Category Archives: Television

Face Off: Beyond the Expanse Focus Challenge (Review)

Face Off - Season 9

Face Off this week saw Evan pull off another win and  Ben, who did so well last week, almost lost out. Sadly, Stevie was the one who went home. This competition  added a lot pressure to the remaining contestants.  Nora had real issues at one point, but managed to pull it all together at the end to be classed as safe, along with Scott. At the end of the focus challenge, based on the upcoming SyFy series The Expanse, Ben was at the bottom with Stevie and Jordan was a close second to Evan.

McKenzie Westmore, introduces the focus challenge (which means one that needs extra special attention to detail)  to the remaining six artists.  It is based upon the SyFy series due to hit screens in December, a futuristic show where mankind has evolved after moving from Earth to colonize the stars.

The two men who wrote the books the series is based on,  Ty Frank and Daniel Abraham (who wrote the literary series  under the pen name of James S. A. Corey) and they explained  to the competitors the ideas behind the evolution of the expanded human race in the world of The Expanse.

A list of “worlds” based upon catastrophic events, volcanoes, toxic environments, polar meltdowns et al, are chose by the artists to represent.  Once again we see the thought process that goes into the creations. Michael Westmore, McKenzie’s father, came out to provide feedback.

For Scott, this proved to be a somewhat disconcerting experience as Michael and McKenzie came back out to have a further chat with the artist telling him that he was pretty far off the mark of the challenge. While this disturbed Fensterer he took onboard the “master’s” remarks and made it through to another week.

As in every challenge, the artists exhibited a range of skills and abilities. While Evan won over all for his exquisite detailing and paintwork, Jordan almost tied with his overall dedication to design and the complete picture he “painted” with his character.

Face Off - Season 9
Jordan, a close second to Evan this week.

While Ben really lost his way on the depiction of his volcanic piece, it was Stevie who lost out with her decision to make her evolved human have flesh tones versus a more “fishy color.” There were also issues with her application of the facial piece where it appeared to be crooked.  The judges explained that the overall effort was not up to her previous works.

Face Off - Season 9
Stevie’s creation faced stiff completion and got her sent home.

As with any competitive based series, many of the favorites have been sent home at this point. Meg Wilbur and Stevie Calabrese have both left and this leaves only Nora Hewitt out of the remaining female contestants.  With a male heavy complement of artists all going for the brass ring, odds are against the young lady, but hopes remain high that she can pull off the win.

The judges again provide great feedback to all  the contestants and Glenn Hetrick had words of praise for Stevie before she packed up and left.  The remaining competitors are Nora, Evan Hedges, Ben Ploughman, Jordan Patton and Scott Fensterer.  The next challenge will up the ante once again and the pressure will increase exponentially.

Face Off airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in and see if your favorite makes it through.

Agents of SHIELD: Purpose in the Machine (Review) Tissues Required


Agents of SHIELD continues the missing Jemma storyline, but only until the very end of Purpose in the Machine. Last week saw Lash killing new inhumans before Phil or the opposition could collect them and Fitz going into the monolith room and beating at the huge hunk of rock while screaming at it to “do something.”

This week, we learn where May (Ming-Na Wenis and what Grant (Brett Daltonhas  been up to.  Another Asgardian is turned to; Professor Randolph (Peter MacNicol) who first appeared  in 2013,  via the episode The Well, for help with the monolith.  May, is with her father (James Hong), the victim of a hit-and-run accident that may or may not have been orchestrated by Ward.

Meanwhile, Grant is busily kidnapping Baron Van Strucker’s son. Strucker was in Avengers: Age of Ultron and a member of HYDRA, as well as SHIELD. Ward is rebuilding HYDRA and he is intent upon making it better than it was before.

Leo, who was last seen beating the big rock with his fists, is rescued by the team just as the stone changes.  He finds a grain of sand, which proves his portal theory which prompts Coulson and his agents head to Norway to collect Randolph who reluctantly agrees to help.

Fitz and the team, along with Randolph, head to Gloucestershire where the monolith appears at the start of this episode. The group discover an oddly shaped room with old electrical equipment.  This room was a container for the monolith and Fitz, with a little help from Daisy, goes into the the stone, that Mack brings from HQ and Leo rescues Jemma.

While this episode has a number of references to the big screen verse of Marvel, “floating cities” and Baron Von Strucker and new inhumans, there was plenty of small screen focus going on. Daisy, whom Phil insists upon calling Skye, is becoming a “leader.” At least that is Dr. Andrew Garner’s prognosis.

Fitz becomes action man as he refuses to stop until he gets Simmons back, which he does in such a spectacular edge of the seat fashion that the viewer was in danger of getting muscle cramps.  May is hunted down by Lance, who reveals that he knows why she is looking after her father.

Ward has prior of hurting the opposition by harming/killing those closest to his target. As shown at the end of the episode by Von Strucker’s son enrolling in Andrew’s psych class, May’s old flame has obviously been targeted by HYDRA’s new leader.  Besides turning into a leader, Daisy also shows that she has learned to master those new powers, it is her controlled tremor that keeps the portal (monolith) open long enough for Fitz to bring back Jemma.

Purpose in the Machine ticked all the right boxes this week:  A white knuckle rescue, reaffirmation that Grant Ward is the nastiest bully in the playground and enough tears to sink Nick Fury’s flying fortress.  In terms of emotion, and the requirement for a box to tissues, Whedon and director Kevin Tancharoen hit viewers with a double whammy.

As Fitz was being drug back by the cable, he and Simmons’ hands kept slipping and after losing her hand once, the final “pull” looked to have left Jemma behind as the monolith was destroyed by all the tremor action going on.  Leo is seen emerging from the rubble and  then he matter-of-factly  reaches into the crushed remains of the stone next to him and pulls out Simmons.

“Fitz-Simmons” are back together, and if the emergence of Jemma from the rubble did not bring at least a lump to the viewer’s throat, then Simmons’ waking up and crawling over to the sleeping Fitz and putting her head on his lap guaranteed floods of tears.  Tissues are required for this episode unless you are Hunter who opted to crack open a beer in celebration at the news.

This episode belongs to Iain De Caestecker; his focussed Leo was the hero of this story, although Daisy (Chloe Bennetcomes in a close second with her tremor control allowing Fitz to grab Jemma and retrieve her from that alien world.  Brett Dalton proves yet again, that even with just a small amount of screen time he convinces as one nasty bit of work.

DAZ CRAWFORD, BRETT DALTONNow that Leo and Jemma are back as a team, it may be his turn to help Simmons to cope with what she’s been through.  Daisy has a cool new nickname, Mack calls her  “Tremors” after she helps Fitz and May decides to help Hunter in his plan to take out Grant from within HYDRA. Andrew, however, looks to become a Ward casualty.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and get your Marvel fix.


Scream Queens: Haunted House – Too Campy? Could Be...


Perhaps some people are more easily impressed than others, for instance, this viewer found the entire episode of Scream Queens Haunted House worth watching just for the extended Matthew McConaughey impression by Diego Boneta while preparing to question the  former Kappa in the trailer. That scene, as well as Grace’s father revealing that the scary thing about Children of the Corn is your inner child killing you, made the show.

There were things that still worked about the series, although not as well as last week’s episode Chainsaw. The character of Denise Hemphill has worn out her welcome, with all the campy eye rolling and hand waving.  The whole Niecy Nash act is overkill and adds nothing to the show…


The other thing that made Haunted House delightfully worth watching was the unison scene with Nash and Boneta in the “hag” scene.  Hemphill and Martinez both reveal things learned about the house where ZayDay will hold her “haunted house” fund raiser.

Both of these scenes show a sort of genius that “gets it.” There are a few other things in the episode that work brilliantly, the “discovery” of the obligatory multiple victims. Like any decent slasher film, bodies have to be found; laid out in a grisly display to scare the heck out of the movie’s protagonist.

Chad and Hester (Glen Powell and Lea Michele respectively) who are obsessed with dead bodies, Chad fantasizes about necrophilia, find the dearth of murdered students and the decomposing Ms Bean in the haunted house and they both freak out accordingly. 

In the local coffee shop, they sit, in shock, and then tell the students in the place to avoid the house because of the dead bodies. The news galvanizes the other customers who all rush over to see the house of corpses.

Later when ZayDay finds that her fund raiser does indeed have real dead bodies in it, she calls 911 and speaks to a dispatcher who sounds suspiciously like Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified) and considering how good Boneta was at doing McConaughey it would to be surprising to  learn that  he also “did” Goggins for the call.

Perhaps the problem with this comedy horror treat is the inclusion of too much comedy. Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan have thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink, with enough gags in each episode that repeated viewings are needed to get all the jokes, references and sly (and not so sly) genre homages.  Viewing figures are dropping steadily each week.

This may be more because of audience tastes being…out-of-sync with the show’s creator’s vision. Rather oddly, Scream, the MTV “salute” to the Wes Craven classic franchise, which missed the mark on so many levels, earned a second season, while the fans who normally flock to any  Ryan Murphy project have been tuning out.

It does beggar belief that viewers aren’t getting this show, too much comedy seems to equal death. (Something that would blow Mel Brooks away as all his films have loads of gags in them.) How can one not appreciate the interaction between Grace (Skyler Samuels) and her dad where her father says:

Wes: “No you were born in a hospital. I was there. I saw you come out of your mother…big mistake, by the way…”


The episode this week, sees ZayDay get kidnapped and at the end of the episode the “woman in black” is sitting in  a rocking chair surrounded by damaged dolls, in the haunted house and it is former Kappa Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) who is doing the wailing. 

It may help this series to have more Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts,  Diego Boneta and Oliver Hudson and a lot less Niecy Nash.  Regardless of whether Hemphill becomes the Red Devil’s next victim or not, the gags are numerous in this series and may be flying by the less conscious viewers. Is Scream Queens too camp for fans of comedy horror? 

As Bugs Bunny would say, “Mmmmm, could be.”

However it is most likely a case of too much on offer and this is confusing the target audience. It appears that  Murphy and co. may have aimed their latest offering more towards “Gleeks” who adore  that verse but who may be incapable of appreciating this one.

It has to be noted that the dining room scene with the obnoxious “frat” and his house brother whom the little group of Chanel’s attack is odd, yet funny.  Taking feminism to its most combative and extreme fells strangely satisfying yet disturbing on so many levels. Kudos chaps for putting this in, surrealistic comedy that works.

*Sidenote* The two films being watched, firstly by the trailer park gal (And how funny it this storyline? The implication being that if one leaves University sans degree, they become trailer park “trash.”) are “Leprechaun” and “Children of the Corn.” 

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on ABC, if you love full tilt comedy that just happens to be set in the world of slasher films and all that entails, tune in, you will like it. Gleeks?  Maybe not so much…

Castle: PHDead (Review)


PHDead follows the two-part season open of Castle with a step back to the show’s earlier formula, after a fashion. Kate is still not at home and Rick is desperately trying to win her back. The move back to its roots  is suggested by Lucy the home operating system in the opening sequence.  Martha (Susan Sullivan) make a welcome return in this episode later as she attempts to help Rick deal with Kate’s leaving.

While the episode itself feels a little redundant, in terms of heading back to the beginning of  the series,  the comedy moments were well done. For example:  Rick excitedly unwrapping the pyramid home operating system which introduces itself as “Lucy” and Castle replying that his wife has left him. The system responds:

“Yikes, sucks to be you Rick.”

Definitely worthy of a chuckle or two, as is the 22 Jump Street gag with Esposito and Ryan, where the suspect pegs them without even looking up from his tablet as “over 40” cops.

Just as funny is the whole Alexis “dressed as a dirty angel” scene in the frat house.  While this was not the whole gag, Beckett showing up to “own” Rick as he is about to lose at beer  pong against Frankenstein’s monster, is the punch line.

While the underlying thread of season eight is Beckett’s continued partnership with analyst Vikram Singh (Sunkrish Bala) as they try to smoke out the dirty CIA operative,  the other side of the Caskett coin is Rick’s misinterpretation of his wife’s decision to move out of the marital home.   

There is also the usual odd-ball murder to be solved and in this case a university student  is murdered while dressed as a convict. After discovering that the man is not an escapee from the local prison, they believe that the orange jumpsuit is a costume. As Kate says  “in university” Halloween is a month long event.

Ryan and Esposito and Rick all head to Hudson U to question suspects and classmates of the murdered student.  Castle “buys” his way on to the faculty and Kate orders Ryan and Esposito not to work with him.  Cue the 22 Jump Street approach as they try to unobtrusively question the main suspect.

As the show continues, Rick and Alexis discover a BDSM den that the dead student used with his lover.  However,  before they find the “50 Shades” lair, Castle’s P.I. partner goes undercover to question the suspect that Ryan and Avi strike out on.  She learns that he did not kill the victim and where the dead man’s “love nest” is.

Later Alexis heads to a frat house party, dressed as  (as Avi  puts it) a dirty angel,  and Rick goes in after being wound up by his two friends.  They learn about Peter’s faculty girlfriend; a Dr. Lillstrom who is head of the psych department.  Alexis and Rick head to where Lillstrom’s phone was last triangulated and they discover that the department head is conducting an illegal prison study funded by the military.

After the usual Castle-style investigations and hunches, which has Rick placing Lillstrom in cuffs and under citizen’s arrest, the real culprit is caught. The dean, who welcomed Rick with open arms as a guest lecturer was having an affair with the late Peter who was murdered by one of the other prisoners in Lillstrom’s Army funded study.

At the end of the episode, Kate hardens her resolve to keep searching, even after her informant “Michael Smith” tells her, firstly how to track the CIA operative and then finishes by saying that this will get her killed.  Rick is still confused about just why Kate has left and is still trying to “win” her back.

Perhaps the best bit of the season so far is the increased presence of Molly C. Quinn as Alexis. The grown-up daughter teaming up with her dad is funny and the two have an excellent father-daughter chemistry (These performers have always come across brilliantly as the immature dad with the parent kid.) which comes over as cute and touching.

One note of complaint is that it feels as though the show’s new runner has opted to make Vikram a “Rick Castle clone” in terms of “manliness” issues. In other words, the chap being overpowered by the stronger Kate, check out the punching bag scene and see if, in your head, you can’t see Rick in Singh’s part.

Alexis, Frankenstein’s monster and Rick

Still, the season is just starting and the whole thing may work out fine.  The question is whether the recipe of more Alexis and less Kate (and Martha) will please long term fans. Castle airs Mondays on ABC and is still addictive viewing for fans of Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. Tune in and enjoy.

Blindspot: Eight Slim Grins (Review) Moments of Truth

Blindspot - Season 1

Show creator Martin Gero serves up the fantastic in Blindspot and rather than expecting us to “get it,” he provides enough moments of truth to make the unbelievable palatable and acceptable.  Unlike another network’s tale set in the world of the FBI, this show pays less attention to trying too hard and more to the characters, their interaction and the mystery of the former Jane Doe.

Those who have not watched this episode yet, either waiting for HULU or for the DVD of season one to be available in shops, stop reading now.

It should come as no surprise the Jane is actually the “missing for 25 years” neighbor kid that Weller’s daddy was accused of doing away with. Taylor Swan, aka Jane Doe has shown up after all this time, covered with tattoos and proficient enough at hand to hand combat to be registered as a dangerous weapon. There is also the fact that she can use about any sort of sidearm and rifle manufactured…

As this week’s episode deals with the Candymen who are all former SEALS (something that they believe Jane is, or was) who now rob jewelry stores the world over, Patterson finds another tattoo which turns out to be an old FBI file number. She grabs the physical file and drops it off to the boss, explaining that Mayfair worked on the case.  Mayfair, tells her tech that she will look at it later.

The man from Jane’s/Taylor’s memory turns up at her safe house at the beginning of the episode and after some satisfactory unarmed combat, the man is shot before he can reveal anything of use to Jane.   At one point Jane has a tooth knocked out with the table leg her assailant uses against her.  She spits the thing out, a’ la The Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and ups her game to overpower the man.

After telling her that she cannot trust “them” (the FBI) the man from her memory is killed. Patterson finds out that the Candyman who was shot in the jewelry store has the exact same SEAL tattoo as Jane.  Jane Doe and Weller go to question the man, who is in hospital. While they are there, the seriously wounded man’s colleagues come to rescue him.

There are a couple of good fights, a decent shootout and some interesting twists and turns. Rather unsurprisingly, the dour Mayfair turns out to have a secret and her contact, (actor Michael Gaston who always plays stinkers) wants to have Jane killed in case the secret comes out.

By the end of the show, Jane finally learns who she is after Patterson reveals that the results of the DNA test prove that she is Weller’s old childhood pal, Taylor.  Mayfair decides that Jane/Taylor can now accompany the team on all assignments and she is allowed to have a gun.

This show is fantastical, a woman covered in tattoos with no idea who she is or how she got those tattoos. She is proficient at hand to hand combat, better than good with firearms and is very intelligent. The FBI let her roam around the bureau and get involved with the investigations without really knowing who she is.

Despite these more “out there” bits of the plot, the show works.  Unlike the ABC series, Quantico, which opted to use FBI training as the integral part of their suspension of disbelief and failed, Blindspot relies on the characters, plot and dialogue to sell its believability.

Example: Patterson tries to explain a finding to Agents Reade (Rob Brown) and Zapata (Audrey Esparza):

Patterson: “You guys familiar with ALPR?”

Reade: “Like the dog food?”

Patterson: “No, not… A-L-P-R… Automatic License Plate Recognition.”

In the above interaction, Reade is teasing Patterson, which Zapata recognizes and the two agents smirk at one another while the technician, in a state of what must be continual exasperation, explains what she means.

In fact, Patterson (Ashley Johnson) may just be the biggest grain of truth in the whole show. Her character is all about enthusiastically solving the riddles in front of her, whether it be the tattoos  she must decipher or tracking down a robber’s sister’s car. She is also a brilliant bit of comic relief.

Blindspot does not just have Patterson as its moments of truth, the performances also feel right.  The team, as Weller explains to Jane, has a way of doing things, a rhythm and the three performers work well enough together that this does not feel like an exaggeration.

Jaimie Alexander provides the biggest truth of all. Her character has shifted with each episode from the confused tattooed woman with a wiped memory to a more determined individual who wants to know who she really is and who did this to her.

As each episode concludes, we feel that another layer has been exposed, not peeled back, but left open just enough to tantalize both Jane and us, the audience. Blindspot airs Mondays on NBC.  This is a show that, despite its outlandish premise, works beautifully, miss this one and you will miss some quality television and performances.

Gotham: The Last Laugh – Jerome in the Box?


Watching the second season of Gotham has been a fascinating look at how show runner Bruno Heller loves teasing his viewers. The Last Laugh, which picks up after Jerome has slaughtered most of the GCPD and killed the newly promoted Commissioner Essen, continues the theme of “rising villains.”  We learn, in the episode’s opening sequence that Theo’s sis, Tabitha and Barbara are very close and what Galavan’s motivations are for wreaking havoc on the city of Gotham.

As Theo continues his personal vendetta against the city, there is still that animosity between Kean and “Lee” Thompkins(Tabitha seems to be a little jealous of Kean as well), Jerome puts on a deadly magic show at the Children’s Hospital benefit, Jim Gordon plays rough, with a little help from Harvey, and Selina looks all grown up.

With Alfred putting some smooth moves on Dr. Thompkins and Bruce telling his little partner in crime Selina that he misses her, romance is in the air.  So is a little insane jealousy from Barbara who tells a captive Leslie that she and Jim will get back together after a “harpy” split them up.

It is Thompkins who gets “line of the night” award with her telling Kean (while tied to a knife throwing target):

“You are one crazy b*tch.”

The build up in this season of Gotham’s new villains used  the premise that Jerome is the going to become The Joker. Up to this point is seemed pretty irrefutable;  look at the evidence: The maniacal laugh, the vicious sense of humor, the wholesale slaughter of Gotham-ites…

However…While Jerome, or rather Cameron Monaghan the actor who  plays him, channeled his inner Cesar Romero/Jack Nicholson/Heath Ledger, it appears that this red haired homicidal maniac is a red herring.  Everyone assumed that this kid was going to put on the makeup and the lipstick, along with that huge grin. 


Theo stabs Jerome in the neck during the big standoff between an armed Alfred, Jim Gordon and the “future” Joker who was holding a knife at the throat of the future Batman. Galavan rides his star Maniax member to the floor, with the implement still  stuck firmly in Jerome’s neck.

This mini villain, who killed his blind father earlier, expires with a mad grin, eye’s wide open in a blind amused stare and we see him, at the end laying on a gurney in the morgue the same way.  Sic transit Jerome mundi.  Theo tells Kean later that Jerome was growing tedious and that his one note act was getting stale. He had to go.

But has he?

The whole blind father curse (played by the prolific character actor Mark Margolis who was Tio Salamanca in Breaking Bad) where certain denizens of Gotham begin laughing in that Joker style of chortling and misbehaving in very deadly ways after watching TV footage of the killer is the real red herring,  n’est-ce pas?

Theo has been a master at deception since he arrived in Gotham.  Spreading porkies (pork pies – lies) all over the city.   His villainy by deception as well as intent with an emphasis on becoming the only member of a new ruling class is apparent only to us, the viewers.

Stepping away from Galavan, and his rather unhealthy relationship with sis, and the remaining Maniax; Harvey Bullock has stuck his head the in the lion’s mouth, or The Penguin’s rather, and this may come back to bite him in a very nasty way.

(And this is why we do not go to visit the “king of Gotham” when we are over-tired, Harvey.)

The “yes Ms. Mooney, no Ms. Mooney” insult, along with “umbrella boy”crack  has reached a part of Oswald Cobblepot that Bullock should have left alone.  The new crime king will wait for his chance to strike back and Harvey may become a memory all too soon.

In this version of Gotham, where Batman is still a rich kid with issues and the future Cat Woman looks all too gown up, things are all over the place in the verse. We are charting the rise of Jim Gordon, not Bruce Wayne, and all bets are, presumably off.


Jerome is not dead and this is not a “what the fudge” moment.  The actions of Valeska screamed Joker almost from frame one.  Viewers of Gotham should not be convinced of Jerome’s demise.  This feels way too much like a diversionary tactic from camp Galavan.  It would come as no surprise at all to learn that this is all a part of Theo’s “role as hero” plan.

After all, a hero is only as good as the villain he, or she, faces.  Jerome is, thus far, the most charismatic (and not in a good way) baddie in the show.  What better way to look great while upholding the law than to have the recently dispatched bad guy pop back up like some malefic Jerome in the box?

Gotham airs Mondays on Fox, do not miss this increasingly dark journey into the rise of the villains and Jim Gordon. On a final note if, in fact,  Jerome is dead and Weller has opted to kill off the “Joker?”



Quantico: America – Changes for Gravitas (Review)

Priyanka Chopra

The poor decision to make the pilot for Quantico too short, in other words “normal” episode length, rather than a full feature length open is still an issue. This week’s episode, America has changed the series format aiming, it seems, for a sort of gravitas. The addition of a Priyanka Chopra voice over at the start of the episode does little to improve the show.  It is still a messy and somewhat convoluted plot that goes in all directions while the series’ creator continues using fiction as thinly disguised  patriotic flag waving. 

Alex Parrish is still on the run, from last week’s episode where the former director of the academy helped the accused agent to escape. As she attempts to discover who has framed her for the explosion, the series continues to bounce back and forth between her training and the “present.”

While there are many things that annoy about this show, it does have moments of truth, the monologue from Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis) about human behavior and that people tell “truths” about themselves based upon what others want to hear, for example.  The interactions between the trainees, the competition, the jealousies and the curiosity all feel spot on. 

In terms of plot, the disgraced Caleb has returned as an analyst (thanks to his sister we learn later in the episode) and he is joined by a group of  data specialists. One of whom zooms in on the first openly gay NAT, Simon Asher (Tate Ellington). The new analyst, Elias Harper (Rick Cosnett) first hits on Simon and then begins digging into the trainee’s past.

A few things have been cleared up, which could have been done earlier if the pilot were longer, such as the twin thread. It now turns out that the director, Shaw, is conducting some sort of ground breaking experiment.  Something must go wrong since Miranda is “out in the field” getting Alex away from Liam nine months later.

We learn that the assistant director Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkins) had a thing for Parrish (and who can blame him) and also has something over Ryan Booth’s head. Booth (Jake McLaughlin) says to O’Connor at the meeting in the woods that “This is Chicago all over again.” The assistant director then tells the undercover agent that if he wants to see his family again, he will do what O’Connor instructs.

There are a number of hints that no one in this particular class of NATs are who or what they claim to be.  As a montage or two shows, each one has secrets, skills and abilities that do not match their profiles. All the better to make the viewer feel a sense of paranoia, which seems to also be the theme of Quantico. (Apparently we now need to suspect and turn in anyone whom we believe to be a threat and this equals patriotism…)

Johanna Braddy
Is that Arabic Shelby is speaking?

The spiel by the director states clearly where and how a threat to the country could be from within:

“Our own backyard… a neighbor you grew up next to, a one-night stand you had, perhaps even a family member.”

Sounds more like the “good old days” of Russia, under Stalin, where neighbor’s turned in their neighbor, family members contacted the KGB about siblings  and life was one paranoid trip of turning in your friends before they turned you in.

There are issues with the flashback sequences not providing clarity in the right areas. This will, presumably, be sorted out as Parrish gets closer to clearing her name. The NATS and the analysts are all still very attractive, even the newer ones. The recruit Natalie Vazquez (Annabelle Acosta) who jumps to the fore this episode as Alex’s shadow (main competitor) and analyst Harper both look like models out of the pages of either Vogue or GQ respectively. 

Regardless of the America’s Next Top Model look of the cast the acting is, thus far, more than acceptable. Chopra is, of course, perfection in her role, despite the somewhat disjointed script. McLaughlin is convincing as Booth and the rest of the cast all fill their character’s shoes with conviction.

Quantico has gone overboard to give the viewer as many suspects as possible.  All the NATS seem to be either hiding something or pretending to  be something other than what they appear. Add to this group of potential terrorists, the staff, Director Shaw and her former partner (On and off the job?) with their little secrets and sidelines and it appear that anyone and everyone could be real bomber.

Alex may be the best of the best thus far, it is mentioned again via a flashback that this young recruit is sharp, and innocent of the charges levied against her.  However, she has the whole “I shot my father and killed” storyline where  Liam is looking for information about her late FBI agent father.

The addition of Alex Parrish telling the viewer what is happening to her at the start of the e episode  feels a little too Kung Fu or even The Fugitive (the television show and not the film) where  either a character or an announcer declares, “Accused of a crime…” A little old hat but obviously deemed necessary by producers to help diminish the confusion.

Rick Cosnett
The Vampire Diaries actor Rick Cosnett…

Quantico, via the auspices of the show’s writers, is trying to improve the appearance and the storyline of the series. This second episode is picking up the scattered pieces in an attempt to clarify and smooth its rocky opening. The series airs Sundays on ABC. Time will tell if this one straightens out enough kinks to become addictive or whether it merely continues to irritate.

Sleepy Hollow: I Witness – It’s a Hard Knock Life


While it is always good to see anything directed by Peter Weller (RoboCop, Longmire), the season three premiere of Sleepy Hollow, I Witness felt a little lacking in the character department. With the last season exit of John Noble (Fringe, Devil’s Playground) and Katia Winter (Banshee Chapter, Dexter) this first foray into Sleepy Hollow with a new “big bad” felt a little underpopulated.

The last horseman, the headless chap, is dispatched early on in I Witness by a singing Shannyn Sossamon who plays Pandora (the girl with the box). While it was nice to see Sossamon gainfully employed after Wayward Pines,  the song picked for her character to sing was…in a word, vile. Still, she looks to be an interesting addition to the verse. 

Stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood are all back as Ichabod Crane, “Leftenent” Abbie Mills and her sister Jenny respectively while Orlando Jones is missing, his character has moved away from the rather busy burg. Nikki Reed, as Betsy Ross (so much more than a seamstress) will be a regular considering that flashback sequence in I Witness and the IMDb credit list.

The plot of the first episode continued with the tradition of tongue in cheek humor.  Pandora releases a Chinese demon which is “fear” and can only be harmed when its eyes go white. This is then incorporated into American history to imply that “only shoot when you see the whites of their eyes” referred to colonist militia shooting the demon “back in the day” and not the enemy red coats.

Since the last season ended, Abbie is now with the FBI, and her boss is C. Thomas Howell, aka Special Agent in Charge Granger. Crane has been searching for his identity and then detained in immigration when he tries to bring a historical artifact into the country.

On a sidenote, Howell has been one busy chappy this year, showing up in ABCs Stitchers as Kirsten’s Clarke’s (played by Emma Ishta) dad earlier in the year.

The writing for this episode was rather interesting with Crane telling Abby at the end of the episode that he apparently was not too pleased with how the country he fought for has turned out, but, it is the only one he has. This bit of dialogue feels like a not-to-thinly-veiled patriotic moan about the state of America.

The demon was   scary enough and Pandora may turn out to be as interesting as Noble’s Henry Parish, but as good an actress as Sossamon is, one cannot quite picture her chewing up the scenery with the same zeal as the Australian actor.  Still, since Katia Winter left, there needed to be a pinup replacement and apart from being a very qualified performer, Shannyn is truly lovely to watch.

Mills and Mison, as well as Greenwood, still have that splendid chemistry and it will be interesting to see just what Nikki Reed’s Betsy Ross and Crane got up to in the old days. It is, however,  the humor; those good old sly, eye winking moments that continues to make Sleepy Hollow a  treat to watch.

For example: At the start of the season opener, Crane is in the detention center and questioning his role in life and what the whole thing is about. His cell mate, peeking out from under the top bunk, states that “It’s a hard knock life…for us.” Later, when Pandora and Abbie meet at the bar and Crane is back at the table, the music playing in the background is “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”


Clever and witty, as usual, with a high caliber director (Weller) helming the first episode, FOX have opted to open strong with their third season.  Certainly the old regime will be missed but thus far the show’s newest additions look to be on par with the old crew and this should be a good season for fans.

Sleepy Hollow airs Thursdays on FOX.  Check out the newest season and see if they can outdo that last one.


The Player: Ante Up – There May be Hope

The Player - Season 1

So episode two of The Player keeps the action and the Ginny conspiracy running while star Philip Winchester continues to spar with Wesley Snipes and intrigue Charity Wakefield.  Aussie actress Daisy Betts, whose character Ginny was “killed” in the show’s pilot, maintains a background presence via photographs and Alex’s remembrance that the body in the morgue was missing a vital bit of tattoo ink.

The series moves into the game proper this week and things have gotten deadlier. A team of bloodthirsty and coldblooded killers are robbing security vans and killing innocents on a wide scale.  Kane is pitted against the “Carnage Crew.”

While the whole Alex grousing about the game may be annoying, the show’s action sequences are impressive and the mix of Wakefield, Winchester and Snipes is a good one. Damon Gupton, the best friend and cop who seemed hell-bent on putting Alex in jail last week, has warmed up a bit. He still has that cold delivery however and this still irritates.

Ante Up proves that high octane is the theme for this action thriller.  After Mr. Johnson shows Kane that he will make things personal for The Player, Alex’s target is an old comrade from his Afghanistan days, surprisingly it appears that the pit boss is also ready to help his reluctant asset.

The show has Alex being tortured, participating in a gun fight at a casino storeroom, another firefight on a main street, and a pretty impressive bit of action on an airplane and then in the air. There cannot be many programs that can boast a bit of “mile high” arial altercation where a parachute is swapped, unwillingly, between the fighters.

Wakefield continues to be the more interesting of the trio but Winchester is starting to become more watchable. The dialogue still feels  a little forced,  but, it is getting tighter and that bit more clever. Snipes, as Johnson, has a brilliant chemistry with both Cassandra/April and with Alex.

The one person who really does not fit in this scenario very well is Detective Cal Brown (Gupton). This may not be the actor’s fault, as it seems the writers spent too much time  trying to make Snipes, Winchester and Wakefield more interesting and witty. This has left Damon a little underwritten and oddly disjointed.  Seemingly way too eager to arrest his best buddy in the pilot and too understanding in this episode.

In terms of villains, Joseph Sikora, as Dominic McCall,  was perhaps a bit of a “one-note” baddy but his criminality was done with a sort of twisted panache and not a little psychosis.  The “double-down” second bet orchestrated by a clever Cassandra was a nice shift and gives us the idea that boyfriend Nick may be on the way out.

The Player - Season 1

The underlying plot thread of Alex believing that Ginny is still alive, by submitting hair samples for a DNA match become more interesting after being show that the body on the table was, supposedly, her. However…Johnson showing up at the end of the episode stating support and agreeing the Ginny is still alive gives Alex the idea that there is some hope she is not dead.

Just as this second episode of The Player gives us some hope that this action thriller is going to keep entertaining with a heavy dose of adrenaline and a improving plot line. The series airs Thursdays on NBC, tune in and see if they can beat that mid-air fisticuff scene in this episode.


Z Nation: Batch 47 – Harvesting Z Weed And the Return of Pie Girl

Murphy and the guys react to baby Murphy

After last week’s episode of Z Nation, where Citizen Z was conspicuous in his absence, Batch 47 sees DJ Qualls back on form trying to keep the group headed in the right direction. Along with Citizen Z’s return, this episode features not one but two guest stars and the return of Dr Kurian along with Pie Girl, aka Serena, who has been searching for her baby daddy.

The return to the more comic side of Z Nation sees Dileep Rao (Drag Me to Hell, Inception) as Odegard, (the one who stumbled across the z weed) and who discovered the existence of batch 47; a substance rumored to be a herbal cure for the zombie virus. Odegard works for the Zeroes, the cartel that funded Dr. Kurian (Donald Corren) and distributes the zombie grown marijuana.

Head of the “new more user friendly” Zeroes is Sons of Anarchy‘s Emilio Rivera who played Marcus Alvarez in the popular series and is Hector Alvarez in Z Nation. Escorpion’s former employee Kurian survived his “Indiana Jones” escape from the nuclear blast but not without some damage. As Murphy puts it:

“Why should I trust an irradiated mad scientist with an ear that looks like Elvis?”

As Warren and Murphy reach the complex, Odegard has harvesters competing to find and collect batch 47, a feat that is rather deadly in that the zombie compost is full of “Fido Zombies” which are all interconnected via the plants. At the start of the episode two volunteer harvesters die before the opening credits roll.

Doc gets another good line this week as the show enters back into black, and flat-out broad comedy, with his tired complaint to Murphy about having to keep running after the savior of humanity.

“Seriously dude, I’m getting tired of chasing your bony ass all over this apocalypse.”

However, Doc is not the only one chasing Murphy’s bony ass. Serena who appeared early in the season has been looking for her “Baby Daddy Murphy” and their “baba” seems pretty excited when they bump into the gang, and  Murphy at the end of the episode. For those fans who have waiting for more zombabies, their wish has been granted.

Although this zombaby is still in residing in Serena’s ever expanding tummy…for now.

Before Murphy’s Pie Girl returns, there are plenty of z weed gags. Cassandra inhaling from Odegard’s vape and after exhaling then sighing “This is some good sh*t” she offers the inhaler back to him. “That’s okay,” he says with obvious distaste, “you can have that one.”

Later, when Hector “Escorpion” injects batch 47 up Odegard’s nose, the future employee of the month feels no pain initially. “I feel good!” Unfortunately the feel good feeling wears off quickly and he becomes a fido zombie.

This episode sees the introduction of another type of zombie.  Last week had Blaster Zombies and this week we see Fido Zombies. As the second season continues we can be sure that more variations will be trotted out by series creator Karl Schafer.

The humor was, once again, brilliant. Murphy finding the plot where batch 46 is, holding the remains of more Fido Zombies. “I can still feel them,” he says. Another excellent touch was that every time one of the zombies were injured, Murphy felt it. When Vasquez leaps on the “head” Fido and stabs it repeatedly  in the head, Murphy feels it all.

There is a secondary story, in this week’s Z Nation, where a harvester is trying to find the herbal cure for her charge, a girl who calls her mom. Mariah is left behind at the end giving batch 47 leaves to the child to chew. Jessica Bork plays the role and the woman looks uncannily like a young Kate Jackson and despite the fact it was a cameo, she impresses in the part.

Murphy and Cassandra at the Z weed factory
Murphy and Cassandra about to become four…

Kurian is taken away by Hector and the Zeroes and Murphy is once again with Warren and the gang. When Serena shows up with a very active “baba” Murphy, he and the rest of the group are pretty freaked out by the “pushy” infant she is still carrying. As Doc says, Serena (Sara Coates) looks about 10 month’s pregnant. Whether  Cassandra (Pisay Pao) will  be  put out by the arrival of Serena remains to be seen.

Alexander Selling, who has been the cinematographer for 18 episodes of Z Nation  directed this one,  his first time  in the chair for the series, and he does an excellent job. This was a “busy” episode with a lot of gags, including the headless Fido’s on the table, and Selling acquitted himself admirably.

The Asylum continue to up their game with Z Nation.  The double dose of guest stars brought a lot to the zombie table and Rao ruled the episode.  The series airs as part of SyFy Friday and is an addictive experience.  Do not miss this alternative apocalyptic zombie setting to The Walking Dead.