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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“The Broken Code” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 10.29.03 AMLooks like HIMYM is settling back to its standard level of quality. Unfortunately, that’s not very high. There were some nice moments – Marshall playing judge and Ted and Barney in the rain, recreating the carousel, for example, or the bro code’s bizarre prevalence – but, by and large, it was a disappointment. The episode was clearly meant to be a display of the friends’ friendships and how they can outlast anything. Mostly it just felt like one big missed opportunity.

Central issues aside, wouldn’t it have been much better, in the midst of an episode about Robin’s inability to make friends with women, to have her making friends, not with crying girl, but with The Mother? Wouldn’t that have been a perfect opportunity to show how perfect The Mother is, not just for Ted, but for the group? It could have been a fleeting acquaintance, like Lily on the train, but even a hint at a beautiful friendship to come could have done wonders. We know the point of crying girl was to cement Lily and Robin’s friendship, but they could have done that some other way. This felt cheap, and uninspired.

The other friendship arc followed on from last week’s ‘cliffhanger’. Barney saw Ted and Robin at the carousel. HIMYM dealt with that strand fairly well (though, of course, not without largely annoying attempts at humor – Billy Zapka, Tim Gunn). Barney torturing Ted with wedding duties and, ultimately Continue reading

“Black-Winged Redbird” – The Mentalist

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 6.48.49 PMWe definitely preferred this episode to the Season 6 opener. While that suffered from a long-build, an uninteresting case and a closing scene that neither shocked nor caused (much) suspense, “Black-Winged Redbird” went a long way toward rectifying those issues, with a significant ramping up of mystery and plot development.

Where last week’s Red John arc served almost as an afterthought, he was basically front and centre in this episode. While there was a case of the week – another drone episode, making it seem as though Hollywood is jumping on the drone warfare debate bandwagon – it was largely secondary to the quest to find Red John. The case’s surprise twist was neither surprising nor much of a twist. We had it solved from the mid-way point. For once, though, we didn’t really care that it was a totally predictable conclusion, because the case was never supposed to be the focus.

That Red John arc became really interesting this week, with a definite and solid uptick in clues and drama. Lisbon survived, but the gruesome murder of Sophie Miller (Season 1 guest star, Elisabeth Röhm, Angel, The Client List) was more than enough to make up for our disappointment (sorry, but Lisbon irritates sometimes, and we would have liked to see what Jane would become after losing the woman he clearly loves*). This arc threw up a number of clues – Red John’s a great whistler – and intriguing developments. The most curious of these was Continue reading

“Last Time in New York” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.33.01 PMStraight from an episode that was easily redeemable to one that couldn’t have been saved by all of the Avengers (and the Justice League, while we’re at it) combined.

There was so much wrong with this episode – it was dull, it was largely unfunny, it was predictable (to a point) and it was repetitive. The running ‘joke’ about old people being like zombies who are drawn to anyone who says Mandy Patinkin made us smirk the first time but, as the episode progressed, became somewhat of a thorn in our side.

The main problem with having an entire season devoted to one weekend is, of course, that you have to write 12 hours of funny material, all largely set in one location and with a very limited pool to draw from. Yeah, weddings can be hilarious. But are they twelve hours of hilarious? That seems unlikely. If we’re honest, we didn’t think the cracks would appear this early. We’re hoping it’s just an early slip and not an indication of the way the rest of the season will unfold.

There were a few nice moments, mostly relating to Continue reading