We’re Retiring!

stock-footage-tv-static-with-stereo-white-noiseWe’re incredibly sad to announce that, as of today, Pond Hopping Girls is going on indefinite hiatus.

We’ve been struggling for a while, now, to juggle real life, PHG and our rapidly dwindling social lives. Something had to give. Regretfully, that something is PHG. As we became more and more busy, and as the list of reviews we were late on piled up, we became more guilty and more stressed. We know that, hard as it may be, leaving PHG behind is the only way we can find that work-life balance we hear people talk about so much. And, possibly, the only way for us to retain the last vestiges of our sanity.

But all is not lost, faithful viewers. The sites (pondhoppinggirls.com and pondhoppinggirls.tumblr.com) will remain active in the hopes that, one day, someone will be willing to pay us to review TV and we can quit our day jobs. Our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) will also stay up and they may actually see some action – we know that, retirement or not, sometimes we’re just not going to be able to restrain ourselves.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who tuned in to our stuff. Thank you to everyone who commented, followed, liked, shared, retweeted… you name it. And thank you to our regular (and irregular) contributors, J(ohn Carey), Eoghan Dalton and Bridget O’Flynn. It’s been special, guys.

Until next time… – K

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“The Long Bright Dark” – True Detective

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 21.11.38With its pilot, True Detective presented us with one of the strongest openings we’ve seen this season. We were fully prepared to be disappointed – HBO can, quite often, in aiming for drama and gravitas, leave its viewers with only a sense of what a show could be like and an almost bitter taste in their mouths (Boardwalk Empire, for instance, was perpetually building itself up to be a show it never became, constantly making promises it didn’t or couldn’t keep). Not so with this one. Despite a slow start, and some early trepidation on our part, True Detective showed its true colors in ample time.

A brief summary to get you up to speed: the series will take place largely in flash-back mode, with modern-day police (played by Michael Potts and Tory Kittles) interviewing veteran detectives Martin “Marty” Hart (Woody Harrelson, Cheers, Now You See Me) and Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, Magic Mike) about the first big case they worked together – the apparent occult murder of a hooker – which took place in a small town populated by former cast members of Treme. Hart and Rust have been brought in and that old case has been dragged up because of the discovery of the victim in an eerily similar crime. The problem? Rust and Hart supposedly caught the killer the first time ‘round. That original case will obviously form the basis of the series (we’re assuming that this will be a one-season-only type show, although, if it goes the way we think it might, there is possibility for follow-up seasons with a drastically different format).

Other things you need to know: Continue reading

“The Golden Hammer” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 21.07.05For a less than amazing episode that felt more derivative than anything else, “The Golden Hammer” sure knew how to make us sit up and pay attention – with one hell of an ending.

The episode (and we’re getting a little tired of saying this, now, but what else can we say) was still enjoyable, solely because of how fun-loving it now is. Embracing humor with every scene, The Mentalist fairly skips. The interplay among the old characters and the new, the witty banter and trade-offs, the complete (if probably temporary) lack of an overarching bad guy to furrow brows and darken scenes all combine to create a show that buoys its viewers along with it.

In addition to all that, there’s the stepping-up of the Lisbon-Jane romance. While we (and, presumably, many other commentators) predicted a love triangle blooming to include Agent Fisher, we’re seeing her being pushed to the wayside as two consecutive episodes show Lisbon and Jane, respectively, displaying tell-tale signs of jealousy as the other dips a toe in the dating pool. And this makes sense. For the first time since his wife died, and despite the fact that he still wears his ring, Jane finally feels free. Free of his past and free of his future. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if we saw a symbolic removal of the wedding ring within the next few episodes, although, we have to admit, some doubt may still remain as to which Agent he’ll be setting his cap at.

And so, despite Continue reading

“Under Fire” – Castle

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 14.03.31We really need to stop beginning reviews with this particular idiomatic pun, but Castle certainly returned from hiatus with a bang! A great episode, and a great choice as first out of the Castle gates in 2014.

The plot was neither here nor there. A serial arsonist shouldn’t be (and wasn’t) particularly thrilling. The beauty of this episode came in its human collateral – Ryan and Espo. We can’t remember the last time we were so emotional after watching Castle. The last 10 minutes of “Under Fire” were tense, edge-of-your-seat, make-your-way-through-a-box-of-Kleenex scenes.

There was just so much emotion to get through – Beckett and Castle on the scene, Jenny going into labor and having to give birth without Ryan, the goodbye phonecall, the fact that Lanie didn’t get to say goodbye to Espo (not that she needed to, in the end, but still), the happy and tearful reunion… we’re wrecks.

If we had one complaint (and we do), it would be that Continue reading

“Simon Says” – Almost Human

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 15.03.16Almost Human seems to have finally gotten itself past some of those early stumbling blocks and hit its groove. And that groove is humor. For all of its serious subject matter, at the heart of “Simon Says” was a whole lot of funny. And that’s something that Almost Human excels at – switching so seamlessly between the lighthearted jokiness of the central buddy cop format and the (at times) high-emotion, high-stakes cases.

Unfortunately, the interpersonal relationships (with the exception of Dorian and Kennex) are still hopeless. The acting is among the worst we’ve seen, character development is non-existent (the major reveal this week was that Kennex played football in school) and the tension between Stahl and Kennex, which should be simmering and blatantly obvious, just isn’t there – not that the writers have given us a chance to explore any of these avenues, or even really to see the main characters in the same room with any regularity.

The acting is always, though, going to be our biggest gripe. We’ve said before that Michael Ealy (playing Dorian; The Good Wife) is absolutely the best among them, and that hasn’t changed. He remains the only one who does more than throw lines at the camera hoping something sticks. We can forgive nearly everything, though – for instance, while Karl Urban is beyond wooden, he somehow makes it work as part of the character rather than a failing on his part – but we will never forgive Maldonado (Lili Taylor, Six Feet Under).

We appreciate that Continue reading

“White Lines” – The Mentalist

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By and large, we thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The case was sufficiently surprising to surprise us doubly – although we did recognise the actor playing the culprit and wonder, the note-perfect red herrings and eventual conclusion left us pondering whether the writers threw away their six-year-established rule book and decided to just shake things up.

That would certainly be backed up by the strange new energy that seems to have come with the change of format, as if the writers are trying to change the show’s intrinsic quaintness and force it, kicking and screaming, if necessary, into the realms of modern police procedurals. A new focus on technology (among other things, Jane has finally abandoned the flip phone and invested in an iPhone) and the new magnitude of scale (placing crime on a national rather than California-based platform) position the show as a rival to faster-paced – and, perhaps, less nuanced – shows like CSI, Bones or Castle. We’re just not sure that’s a good thing. There’s always the danger that, in waving a ‘look at what technology can do’ flag so blatantly, The Mentalist will be stripped of its sedate (if somewhat eccentric and quirky) charm.

And yet, we are still enjoying this new format. We’re still being given the chance to Continue reading

Apologies!

We're SorryApologies to any regular readers who’ve been tuning in weekly to get the latest reviews. Sometimes real life (read: working like a cart horse) gets in the way of what we actually want to be doing, which – like many of you – is watching TV. And writing about it. We’re hoping to get back up and running soon but, in the meantime, check out our Facebook page. When possible, we’re doing bite-size reviews over there. They’re thrilling! And very concise and well-worded, if we do say so ourselves. – K + B

“Infected” – The Walking Dead

tumblr_mvq2bwO4QX1ruwr5go2_500Carol Peletier, remorseless murder machine and domestic violence survivor, has been exiled from the prison. Considering the fact that it’s been two episodes since she cold-bloodedly killed two former friends and burned their bodies, it’s about fucking time. I’d have thought Rick would kill her, but the Sheriff doesn’t seem to have her sociopathic tendencies and, rather, allowed her to trundle off into the sunset in a station wagon, with ample supplies, presumably to find a new group (as Rick suggested) or, far more likely, find a nice hole to die in. A bit too much mercy if you ask me, even if stubbly Rick made it very clear that if it had meant the safety of his children he would have been far less kind.

Meanwhile, Daryl, Michonne, an increasingly unstable Tyreese, and recently-confirmed alcoholic Bob manage to make it to the fabled veterinary college in search of sweet, sweet western medicine. What we learn, chiefly, from this is that, if it suits the plot, zombies only appear once an objective is complete, and that drawing on Daryl is a really bad idea. Bob, in hopes of preserving his looted brandy, made this mistake, and received one of the most cringeworthy stare-downs in television history. Along with the threat of a thorough, hillbilly ass-whooping should he decide to crack said bottle before the group can return to the prison. Great acting by Norman “Feedus More” Reedus in this scene, being pretty bloody intense with arms all a-glistening. And, now that his debilitating illness is out in the open, Bob’s a much more interesting character, and I’m hoping to see him devolve more over coming episodes. I think Daryl will lay a beating on the poor, skinny fuck, even if he can stay on the wagon long enough to make it home.

Voice actress Brina Palencia makes her first and last appearance on this week’s airing, playing Ana, a girl presumably Continue reading

“Sinners and Saints” – The Originals

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.13.02 PMWow. This week’s episode of The Originals has officially cemented the show as our favorite of the season. Not favorite new show, not favorite show on The CW or favorite show about vampires. Flat out, simple favorite show. Why? We’re not even sure we can put our finger on it. We’re inclined to think that, mostly, it’s because The Originals – unlike most other shows on air at the moment – seems to wholly believe that mystery is compelling, but only in small doses. The writers of The Originals know that a good mystery can keep an audience hooked, but also know that dragging that mystery out for too long is as likely to turn an audience off as it is to keep them tuning in.

That understanding couldn’t have been more obvious in “Sinners and Saints” if it had jumped up and down screaming ‘I did magic in the quarter’. One of the more notable aspects of The Originals is that it, somewhat ironically, dispensed with the origin story. We mentioned this before – how the show is likely to be able to make great use of flashbacks because so much is unknown. And that remains true. We got an explanation about why Klaus and the rest of the Mikaelson clan were going to be in New Orleans but, beyond that, we knew very little.

And as the season has progressed, we have more questions rather than fewer, mostly about Davina – who she is, why the witches want her so badly, why she’s so much more powerful than the other witches, and why she’s so close to Marcel. This episode answered those, and Continue reading

“And Then What Happened” – Awkward.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 8.46.49 PMWe actually really enjoyed this week’s Awkward., mostly because of the relatively unusual format. Positioning the majority of the episode in flashback, with just the right balance of mystery and filling in of blanks, was a great approach. It kept us interested. The piecemeal unfolding of the story of the aftermath of Jenna’s party kept us on the hook until the very end, which was itself made more poignant by the relative levity of the rest of the episode.

And it was light. Humor was a big part of “And Then What Happened”, playing into it in the flashbacks and the interludes. The individual characters’ storytelling style – which could almost be seen as neat little vignettes of their personalities – brought a good few laughs, making us a little relieved. Perhaps this half of the season will not be so plagued by the problems we discussed last week.

But, as we said, that ending was a stark contrast to the rest of the episode. Allowing ourselves to believe that Jenna and Matty would be okay (even if we didn’t necessarily want them to be), and enjoying the sense of fun that “And Then What Happened” sported, made that ending feel like a slap in the face. It’s definitely not a conclusion we expected, and we were kind of gobsmacked.

After two and a half seasons of Jenna pining after Matty, of thinking she wasn’t good enough for him, of wanting nothing more than Continue reading