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Friday, February 26, 2010

Smallville 9x15 - "Conspiracy"


Special DC Universe Mentions:
CHECKMATE! (via chess piece in Lois' desk)
AMANDA WALLER! (via text message to Lois: "THE WALL")

The big news: Zod has his powers, thanks to Clark, who stabbed his hand with Kryptonite and bled his K-blood into Zod's gunshot wound to heal him. Zod lied to Clark about having powers and feigned friendship with Clark (though no doubt, he was grateful for his life being saved and its Superpower side effects). Then Zod soaked up the sun Sheryl Crow-style, jumped off the Daily Planet roof Peter Petrelli-style, and flew around Metropolis Terrance Stamp General Zod-style. You Will Believe Zod Can Fly!

Zod: "How did you know your blood would heal me?"
Clark: "I didn't."
Smallville Writers: "We're making that up."

Works for me. Once again, Clark Kent's goodness and decency proves to be his undoing.

Of course, Chloe saw it coming. Well, not that, specifically, but that Clark's do-goodery would probably lead to "another Doomsday scenario". (Boy, is she bitter about David Bloome and Henry James "Jimmy" Olsen, RIP.)

Chloe has been embezzling funds from a subdivision of Oliver Queen Industries. Tess, who's in charge of Luthorcorp, another subdivision of Queen Industries, brought this to Oliver's attention after fuming over her Solar Tower coming down. (I'm so unclear about what Tess wants anymore. She knew if the Tower got built, it would be the Kryptonian Armageddon, but she's still pissed Clark torched it with Heat Vision.)

Oliver makes a "booty call" reference to Chloe that implies their booties have been calling in between episodes before grilling her about why she's been "borrowing" money behind his back. Chloe's reveal: She's been buying Kryptonite and stockpiling K-weapons if the Kryptonian Armageddon goes down anyway, Solar Tower or no. And Oliver shows he's no dummy himself by having the stockpile transported out of Chloe's hands because Tess was onto both of them.

Then Oliver and Chloe agree Clark doesn't need to know any of this. Secrets and lies. It's all secrets and lies on Smallville!

The A-story of the medical examiner who died and was brought back to life by Kandorian cybernetic engineers, who then went insane, captured and cut up said cybernetic engineers after freezing them cryogenically... I'm bored just trying to describe that. Lois got kidnapped as well to write the page one scoop of Crazy Undead M.E. With Carved Up Head Freezing and Harvesting Aliens Wearing Dog Tags With Funny Looking Symbols.

The important stuff from that plot was the reveal that one of the bodies - now gone missing - that the Kandorians were experimenting on was John Corben. Metallo. The Man With The Kryptonite Heart! Also, Lois absconded with a Kandorian blood sample that she sent to the Daily Planet's lab to analyze (a newspaper has a lab for this stuff?) but somehow ended up in the hands of Checkmate and a grateful Amanda Waller (THE WALL).

Zod did try to save Lois after tracking down the crazy medical examiner's lair via detective work, and he pretended to be an FBI agent to Lois (which Clark "verified". Secrets and lies!)

Smallville has certainly done a surprising and pleasing amount of filling in shades of gray with their version of Zod. This Zod is a clone who has not yet reached the point of total evil shown by General Zod in Superman II. He's well on the way, but he's not there yet. The female Kandorians have a lot of stories that Zod is actually a great and noble man who sacrifices everything for his Kandorian soldiers. They see him in a completely different way.

A big difference from Superman II's Zod is that Smallville's Zod has come to respect Lois for being so straight up in trying to save his life after he got shot. Superman II's Zod always saw Lois as a dog, at best. And again, he at least respects Clark for caring about the Kandorians and for saving his life, even if he foolishly gave him all his powers in doing so. They shook hands, but poor naive Clark will find out pretty soon he and Zod still aren't Superfriends.

Perhaps the most important new facet to Smallville's Zod is his John Morrison Slow Motion (TM) ability to pick people's pockets. But now that he has all of Superman's powers, he probably won't be doing the Slow Motion too much anymore. Who needs Slo-Mo when you have Superspeed?

5 long weeks until the next new Smallville.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

She's Out of My League (**)



As the title implies, She's Out of My League centers on the unlikely relationship between Jay Baruchel, an awkward schlub with low (or realistic, in certain regards) self-esteem and Alice Eve, a total knockout. The movie's central conflicts revolve around a numerical ratings system Baruchel and his three friends maintain that determines who should be dating whom (Baruchel is a 5, Eve is a 10).  The ratings system isn't much of a gimmick to hang a whole movie on; remove that weak premise and the filmmakers would be forced to, oh, I dunno, develop the characters and create genuinely interesting situations for them.  Stunning as Eve is, she is given a character with no shades of gray, no problems, no issues, nothing that would provide a satisfactory explanation for why she would want to be with Baruchel. (Her character explains that she likes him because he's "safe".  It just doesn't feel like enough.) She's Out of My League tries to overcome its story deficiencies with ribald comedy and R-rated dialogue. Its centerpiece comedic moment involves a gross-out scene of one of the characters shaving another's groin. (She's Out of My League loses many points for lingering shots of Baruchel's bare ass but no nudity from Eve or any of the female characters.) One thing She's Out of My League pulled off surprisingly well was making Pittsburgh seem like a pretty-looking city, reminiscent of how Up in the Air made Omaha and St. Louis seem like vacation destinations. The actors work hard to try to generate both comedy and sympathy for their characters. Baruchel and his friends all work for the TSA, which is depicted (accurately?) as a free-wheeling, anything-goes outfit made up of sleazy pervs and ne'er-do-wells.  Meanwhile, the presence Mike Vogel, star of Across the Hall, is a curiosity. It seems like he should be in a different movie altogether; I kept thinking maybe he and Eve should have broken off from the main story of She's Out of My League and fought terrorists on an airplane or something. 

P.S. The screening was one of the most unusual I've attended. BU cheerleaders performed post-screening acrobatics, stars Alice Eve and Krysten Ritter did a Q&A and rated three guys in the audience to date one of the cheerleaders, and on the way into the theater, they handed out decks of playing cards and free lube at the door.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lost 6x5 - "The Lighthouse"

Not Lost Jack's son is a Jonas Brother. Was that Zac Efron moppy hairstyle for teenage boys already in vogue back in 2004?

I have a soft spot for stories of parents trying to connect with their kids. I loved the look of pride in Jack's face watching David play piano, and the look of shame when he told Not Lost Dogen he didn't know how long David has been playing. This Jack has what it takes to be a good father, in stark contrast to the other Jack.

But why doesn't Not Lost Jack remember when he had his appendix taken out?

"I'm a candidate and I can do what I want." "Have you ever tried to get Jack to do something? It's impossible."

Jacob seems to really like Hurley. Not just because Hurley does what he says, but he seems to genuinely like the guy. I loved how Hurley Sarah Palined Jacob's instructions on his arm and how he "lied to a samurai". Jacob turns up when he wants "like Obi-Wan Kenobi".

Loved the old school Jack and Hurley wandering through the jungle on a mission they don't understand. Finding Shannon's inhaler. The caves and the Adam and Eve skeletons. Jack telling Hurley how he found the caves and why he smashed the coffin.

Good meta-comment on the Lighthouse ("Why haven't we ever seen this before?") Kate was on the wheel at number 51. Number 108 is someone named "Wallace". Of course, Jack had to lose it and go smashy-smashy on the wheel. Jacob's cool with that. He'd dead anyway, all his stuff being broken will all be his replacement's problem eventually.

Poor black Other. Evil Claire axed him a question and he didn't have the right answer. Kate is so fucked when she finally finds Claire and tells her where Aaron is.

The mock Aaron in Evil Claire's crib looked like the bones of the jackal that sired the Anti-Christ at the end of The Omen.

So it's now safe to say it was the Smoke Monster who was in Jacob's cabin, probably animating Christian back when we saw him and Claire in there a couple of seasons ago. If it's the Smoke Monster who animated Christian's corpse, then it was the Smoke Monster who lead Jack to the caves.

"You have what it takes."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Quick results:

The Miz slapped Daniel Bryan after making him cut a promo in the ring to "show personality". Bryan got a good line in about wishing his Pro was William Regal, but you get what you get.

Christian and Heath Slater (the team of Christian Slater) defeated Carlito and Michael Tarver when Christian pinned Tarver with the Kill Switch.

David Otunga (with R-Truth) defeated Darren Young (with CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society) in a squash.

World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho (with Wade Barrett) defeated Daniel Bryan by submission with the Lion Tamer. The Miz attacked Bryan afterwards.

For everyone who couldn't understand how NXT would be different from Tough Enough: NXT is a work. Tough Enough was real. No parameters were given for how a Rookie is supposed to "win" NXT. Some Pros liked their Rookies, others like CM Punk hated theirs.

Daniel Bryan was the main focus of the episode. I'd never seen him before and he's stunningly little, but I liked him. There was a nasty, ugly spot where Bryan dove through the ropes and Jericho tossed him ribs and kidney-first into the hard edge of the announce table. Bryan was visibly bruised, but almost made Jericho tap, before Jericho reached the ropes, countered with a Codebreaker, and whipped out the old school Lion Tamer to get the submission. Really good match and debut for Daniel Bryan.

The booking was weird. Why have Christian get the win over the opposing Rookie? What was with the weird, quick squash Otunga did on Young?

However, I loved how the Straight Edge Society hated their Rookie Darren Young. Punk even cut a promo: "I don't even know what I'm doing on this show." I especially loved how Serena hated Young, even though just a few weeks ago she was FCW too before accepting straightedge into her life.

The announce team was Matt Striker backstage with Michael Cole and Josh Matthews doing the commentary. The point of Cole being there became clear in the main event when Cole completely shit over Bryan's accomplishments in the indies, said he'd "never even heard of him before NXT", and then shit all over everyone who blogs, Twitters, or reads dirt sheets.

It was pretty amazing that A) NXT went out of their way to acknowledge the Internet and smart fans and B) took a crap over all of them/me. But it was also savvy of WWE to place Cole as the ignorant, corporate voice of WWE regurgitating everything Vince McMahon was probably screaming into his headset while Josh Matthews extoled the virtues of the "smart" Internet.

Oh, and Wade Barrett is a better Drew McIntyre than Drew McIntyre.  

This just Tweeted:

RT @WWEUniverse: Michael Cole has requested his @WWEUniverse profile be removed, not wanting to associate with "online fans" #WWE

And there we are. Michael Cole is the biggest heel in NXT and on the Internet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Marine 2 (**)


I imagine if you've never seen an action movie before - or any movie before, period - The Marine 2 must be pretty awesome for you.  Taking over the WWE Films "franchise" from John Cena, Ted DiBiase stars as The Marine 2. His name is Joe, but I lost count of how many times he was called "the Marine" in the movie, although to be fair, he was also called "the American" a lot by the Southeast Asian terrorist heavies. The Marine 2 starts off with the Marine 2 on a mission that goes sideways, which leads to an innocent little Asian boy getting killed before his very eyes. This put the Marine 2 in a really lousy mood when his wife invites him to fly to an island resort in Southeast Asia with her. That resort is promptly taken over by the aforementioned Southeast Asian terrorists lead by Temura Morrison (Jango Fett from the Star Wars prequels).  When all of the partygoers and his wife are taken hostage, well, this looks like a job for a Marine. 2.  DiBiase is asked to do precious little acting as the Marine 2 and he's up to the task.  The movie even drops an in-joke about how monosyllabic DiBiase is ("Does he ever talk?")  The Marine 2 also goes out of its way to not name exactly what Southeast Asian countries the action takes place in, and the movie's presentation of international politics was written with the average WWE fans' grasp of such in mind. The Asians in the movie even prefer to speak to each other in broken Engrish than in their native language. Action-wise, The Marine 2 is mainly a riff on Commando and similar movies from the 80's, though DiBiase has a moment where he breaks his wrist to get out of shackles that was both cool and gross.  According to Wikipedia, The Marine 2 was "inspired by true events" (snicker), and Randy Orton was supposed to play the Marine 2 but couldn't because of a broken collarbone. Orton was dishonorably discharged from the Marines in real life before becoming a pro-wrestler, so that would have been hilariously inappropriate.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shutter Island (***1/2)


Academy Award winner (it's great to be able to call him that) Martin Scorsese re-teams with Leonardo DiCaprio, this time on an island off the coast of Boston in 1954. DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of an inmate of an isolated and heavily guarded asylum for the criminally insane. Shutter Island is probably the most visually arresting Hollywood thriller of its kind since Silence of the Lambs. Scorsese's direction, the acting, the cinematography, production design, and sound design are of the highest order.  DiCaprio's investigation with his partner Mark Ruffalo leads him throughout the fearsome island, encountering Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, and Patricia Clarkson, all the while haunted by ghosts and memories of his past. At two and a half hours, Shutter Island moves at a stately pace. While I found the ultimate answers to the movie's riddles to be like the air slowly being let out of a balloon until its remnants lay limp, Shutter Island is overall a masterful psychological horror-thriller. I'd rather be trapped on Lost island than Shutter Island any day.

Smallville 9x14 - "Persuasion"


Special guest mentions:

The preview for this week's episode made it seem like a throwaway comedy episode, but Lois' comedic subplot aside, "Persuasion" was packed with a surprising amount of Smallville awesomeness.

In no particular order:

*Clark heat visioning the Solar Tower. That was some spectactular Super-arson he committed. Considering the dark future they're aware of was just hours away from happening, Clark finally did what he had to do and brought that tower crashing down. Clark went crazy with the heat vision this week, encircling Tess in a circle of flame earlier in the episode. Clark was strutting around like quite the bad ass all episode.

*Tess and Chloe lay the smackdown on each other. I'd read in an Allison Mack interview last week that a Tess v. Chloe fight was coming but I had no idea it would be tonight, and it was surprisingly vicious. Broken glass, broken beer bottles, falling through tables, punches to Chloe's face vicious. I had no idea Chloe could even fight. Logically, she couldn't beat Tess in a fight and she pretty much got her clock cleaned until Clark Supersped Tess away, but bravo to the fight scene.

*Kryptonian funeral. We found out it was one of Zod's female underlings who killed Jor-El a while back so Zod executed her. This lead to the first time a Kryptonian funeral was ever presented live action outside of the comics. It was pretty cool-looking. The musical choice during the funeral was pretty sweet too.

*Lois' wedding dress dancing. Erica Durance was kind of in her own comedy world this episode, under Kryptonite hypnosis into trying to be the perfect woman for Clark. She moved into the Kent Farm, got dressed up in 50's clothing (why would she think Clark would like that?), put on Martha Kent's wedding dress, and called Martha, her dad, and sister, and announced she was marrying Clark.

*Emil Hamilton "relaxing" when Clark ordered him to, complete with plopping on the couch with a beer. Lois even served Clark a beer when she cooked him dinner. I don't think Superman and alcohol have ever shared the screen since evil Superman was drunk in a bar in Superman III.

There was the usual stuff that didn't make sense, like how Chloe was able to get to where Clark trapped Tess in the wall of fire so quickly to use green Kryptonite to shake Clark from the hypnosis.

The distraction of Tess in a bubble bath aside, her conversations and relationship to Zod have never made much sense to me, no matter what explanations they give.

I'm still not clear on what Clark is doing with the Kandorians. He's trying to get them to integrate into human society, but Zod says he wants to join them, sometimes Zod says he wants to lead them, then Clark says he wants to lead them somewhere... I'm with Chloe: Sticking them all in the Phantom Zone sounds like the best option.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (**1/2)



Gods and Monsters

The name "Harry Potter" will be name dropped a lot as I discuss Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief; one gets the sense the filmmakers welcome and encourage it. They're certainly are not shying away from the blatant similarities. 

Like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is based on a best-selling series of books aimed towards children. Like Harry Potter, Chris Columbus helms the motion picture adaptation of the first novel. Like Harry Potter, the protagonist is a boy of great power who battles magical opposition with the aid of two stalwart chums, a boy sidekick and a plucky girl, while surrounded by fine British actors who take a backseat and mainly provide exposition. Unlike Harry Potter, however, Percy Jackson lacks the depth and thorough world/character building found in the works of JK Rowling. Also, I never wanted to kill Ron Weasley as much as I wanted to kill that satyr who's Percy Jackson's best friend.

Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd - forever Lucius Vorenus of Rome) and mortal woman Catherine Keener.  He discovers he's the son of Poseidon after he's attacked by a teacher at his school, who turns out to be a monstrous Fury, and that's quickly followed up by him learning his crippled best friend is a satyr and his crippled Greek mythology teacher Pierce Brosnan is a centaur.  (I have to say, I had a really hard time accepting James Bond, 007 with half a horse body.)  

After killing the Minotaur without much trouble, Percy is immediately whisked off to Hogwarts School of -- I mean some sort of summer camp that turns out to be the home, school, and training ground for all of the Demi-Gods; the children of the gods sired whenever they've shuffled down to the mortal coil from Mount Olympus to plow the fields of mortal women. Percy is told he's unique because "it's rare to see a child of one of the big three [Zeus, Poseidon, Hades]", ignoring how Zeus banged human women all the time. There are dozens of teenage Demi-Gods in the camp, so it seems like the gods did a lot of human fucking in the early 90's. One thing all the Demi-Gods share in common is that they've all never met their godly parents. Zeus laid down some law about gods never being allowed near their offspring, so the kids are all bitter at their deadbeat god-dads and god-moms.

Like the denizens of Hogwarts, Percy gets immediately involved in a private sport, Capture the Flag, where the first one to catch the golden snitch wins 150 points -- oops, got mixed up again. Unlike Harry Potter and his Wizarding chums, the Demi-Gods have a lot of modern technology in their open air tents - PS3s, flatscreen HDTVs, Internet access, so at the least the Demi-Gods are hip to the modern world and are not the completely ignorant and worthless fringe-dwellers Wizards are to the Muggle world.  

Percy is sequestered in the camp because the gods all think he stole Zeus' thunderbolt, "the most powerful (yet poorly guarded, apparently) weapon ever created."  Zeus (Sean Bean!) and Poseidon are about to go to war over this thunderbolt; apparently the gods have no time or inclination to do a little investigating before moving headlong into global supernatural conflagration. (But maybe the gods were just bored and looking for some violence to balance out the regular sex with humans. What do the gods do all day long? The movie never says.)

When Hades appears in the campfire looking for Percy Jackson, Percy finds out his mother is being held prisoner in the Underworld and decides he has to go free her. Luke, the son of Hermes, gives him winged Chuck Taylors, a magic shield to go along with the magic sword Brosnan gave him, and a (Marauder's) Map that will tell him how to get to the Three Broomsticks -- sorry, I meant where to find three magic pearls that will get Percy and his friends out of the Underworld after they save Percy's mom.

The movie then plays out as a road trip for Percy, Annabeth, the hot and fit Demi-Goddess daughter of Athena, and Grover the Satyr, probably the most unfunny motormouth sidekick since Jar Jar Binks. The three Demi-Gods run into Medusa in New Jersey (Uma Thurman, playing a little too similar to her turn as Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin), defeat a multi-headed Hydra Monster in Nashville, and almost succumb to all of the temptations in Las Vegas when they're trapped in the Casino of Lotus Eaters. 

Finally, after acquiring all the pearls, the Demi-Gods head into Hades, rescue Percy's mother, and make it to Olympus to prevent the War of the Gods. Along the way, they find out who the Lightning Thief really is. This is supposed to be a mystery that drives the story, but the true identity of the Lightning Thief isn't something the Demi-Gods think much about and the movie mostly forgets the mystery plot until the answer is suddenly blurted out.

The acting by the young leads is no great shakes.  Percy is played by Logan Lerman, who looks like a younger version of Boone from Lost. His main speeds are petulant and indifferent; occasionally he's manic. When Percy's mother is seemingly killed by the Minotaur, he's pretty non-plussed about it. Upon meeting the full assembly of Greek gods in the climax, Percy's reaction is no reaction.  No wonder, no curiosity, no awe.Upon careful consideration, I don't think I liked Percy Jackson very much.

I know I didn't like Grover the Satyr. Brandon T. Jackson, who plays Grover, looks like a young Mos Def and delivers an endless array of unfunny quips in a never-ending barrage. A running joke is made about how horny Grover is, including his galalvanting with siren prostitutes in Vegas and getting deflowered by Persephone (Rosario Dawson) in the Underworld. When he gets back, he has "grown his horns". This movie is for kids, right?

Alexandra Daddario, who plays Annabeth, has movie star physical presence and incredibly luminous blue eyes. (I liked how the girl with the incredible eyes fought the Hydra by shooting arrows into its eyes. As Dwight Schrute once said, "The eyes are the groin of the face. I must do something to the eyes!")  Annabeth is supposed to be wise, being Athena's daughter and all, but she's only as smart as the movie needs her to be from scene to scene.  For some reason these three Greek Demi-Gods had no idea who Charon the Boatman to Hades was. Percy's relationship with Annabeth is kept completely chaste; he doesn't even get a kiss, though it's not hard to read into the subtext of their sword dueling.

As a lifelong lover of Greek mythology and stories of gods, heroes, monsters, tragedy, it's hard for me to dislike Percy Jackson. I do dislike much of the execution of the material. The screenplay feels dumbed down and the characters underwritten. The lead protagonists don't come off as distinct characters and Percy doesn't inspire much empathy or confidence. Whenever the veteran actors like Bean, Brosnan, and McKidd are on the screen, you can sense them restraining themselves, lest they act circles around the kids and blow them off of the screen.

Columbus mainly delivers on the action sequences. The special effects with the snakes of Medusa's hair and the Hydra monster were well done. I particularly enjoyed the climactic battle between Percy and Hermes' son Luke (he's the Lightning Thief! I blurted it out just like the movie did!) in the skies above New York City, which brought back fond memories of Superman fighting General Zod, Non, and Ursa in Superman II.  Although, when Percy fully utilizes his water-based superpowers, his abilities seem so much more powerful and overwhelming than what Zeus' lightning bolt can do. 

If the Percy Jackson franchise must ape Harry Potter, the best thing that can happen would be for Chris Columbus to vacate the director's chair as soon as possible so that Alfonso Cuaron can take over.  Percy Jackson solemnly swearing he's up to no good would only mean good things.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lost 6x4 - "The Substitute"

"This is the weirdest damned funeral I've ever been to."

I'm glad they finally got around to burying Locke's corpse before the sand crabs ate his eyes and stuff. They just left Locke laying there spilled halfway out of the crate for a whole day.

I liked Ben admitting he murdered Locke but lying about murdering Jacob. He's got an aversion to being smacked around or worse. It happens so often and he's still got his injuries from the last time he got punched repeatedly in the face.

Are we to infer that with the Island sunk to the bottom of the sea in the flash-sideways, Jacob never visited any of the 815ers and touched them, thereby ruining their lives by steering them towards the Island?

Sideways John Locke is a lot better off. Peggy Bundy never left him, he got a better job as a substitute teacher thanks to his boss Hugo Reyes and Rose, and for all we know his fellow teacher Ben Linus probably won't murder him. I wonder if Arzt teaches at that same school? All Sideways Locke lacks is his faith, but isn't he better off without it? Either way, John Locke is concurrently one of the most pitiful yet admirable characters ever on television. Even though he's dead, I love these flash-sideways for letting us hang out with him again.

"Locke was always scared, even when he was pretending he wasn't." But he could hunt a mean boar when he had to.

In any reality, Hurley is consistently a good guy. And fat, but in a good way.

Sawyer sitting in his underpants getting drunk was just like that Battlestar Galactica flashback where Adama found Tigh sitting in his underwear getting drunk, except Sawyer didn't start a fire.

Smoke Monster POV is pretty cool. I liked how he took a tour of New Otherton, since the sonic fence usually kept him out of it.

I loved Richard running up to Sawyer and then running off after Smoke Locke came back from chasing the Peter Pan kid.

"Who were you talking to?"
"No one. Did you catch that kid?"
"What kid?"
"All righty then."
"See, James? We're getting along just fine."

Massive mythology reveal about Jacob looking for candidates to replace him as the Island's protector. A substitute, if you will.  I didn't see Kate's name and number in chalk on the cave wall. Or maybe it's there but they just didn't point it out.

Smokey Locke makes a lot of sense. His arguments seem more rational than Jacob's "do as I say, shut up and don't ask questions" approach. Are we sure he's the evil one?

Monday, February 15, 2010

New York, I Love You (**)


This is no way to tell New York you love it. The big name actors - Natalie Portman, Shia LeBeouf, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Bradley Cooper, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Blake Lively, Ethan Hawke, Andy Garcia, Chris Cooper, Anton Yelchin, Olivia Thirlby, Julie Christie, Drea DeMatto, Eli Wallach, Shu Qi, Maggie Q, John Hurt, James Caan - and international team of directors, including Brett Ratner, Mira Nair, and Shenkar Kapur, combined their talents into a whole lot of mostly pretty-looking tedium. New York, I Love You continues the filmmaking concept began in Paris, J'Taime. The hit-and-miss nature of the anthology format hurt Paris, J'Taime as a whole; New York, I Love You strives for a more consistent tone. The result lacks the previous anthology's highs and lows and mainly flatlines. Nothing in New York, I Love You comes close to the finest vignette in Paris J'Taime, 14e arrondissement, directed by Alexander Payne.  New York, I Love You photographs the city nicely, but doesn't utilize it well.  There's no sense of geography and the vignettes don't take the neighborhoods of New York and fuse its personality and theme into their narratives like the best shorts did in Paris, J'Taime. Each filmmaking team seemed committed to telling the most hackneyed, pseudo-profound story they could conjure, as if standing on a street corner smoking is the pinnacle of what it means to live in the big city. The most successful of the shorts from an entertainment standpoint is by Brett Ratner, who tells the story of Anton Yelchin getting strong-armed by James Caan into taking his daughter Olivia Thirlby to the prom in Central Park. But even then, Ratner's contribution to New York pales to what Payne, Wes Craven or The Coen Brothers achieved in Paris. There was a brief but humorous runner involving Bradley Cooper jumping into taxi cabs that are already occupied, but it quickly went nowhere. The Shenkar Kapur short about Julie Christie in a hotel where Shia LeBeouf works as a hunchback porter was even more painful to sit through than it sounds. Natalie Portman puts on a Yiddish accent in a short by Mira Nair before writing and directing her own contribution. Some fine acting (or were they even acting?) by Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman carried their short about an elderly Jewish couple traveling to Brighton Beach - but ultimately, there's no payoff. You end up wondering what the point is at the end of nearly every vignette. (Incidentally, Scarlett Johansson's contribution to New York, I Love You was cut from the theatrical release. Wondering what A Scarlett Johansson Joint is like and why it was excised? YouTube, I love you.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The TV section of Back of the Head will be gradually expanding. Over the years I've done numerous recaps in other forums, mainly The W, for television programs like Lost, Smallville, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Community, and 30 Rock. As scheduling permits, all those back-reviews and whatnot will be added to Back of the Head - your one stop shop for all my blatherings.

Update: 2/14/10 - All recaps for Community, Parks and Recreation, Smallville, and The Office are now up.

Smallville 9x13 - "Warrior"



SUPERMAN! CHLOE SULLIVAN! LOIS LANE! TESS MERCER! (Nope, not this week) ZOD! (Him neither. Off building his solar tower, I guess.) THE GREEN ARROW!
Special DC Universe Guest Star:
with special mentions of:
CAPTAIN BOOMERANG! (via text message from Oliver to Chloe "Maniac with boomerangs")

Crazy fun follow up to Absolute Justice. In some ways (Zatanna, Clark and Zatanna, Lois and Clark, Chloe and Oliver, Zatanna), I liked "Warrior" even better. Allison Mack's second directorial effort is a triumph.

Smallville did their version of SHAZAM, having a young boy find a comic book at Wonder Con that was enchanted by a 20 year old John Zatara during his "gone rogue" period, and transforming into a full grown adult superhero, Warrior Angel, with all of Clark's powers, plus flight. Then a rub of warping the Captain Marvel stand-in that might make Alan Moore proud: if the boy feels betrayed, Warrior Angel turns evil and becomes Devilicus.

A lot of neat nerd-love stuff happens in this episode:

*Lois wears a Storm Trooper costume, and then trades it in to wear a mock Wonder Woman costume.

*We get to see Clark fight crime while on the phone, including pelting a bad guy with a thrown can, while casually talking to Lois.

*In a weird Meta moment, Clark arrives at Wonder Con dressed in his mild-mannered reporter shirt and tie and immediately bumps into a guy dressed exactly like season 1-6 Clark: primary red jacket, primary blue shirt.

*Chloe tries to get Warrior Angel to explain his origin and drops that in Smallville, a Metahuman is someone born with powers (not a mutant). Someone who gets their powers from Kryptonite is still a "Meteor freak".

*Zatanna is hot for Clark and uses magic to temporarily seduce him, but he resists because he really loves Lois. Serinda Swan as Zatanna is better, funnier, and sexier here than she was in her debut in "Hex" (which The CW repeated after "Warrior"). She even looked hotter in street clothes than she did in the fishnets and top hat.

*Chloe and Warrior Angel become fast friends and she tries to test him for Justice League membership, and possible dating, but is thrown off by how he wants to drink milk and play video games. Chloe finally loosened up for a few moments. And apparently, Lois has Project Natal in her apartment. Lois Lane has next generation controller-free video games! (And I don't?)

*When Warrior Angel discovers he can fly, he takes Chloe on a flight above Metropolis a la Superman: The Movie (but without "Can You Read My Mind".)

*When Warrior Angel transforms into Devilicus and Clark goes off to save Chloe, for the first time in the 9 year run of Smallville, Clark tears open his shirt and exposes the "S" shield! 

We waited nine years to see that. Smallville has always been about withholding Superman from the audience. Every single classic Superman bit they drop causes Super-salivation.

*All of Clark's verbalizing about the nature of (super)heroism; the more he articulates his beliefs the more he sounds like Superman. 

*Clark confessing his makeout session with Zatanna to Lois; Lois quickly snogging a Daily Planet employee walking by as revenge. Clark's "I'm gonna finish my apology now!"  Smallville's take on Lois and Clark is so far beyond the previous Lois and Clark series. By this point the chemistry between Tom Welling and Erica Durance has surpassed Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder's banter.

*Chloe and Oliver get drunk and get closer at the end of the episode. Whiskey and archery - Green Arrow seduction 101. (Where is Speedy?)

annataZ sdeen ot eb edam otni a seires raluger!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Wolfman (**1/2)



I had my joke all ready to go even before I saw The Wolfman. And here it is: The Wolfman would have been better if it was three minutes long, was called She-Wolf, and starred Shakira.  Yeah, I know, the joke's only okay. It's the same with The Wolfman; it's only okay. (The Shakira video, on the other hand, is superb. I could watch that all day.)

In this modern age where girls think werewolves are sexy because they wear denim shorts and go shirtless to show off their eight pack abs, I kind of admire Universal's decision to go retro in re-making The Wolfman.  This is not a "re-imagining" or a "reboot" or even ironic; this is a dead-serious old-timey-style redo of the Lon Chaney horror classic.

Set in 1891 Victorian England, The Wolfman is positively bursting with blood, viscera, and severed limbs; souped up with CGI special effects, but still relying on the schlocky effect of men in furry wolf suits for the close ups. There were certainly moments where the Wolfman dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller would have brought the house down.

Benicio Del Toro is the Wolfman. His father is Anthony Hopkins, a wealthy big game hunter who makes no effort in hiding how completely insane he is living in his enormous, cobwebbed gothic manor in Blackmoor, England.  Del Toro, a famous but mopey stage actor (Hamlet is directly referenced) long absent from Blackmoor, is summoned home after his brother is killed by the Wolfman. That's right, there's two. There has to be; otherwise, how else would Del Toro get bitten and become a Wolfman himself?

So who is the other Wolfman? It's not hard to guess, and I rather enjoyed the complicated backstory the screenwriters provided for how the Latino Del Toro could be old Englishman Hopkins' son, how the disease of "lycanthropy" came to Blackmoor, and how Del Toro's family is intimately involved and entirely to blame for these terrible events. There's a generally satisfying explanation for everything and Hopkins monologues it all while chomping the scenery with feral glee.

There are some amusing homages to other Universal classic horror films like Dracula and Frankenstein. I also enjoyed Hopkins having a Sikh manservant; the actor seemed to have borrowed Captain Nemo's costume from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Hugo Weaving appears as Inspector Abberline, the very same character Johnny Depp portrayed in From Hell, complete with dialogue reference to "that Ripper case" three years prior. Considering how Weaving's dealings with the Wolfman turn out, Abberline must regret pursuing the Wolfman instead of tracking down his favorite prostitute Heather Graham and living with her on the coast with Prince Albert's bastard son.

I didn't enjoy the sleepytime pace of the first act of the movie, which was filled with all of the somber characters doling out somber exposition.  Midway through, after Del Toro's first transformation and killing rampage, The Wolfman's pace picks up and the movie goes for broke, complete with Del Toro's Wolfman running amok on the streets and rooftops of London. The finale is a Wolfman vs. Wolfman showdown in the fiery confines of Hopkins' manor. (It was nice of Wolfman number two to rip its shirt off for the fight so that the audience could tell the Wolfmen apart.)

There has to be a woman in these types of stories and that's Emily Blunt, who plays Del Toro's brother's fiance. Blunt and Del Toro engage in a romantic subplot that neither the actors nor the movie quite buy into. Poor Blunt spends the entire movie in a perpetual state of mourning; perhaps because Universal wouldn't release her from her contract to do The Wolfman and instead the sought-after role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2 went to Scarlett Johansson. (There's even a meta line Blunt delivers: "I can't seem to escape this place.") Blunt is rewarded with the ultimate act of heroism in The Wolfman and gets to put the dog down in the end, so that's nice.

After Del Toro's first Wolfman killing spree, he is quickly captured and sentenced to an insane asylum. The Sigmund Freud-esque doctor then presents Del Toro to his colleagues as a delusional who thinks he's a werewolf.  This scene makes no sense whatsoever. Weaving is in attendance and he already knows Del Toro is the Wolfman, but he stands by passively and says nothing as Del Toro transforms and then goes on to rip apart the room full of doctors.  Weaving let Del Toro loose on London for no good reason when he knew better.

Once he's done taking in the sights of London, Del Toro's Wolfman seeks refuge by the shore near the Tower Bridge and drinks from the Thames. The disgusting, putrid, filth-infested waters of the Thames.  Forget silver bullets, Del Toro should have died from dysentery or any number of other diseases.

Whether or not Blunt or anyone ever notifies Del Toro's theatre company in New York of what happened to their star performer will perhaps be answered if there's a Wolfman 2.

Parks and Recreation 2x16 - "Galentine's Day"

The writers couldn't have known how timely Leslie's warning to "stay away from John Mayer" would end up being this week. That was a lucky break.

The "most romantic story ever told" about Leslie's mother meeting the lifeguard ending with "and a few years later, she met my father" was awesome.

So much depth and character work this week.

April's growth where she sees the Parks and Rec group as her real friends, her softening and her sentimentality showing, her making moves toward Andy, cockblocking (not the right term) Ann, and finally breaking up with her gay boyfriend only made her dreamier.

Andy and his band Mouse Rat were just awesome. Everything Andy related - especially yelling at the guy who was waiting for his shoe shine - was awesome.

Ann finally started to realize what I've thought about her and Mark since they got together - they are one boring ass couple. I did like that among Mark's barrage of cliched Valentine's Day gifts, he gave her the Heart of the Ocean.

They resolved Tom and his ex-wife but more importantly, Tom and his man crush on Justin continues, even after Leslie realized Justin is a selfish douche and dumped him. (Man, do I miss Louis CK.)

The regular crew is so good, they didn't even really need John Larroquette nervously puking every few minutes. He'll always be Dan Fielding to me.

And a DUKE SILVER reference!

Just like Duke Silver, Mouse Rat has a website!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Office 6x15 - "Manager and Salesman"

The repeated shots of Jo Bennett's two Maraduke dogs licking Andy's crotch was LOL enough for me, but this was a terrific episode of The Office.

With Kathy Bates as the new owner came a surprising return to the status quo: Jim back as salesman with Michael as sole manager. 

As soon as Pam pointed out to Jim that the Sabre manual said salesmen make more money than managers, the swerve where Michael would become a salesman and Jim would become sole manager was obvious, but then they pulled a double swerve and reset the paradigm back to the way it originally was.

Of course, Michael on the sales floor couldn't have lasted longer than it did. I liked the return of Disruptive Michael not letting anyone get any work done. (Also Dwight's Glengary Glen Ross reference about it no longer being 1992.)

Dwight and Ryan's moving forward on the Diabolical Plot after Jim's promotion and then taking credit for Jim's demotion was great, as was Ryan's failed attempt to crush the soda can to intimidate the new IT guy.

I love that after Erin and Michael reached an understanding at the end of "Scott's Tots", he's so happy with her being so happy being his secretary. It's great how she's the polar opposite of Pam in every way.

Erin: "A dog and a bird!"
Andy: "Snoopy and Woodstock."
Erin: "You named them!"
Andy: "Charles Schulz did."
Erin: "Oh! And they love each other!"

Oh, and Kathy Bates was great. Not sure I'd want to work for her with all her Victorian sweatshop rules about blocking Internet sites, but I'd read Jo Bennett's autobiography. She's a very interesting lady.

Don't cut Meredith's throat!

Community 1x16 - "Communication Studies"

Community is the only NBC show tonight that didn't utilize any stunt guest stars for their Valentine's Day episode, but who needs celebrity cameos when you have Abed liberally utilized throughout the episode?

Abed has been peripheral for a few episodes and they've been smart to not overuse him. Abed hasn't been this well used since he was Batman on Halloween. Loved the drunk Abed and Jeff Breakfast Club homage, Jeff "breaking" Abed during their hangover, Abed directing his movie (he's actually pretty good at giving direction), and Jeff calling him a "beige praying mantis".

Also loved everything Senor Chang did, especially when Annie and Shirley were watching him eat in the cafeteria and Chang's eyes were darting side to side.

There seems to be a little character rehab going on with Britta too. They're taking steps to make her more likable.

Abed: "Do you like Britta?"
Jeff: "Who doesn't like Britta?"
Abed: "Over fifty percent of the people who've met her."

For the record, I like Britta.

"Movie reference."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost 6x3 - "What Kate Does"

Sayid and Han Solo have something in common: being tortured and then saying "They didn't even ask me any questions!" That Other jackass Aldo who Kate beat up also called her "Princess" - Star Wars reference number 2.

Boy, for a professional torturer, Sayid really turned into a wussy when the electrical shock clamps were on his nipples for a change. "They tortured me! And they were such assholes about it. No chit chat, no threats, nothing!" I think his professional pride was offended as much as he was in incredible pain.

I liked Hurley asking Sayid if he's a zombie. Zombies don't scream and cry when being tortured, so highly unlikely.

An abundance of good one liners and character stuff this week. Sawyer's sarcastic "He's an Iraqi torturer who shoots kids, so of course he deserves a second chance." Aw.

Hurley: "Private talks freak me out because they usually leave me having to do something that I don't understand."

Miles: "As you can see, Hugo has assumed the leadership role, so that's great." "We'll be in the food court if you need us."

I love the Not Lost scenes. I especially like how Kate and Claire got so chummy after she hijacked her cab, the Puppet Master from Heroes driving the cab ran off, and Kate left Claire stranded on the side of the road, then felt bad when she found out Claire was pregnant.

Some may quibble about Claire trusting Kate after that but think about it, the crazy lady in handcuffs waving the gun is still the only person Claire knows in LA. Aaron's two moms are BFFs. Plus, Dr. Ethan (Goodspeed?) isn't such a dick in Not Lost.

On the Island, Poor Kate finally found out Sawyer had moved on. He and Juliet were for realz, yo. They were like Romeo and Juliet except they ended in tragedy!

I also liked that Jin and Kate both blew out of the temple. They're the two 815 Originals who are on the Island looking for specific people, so yeah, hanging out in the temple ain't gonna do for them. They've got business to take care of.

The reveal at the end totally threw me for a loop. I was convinced since season four that Claire died when the rocket blew up her house in New Otherton and what was walking around and was sighted since then was an Island Construct (which I guess was since revealed to be Black Smokey Man). But now we find out Claire is the new Rousseau.

But there's a darkness in her, says Dogen, that claimed her as Sayid will soon be claimed. Does this mean Sayid will also eventually set bear traps and tripwired nets full of rocks around the Island?

Neo could have told Jack not to take the green pill. Red pill, blue pill, sure, either's good. But not green. Never green. Whoa.

How awesome was Kate this episode? Seriously. She was more bad ass than she's been in entire seasons. "What Kate Does" was a reminder of the promise of season one Kate (before she got put in the pretty dress and the bear cage with Sawyer in season 3). Kate is supposed to be resourceful and dangerous.

Kate's biggest flaw is that when her two tall men are around, she fades to their side and makes the pretty eyes at them. Why, even last night, Kate only got proactive because she wanted to get with Sawyer. If Kate laid the smackdown on the Others on a more regular basis like she did when she punked out Aldo and made the black guy eat a net full of rocks in the face, she'd have the Island cred Sayid has.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Get The F Out

Time Magazine ranked WWE as number 7 on their list of 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes.

Time glibly states: [In 2002] the company changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., or WWE. "Our new name puts the emphasis on the E for entertainment, what our company does best," said CEO Linda McMahon in a press release at the time. The comment didn't do much to stamp out persistent rumors that the fights are rigged — but hey, at least she was honest.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Education (***1/2)



Lovely, clever, charming film about a lovely, clever, charming English school girl, played by Carey Mulligan, meeting an affluent older playboy, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who broadens her horizons in ways she only dreamed of.  An Education is a persuasive time machine, whisking the audience to London, Oxford, and Paris circa 1961, the glamorous dawn of the jet age in Europe. On the outset, An Education seems to be a forbidden romance between Mulligan and Sarsgaard but it's no such thing. Indeed, beyond infatuation and sexual desire on Sarsgaard's part, there's hardly a love story between the two leads, with Mulligan regarding Sarsgaard more as a practical choice and gateway to a more rewarding, glamorous life. The true romance of An Education is between Mulligan and the potential of a whole world of possibilities in life that bloom for her. An Education is effusive with the issues of status and class, as well as the choices and disappointments Mulligan faces as a girl growing up in post-war England. It's difficult to blame Mulligan's infatuation with the jet-set lifestyle of posh restaurants, jazz clubs, and jaunts to Paris seductively offered by Sarsgaard when it all seems to come so easily, compared to how dreadfully dull matriculating at Oxford and studying English seems by comparison. That Sarsgaard he isn't quite all he seems to be is obvious from the start. Saarsgard comes off as such a forked-tongued snake oil salesman that it's no surprise when he turns out to be far less than ideal.  The rather abrupt way the final few minutes of An Education wraps up the problems Mulligan faces is the film's only failing. The performances are terrific; the radiant, 25 year old Mulligan deserves her Best Actress Oscar nomination. Mulligan is ably supported by Olivia Williams as her English instructor, Emma Thompson as the headmistress of her school, and Alfred Molina as her stern but doting father who finds himself as charmed as his daughter is by Sarsgaard's savoir-faire.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Smallville: Absolute Justice


ROLL CALL: (Here we go. This'll take a while.)

Special DC Universe guest stars:
With special mentions of:
Special guest villains:
ICICLE II! ICICLE I! (comatose)
and representing CHECKMATE! (and THE SUICIDE SQUAD!):
AMANDA WALLER! (Pam Grier is... Amanda Waller.)

Smallville: Absolute Justice was the happiest two hours of television a DC Comics nerd could ever experience.Watching Absolute Justice was like my collection of DC Who's Who exploding into my TV. That was the most hardcore, steeped in comic book lore, two hour geekout ever seen on television.

The Justice Society was there in all their four color glory, as much as a TV budget and logistics would allow. The Brownstone, the round table, the props from all the superheroes who were part of the team.

My favorite moment was after Dr. Fate teleported Clark to the Brownstone and Clark pulled the sheets off all of the memorabilia and the Justice Society painting. They panned the painting and showed footage of each character, but when they got to the right side of the painting that had Black Canary, Hourman, and Mr. Terrific, they stopped. Uh, we don't have any footage of them. Also, there's already a Smallville version of Black Canary so... we don't wanna explain... Why don't we just move on?
Clark used his X-ray vision to see the Dr. Fate helmet crazy Kent Nelson kept in the satchel while he was in the Brownstone the first time, but then later during a pow-wow with Chloe, he tells her they're definitely hiding something. Yeah, if only Clark had used his X-ray vision on the rest of the Brownstone. That's our Clark. Always thinkin'.

I liked how the classic comic book method of pairing the heroes off in groups of two happened. Hawkman and Green Arrow, Dr. Fate and Martian Manhunter, Chloe and Stargirl.

The news footage Clark and Chloe watched of the Society members being arrested in the violent, black and white 1970s was very amusing. Too bad the black guy with the big afro they showed for a moment wasn't Black Lightning.

Hawkman was intent on out raspy voicing Christian Bale's Batman. Also, his wings seem to be more decorative than useful because they don't flap or anything to let him fly. Reminded me of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon (on purpose?) I loved when he broke down Green Arrow's method of not sharing his life with anyone and holding them at a distance by "acting like a jackass."

Dr. Fate was well done. I liked his reading everyone's fates, telling Clark about how when he reveals himself to the world, we'll all "look up in the sky" at his example. His cryptic message to Chloe that she will walk down his path, or something, was interesting. But then he went down like a bitch.

The best Stargirl moment for me was her talk with Chloe about how the Watchtower is technologically sufficient but lacks the qualities of a home that would bring her disparate Justice League together as a family.

J'onn J'onzz is all Martian again! And we got to see him for a brief moment as the big, beetle-browed green gumby in the comics. I liked the costume nod to his comic book look and his line about growing to love cookies.

I wish we got to see the dinner with Chloe, Green Arrow, and Martian Manhunter. I wonder if they had more discussions on how to make their Superfriends more like a family and not just get together when they have Troubalerts.

Of all the superhero props in the Brownstone, the best one by far was the JSA's computer.

Amanda Waller recruited Lois Lane to be part of Checkmate, or at least an informant. Plus we find out Tess Mercer is a Checkmate agent. (I wonder if she ever wore the black and gold costume?) Waller wants all the superheroes to reveal themselves so she can utilize them against the coming apocalypse. Or is that spelled 'Apokalips'?

Really, the only thing I disliked was the actor who played the Icicle. He was just terrible, and that's saying something for Smallville. I liked when Waller said "Welcome to the Suicide Squad!" and shot him in the head. Technically, suicide would be if he took his own life. That's really homicide, what Waller did.

Next week: annataZ ta noC-cimoC.

Ratings Update:​2010/​02/​06/​smallville-​ratings-​absolute-​justice/​

Smallville scores its season best ratings and gave The CW its best Friday night in over a year, according to the article.

Smallville isn't drawing the 4-5 million it used to its heyday, but for a show in its 9th season airing on Friday nights, relatively speaking, it's still Super strong. (Smallville is also one of the most DVR'd shows, averaging a 28% increase when DVR is factored in.)

I can't imagine how Absolute Justice's ratings won't equal a 10th season. The CW should pay Tom Welling whatever he wants to come back; he's been The WB/The CW's biggest star for almost a whole decade now and he continues to deliver.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Office 6x14 - "Sabre"

Congratulations to Ed Helms for being promoted to the opening credits! The Office producers did the right thing since their star only happens to also star in the biggest comedy of 2009. (Or is it officially the biggest comedy of all time at this point?)

So much good stuff in this comeback episode (clip shows don't count, even with 30% new footage) directed by John Krasinski.

"Scissors me!" and Pam's horrified reaction.

Dwight with the tray of hot dogs, not having anywhere to put them, and finally setting them on the floor.

No one knowing how to pronounce "Sabre", leading into Andy and Erin's parody of "Party in the USA". "Dunder Mifflin is a part of Sabray!" Amazing. And they keep finding all-new ways to keep Andy and Erin apart that still seem completely plausible considering their characters.

The awkward humor of Jim and Pam at the day care center and their meeting not going well. "Did you ever consider the meeting's not going well because you two aren't as charming as you think you are?"

The bathrobe house-haunting sad sack David Wallace turned into.

Michael couldn't quit this time, even though he again felt disrespected. He can't form another Michael Scott Paper Company. I liked how his visit with Wallace made him realize it's better to have a job that isn't fun than to have no job at all.

Lastly, the episode touched on the very real disappointment of your workplace blocking access to time-wasting Internet sites. I've been through that. It's horrible.

Parks and Recreation 2x15 - "Sweetums"

Parks and Rec hadn't done a community forum scene since the Venezuelans visited Pawnee and this week's didn't disappoint.

I just saw Food Inc. a few weeks ago and the outrage over corn syrup being in just about everything sold in a supermarket or in fast food restaurants is pretty fresh in my mind. This episode was a really good tackling of the issue, with the (stupid) public of Pawnee getting what it wants. (A snack bar made from corn, corn syrup, and sunshine.) But it also was reminiscent of The Simpsons episode from a few years ago when a snack company put sugary snacks in every Springfield Elementary vending machine, causing Bart to become super fat.

The ideological battle Ron waged with Leslie over her butting into everyone's business and his right as an American to destroy himself as if he chooses was great. Plus Ron was doing double duty fighting against the government and for privatizing everything.

Tom was so over the top in the moving scenes, I almost thought it was too much, but the scene with Wendy helped re-humanize him. But the hell with that, even. DJ Roomba was the shit! I want to make one with my Roomba. (The ghost of DJ Roomba may have been even better.)

April distancing herself from Andy is such an obvious stall. They don't want to pull the trigger on getting them together yet and they're stalling. What does she see in her gay boyfriend, anyway?

Community 1x15 - "Romantic Expressionism"

This might be my favorite episode of Community yet. It was a powerhouse of big time laughs. I think this is the sharpest, fastest, and funniest the writing has been.

The roundtable of reaction shots as everyone considered each other as potential sexual partners (Abed's eyebrow raising especially) was an instant classic. Everyone's reactions were perfect. Jeff and Annie continue to plant seeds of their attraction. That's a promise that should be kept, but not this season, hopefully. Down the road. Way down.

They should really continue with this week's precedent of Britta ditching the leather jackets and wearing flattering outfits. She looked great, and I liked Britta and Jeff working together and screwing up as a team a lot.

I hate Vaughn like Star Burns hates Jeff, but he actually isn't an asshole. I liked that he got Annie in the end. But I loved Troy's attempts to seduce Annie, and his line about "liking things up the butt." And his calling Abed his "other half" and every gay innuendo about the two of them.

Punchkicker and Kickpuncher rule. As does Senior Chang in a tuxedo. And Pierce going to the Greendale sketch comedy team to write him material. "He likes gay jokes."

"Asian. Can't direct and can't drive."
"Dude, I'm right here."

Community wins the NBC Thursday Night 0f 2/4/10 as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lost 6x1, 6x2 - "LA X, Parts 1 and 2"

Sayid Jarrah, I presume? Or is that Jacob inhabiting Sayid's body the way the Smoke Monster is walking around as John Locke?

"It worked." I take Juliet's last words to mean that by detonating the bomb, the flash created a concurrent spin off, Not Lost, where the original Oceanic 815ers minus Shannon, all got to LA and get to have all new adventures where some of them still randomly meet each other.

The shot of the Island underwater was awesome.

What I don't get is if it's 2004 again in Not Lost, why is Jack's hair long? Why doesn't he have a buzz cut? (I hope the answer isn't "We couldn't figure out a wig for Matthew Fox to wear on Lost, so we didn't buzz his hair in the Not Lost scenes.)

The flash also set Juliet to a new life in New York as an FBI agent and single mom leading a resistance against alien lizard Visitors.

I liked that they worked in Frogurt and Arzt. And I liked that even in an alternate life, Boone and Locke got to meet and had a brief little friendship that didn't get Boone killed (yet?). And in this life or the next, the Marshal is still a gigantic tool. But why was Desmond on Oceanic 815 flying from Sydney to LA?

I was also trying to follow the logic of why, if Hurley, Jin, Kate, and Jack were hoping to bring dying Sayid to the Temple for a crazy magical cure, they didn't bring Juliet's corpse for the same crazy magical cure? The easy answers are Sawyer wouldn't hear of it and Jacob didn't say nuthin' to Hurley about bringing Juliet's body along, but still.

I like that even after all this time, there are still elaborate locations on the Island to newly discover. The Temple set was cool and I liked the one armed skeleton of the Frenchman still in the tunnels. Though for some reason the Others in the Temple still dress like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. How does Others hierarchy work where some get assigned to lead cushy barrack lives while others live in the Temple of Doom and wear rags?

I have to say, I never saw it coming nor had any thought in the direction that the Smoke Monster is a person and is in fact the nemesis of Jacob. That was a great reveal. But when Sayid, Jack, Kate, and Jin were in the Temple tunnels and they saw the Frenchman's corpse, Jin said "the smoke monster" got him. I've completely lost track of which characters have seen the smoke monster and know it's a smoke monster. Won't they be surprised when they find out more about the smoke monster.

The day-for-night changes were weird. Sayid was laying in the van dying for an awfully long time while the others got the mess with Juliet in the hole sorted out. Same with Richard and the group waiting outside the Four Toed Foot, hanging there clueless long after the team Elena sent in were murdered by Smoke Locke.

I can probably think of more questions but the promo for next episode said THE TIME FOR QUESTIONS IS OVER. So okay, I guess I'll just happily eat up the answers.

I'm just so GD happy to have Lost back for this final season.