“Get a Clue” – Castle

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 5.55.54 PMThis episode was quite disappointing after the fantastic one we got last week. We’re not sure we’ve ever come across a series where the Halloween episode is actually less ‘out there’ than the usual fare. And I suppose this one wasn’t, either, but it was less out there than last week’s episode, “Time Will Tell”, and that was kinda unforgiveable. You can’t follow genuine doubt about time travel with a hackneyed and predictable treasure hunt. You just can’t. Not if you’re hoping for people to get excited.

Castle has, in the past, come out with thoroughly enjoyable Halloween-themed episodes – the one with the vampires, the one with the haunted house, the one where Castle dressed up as Nathan Fillion’s other well-known character, Mal Reynolds – but this was not one of them. This felt derivative, playing off Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code without ever reaching the heights of either (which is saying a lot [none of it flattering] when you consider that second one). Even worse, it felt derivative of Castle itself, reminding us more than a little of Season 2 episode “A Deadly Game”. Replace spies with secret medieval symbols, and one story is not wholly unlike the other. A few neat red herrings prevented the episode from being a complete wash, but we were still hoping for more.

The only aspect of the episode that was at all worth watching was Continue reading

“No Questions Asked” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 5.43.00 PMDoes anyone else feel like those date and time title cards at the start of How I Met Your Mother are doing more harm than good by ticking by far too slowly? We can hardly believe that it’s still only 11pm. On the Friday. This is the weekend that won’t end.

We’re still torn on this new format. We’re not sure if it’s the best thing the writers have ever done, or the worst. Yes, it gives particular aspects of the story time to breathe – Robin and Barney’s incompatibility and their increasing bouts of cold feet, Ted’s quietly mounting desperation, Marshall’s guilt over the judgeship – but the one thing we were hoping it would allow us more time with isn’t being utilized at all. Is anyone else wondering where the Mother is in all of this? We’re seven episodes in and she’s only made two appearances. Weren’t we supposed to be spending this season learning more about her? Seeing her meet Ted’s friends? Finding out just why they’re perfect together? This is beginning to feel like the writers are just trying to distract us so that they don’t have to go to the trouble of figuring out what Ted’s perfect woman is actually like. We suppose that’s one way to avoid disappointing anyone…

And yet this episode was not the worst of them. Reserving much of the running time for genuinely Continue reading

“Help Me Make It Through the Night” – Hart of Dixie

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 5.27.07 PMA slight improvement on last week’s crapfest, though it’s clear that something has slipped on Hart of Dixie this year. Maybe it’s just that everything’s gone so far off kilter. Annabeth and Lavon are struggling to survive Lynly (though Lavon doesn’t seem to have noticed), George is a mess, Lemon was consistently hooking up with Meatball, the Belles are Bitches, and Zoe and Wade have been torn asunder. Joel. So many problems relate to Joel. And somehow, in the middle of all of this, BlueBell seems to have lost some of its spirit, and the show is falling with it. Mostly gone have been the little strange quirks that used to pepper episodes. These latest episodes are too focused on the main characters and aren’t allowing the town (and its inhabitants) to shine the way it used to.

Far from being compelling viewing – we should want to watch to make sure everything gets back to where it’s supposed to be – this approach has been putting us off. It doesn’t feel like the Hart of Dixie we fell in love with. It feels like a new show, and it’s not one we’ve been all that interested in.

But some of that was rectified by “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and, with a few exceptions, we finally felt like things were heading back toward normal.

Lynly’s temporary absence gave AB and Lavon a chance to Continue reading

“Isolation” – The Walking Dead

isolation7-710x400What the fuck, Carol?

I know she’s gotten a lot tougher since she lost her (abusive) husband and her adorable daughter, but killing two people in cold blood and burning their corpses is a bit extreme. Wait, did I say a bit? I meant batshit. It’s batshit extreme, and downright out of character. I suppose her reasoning was that, by taking two lives, she might stop the spread of… Well, it was a virus last week, but Herschel sent Daryl, Michonne, Tyresse and Bob ‘Not-Actually-That-Suspicious’ Stookey out for antibiotics. My medical knowledge is limited at best, but I know that viruses aren’t affected by antibiotics. But who am I to doubt a vet with a beard like that? Let’s just call the fucker a plague. Carol thought two grisly murders would stop the plague from spreading. To paraphrase a grief-addled Tyreese, you thought wrong, bitch!

So a plague is running rampant through the prison and is currently being treated with naught more than elderberry tea (real fucking butch there, Herschel) and bed rest. Not exactly what you want when symptoms include hacking up blood. Regardless of what the specifics of the plague are, it’s really nothing more than a maguffin – another threat dropped on the characters in order to Continue reading

“The Red Tattoo” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.26.44 PMWe scarcely know what to do with ourselves, here. Yet another great episode from The Mentalist. We’re beginning to find it difficult to find fault with the long-running CBS show. That shouldn’t be a problem for us. Surely not hating a show we want to enjoy is a good thing, right? Wrong. Liking it means we have very little to write about. So then we have to nitpick. And overanalyze all of the Red John hints. And that just makes our heads hurt.

But the good stuff first.

First up, Grace and Rigsby. Their marriage has affected the show not one whit. Which is fantastic. It’s always a worry, when two main characters tie the knot, that the show’s writers will lose the run of themselves and, for unknown reasons, turn the show into some manner of rom-com. The Mentalist has dodged this dark fate. If we hadn’t seen their wedding two weeks ago, and seen their first forays into newly-wedded bliss last week, we wouldn’t even believe they were dating. A few of Rigsby and Cho’s conversations centre on Grace but, then, they always did.

It’s also a pleasure to see that Continue reading

“Surprise!” – Awkward.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.09.31 PMA surprisingly decent return from MTV’s Awkward., and one which certainly surprised us. During the first half of the season – which wound up for the show’s mid-season break back in early June – we weren’t always its biggest fans. We had a lot of problems with it. Most of them were Jenna. Others were predictability, a lack of the show’s intrinsic humor, too much focus on Tamara as a creator of new words and not enough focus on her as a character (with the writers focusing a little too much on Matty and Jenna), and too much of the Asian Mafia.

This first episode back rectified a lot of those issues, though whether the fixes are temporary or permanent remains to be seen. We’ve seen reprieves before, but they’ve always been brief. Whether or not the writers can maintain this uptick in quality is something we’ll have to figure out as the season progresses. But, for now, we’re hopeful.

The episode showed some of its old humor, focusing as much on the laughs – Lacey trying to keep Jenna’s surprise birthday party a surprise, and the ever-horrible biting wit of our favorite teacher of all time, Mr Hart – as on Jenna’s status as an adulterer. The approach to the Mafia made a huge difference to the return of Awkward.’s humor. Initially a comedic element, the Mafia had, in the last half-season, devolved into a source of unnecessary mystery and intrigue, removing a lot of the laughs that came naturally from it. Under Ming’s rule, however, the Mafia has Continue reading

“Infected” – The Walking Dead

dead1“Infected”, the second installment in the fourth season of The Walking Dead, was, if nothing else, a lively one. The body count was high. A big chunk of D block, new characters Patrick and Ryan (who leaves behind two little girls), and former Woodbury resident and survivor of the Governors’ ‘army massacre’ among the corpsified. Oh, and pigs. Like, all the pigs. It’s enough to make your Monday feel a bit anxiety-inducing, so here’s a .GIF of puppies.

Feeling a little better? Good, let’s continue. The idea of a plague (illness) during a plague (zombies) seems like bad writing, but I guess it’s at least reasonable. Modern medicine has pushed mortality rates way down and, historically speaking, right now is as good a time as any to be alive in North America. But, once shit hits the fan and hospitals disappear (as you can imagine they might when most medical professionals retrain and become the undead), then, yeah, the flu would be a pretty dangerous thing. I spent this weekend popping pills in a rainbow of colors in order to get over a strep throat. I experienced fever for the first time in my adult life and, after a bit of reflection following my bedridden viewing of “Infected”, solemnly thought to myself that, prior to the invention of antibiotics, that might have been something that could have killed me. Fever isn’t all that bad though… I made a new friend. His name is Eli, and he’s a kung-fu space hooker from the x’aa dimension. *Checks thermometer* Okay, maybe I’ll need a few more days to beat this thing.

I actually liked “Infected” quite a lot, and I generally like the direction the show seems to be taking. But, in typical Walking Dead style, it Continue reading

“The Poker Game” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 10.16.30 PMNot a bad effort from this week’s How I Met Your Mother. The laugh track continues to grate – would it kill them to kill it? – but the episode itself didn’t. It was a decent mix of funny and serious. Relationship issues were balanced well with the side story of the Ted-Lily-Marshall ‘wedding present’-‘thank you card’ debacle. Most notably, the new format was served well this week, with the action centered on a single card game. This allowed the peripheral stories room to branch out, so it felt simultaneously tight and sprawling. And that’s kind of the best of HIMYM – a solid story that has some movement and flow.

If we had one issue with it (and, yes, we do always seem to find one, don’t we), it’s that everything always gets that little bit too manic, and the writers always stop just on the wrong side of funny. The joke always goes that bit too far, the story gets that bit too crazy, the premise that little bit unbelievable. If there’s one thing HIMYM needs to learn, it’s restraint. They need to learn when to quit while they’re ahead. And that’s right before Barney’s mom and Robin become sworn enemies.

Though, in saying that, it’s Continue reading

The Walking Dead – The Story So Far, Why I’m Not 100% on Board, and “30 Days Without an Accident”

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I’ve been reviewing TV for a while now and, up until now, it’s always been stuff I would have watched anyway. This is no longer true, because I agreed to take a crack at The Walking Dead. I’ve never read the comics, never played the games, and my viewing of the show had been spotty at best, until I rectified that by binge-viewing on my couch with 20 bottles of foamy lager. The things I do for you people! As for my opinion on the series… well, it’s not bad, but it has its flaws, which fanboys/girls seem more than eager to ignore.

Let’s begin with the premise. *sigh*. Zombies. Zombies are the basis of the whole series and that’s not something which thrills me greatly. See, I think zombies have been done to death. Every single thing in pop culture seems to also have a zombie mod. From Call of Duty to Pride and Prejudice, society has gone far overboard on zombies, but at least The Walking Dead has the good sense to be a character drama, rather than straight out zombie brawling. A good move, too (in terms of the show’s stunningly mediocre writing), is the decision to never say “zombie”. Geek, Walker, Biter, Deadhead, Infected, Thing… it’s a method of keeping half a vestige of realism. Yes, they’re zombies, but say that word and parody is not far behind.

And The Walking Dead doesn’t do parody. No character is safe, nothing is sacred. The bastards who write this show are loose-cannon types who play by their own rules. It might not be the best-written show on television but, by god, it’s entertaining. Mostly because Continue reading

“Wedding in Red” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 9.50.15 PMAnother great episode from The Mentalist (and we’re a little confused, because that’s two in a row, now). Fast paced, intriguing, entertaining, funny and sweet as hell, and, most importantly, not predictable. At least, not immediately. We figured out who the killer was at about the same time Jane did. And, since we’re not former ‘psychics’, we think that’s not too shabby. The fact that we didn’t figure it out before he did warmed our hearts. We like to see a murder show making us work for it.

But, of course, the actual murder was immaterial. There were two main arcs in this episode. Both were (kind of) long overdue and both were bound to be fan pleasers. The Hunt for Red John continued, with Jane taking a closer look at Sheriff McAllister (and this has to be the start of the elimination game). We’ll discuss that a little later, though, because we feel we should jump straight to that second arc – the one the fans really wanted. Grace and Rigsby tying the knot. We were delighted to see them finally caving in to the inevitable, but we somehow still felt it was a little rushed. Yeah, it’s been six seasons in the making, but to have the possibility of a marriage brought up, the proposal made and the wedding celebrated all in one episode, with the latter two both happening within the last ten minutes, felt a little hurried. A little like they were just trying to get it over with. Not that we care. It was a lovely ending, and we’re looking forward to seeing how married life affects Grace and Rigsby over the rest of the season. We just hope this doesn’t mean disaster is soon to follow.

As for that other arc – trying to determine if Sheriff McAllister could be Red John – well, that we enjoyed. It was Continue reading