“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


“The Quarterback” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 12.10.11 PMAt the risk of sounding crass and callous and a little bit gauche, this was probably the best episode of Glee we’ve seen since, maybe, the second season. That’s not to say that it wasn’t without its flaws, but we were pleased to see that Cory (and Finn) got the send off he deserved.

There were two main flaws with the episode. First, that the songs did very little to bolster the emotion. Glee has, historically, used music to great effect, stretching the poignancy of a moment as required. “The Quarterback”, however, was slightly lacking in this regard. With the exception of Lea’s performance of “Make You Feel My Love” (just a little heartbreaking) and, maybe, Mark Salling’s performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”, the songs were emotional choices with unemotional performances. They were the rare breaks from crying in this sob-fest of an episode.

The other flaw, if you could even call it a flaw, was that the episode felt more like a farewell to Finn than a farewell to Cory, but we’re not exactly sure that’s a bad thing. It’s more that, in pursuing that angle, it felt a little less real. Again with the exception of Lea, this felt a lot like a bunch of actors playing a part rather than a group of people mourning their friend. This could have a lot to do with the fact that most of the performances were filmed in one take (obviously in an effort to minimize the suffering for the actors) – they never got the chance to fully embody that grief.

And yet, even with that, the episode was totally gut-wrenching. We probably cried out at least 90 per cent of our bodies’ moisture. There were so many moments that had us reaching for a tissue – Kurt leaving Rachel in New York, Finn’s mom talking about Continue reading

“The Captain” – New Girl

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 1.18.19 PM“The Captain” was, by far, hands down, one of the funniest episodes of New Girl we’ve seen in quite some time. Certainly replete with awkward moments (the eponymous Captain, for one), they added to the episode’s hilarity, rather than detracting from it.

As has so often been the case lately, the episode focused on Nick and Jessica. Stopping that from becoming trite, however, was the addition of Schmidt into the mix, as he tried every trick in his arsenal to mentally undermine the fledgling couple. He played on Nick’s commitment phobia and Jess’s incessant need to talk about her feelings to throw a wrench in the works, and, well, it nearly works. But he pushed it that little bit too far, prompting Nick to man up and talk about his feelings and prompting Jess to quiet down, just once.

Our favorite strand in the episode, by far, though, was Continue reading

“The Sense in the Sacrifice” – Bones

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.03.51 AMWell, after two seasons of Pelant, it looks like his time on Bones has come to an end. We wish we could say that this was one of the series’ better episodes, but we’d be lying. It was fine, for what it was. We got a conclusion to a long-running arc, we got romance, we got joy and, most of all, we got a frankly stellar devious plan from the Jeffersonian team (was anyone else a little in awe [but also freaked out] at how easily they faked a murder?). And yet something was missing – that sense of satisfaction that should come from any episode that ties up a storyline like this. As our lovely PHGer, B, pointed out, it all felt too easy and too quick.

A little background. (Spoilers!) The squints decided to draw Pelant into the open by creating a fake murder scene and pinning it on him. The plan was that he would be unable to let a copy-cat get away with besmirching his good name (or something) and would come forward to argue against it. Needless to say, that didn’t work. Agent Flynn, who they wrangled in to plant the body, became the body because, of course, Pelant was on to them. The episode became a dual feature – proving Flynn wasn’t working with Pelant (he was, but without realizing it) and catching Pelant. Somewhere along the way, Sweets decided that Pelant was obsessively in love with Brennan (okay, yeah, sure…) Then we got an abandoned warehouse, some spying from Angela that somehow Pelant didn’t cotton on to, a showdown, a death (Pelant’s) and a proposal. So, like we said, way too quick and way too easy.

Why too easy you say? It was kind of similar to Continue reading

“Tina in the Sky with Diamonds” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 4.20.22 PMStraight from an episode that exhibited a potential return in quality to Glee (mostly because the surfeit of songs didn’t give the plot enough time to irritate us) to one that effectively sounds its death knell. We saw a lot of bad episodes of the FOX smash last season, so when we say that this was the worst we’d seen in some time you’ll understand the severity of our dislike.

It’s hard to pick any particular aspect that rankled more than any other. It was all bad. As Glee is, to all intents and purposes, a musical, we can start there – last week, we sang The Beatles’ praises and applauded the show’s music team for not ruining the 60s icons for scores of young adults. It seems we spoke too soon. This week’s numbers were all wrong. The vast majority suffered through terrible arrangements and poor directorial choices. Worst offender, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, suffered from both. The vocals were all over the place, the harmonies were raucous and wince-inducing, and the outfits were purely unnecessary. (This all ignores the question we have every year. Why, in a school that really hates the Glee Club, does the Glee Club perform at prom every year to thunderous approbation?)

The songs that managed to leap these two hurdles fell at the third – these were Continue reading

“The Slump” – Brooklyn Nine Nine

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 7.10.13 PMWe’re not sure Brooklyn Nine Nine has quite hit its stride yet. While “The Slump” was, admittedly, far funnier than last week’s “The Tagger” (closer in tone to the pilot), we feel as though it’s still suffering from a certain unevenness and lack of direction.

We’re beginning to feel as though the writers are trying to position it less as a sitcom and more as a comment on humanity. Peralta’s weekly faux pas and moments of idiocy may be the drive in the story – his clashes with Chief Holt are the central arc – but we feel as though they’re the least interesting part of it, and are supposed to be the least interesting part of it. They’re the reason there is a show, but they’re not the show.

Peralta’s strand this week, in which he hit a slump in his freakishly good detecting, was funny as hell (at times), but drily unentertaining. Santiago, Diaz and Gina, on the other hand Continue reading

“Double Date” – New Girl

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 6.50.31 PMWell, you’d have to say that this week’s New Girl was a touch predictable. So predictable, in fact, that we predicted it right from the season premiere. And yet, we don’t really mind. It’s all in that very specific ‘I told you so’ vein – something we all enjoy, massively. We knew Schmidt’s two-timing was going to end in disaster. We (mentally) warned him. And, now that it has, we’re full of a grim sense of satisfaction, tempered, all the while, with feelings of genuine sympathy – we know he truly loved Cece, and thought he loved Elizabeth. And now he’s lost them both? We do feel for him. We’re not heartless.

Now that that arc has come to its inevitable conclusion, it opens up the season for a lot more drama. First and foremost, Schmidt’s threat to Nick and Jessica. He’s pledged to make their lives hell until he’s succeeded in breaking them up. This should bring us at least a couple of weeks of hilarity as he does whatever he can to drive a wedge between the pair. Given the newly-minted status of their relationship, it also raises the possibility that he might succeed. Perhaps Nessica is going to be fairly short-lived.

The other strand that will likely come out of this will be Continue reading

“El Carnicero en el Coche” – Bones

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.36.18 PMNot quite sure what to make of this week’s Bones. It was enjoyable enough, but it also exhibited (in stark contrast to last week’s) the very worst of the show – predictability. We may not have called the killer from the first moment but, as is so often the case, there came a point somewhere in the middle act where the team at the Jeffersonian got one piece of information that pulls everything together. After that point, we get irritated. If we could figure it out, how could they not? This is (supposedly) a team made up of some of the most intelligent minds in America, all top of their fields, and they get routinely bested by an underemployed journalism graduate. (Attention potential employers – I am available for work.)

The other major problem with the episode was its setting. Seeing Sweets in this run-down part of DC, and seeing him and Booth knocking on doors in gangland, only served to show us that it’s the first time we’ve ever seen Bones going to a neighborhood like this. Up until now, if Bones were the foundation of all of your knowledge about DC, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was some kind of utopia for the upper middle class. Though we understand why they’ve avoided the poorer areas before now – there’s no way you can look at any of those streets or projects and not see LA. In fact, we recognized the suspect’s neighborhood from an episode of Southland. Maybe Bones is better off sticking to the wealthier parts of “DC”.

Where this episode excelled was with Sweets. This was really his episode in a way few others have been. Focusing on Continue reading

“The Cheat in the Retreat” – Bones

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 8.59.30 AMThoroughly enjoyable episode from Bones this week. “The Cheat in the Retreat” gave us a little bit of everything we love about the show – mystery, humor, tension and real life. And Booth and Brennan undercover. Tony and Roxy, our two very favorite alter-egos, made a welcome return to DC in this episode, bringing some much needed hilarity after last week’s more somber tone. And yet our favorite aspect of the episode, as it so often is with Bones, was that the case was secondary to the people. Bones may be a cop show on the surface but, at heart, the characters always matter more.

This episode moved on to new issues – some of those character arcs that we just mentioned – allowing us to (almost) forget for a moment the situation between Booth and Brennan. Of course, we couldn’t possibly be allowed to forget altogether. Angela’s continued animosity towards Booth, as well as a couple of other references, made sure it was never far from our minds. But it wasn’t the focus. New issues (ones that will likely feature heavily over the rest of the season) are the theft of Cam’s identity, and Sweets’ career break.

Sweets’ arc, at least, is tied to Pelant – he Continue reading

“Love, Love, Love” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.31.47 PMWe hate to look at this first episode of Glee’s fifth season through the RIP-Cory-Monteith veil, but we found it difficult not to. From the very outset – Rachel’s rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” – it felt like a combination of things: first and foremost, a distraction for the cast (we had to wonder if each performance had been so dripping in fun before the actor’s death, or if the ramp-up in joy was a bid to cheer up the rest of the cast); as a secondary theme, it was an unofficial ode to Cory (the official ‘in memory of’ episode will air as the season’s third). That “Yesterday” opening (while ostensibly about Rachel’s loss of her theatre dreams [although they’re actually not quite lost just yet]) served as a stark reminder of Cory’s absence, from the lyrics to the photos to the almost-break in Lea Michele’s voice as she sang, “why he had to go I don’t know”.

But, as we said, we’re reluctant to view this first episode back solely from that perspective. So what about the rest of the episode, from a wider viewpoint? Well, it was one of the better episodes of recent seasons. A bit more soap opera-y than earlier seasons, and still suffering from that ‘Ryan Murphy’s lesson of the week’ issue we had major problems with last season (this week, complete with awkward speech and poorly-written mention of Russia’s stance on homosexuality), and maybe our standards have gradually lowered over the last two seasons of mediocrity, but this felt like a more centered Glee than we’ve seen recently. There were some nice moments, and some funny ones. There was even Continue reading