddamn is there a lot of Serial killers in Miami.  This is Season 5 of Dexter, and Serial Killer number 3.  Not to complain, I just find it funny.  Anyways, this new killer is an Animal Control agent who kills women, collecting a lock of their hair before dumping them in a waste barrel in the middle of a Florida swamp.  Dexter has a new obsession.  There appears to be another killer on the loose as well, a Santa Muerta (Saint Death) cult decapitating people and cutting out their tongues.  Yikes Miami!  Will Smith never sang about this side of your city.  The developments of LaGuerta, Batista, Deb, and Quinn all seemed like a bit of a pointless departure from Dexter’s intense storyline.  Sure, they’re important characters, but right now I’m more keen on following Dexter further down his rabbit hole.  Quinn however, is coming dangerously close to discovering that Kyle Butler is really Dexter Morgan.  The episode ended with the inevitable departure of Aster and Cody.  Rita’s kids went to Orlando to live with Rita’s parents, so now its just Dexter and little Harrison, that poor blood stained tabula rasa that will inevitably shape and be shaped by his killer father.  Down, down, down, the rabbit hole we go.

Fringe: The BoxFRINGE (Ep. 45 “The Box”) At this point in the alternate universe arc, I figured Fringe would return from time to time back to its original case by case storytelling.  I was right and wrong at the same time.  This week’s episode took place in the prime universe, and began with the strange occurrence format on which Fringe was founded.  Three men dig up an alien looking metallic box, which looks like HR Giger himself created it.  Upon opening the box, two of the men, and their hostages go into a trance, their eyes rolled back and noses bleeding out.  Thinking this to be either a random case, or part of the pattern, I figured the episode would focus on Fauxlivia’s attempts to fit into her new surroundings.  Actually, it was an episode about Fauxlivia being able to manipulate her surroundings.  Season 2 antagonist Thomas Newton returns, and we learn that although he’s been working in the prime universe for so many years, he has to answer to Fauxlivia who’s been there less than a week.  This is sure to cause some interesting tension later in the season.  I wondered if Fauxlivia would show a compassionate side for the prime universe.  Wonder be gone!  When confronted with the survivor of the opening incident, she swiftly shoots him in the head, and manages to seduce Peter in an attempt to keep his attention away from the bloody scene.  She’s cold, and calculated.  Fauxlivia works with Peter and Walter to solve the case, which led to an awesome encounter in a subway tunnel.  Newton leaves the box on a bench and a little person (Eric the Midget) opens it, leading the Fringe team to intervene.  The scene played out like a twisted David Lynch movie.  Peter walks into the tunnel, his ears humming, and sees a large dead rat on the tracks.  Shining his flashlight along the wall, he sees the little man holding the box, his eyes rolled back in his head.  Waiting for the little man to say “Garmanbozia,” I was shocked as his head unexpectedly exploded into a bloody mess.  DAMN!   Peter recognized the box as part of the doomsday machine Walternate wanted him to build in the alternate universe.  Fauxlivia’s mission is revealed; Walternate wants Peter to build the machine on the other side.  This is really the big mystery of the season.  What is this device?  As shocking as the head explosion scene was, I was even more surprised at the gift Walter receives at the reading of William Bell’s will.  Walter is given sole ownership of Massive Dynamic, along with a note that simply said, “Don’t be afraid to cross the line.”  Is that like crossing the streams?  One thing is for certain, any limits Walter once had are now gone, and the seasons sure to wind into a fury of insanity.

The Event: To Keep Us SafeTHE EVENT (Ep. 2 “To Keep Us Safe”) Lost has left me prejudicial of the serialized mystery genre.  God I loved that show.  I still do, but not without a feeling of total betrayal at that terrible finale.  The Event promises to avoid the shortcomings of Lost, but here at the beginning of episode two I couldn’t help but wonder if that promise was a hollow ploy for viewers.  The pilot was decent enough, but left a load of unanswered questions in the end.  To my surprise, this week’s episode quickly answered quite a few of those questions.  The opening scene is set in the Arizona desert, cleverly filmed to make us question if this is actually another planet we are looking at.  There’s no doubt at this point that most people suspect the mysterious prisoners to be aliens, but we don’t expect to actually find out for quite some time.  That’s the thing with this genre, we anticipate long waits for small answers, and impatience leads to a lapse in viewership.  The big question at the end of the pilot was, where has the plane gone?  In the opening, it crash-lands in that Arizona desert and Sean Walker quickly flees the scene, moments before the other passengers are killed.  Well, that question was answered; I guess now the big secret is how it disappeared in the first place.  The episode moves back and forth in an annoying and somewhat insulting narrative style.  Moving back weeks, days, decades, the writers try to weave a complex story of a long con, and bore the hell out of us viewers in the process.  At one point, a flashback takes us to the first meeting between Walker and his girlfriend.  What the hell was the point of this scene?  It’s already been established that they are in love, it doesn’t need to be shown again and again, we get it.  The cover-up scenes between the President and CIA are equally annoying.  It’s been established already, move on please.  To my surprise, halfway through the episode it is revealed that the prisoners are indeed aliens.  They are Aliens with only a 1% difference from human DNA.  And yes, we are even told that they are responsible for the plane’s disappearance, and shown sleeper cell aliens who are blended in with other humans.  The mysteries I thought would take us at least through an entire season were all answered in this one episode.  The only big questions left are; what the Aliens motivations are, who killed the plane passengers and why?  The big question I have is, has this aliens among us genre been overplayed on these kinds of shows?  Maybe The Event does set out to answer more questions than it presents, but with such an odd and annoying structure to it, I predict it will mysteriously disappear into a void much like that plane.

Boardwalk Empire: Broadwalk LimitedBOARDWALK EMPIRE – (Ep. 3 “Broadway Limited”) Last week’s episode ended with one of the victims of Jimmy and Al Capone’s botched heist coming back from the dead.  Well, it turns out he was never dead to begin with, and “Broadway Limited” begins by rushing the dying man into a hospital, a gaping hole in his overweight gut.  News of the man’s arrival sparks a contest of wits between Nucky’s police chief brother Eli and Federal Prohibition Agent Val Alden.  Eli arrives first, his attempt to smother the man interrupted by Agent Van Alden’s arrival soon after.  Eli’s ruthlessness is foreseen.  At this point in the series I expect the lawless vengeance and violence from Nucky and his criminal elements.  Agent Van Alden on the other hand, is someone I have come to understand as intensely dedicated to his job, righteous, pious even.  I expect him to work within the strict confines of the law, a model of efficient lawfulness.  Goddamn am I bad judge of character.  Van Alden fabricates a federal warrant to take the man into his own custody.  When the man refuses to cooperate, spouting flagrant Yiddish insults at the agent, Van Alden thrusts his fist into his gaping abdominal wound, pulling at his intestines and infected sore with wide-eyed fervor.  The man fingers Jimmy before dying, and Van Alden unleashes a sermon on evil as his last rites.  Nucky finds out and banishes Jimmy from Atlantic City.  I assume the banishment is more for Jimmy’s well being than Nucky’s, as we are shown over and over again that Nucky is actually a compassionate man with a dark business sense.  The rest of the episode followed Nucky’s Ying and his Yang.  The wholesome Margaret Schroeder is the polar opposite to Nucky’s immature, sexpot girlfriend Lucy.  These women are the physical representation of Nucky’s inner conflict.  The other major development of the series was the introduction of Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams AKA Omar from The Wire), a Black gangster Nucky hires to water-down his booze.  At one point Chalky calls Nucky a Motherfucker, as Nucky confusedly asks what the hell that phrase means.  The origins of the word are steeped in slavery and inadvertent incest, and actually make one think twice about using the word when you hear its horrifying origins.  The history of racism and cultures is richly explored in Boardwalk Empire, just one of the elements I really dig about this series.  My only qualm remains the flashes to the NY gangsters, which I find confusing and out of place when presented in the middle of an episode.  Single qualm aside, who doesn’t love this breed of authenticity, depth, violence, nudity, foul language, and subtext that only Terrence Winter and HBO can deliver?

Clone Wars: Sphere of InfluenceSTAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (Ep. 48 “Sphere Of Influence”) Yet another planet is in peril, as the Trade Federation blockaded Pantora this week.  Political posturing took over for the second week in a row, during a season, which seems committed to exploring the inner workings of politics and war in the vast Star Wars universe.  In a move of aggression, the Separatist backed Trade Federation hires Greedo to kidnap the Pantoran Chairman’s daughters.  You heard right, Greedo returns from the grave for a prequel to his exploits as Jabba the Hutt’s smarmy bounty hunter.  The great thing is, this is the backstabbing, greedy, cowardly version of Greedo us original Star Wars fans grew up with.  This was certainly not the Greedo hat would shoot first, but rather a slimy gutless patsy.  Jabba also makes an appearance in the episode, showing his unforeseen compassionate side as a sympathetic father with his small slug-like baby by his side.  Overall, the trip down Greedo lane was a fun moment in an otherwise uneventful episode.

Scream QueensSCREAM QUEENS (Ep. 208) I really can’t say I’m a fan of Scream Queens.  In fact, reality TV in general leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.  In reality, I mean the reality you and I live in, there are no scripted moments or producers pushing us to do one thing or another.  On reality TV, the majority of the moments we see are totally contrived.  Scream Queens is no different.  Sure, there were some strong moments in the season, but overall it was just another less-than-memorable product of the VH1 reality TV factory.  This week’s finale began with three remaining girls vying for a role in Saw-3D.  The opening challenge was a pretty vigorous undertaking, a single shot scene where the girls were stalked then chased through a playground.  It was a smart challenge, testing almost every element the girls were given throughout the season.  To go from happy, to nervous, to terrified, then chased to the point of fighting back and taking charge was a roller-coaster challenge of emotion and technical accuracy.  In the end Christine was cut, leaving Gabby and Jessica to endure one final challenge towards that “groundbreaking” role in Saw 32, I mean 3D.  The rest of the episode was a Saw love fest.  I can’t tell you how much I hate the Saw movies.  The first one is, eh, ok at best, but the rest are terrible.  I don’t see how these things continue to make money.  Well, of course, the girls are shown a series of Saw clips and asked to reenact a scene from the original movie as their final challenge, a pretty weak final if you ask me.  The director for the challenge was Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saw 2-4, Mother’s Day (remake), and Repo the Genetic Opera.  UGH!  You thought I disliked Saw, don’t even get me started on Repo, that movie is the WORST!  The girls were both just ok, and in the end Gabby won the title of Scream Queen.  Now she gets to go on to play a small role in a sure-to-be terrible film that will no doubt take an already gimmicky series of films, and further push them over the top with the exploitation of 3D.  They give better prizes on Hoarders.

Come back for more TVEYE next week, including the season premiere of Caprica.  Battlestar Galactica fans won’t have to wait until January for the premiere, as Syfy has pushed the series forward to October 5th.  Nice!

29 Sep

TVEye for September 29: Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Fringe, Star Wars: The Clone Wars & The Event

Posted by Tony Nunes | Wednesday September 29, 2010 | TVEye

TVEyeEditor’s note: Finally. FINALLY! The god damn fall season is off and running. The mid-year garbage leaves those of us with a jones for something that isn’t a reality show about gold digging MILFs in Orange County, Polygamist maniacs in Utah or faux-tanned scumbags in New Jersey desperately on the lookout for something with at least a little bit of substance. True Blood this season turned out to be a muddled soap opera with an awful lot of nude dudes so about halfway through that season I pretty much abandoned ship and started counting the days until Dexter. Tony is back this week for our second week in a row featuring big-time anticipation. Last week, we both lost our collective shit over Martin Scorcese’s turn on Boardwalk Empire and this week we go back to the anticipation station for the follow up to what was one of the most shocking ends to a TV show ever. Here’s Tony.

Dexter: My BadDEXTER (Ep. 49 “My Bad”) I wondered how the intense emotion of Rita’s death in last season’s finale would play out in the premiere.  I figured that the intensity the Trinity Killer arc brought with it was over, and this season would start out quiet and more low-key.  I was wrong.  That wonderful opening credits sequence began, and I sat back for another cranking ride up the Dexter rollercoaster.  And we were off.  The sheer dedication of the performances in the premiere carried over an uncomfortable energy of biting intensity.  Michael C Hall plays Dexter with the spot-on tendencies of a sociopath.  “My Bad” was the textbook case for sociopathic behavior as Dexter was so consumed throughout the entire episode by his own selfish fears and urges.  His 911 call sounded like a forensic case recording.  He sat through the meeting with the funeral director (who was no David Fisher) disconnected, thinking of the tasks at hand in covering his own ass; torching his storage container, and topping off the gas in his boat.  Even in flashbacks of him and Rita’s first date, he is working off of his own agenda.  He’s always putting himself first, no idea how to humanly handle the situation at hand.  These scenes play out so brilliantly as his sister Deb challenges Dexter’s detachment.  Jenifer Carpenter plays Deb as an impetuous rock of sensitivity.  Agitated by Dexter’s nonchalant attitude, she can’t help but question his awareness.  There’s a part of her that wonders if Dexter is guilty.  This is never said, or directly implied, but Carpenter’s expressions say it all.

On the other hand, Detective Quinn does ponder Dexter’s guilt, and is sure to be the major conflicting force of the season.  He better be careful or he’ll end up with Doakes.  Near the end of the episode, Dexter escapes on his boat, fleeing humanity for the comfort of seclusion.  Turns out, he never got around to topping off that gas tank, and takes a detour to a quaint dockside gas station.  In the station, he is confronted by a brash, horrible man who remarks, “you’re dead wife can suck my dick.”  Dexter snaps, smashing the mans head into a bloody pulp, flecks of blood speckling Dexter’s face in the process.  Like splashing water on ones face for clarity, the blood snaps Dexter out of his state, and Harry returns in his mind for guidance.  Dexter lets loose, screaming and thrashing as Harry tells him that was the first human thing he’s done since Rita died.  Chilling scene!  The most intense moment of the episode for me however, was the more subtle moment of Dexter telling Astor and Cody about their mother’s death.  They return in good spirits after a day at Disney World.  Cody puts a Mickey Mouse hat on Dexter as he sits them down to reveal the bad news.  Sitting in his Mickey Mouse hat, Dexter becomes a parody, a caricature of a human being.  Unable to well his own words, he quotes the funeral director, consoling the children with an “I’m sorry for your loss.”  What an uncomfortable scene.  Gave me chills.  In the end, Dexter comes back to confront life, accepting his toxic existence for what it is.  He is, the Toxic Avenger.  I look forward to another uncomfortable season of sociopathic greatness.

Boardwalk Empire: The Ivory TowerBOARDWALK EMPIRE (Ep. 2 “The Ivory Tower) Coming off of a first-rate pilot directed by Scorsese himself, episode 2 was sure to be the lowly prince behind his kingly father.  I knew it would be good, but had that familiar inkling that it wouldn’t quite measure up to such an epic kickoff.  The pilot introduced a slew of characters, providing tenuous insight into their lives, much like you’d get with a movie.  Well, Boardwalk Empire is a Television series, so the Hollywood grandeur of the pilot needed to take a backseat this week to the weightier exploration of these characters everyday existence.  It did just that, focusing primarily on Nucky and Jimmy.  The title of this week’s episode, “The Ivory Tower,” remarks on Nucky’s disconnect from the real world.  We see Nucky literally waited on hand and foot, his rich lifestyle on display for the city he runs.  We are shown the fruits of his power, driving around in his Rolls Royce (Awesome Car) as he collects large wads of cash from the brothels, casino owners, and city workers.  Nucky gets a piece of everything in Atlantic City.  He runs the whores and the horses with political influence.  At one point, a customer at the Ritz, where he lives in a Penthouse suite, refers to Nucky as living like a Pharaoh.

On the contrary, Jimmy lives like a pauper, a young man whose grand ambition is misled by brash resolve.  The episodes introduction of his young showgirl mother, revelation of his hidden dishonorable discharge papers, and acted upon desire to build his own Ivory Tower all bring awareness to the characters dark core.  Jimmy is compared to Odysseus, his wife and son a shadow behind the grand journey of his ambition.  We’ll see just how far he can get.  In Soprano’s terms, Jimmy is the Christopher to Nucky’s Tony.  The conflict between these two characters is sure to develop intricately as the series progresses.  Overall, it was a good episode that did what it had to do at this point in the story.  I would have liked to see more on Prohibition, and find the show’s departures to storylines in New York and Chicago a bit unfocussed at this point.  The eerily dedicated Prohibition Agent Van Alden, played perfectly low key by character actor Michael Shannon, adds a nice bit of conflict where the show needs it.  Likewise, the tormented immigrant Margaret Schroeder (Kelly MacDonald) brings a righteous element to Nucky’s lavish life.  In one scene she is seen reading Henry James’ unfinished novel, The Ivory Tower.  That novel deals with dark forces that emerge around greed and frivolity, a hint that Margaret may be the only catalyst with a chance of pulling Nucky out of his wicked ways.  We shall see.

Fringe: OliviaFRINGE (Ep. 44 “Olivia”) Somewhere in the middle of Fringe’s second season, the series gained an exorbitant amount of steam.  As the story of the parallel universe came to fruition, I remember thinking, wow, this show went from good, to great, and continues to get better.  With the premiere on Thursday night, I couldn’t help but wonder if they could sustain the momentum into their third season.  My question was answered within the first five minutes.  The finale last May ended with alternate Olivia (I’ll call her Fauxlivia) infiltrating our universe, while the real Olivia was locked away in the alternate universe by alternate Walter (Walternate).  Thursday’s premiere began with the tough-nailed Olivia putting on her best brave face while analyzed by a shrink.  Believing her to be a shell-shocked, post breakdown Fauxlivia, the doctor dismisses her far-flung tale as nothing more than a disconnect from reality.  The cold tormented Olivia replies, “This is not a fantasy.”  Oh, but it is.  Every other episode this season will switch from the alternate world, to the real world, in a fantastic telling of Science Fiction.

Olivia is being injected with memory transfers from Fauxlivia, no doubt part of Walternate’s scheme to exploit the connection between her and Peter.  The technology and atmosphere in the parallel world are far more advanced than our world.  Billboards promoting daily flights to the moon, zephyrs flying about, and technology years ahead of ours are blended seamlessly into a world whose differences appear subtle at the surface.  Olivia escapes her captors in a badass attack of pure adrenaline driven fury.  She takes a Manhattan cab driver hostage at gunpoint, forcing him to drive her around the city in a desperate search for a way back to her reality.  She comes up empty at every point of interest.  The cab driver, Henry (The Wire’s Andre Royo) eventually comes to understand Olivia’s dilemma, accepting her story as real and establishing a genuine trust.  Henry may be the only friend Olivia has in the alternate world, so I hope to see a lot more of his character in the coming weeks.  At the end of her search, Olivia ends up at the house of Fauxlivia’s mother, the alternate version of Olivia’s mother who died years ago.  The emotion of meeting the alternate version of her dead mother and adrenaline of her escape cause the memory transfers to take hold.  Fauxlivia has been assimilated into Olivia’s psyche.  I think the changes might be a bit of an act, a last ditch effort of Olivia’s to blend into her surroundings until she can find her way back.  The alternate Fringe agents are not bad people, and I applaud the writers for humanizing the other-siders and giving us viewers a dilemma of conscience in separating the good guys from the bad.  The episode ends with a flash to Peter, Walter, and Fauxlivia in the real world, both men completely unaware of the imposter in their midst.  Next week, we’ll spend an hour in their world.  Fringe is one of, if not the best show on television right now, and I cannot wait to see how this season plays out.

(As an aside, Editor and Chief of Cinema Suicide, Bryan White recently brought to my attention the Montauk Project, a conspiracy involving an alleged government testing site that dealt with psychological warfare, alternate dimensions, and a ton of really interesting Fringe sciences back in the 1980’s.  Imagine the fantastic fiction of Fringe in real-world applications!  I’ll be reading up more on this in the coming weeks, and implore fans of the show to check it out as well.  It’s really interesting stuff, and no doubt a source for the show’s richly psycho-scientific material.)

The Clone Wars: Supply LinesSTAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (Ep. 47 “Supply Lines”) Where else, other than Clone Wars will you find political posturing and diplomatic negotiations in a half-hour animated series?  Nowhere.  I love how Clone Wars takes the sophomoric prequels and manages to breathe new and vibrant life into the material.  They even manage to make Jar Jar somewhat tolerable.  Well, maybe not.  “Supply Lines” takes place on the planet Toydaria, in the Hutt Space region of the Star Wars Universe.  The Jedi Council attempts negotiations with the Toydarians (an alien race of whom you may remember Watto from Phantom Menace) for use of their planet as a staging ground for relief aid to battleground planet Ryloth.  We find out that the Council has sent Representative Binks (Yes, Jar Jar) to head negotiations, but (insert sarcastic gasp) he has failed.  To make up for their error in judgment, they send Senator Organa to assist.  The episode moves back and forth from Toydaria to Ryloth, inter-cutting the horrors of battle with the diplomacy of war.  I admire the well though-out juxtaposition, and was surprised at the depth to which the episode explored the less sensationalized elements of war.  In the end, the Senator makes a backroom deal with the Toydarian king, as Jar Jar creates a diversion to hide the deal.  When are they going to kill Jar Jar off?  It’s nice to see the hordes of familiar characters that pop up unexpectedly from episode to episode, but some just need not be heard from again.  But then again, this is what makes me watch.  The coverage of a vast Universe of obscure characters and planets, and the familiarity of ones I’ve grown up with.  That said, next weeks episode teases a Greedo and Jabba storyline.  Nice.

(Special thanks to the Wookiepedia website http://starwars.wikia.com without whom I could never spell these character or planet names correctly week to week)

The Event: I haven't told you everythingTHE EVENT (Ep. 1 “I Haven’t Told You Everything”) When a television series maintains a mystery as its central core, the outcome depends entirely on an audiences desire to solve this mystery.  The mystery is what the networks hope brings us back week by week, but can also lead to a feeling of utter frustration, as these types of shows seem to create more mysteries, without solving the ones it has already presented.  Mysteries can’t be open-ended, and past shows involving planes and mysterious happenings seemed to forget this fact.  Here’s where other serialized dramas have gotten tangled in their own webs, and where NBC’s The Event hopes not to.

This week‘s premiere of The Event was a suspenseful, well-paced pilot, laced with a few minor flaws along the way.  The show begins with brief flashes of raw news-footage, a hint of the actual event we will encounter at the end of the episode, and smart grab of the audience before the somewhat mundane character introductions that were to come.  The rest of the show is told in real time, with flashbacks to days previous.  Yes, this seems very similar to the narrative style of Lost, and to be honest, I don‘t think the characters are presented half as compellingly as the Lost castaways were.  The action starts with a tense airplane takeoff involving protagonist Sean Walker (John Ritter’s son Jason Ritter) sitting anxiously in his seat.  The story flashes back and forth to reveal a complex plot involving the alleged kidnapping of Josh’s girlfriend, and how it led to his being on that plane.  The other storyline follows U.S. President Martinez’s (Blair Underwood) discovery of a major cover-up, which involves a secret mountain facility in Alaska, and its group of 97 secret prisoners.  President Martinez and Walker’s stories come together as Walker’s actions on the plane are revealed as an attempt to stop his girlfriend’s patsy father from crashing into Martinez’s Miami retreat, moments before he’s set to announce the cover-up to the world.  Then, THE EVENT happens.  A purple plasma like ball erupts from the sky, sucking the entire airplane into a darkened void of purple Gak.  I found the disappearance, and strange void to be extremely reminiscent of the 1989 film Millennium.  When the plane disappears, Sophia (Laura Innes), the leader of the prisoners looks up and simply remarks, “They saved us.”  It’s an expected setup for this type of show, as we are left with some pretty big questions.  Who are they?  Aliens?  Angels?  Xenu?  LOL.  What exactly was the event? Where did the plane end up?  Will The Event end up like so many of the perpetual mystery shows that have come before? A doomed to be cancelled ratings failure like Flash Forward?  Beloved cult institution with a disappointing payoff like Lost?  Will you be watching?

21 Sep

TVEye for September 21: Boardwalk Empire, Ghost Hunters, Scream Queens, Star Wars: The Clone Wars & Warehouse 13

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday September 21, 2010 | TVEye

This week, a more in depth look at the new and truly EPIC premiere of Boardwalk Empire, followed by a brief recap/review of the weeks Ghost Hunters, Scream Queens, Star Was: The Clone Wars, and Warehouse 13.

Boardwalk EmpireBOARDWALK EMPIRE - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again; it seems like there are better stories on television nowadays than in the movies. Perhaps it’s the seductive nature of creating long-form character pieces that has been attracting such a talented crop of writers and directors to the medium. Just when you think the quality of shows may have reached its crest, Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese bring us the greatest pilot I have ever seen. Bold statement I know, but so very true. Boardwalk Empire is a master class in writing, directing, editing, acting, and tone. HBO has always been on the forefront of great TV, and their commitment to the Scorsese directed pilot at a cost of 18 million dollars (pilot alone) proves their dedication to this uniquely rich series. Throughout this hour and ten-minute pilot, I never once felt like I was watching TV. Here was a show that stands out among Scorsese’s catalog of work, as one of his best.

Where Terence Winter’s Sopranos peered into the ramshackle remains of a modern mob family, Boardwalk Empire transports us to a time where the mob was anything but debilitated. Here we don’t have the burly antihero that was Tony Soprano, we have the scrappy, smart, and mysteriously compassionate Enoch “Nucky” Thompson played pitch perfect by Steve Buscemi. The episode begins with a close shot on a stopwatch, the time reading 9:24. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing reference to Corinthians 9:24 which says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” After all, the show is about Nucky’s reign as lead rumrunner during Prohibition. Perhaps I’m looking too deep. The scene cuts to a group of small boats penetrating a thick fog to load up on an illegal bounty of Canadian Club whiskey. The haze of a new decade, 1920, and a new law, Prohibition, and the men willing to break through the haze to earn big profits. This fades to the Atlantic City boardwalk, the bright lights like a lighthouse beacon in this new and foggy territory. The show seamlessly recreates the Boardwalk with a careful sense of 1920’s authenticity.

It’s not too early to tell that Nucky is a complex character. His opening scene involves him addressing a woman’s league, celebrating Prohibition in response to their concerns. Obviously he’s great at political bullshitting. Women can’t legally vote at this time, but we can tell right off the bat that Nucky foresees them as a force he must align himself with to keep up with his political prospects. Nucky is Atlantic City treasurer, and as we later see, runs the town with the mayor, and his police chief brother in his deep pockets. The other lead character, Jimmy Darmody played by Michael Pitt, is an ambitious young war veteran with grand ideas of following in Nucky’s footsteps. These characters are sure to conflict over and over as the series plays out. These are strong characters, with incredibly difficult struggles around them, set in a time of sexist, racist sentiments. The pilot basically lays out the carpet of prohibition, allowing us a walking tour through the law, the criminal opportunities which result, and the federal governments steps to handle these criminal enterprises. I could write page after page on this pilot alone, but I’ll end here, and encourage any and everyone to check it out.

Recaps on Ghost Hunters, Scream Queens, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Warehouse 13 after the break!

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14 Sep

TVEye For September 14: True Blood & Eureka Season Finales

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday September 14, 2010 | TVEye

Instead of covering multiple shows this week, here’s an in depth look at two of the summer’s most anticipated finale’s; True Blood and Eureka.  SPOILERS ahoy! Editor’s note: Srsly. You have been warned. Spoilers. We’re bout it.

True Blood Season 3 FinaleTRUE BLOOD – What happened here?  Where has this show gone?  Season 1 was fantastic, a groundbreaking drama that changed the well defined barriers of genre TV as we knew it.  Season 2 continued with a fun, sexy, darkly twisted, albeit sometimes overplayed storyline deeper down the rabbit hole of True Bloods world of vampires, humans, and a mosaic of mythical creatures.  We were shown that the Vamps are just a scratch on the surface of this world of shape shifters, maenad’s and fairies.  Then came Season 3, and the introduction of werewolves that had me (and others I’m sure) fearful of a detour from the darkness of the first seasons into a tweeny pop-centric love fest ala Twilight.  And here we are.

The season finale was the culmination of a wasted season wrought with soap style drama and a cluttered cast that seemed to grow rather than dissipate.  The finale picked up exactly where the last episode left off, Eric and Russell handcuffed to each other in daylight, the sun rapidly burning away their flesh.  Eric catches a glimpse of Godric floating above, pleading for him to seek peace and forgiveness.  He ignores the pleas, and prepares for his true death.  From this gruesome rage filled scene we are taken to Sookie running whimsically through the woods, a glowing chandelier (which looked oddly like ET’s spaceship) floating down over her head.  Of course she awakes, and proceeds to go against Bill’s wishes to save Eric.  Russell begs for her to save him as well, but she shocks him with her fairy Jedi powers sending him head over heels.  Did anybody else think that Russell’s maniacal laugh while he was shocked by Sookie’s powers was exactly like the Luke vs. Palpatine scenes in Return of the Jedi?  No?  Just me trying to bring Star Wars into everything?  Sorry.

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9 Sep

TVEye Fall 2010 Television Preview (Dexter, Fringe, The Walking Dead)

Posted by Tony Nunes | Thursday September 9, 2010 | TVEye

TVEyeLabor Day has passed, and summer is over.  Popcorn flicks fade from screens, and explosions clear the firmament for richer storytelling, and heady awards season films.  The same can be said about our Television screens, where the small offering of decent programs and abundance of throwaway shows step aside for the obviously superior Fall lineup.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cheese, on the big and small screens alike.  This year however, it seemed that on the Big Screen even the cheese reeked more than usual.  On TV, even the best was weakened to its most adolescent extremes (Yes, I’m talking to you True Blood).

Is it just me or does TV get a bad rap to begin with?  I mean, TV will be forever shunned as the younger less attractive sibling to Film; it’s just the way it is.  Detractors will always label it an ill to society, a medium whose resonance they claim festers under the minds of its viewers, siphoning away logic and individuality.  I say Fuck That!  I see far better TV in our near future than interesting films set for release.  And while I’m at it, to hell with all those pretentious Asses who look down at the medium with a casual brush off of “I don’t watch TV.”  Sorry to say guys, but you’ll be missing some great stories, intricately layered characters, and downright enjoyable moments as Fall TV approaches.  Sure, there’s still some crap, and a pleasant amount of quality cheeses to feed on, but even the most cynical detractor can’t doubt that Fall is the Spring of the small screen; a time for the rebirth of old favorites, and new possibilities.

So without further ado (rant aside) I present the TV Eye Fall 2010 Preview.  Here are the best new and returning shows with Sci-Fi, Horror, and Comic Book sensibilities.

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30 Aug

TVEye for August 30: True Blood, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Scream Queens & Haven

Posted by Tony Nunes | Monday August 30, 2010 | TVEye

TVEyeIt was a fun and frustrating week in Genre TV.  The Emmy’s were last night, and as happy as I am for John Lithgow’s Dexter win, and Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad win, I have to say I’m disappointed that Dexter didn’t pick up the best drama award.  As much as Bryan Cranston deserved the threepete for Breaking Bad, I was kind of hoping for Michael C Hall to win best actor after what was the best season of Dexter’s run, or any shows run for that matter.  The week in shows was just as up and down.  While some shows are moving towards amazing finale’s, others are going through the motions as if they could care less.

Warehouse 13: Merge With CautionWAREHOUSE 13 – My wish came true, Claudia was sent into the field again, this week escorting Artie on an investigation of a home wrecking artifact.  The artifact, Mata Hari’s stockings, worn in the episode by a Femme Fatale (played by Dead Like Me’s Laura Harris) after the riches of the men she seduces.  As happy as I was to see Claudia back out there in the spotlight, I can’t deny that Pete and Myka’s storyline had me quite literally laughing out load.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s (writer of Jekyll and Hyde) bookends, one an eagle, one a lion have merged into an artifact that pulls the freakiest of all Freaky Fridays.  This Griffin bookend causes Pete and Myka to switch bodies while Myka is attending her High School Reunion.  The scenes of Pete in Myka’s body are great, but it’s the songs playing behind these scenes that really had me smiling.  The Macarena, Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply, and Chumbawamba’s epic Tub Thumping took me right back into the late 90’s.  It was Eddie McClintock’s version of Myka in his body however that was the funniest moment of the season.  A girly pitch to his voice with a distinct level of self-righteous tone made the rendition spot on.  When they find another pair affected by the artifact, they realize that their body swap is about to go one step further as the two are joined as one constantly changing entity.  In the end, it all works out, everything back to normal, and Pete and Myka are unmistakably connected more than ever before.

Scream Queens 2SCREAM QUEENS – What does it take to embody a true Scream Queen?  First and foremost, you’ll need to play the scared victim really well.  Then, you’ll have to turn the performance around into the tough vengeful protagonist.  But don’t forget, you must do all of this while remaining SEXY.  Sexiness was the week’s theme on Scream Queens.  An acting challenge on making the mundane seem sexy led to some embarrassing moments.  The week’s director’s challenge had the girls playing a snake-wielding stripper.  Jessica shined, and won the episode.  Allison, the bitchy girl of the season was cut for an unintentionally creepy performance sadly reminiscent of the robotic girl aliens form Mars Attacks.  The first challenge of the show had the girls do a horror themed photo shoot.  The winner of the challenge was awarded a spread in Fangoria magazine, an awesome prize that was fittingly judged by Debbie Rochon, former hostess of Fangoria Radio.  Rochon is the truest definition of the Scream Queen, and I’d love to see her act as a mentor on a more permanent basis.  I had the pleasure of working with Rochon on Richard Griffin’s Splatter Disco, and I can honestly say, this woman is one hell of a hard working actress.   She’s constantly working, and not many horror actresses working today can pull off the Scream Queen title better.  The girls on the show could really learn a lot from her.

Haven: Ain't No SunshineHAVEN – You remember Sam Raimi’s 1990 flick Darkman?  Well, when I heard that this week’s mysterious villain on Haven was the Dark Man, a part of me was hoping for the return of Liam Neeson’s Batman-esque crusader.  I’m not naive, I knew this wasn’t so, but I need to build up whatever false anticipation I can in order to bring myself to scroll to this show on my DVR each week.  Turned out, the Dark Man was really the angry personality of a blind man which separated itself in the form of his shadow to embark on a Haven killing spree.  The Incredible Hulk he is not.  The Dark Man wields a shadow sword that can penetrate human flesh, and plunges it through the chests of his victims.  In one particular killing, a woman is stabbed through the back while seated on her couch.  The effect is so poorly done, that the padding clumps up around the woman’s neck making it obvious to even the most untrained of eyes that she is propped up.  Effects on shows like this are usually not great, using mediocre CGI at best.  This however, was a practical effect that just screamed amateur hour, and really took me out of the scene.  In the subplot of the episode, Nathan battles with affection, after all, the guy can’t feel anything.  I just can’t tell if the cold delivery of his interactions is deliberate, as a character detached from people, or ironic, as an actor detached from his craft.

True Blood: Fresh BloodTRUE BLOOD – The second to last episode of the season started with Eric’s girl Pam scolding Bill Compton as an “infatuated tween.”  HAHAHA!  Indeed!  I hear loads of people complain about the Sookie love triangle storyline of the show, but we can’t forget, the Charlene Harris books on which the shows are based follow the romance closely.  I can be cynical however, of the constant side stories that bog down episode after episode.  Really, who give two shits about Arlene?  These stories might be a major part of the books as well, but series creator Alan Ball needs to do a better job choosing what to cut.  The problem is, they’ve created such a massive ensemble cast that the show sometimes ventures into Soap Opera territory.  I have to admit that the Lafayette story intrigues me, especially the creepy scene this week with his talking cult idols, but I have no clue where its going, or why now.  Don’t get me wrong, from Jason’s dimwitted commentaries, Sam and Tara’s tortured souls, and Jessica’s trouble adapting to her new life, I love these characters.  I just wish they could focus more time as the season ends, to the potentially awesome villain they’ve created with Russell.  In this week’s episode, Russell promises, “soon there will be anarchy, then there will be me.”  I’ve hoped for that the past three weeks, and so far, I’m disappointed.  Eric sets a trap for Russell using Sookie as the pawn.  The enticing promise of being able to daywalk by drinking Sookie’s blood, leads the men to kidnap Bill and Sookie.  We know the affect lasts mere minutes, but Eric traps Russell outdoors, handcuffing Russell to himself.  The episode ends with both men handcuffed in the sun, their flesh burning rapidly.  Will they kill of Eric?  God I hope not, he’s the best thing this show has going for it.  In two weeks we’ll find out on the season finale.  Did I see Godric in the preview for the finale?

Eureka: Ex-FilesEUREKA – Café Diem must have used some magic mushrooms in their lunch special this week, because Eureka residents were hallucinating big time.  Actually, A GD invented E bomb caused Henry’s shared memory PTSD device to short circuit into the minds of Carter, Allison, Fargo, and Jo.  Obviously.  The characters were seeing the people they subconsciously fear the most.  For Allison, that was Carter’s ex, Tess.  For Carter, it was Allison’s ex, and if you’re a Eureka fan, I’m sure you were excited as I was to see the brief return of Nathan Stark (so named after Iron Man Tony Stark).  Stark was killed off via dematerialization in season 3.  Until I saw him again, I didn’t realize how much I missed this characters snarky attitude.  In this episode, he was Carters hallucination, so the snarkiness was amped up to 11.  In his first scene of the episode, Stark appears to Carter’s surprise.  As Carter remarks on his “dead, undeadness,” Stark looks at his reflection in the mirror and replies, “nope, not a vampire,” a mention of his brief stint as a True Blood vamp upon leaving Eureka.  Nothing gets past the Eureka writers.  It has to be a fun job writing for a show where you are quite literally a scientist of imagination.  The other character return of the episode was Beverly Barlow, the leader of the anti-GD Consortium.  It’s revealed that she has led an effort to rebuild the bridge device that could send our heroes back into their universe.  What’s her motive?  We’ll find out on next weeks Eureka finale.

Fall TV Preview coming next week.  Tune in, same TV Eye time, same TV Eye channel.

24 Aug

TVEye for August 23: True Blood, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Scream Queens & Haven

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday August 24, 2010 | TVEye

TVEyeEditor’s note: Once again, running late. Not off to a good start with this thing. But I guess all new components have a sort of grace period where they take some time to work the kinks out. Stay with me. I’ll get this shit figured out in time. In the meantime, Tony’s back with more of what’s happening on TV.

As the summer season starts to wind down, some shows begin to fizzle out.  This week, a visit to the Warehouse, and a couple of strange little towns on SyFy.  We take another class on how not to act.  And a vampire favorite more tangled than the worlds largest ball of twine (Fun Fact: it’s located two states north of Bon Temps in Cawker City, Kansas).

Warehouse 13: For the TeamWAREHOUSE 13 – We all remember Popeye throwing back a can of Spinach to the result of a heavily inflated set of biceps.  Well, tonight’s Warehouse 13 follows a similar premise as the agents are sent to investigate a college wrestling team on a mysterious winning streak.  The wrestler’s muscles gyrate and expand like waves, only, unlike said sailorman; their end result is spontaneous combustion.  There’s no spinach involved here, just an energy drink being tested on the team by an overzealous stockholder, using an old Viking ladle with the power of adding strength.  Forced to take some time off, Pete’s absence in the field results in the always-cute Claudia teaming up with Myka for the investigation.  While Pete and Myka have a sarcastic, all be it, beat-perfect rapport of cooperation, I found Claudia’s style of investigation to be an awesomely fun departure.  Interrogating a witness while sitting Indian style, full of charm and saucy wit, I couldn’t help but want more. H.G. Wells makes her return (Yes, HG is a she), played by Jamie Murray, best known from her stint as Lila from season 2 of Dexter.  All in all, a good episode, full of great characters and hilarious props like Timothy Leary’s hallucinogenic glasses, and PT Barnum’s organ growing top.

Eureka: StonedEUREKA – Geeks, dorks, and nerds, what’s the difference really?  Eureka is full of them.  Eureka fans are them.  And I myself am proud to admit that I am as well.  Maybe not a scientific smarty pants like the Eureka populace, but a dork none-the-less.  Each week the minds of this amazing little town are inventing, solving and discovering the grandest of scientific breakthroughs.  These breakthroughs are nothing without the characters that inhabit the town.  This week, a Paleontology expert fabricates the discovery of a fossil using a chemical solution that speeds up the petrifaction process.  Of course, being Eureka, the solution leeches into the surrounding area affecting a number of the townspeople with the rapid fossilization of their skin.  Frozen in time, I couldn’t help compare the petrified townspeople to the Weeping Angels from the “Blink” episode of Dr. Who.  Zoe makes her return to town, and it seems that Alternate Universe Zoe is a bit smarter than the Zoe from the Eureka our heroes were sent from.  At the end of the episode, Henry serenades his alternate universe wife with an epic rendition of Thomas Dolby’s ‘She Blinded Me With Science.’  With Fargo on the turntables, Henry finally establishes a connection with the woman the universe has chosen.  In the end, Carter does as well, as he and Allison finally hook up after 4 seasons.  “Blinding me with science – science!”

Scream Queens 2SCREAM QUEENS – Jamie Lee Curtis shrieking as Michael Myers stalks her down a dark street.  Barbara Steele’s damning promise of revenge muzzled behind a mask.  Marilyn Burns covered in blood running from the drone of a chainsaw.  Shelly Duvall cowering behind a door as a knife plunges through it.  Janet Leigh mutilated in the shower.  Karlie Lewis showered in a plume of maggots.  What was that last one?  Who the hell is Karlie Lewis?  Exactly!  She’s one of the mostly unmemorable cast of Scream Queens, the one to get the axe on this weeks episode.  The annoyingly whiny contestant Sierra actually did well this week, after two weeks of the worst performances on the show.  Maybe it was because the acting challenge involved crying on queue, which she does constantly on her own.  The director’s challenge involved a scene of a decaying corpse and a showering of maggots, and I thought every performance was atrocious.  The first challenge of the episode was actually the best of the season so far, an exercise in performance capture that really tested the girl’s creativity.  Ty was again impressive, but Sierra was the standout, and actually won leading lady for the episode.  Comparing these girls to some of the most memorable female horror roles in history may be unfair, but it definitely illustrates how far down the totem pole these aspiring actresses really are.

Haven: SketchyHAVEN – I have to say, the mystery of this weeks episode was, surprisingly, kind of cool and well executed.  An aspiring young artist sketches town landmarks and people from Haven, only to discover that these images can manipulate the real thing.  A sketch of a man is folded as his bones snap in half.  Another man is sliced in three as his sketch is shredded.  In the final confrontation of the episode, a landscape drawing of the entire town is threatened as a flick of the paper explodes a church steeple.  Actually some pretty cool effects.  But again, the show has so many shortcomings, that any moment of likability is quickly erased.  The acting is so hard to ignore, standing out for the uninspired delivery of Emily Rose and supporting cast as flat as the Ancient Greeks view of planet Earth.  The writing however, continues to be the shows core weakness.  Each wild mystery is handled so nonchalantly that any connection with the audience is immediately lost.  A bunch of voodoo paintings are killing people!  How can this be so easily explained and accepted?  It can’t, unless you count bad writing as an explanation.

True Blood: I Smell A RatTRUE BLOOD – If last weeks episode was the spark that should have caused an explosive set of episodes to end the season, what was tonight’s?  It was the writers taking a giant piss on that spark, putting out any notion of ending the season where I’d hoped.  Sure there’s two more episodes left, but WHAT THE HELL?!  I expected an episode full of amazing confrontations, a set of actions that would put into motion a finale nothing short of an epic bloodbath.  What we were given instead was a ton of new information, which further bogs down an already overweight season.  New characters were introduced, and the polluting side stories again took precedent.  When we finally thought we were steeped in an actual central storyline, the writers took us right back out of that story.  Finally we are told what Sookie is, a Fairy.  When she finds out, she remarks, “I’m a fairy?  How Fucking lame.”  The rest of the episode we are shown a lot of Sam’s back-story, which is unexpected and untimely.  Lafayette and his new beau have a fun trip on some V, revealing their ancestral origins.  Fun, and really well stylized, but again, an unnecessary departure.  Eric, instead of preparing for battle, prepares for his true death as he spends the episode writing wills and making amends.  The brief time we see Russell, he is till mourning the loss of Talbot, using a male prostitute as a vessel to say goodbye.  That’s it!  If the final two episodes don’t deliver what us True Blood fans really want, then the Vampire revolution will have nothing on the outcry of the True fans.

17 Aug

TVEye for August 17: True Blood, Eureka, Scream Queens & Haven

Posted by Tony Nunes | Tuesday August 17, 2010 | TVEye

TVEyeEditor’s note: Running a bit late with this one so you’ll have to cut me a little slack. Tony had this in on time but it being summer and all that, I’m a freakin’ busy guy! My skills be in demand. In fact, what this means is that I couldn’t find a break in my day job to make this happen and Monday night is True Blood night where a planned launch of this article after the show was over was derailed by an offer I couldn’t refuse. So, TV junkies, suck it up because here’s your TVEye for the week.

This week, we have some horny A.I., whiny actresses, overstuffed writing, and a hematophagous Big Brother.

Eureka MomstrosityEUREKA – Let me start by remarking on the joy it brings me that the Battlestar Galactica spawned pseudo expletive FRAK has leeched over into Eureka and other shows in the SyFy channel universe.  Douglas Fargo yelping Frak just brings a fun familiarity to a show that doesn’t take its self too serious, and for that, delivers one entertaining hour after another week by week.  This week, the town of Eureka encounters a glitch in all of it’s A.I., a pretty large problem by Eureka standards, seeing as the town is run by robotics.  The chaos starts when a cute Wall-E-esque robot is caught peeping at Eureka’s resident badass starlet, Jo in the shower.  Soon, other A.I. take on curious emotional attachments.  The completely robotic Deputy Andy begins wooing Jo, Fargo’s futuristic camping tent B.U.F.F.Y. (biomechanical unfolding fully automated yurt) literally falls for Fargo, urging him to quote “stay inside me.”  Creepy!  The A.I. love-fest gets serious when the Transformer like Titan chases down Carter who is saved by Fargo’s plea of “come with me if you want to live.”  I love referential humor.  In a subplot, Henry finally tells his alternate universe wife the truth about their dimensional intrusion, a confession which is sure to have interesting implications in the weeks to come.  I’ll be watching!

Scream QueensSCREAM QUEENS – This week’s theme on Scream Queens, playing the villain.  More than the first episode, we really got to see the girls sometimes quality, but mostly atrocious acting choices.  Remember, they’re working towards a role in Saw 3D, so acting quality isn’t really that important.  As with every reality show, we are presented with the few contestants we can route for, the group of unmemorable, and the all important drama queens (no pun intended) we are meant to love to hate.  For me, the only two decent contestants are Christine and Ty.  Both girls made some unique choices in the first challenge, creating their own versions of a witch I actually found to be refreshing compared to the cliché performances put on by the other girls.  When it came to terrible performances, the Hanna Montana compared Rosanna, unfocussed Sarah, and excruciatingly annoying Sierra were all at their worst, or maybe that was their best.  Sierra is so whiny and exhausting, and every performance comes off as porn.  Poor Sarah is handicapped by her strong Chicago accent; Da Horror, Da Horror.  In the end thou, it was Rosanna who was cut, for a horrendously flat performance.  Sierra should have been, but we all know the producers want to keep the contestants around that deliver the most “Good TV.”

Haven - FurHAVEN – Where do I even begin with this show?  Haven is supposed to be inspired by Stephen King’s Hard Case Crime novel The Colorado Kid.  In reality, the series uses King’s book as a loose back-story, or moreover, a cheap reason to throw King’s name into the title to attract fan legitimacy.  This show is anything but legit.  Haven is a mysterious Maine town where each week a new supernatural event happens with a different Haven resident.  The town is supposed to be a haven for the supernaturally cursed, and FBI agent Audrey Parker comes to town to investigate these strange occurrences, dubbed “the troubles.”  This week, stuffed taxidermy animals come back to life to hunt the hunters who killed them.  In a series of terrible effects deliberately masked behind shaky editing, the desired level of horror is marred by unintentional campiness.  Where other Syfy shows like Eureka layer their action with playfulness, Haven tries to sell its camp as serious drama.  It fails!  In the end of this weeks episode, it turns out the animals are brought to life by a woman who herself is stuffed, and had stuffed her son as well when he died a few years prior.  What?  How or why is never really explained, and like every other episode in the series, the conclusion is so rushed that in the end nothing makes sense.  What’s worse is the blasé acting and writing which make the show virtually unwatchable.

True BloodTRUE BLOOD – What an opening!  The V-feds, a group of muscled agents in heavy black, silver lined armor raid Fangtasia.  This is the beginning of what’s sure to be an awesome route in the True Blood story.  The AVL (American Vampire League) or Vampire Authority is a Big Brother like organization that governs the vampires of the States with a silver fist.  The League is behind the Great Revelation, the vampire equivalent to the civil rights movement.  This season has thus far mixed a variety of storylines that all seem so separate and off track of a focused storyline like last years Maryann saga.  At first this bugged me, but with tonight’s episode, I’m really feeling the big picture that the writers are ready to unveil.  Sure, the cluttered subplots of Tara, Lafayette, Sam, Jason, Jessica, and the really tired Arlene story are still being played out, but a much larger story is really taking precedent.  The big questions of the season are, what is Sookie and why are the vamps so interested?  I know the answer, but won’t spoil it.  Bill and Eric’s interest in Sookie is a fun love triangle, but the big development is Eric’s new campaign of revenge and its implications on the vampire world.  King Russell Edgington has taken his anger public, as he interrupted a live newscast by punching a hole through the chest of the newscaster.  While holding the dead man’s bloodied spine in his hand, Russell delivers a warning to the AVL and humans…”Why would we want equal rights to you? We will eat you…after we eat your children! Now it’s time for the weather, Tiffany?”  Chilling!

Until Next Week!

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