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The Expanse: Space is Dirty and Biased (Review) And Not a Little Confusing

The Expanse - Season 1

Not having read the novels that The Expanse is based on, the pilot feels a little like the subplot of Total Recall (1990). Where “Cohaagen” (played with suitable smarmy menace by Ronny Cox) punishes the local Mars denizens by shutting off their air.  In this new SyFy space drama, the cosmos is dirty and full of bias.  Extreme opposites mark the opening episode. 

The “subway” system on Ceres, where the series begins more or less, is loud, like real subways, or the tube in England, and compared with the relative calm and low level decibel emissions on the surface, is too loud.  The show’s main protagonists are, thus far, Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) a “Belter” cop, Holden (Steven Strait) acting XO on an ice freighter. 

There are other characters in and around the periphery and the most important of these is Julie Mao, played by Florence Faivre, who we see at the very start of the premiere episode. This young woman, first encountered in a locked room which she has to escape from, is the motivator of this story. Detective Miller is assigned the job of locating and returning the rich girl to her home.

The Expanse follows recent popular ideas of what space in the future will actually be, an uneasy alliance of miners, companies and a certain hostility between same.  In this instance, Mars, Earth and the “belt” are at odds and the currency is powered by air and water; precious commodities in the future.  There are also  other nods to existing science fiction themes and films.

The splendid character actor Jonathan Banks has a minuscule cameo in the pilot as the stressed out XO who suffers a breakdown.  In the scene where Holden has to break into the executive officer’s room,  Banks’ character is treading  barefoot in dirt;  from his plants, and softly singing “Daisy, Daisy.” (The character is also muttering other things, not least of which is the oft seen “why did we not bring more light” from teaser trailers.) This singing of “Daisy”  is a clear nod and wink to the Stanley Kubrick film A 2001 Space Odyssey and HAL’s singing of Bicycle Built for Two.

*Sidenote* It has to be pointed out that only Banks could so solidly steal an entire episode from the rest of the cast with his killer breakdown. 

The Expanse - Season 1
James Holder, Earther and reluctant hero?

In this future world of mankind’s move to the stars, people who are born and live in space, i.e. the Belters, suffer from birth defects because of the minimal oxygen levels and dirty air, along with the lower gravity and smaller G forces.  Michael Jane’s character has “spurs” at the top of his spine where the bones did not knit properly.

Later in the opening episode a Belter is taken to Earth for questioning. The too skinny prisoner is held up against a wall. The suspect is in agony as his lungs and body cannot cope with the crushing gravitation forces that are killing him.

The Expanse may spotlight a future that is dirty and full of biases based upon which world one is born on, but it is, thus far, an intelligent mystery.  Unlike other futuristic settings in space, there are no aliens, unless one counts that large bulging mass that envelops an unidentified crew member while Julie Mao screams in horror.

In some ways, the Julie Mao character feels like a McGuffin, or at the very least like the female character of Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin PeaksTime will tell whether this new offering really is a space age “TP” or not…

This hungry “mass” could well be a ball of energy or some space anomaly, there is no real indication that aliens are part of this verse. Once again, not having read the novels that the series is based on, any observations are from this version of  James S. A. Corey’s world  (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).

Clever nods and winks to other science fiction works aside, this world appears bleak and life is, apparently, cheap and very disposable.  This is pointed out when the ship that Holden is on received Julie Mao’s SOS.  The crew on the bridge, consisting of the ship’s captain and the new XO all vote to ignore the distress beacon and erase it from the freighter’s logs. All done in a matter of seconds.

Only later does Holden rethink what he has done and recovers the erased log entry forcing the ship to answer the beacon.

The Expanse - Season 1
Jay Hernandez and Thomas Jane as Havelock and Miller two of Ceres’ finest.

Viewers expecting a fast-paced,  action-packed space opera will be disappointed. The Expanse is moving slowly forward taking its time introducing the players and the plot. The series premiere, which can be seen now via the Internet with VoD and on SyFy’s site, will debut properly Monday, December 14.

This looks pretty impressive, if not a bit slow, tune in and see what you think.

Z Nation: Party With the Zeros (Review) Saint Murphy

Gina Gershon as La Reina with a minion...

After last week’s Native American tribute, along with a nod to Hannibal Lector…Z Nation this week revisits the Zeros and the gang end up attending a party, in their and Murphy’s honor. A familiar face turns up,  Dr. Kurian (Donald Corren), who was last seen in Batch 47 being taken away by Escorpion (Emilio Rivera) and his henchmen.  Although the entire episode is quite serious, compared to last week’s show, and the ending a real cliffhanger, there are some comic moments.

The episode begins with   Vasquez shooting through a door, marked “Training” and clearing a path through a huge group of Z’s.  Lt. Warren, Doc and Addy help a wounded Murphy through a Mexican compound full of zombies. Apparently Murphy is still recovering from being shot in Corporate Retreat.

After being cornered, the gang check their ammunition levels and Warren tells Murphy to act like the “Zombie Messiah” he is supposed to be and produce a miracle. Cue the Zeros coming to the rescue as Murphy weakly tells the group that there are too many Z’s to control.  Escorpion opens a door in the wall and tells Warren and the rest to come in.

Z Nation: Party With the Zeros marks a higher level of subtlety from previous episodes.  It also self references previous episodes, most importantly the episode RoZwell and the mysterious “Zona.” Escorpion questions Vasquez toward the this installment and asks who they are working for, after listing “obvious” choices like the Russians or Chinese, he then asks:

“Those rich b*stards in Zona?”

Guest star Gina Gershon (Killer Joe, Red Oaks) is “La Reina de los Muertos, Queen of the Zeros Cartel” who offers to either pay Roberta and her group the CDC bounty or welcome them into the Zeros gang. What follows is an initiation, but only after Warren spares Kurian’s life. The “examination” has the group fighting off a zombie horde and surviving.

Stand out moments:

Stand out moment number one is during the build up to the zombie cage battle in the dark. After being given some rudimentary weapons by the Zeros, Warren chooses a knuckle duster and knife, the Murphy leader “zeroes” in on Escorpion and mimics the legendary Bruce Lee with a thumb brush to the nose.  (On a cool scale, with 10 being the pinnacle of coolness, this ranks an 11. #TeamWarrenOwnsEscorpion)

Stand out moment number two occurs when Murphy, after being reluctantly reunited with Dr. Kurian, has a “Marx Brothers Duck Soup” interaction with a Cassandra type Z created with his blood by Kurian.  The doctor injects the “volunteer” who then turns. The new Z immediately goes for Murphy who controls the creature.

What then happens is a brief “Z see, Z do” scene which culminates in a  very brief recreation of the classic “mirror scene” from the 1933 Marx Bros film.

Stand out moment number three is the “Z piñata scene”  where Zeros gang members are “breaking” the party favor open to get bags of drugs instead of small toys and sweets.

Honorary Mention:

The Vasquez execution attempt of Escorpion. The slow motion “dance” between the mercenary and the Lieutenant works beautifully. As the three players, one who is unaware of his role in this waltz, finish, La Reina believes that Warren has saved her life and Roberta becomes a member of the “royal” circle.

Plot Hole:

Earlier, in the previous episode of Down the Mississippi Escorpion tries 10K, Sketchy and Skeezy for stealing from the redneck zombie traders. Despite being “up close and personal” enough to pass a sentence of death on the three, Escorpion fails to recognize the sniper in this episode. Considering that this storyline has the Zeros following The Murphy and his group of protectors, which is used to explain a myriad of plot threads, it makes no real sense that the Zero enforcer would not recognize 10K.


Kurian, is working  on a ploy to escape La Reina and the Zeros. He is using Murphy’s blood to create more “Cassandra” hybrids that Murphy can exclusively control.  After announcing that he has developed a vaccine, Kurian demands he test it…on Vasquez, cue one hypodermic needle being slowly moved to the DEA agent/mercenary’s neck.

Rivera (who is best known to television viewers as Marcus Alvarez in Sons of Anarchy) continues to rock as the Zero enforcer/middle management “right-hand” man to La Reina. Gershon turns her guest starring role into something memorable as well. Her power mad leader of the cartel can be seen as an ethereal relation to the female leader (in Ray Donovan) of the  Armenian  mob, Mrs Minassian (played brilliantly by Grace Zabriskie).

By the time the end credits roll on Z Nation: Party With the Zeros, Murphy confesses he likes being treated like a  Saint, although he should be wary of the honor Saints, after all, have to be dead to have been bestowed this status and Vasquez looks as though he will  become a new “Cassandra.”

There are three episodes left in this season on SyFy, the series airs on Fridays, and despite the titles all sounding a bit “final” The Asylum show will be back in 2016. Tune in and see whether or not Matt Cedeño‘s character become’s Murphy’s newest pet.

Rosewood: Fashionistas and Fasciitiss (Review)


Pictured above are: Morris Chestnut (Rosie), Jaina Lee Ortiz as Villa and guest star Taye Diggs, as Rosewood’s competition with the woman detective in the middle. Rosewood: Fashionistas and Fasciitiss may have a storyline about murder in the Miami fashion industry, but the episode  is really about love and relationships. 

Long time fans of Diggs may remember that he was the only other survivor (along with Ali Larter) to make it out of the House on Haunted Hill, back in 1999.  They may also remember his role as Winston Shakespeare in the 1998 film How Stella Got Her Groove BackIf this trip down memory lane seems irrelevant to this episode of Rosewood, where Taye plays Dr Mike Boyce, Rosie’s best friend and completion for the attention of Villa, re-watch the episode.

Rosewood’s mother, who just announced in a previous episode, along with dad, that their marriage was over, has started dating and it is mentioned, not a few times, that:

“Stella’s getting her groove back…”

Coincidence? Not likely. The writing in this show is tight, clever and entertaining.  This is clearly a nod and wink to the guest star, who may or may not become a recurring character.  Show creatorTodd Harthan has put a lot into making this show resonant with crisp and amusing dialogue and parallel plot lines.

Hard work has gone into making Chestnut’s character, and indeed the rest of the characters, feel like a three dimensional man.  With lines that feel unscripted, which is what happens when that serendipitous mix of right actor and director combine with spot on dialogue, the entire cast of characters all feel like folks who could really exist in Miami, or anywhere else U.S.A.

Matt Cedeño (Z Nation, Power) is the suspect, who is cleared, who is  the business partner of Rosie’s childhood friend and emerging fashionista Gigi (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Matt is a regular on SyFy Channel’s Z Nation as the mercenary Vasquez and this cameo proves that his chops enable the actor to deliver what ever the role.

The main episodic plot, of someone trying to murder Gigi with bacteria,  runs along side Pippy and  TMI having relationship problems, Rosie getting jealous (sort of) about Villa and Mike being attracted to one another and Donna “getting her grove back” by spreading her wings and joining the dating site Tinder. 

Villa and Rosie, “It’s not a date…”

Taye’s character is called in to consult on Gigi’s poisoning symptoms. By the time the end credits roll, the crime is solved, Pippy and TMI have resolved their issues,  Rosie and his sister learn to deal with their mother’s new freedom and Annalise Villa takes a chance on Dr Mike.

This series is a great combination of mystery, drama, with a touch of procedural,  and gentle comedy. Dr Rosewood,  is a glib and sophisticated M.E. whose wit makes him a figure that the audience warm to immediately.  The entire cast of the show are also capable of similar feelings of warmth and acceptance by the audience.

Chestnut, who played the somewhat annoying character of Agent Rice on the TNT Sean Bean vehicle Legends has taken his character of  Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr., aka Rosie, and shown that he can do something more than play a law enforcement official with tunnel vision. Morris is also a regular on the second season of Legends and his character on that show has evolved as well.

Rosewood airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and watch a drama and mystery that will warm the heart and make the viewer smile.  So far, each episode of the first season has been enjoyable, entertaining and amusing.  While the network has ordered a full season of the series, there has been no word of whether the show will be renewed.  Hopefully this great ensemble piece will be allowed to return.

The Grinder: Giving Thanks, Getting Justice (Review)


The parallel storyline on The Grinder: Giving Thanks, Getting Justice is brilliant mix of disillusion, betrayal and at least one surprising revelation. As the Sanderson family prepare to ignore Thanksgiving, something initiated by Stewart (Fred Savage), Dean (Rob Lowe) is reliving the one year anniversary of events that led to his leaving  “The Grinder.”

At the Sanderson house, Stewart has a secret reason for not celebrating the holiday and Dean invites the former legal partner of their father’s; Joseph T. Yao who Stew caught “In flagrant delicato” with their mother in Dean’s bedroom five years previously.

Rock star lives….

This episode has a dearth of guest stars:  Clyde Kusatsu  as Yao, Timothy Olyphant, as himself and Arielle Kebbel as “The Grinder” paralegal Avery who Dean has TV sex with on his old show. The excellent Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander gives a star turn as the director/show runner who shafts Dean on the issue of shirtless versus not shirtless, which prompts Dean to leave the show.

The plot lines were funny, of course. The two brother’s dealing with infidelity, and the whole reality of their parents’ “rock star” sex lives, which included Yao was hysterical.  Olyphant’s cameo, as himself, giving advice to Lowe’s character about dignity and taking control was the highlight of the show. The punchline, of the gag (Justified?) almost stole the thunder from the rest of the episode and its gags.

Jason Alexander, King of Smarmy and Rob Lowe…

In terms of guest stars, this FOX sitcom has pulled in some great names. In this episode alone the gorgeous and uber talented Kebbel steps in as, the  “familiar female star” for “The Grinder.” In an earlier episode, this cameo was taken by Linda Cardellini.  Alexander, who plays show creator and director Cliff  Bemis, tricks Dean into using the “Mitch shirtless” scenes, does his usual expert turn as the master of smarmy. A previous guest spot was filled by Christina Applegate.

As usual, Dean Jr. manages to stack up the familial situation with stress but, in the end, also helps his little brother to get his dignity back. Before the end credits roll,  the episode delivers  a “double punchline”  that has both men upset by the news that their father knew about their mother’s apparent ongoing sexual dalliance with Yao.

The confrontation

It also has Dean realizing that the advice Olyphant gave him was a set up when a trailer shows Timothy will be playing Mitch Grinder’s brother Rake an a replacement show to Dean’s. The advert ends with a shirtless Olyphant saying “The Big Easy just got hard.”

The writing on this show continues to deliver the laughs.  On a sidenote; it is impressive the number of words that rhyme with Yao… While the viewing figures may not be very high, FOX  will surely bring back the series for at least one encore, aka second season.

This week’s episode also proved that as Stewart’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Ellis can deliver with a minimum of muss and fuss. The revelatory scene where Dean forces Stew to tell him about their mother and Yao  has Ellis stealing the scene with one line. 

The Grinder airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in and get ready to laugh…a lot.

Scream Queens: Thanksgiving – Bring Me the Head of Gigi Caldwell (Review) Or An Agatha Christie Thanksgiving


The Scream Queens: Thanksgiving episode  should have been titled Bring Me the Head of Gigi Caldwell. While  the whole Thanksgiving Agatha Christie reveal scene at the Kappa Kappa Tau meal felt like one long buildup for the diners to see that Gigi lost her head to the remaining red devil killer.

It has to be said that only this series could blend the kid’s game Duck, Duck Goose into a Miss Marple/Hercule Poirot “the killer is” dinner scene so seamlessly. After Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtisdelivers her evidence to prove the Chanel # 3 (Billie Lourd) is her prime suspect, the dean pats the sorority sister on the head saying “Goose.”  Then, following the rules of the children’s game, # 3 gives her evidence (being “it”) that Munsch is the killer. 

The Thanksgiving scream queens, plus one,  at the house then do a round robin as various protagonists point the accusatory finger at their choice suspect. Note: The idea of naming the killer was Dean Munsch’s brainchild.  Episode 110 of Scream Queens has the various sorority sisters heading out to attend celebrations away from the house only to return. The girls  then partake in the “mystery dinner party” reveal game suggested by the dean.

Hester (Lea Michele) pops up alive and well at the Radwell family feast, after being pushed down the stairs last week by Chanel Oberlin  in the sorority house. The Radwell family tree is chock full of various versions of Chad, in other words the entire clan turn out to be snobby, snotty and downright nasty.

*Sidenote* Did anyone else notice that Julia Duffy (Newhart, Shameless) who played mommy Radwell,  looked an awful lot like Brit entertainer Jennifer Saunders‘ character in Shrek 2?

Standout moment:

Grace’s dad Wes (Oliver Hudson) confessing  that he was in the meat locker because of his new diet.

“Paleo diet. It works.”


Standout Moment Deux:

The brilliantly vicious and tacky Pictionary game at Chateau Radwell:

“Snore, uh, uh, um, um, whore! Neck brace whore! ”

(Radwell family cheers)

“Neck brace whore!”

Neck brace whore (Lea Michele) Chad (Glen Powell) and Chanel # 1 (Emma Roberts)

Of course the episode’s crowning moment (See what we did there?), which allows all the participants at the Kappa Kappa Tau Thanksgiving dinner to scream in horror,  is the appearance of Gigi Caldwell’s decapitated head in place of the “pardoned’ Tiburon.

Missed Opportunity:

Pete’s list of evidence, which actually revealed that Grace’s dad, is the father of the recently deceased Boone, was not done in his “Matthew McConaughey” voice. Would have been perfect guys, and you missed the chance to bring Diego Boneta all the way home. 

Coulda, shoulda, woulda…eh fellas?

Near Miss:

Chanel # 3 and her Thanksgiving meal of Swinson’s TV dinners.  This gag was a “close but no cigar” joke that did not quite work.  There was the sound of gears meshing in thin air as the whole thing felt like a near miss instead of the spot on humor this series is known for.

Scream Queens: Thanksgiving was, overall, humorous well paced and a little annoying.  If felt like that long, and massively irritating, “Little Bunny Foo Foo” joke.  All build up and too long a wait for the punch line.

At the start of the episode, where Gigi hands the electric carving knife to the remaining red devil killer, the audience know that this grown up sorority sister has goofed.  It was, from the moment that the costumed serial killer “revved” the blade, fait accompli that Caldwell’s severed head was going to turn up.

Unfortunately, by the time that Gigi’s “John the Baptist” entrance is made the viewer has almost forgotten the buzzing carving knife.

Scream Queens does still deliver in the comedy department though.  Curtis’ vitriolic and acid tongued college kid hating dean is still brilliant and continues to amuse:

Chanel # 3: “Then Dean Munsch.”

Munsch:  “Than. Not thenThan. Have you ever even cracked open a book? Or attended a class? (snorting) God. I hate you people.”

“Then Dean Munsch…” (Billie Lourd)

As the list of suspects dwindles;  both Gigi and Boone are now dead,  the last red devil killer is still at large. However, as the late Ms Caldwell stated in an earlier episode, her team of serial killers are not the only homicidal maniacs haunting the college grounds and eliminating sorority sisters.

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in to see who the next victim will be.


Blindspot Mid-Season Finale: Turning Into Total Recall (Review)

Blindspot - Season 1

After making his move last week, CIA baddie Carter finally gets his hands on Jane in Blindspot and the mid-season finale, after a number of twists and turns, suddenly turns into Total Recall. Granted, the series could also be said to have turned into a modern version of Memento (2000) a film that also dealt with a  protagonist with memory problems who leaves messages for himself.

This episode, overall, was chock full of some great plot threads. Patterson (Ashley Johnson) personally going after the murderers of her former boyfriend David, the Russian sleeper angle, and Carter getting his mitts on Jane Doe and using torture to learn what she really knows. Added to these splendid storylines is the reveal that Jane has done all this to herself.

Cue the Total Recall moment.

Fans of the first “TR” (the Arnold Schwarzenegger film that was a bit more faithful to the Philip K. Dick source) will remember Wade (Arnold) watching a video of himself explaining who he really is. The opening moment of Wade’s video has Arnold saying, “Howdy, stranger! This is Hauser. If things have gone wrong, I’m talking to myself and you don’t have a wet towel around your head.”

In Blindspot, right after Carter is shot, the man with the tree tattooed on his forearm, shows Jane a smartphone video where Jane tells “herself” that:

“If you’re watching this, the mission is going as planned.”

Of course this opening, while evocative of the Total Recall scene, has a different punch line, unlike Wade, Jane is not someone else, but she is the one who did all this. The tattoos, the memory wipe, calling the FBI, everything was done by her, not some mysterious entity. The man with the tattoo is Oscar and Jane learns that he can A) be trusted and B) he is there to help.

Overall, Evil Handmade Instrument is a “Mary Poppins” episode, (practically perfect in every way) there are enough interwoven plot points to keep things interesting, the reveal at the end of the episode is surprising and Jaimie Alexander continues to do her fight scenes with a  staunch realism that impresses.


There are a few issues.  The Russian sleeper cell uncovered by Patterson, who are responsible for David’s death, feels a bit too John le Carré,  in other words too cold war.  That said, with real world Russian leader Putin,  the cold war, as such, may become a new reality.

Another problem is the Patterson storyline where the forensic expert manages to perfectly bluff the Russian female agent into spilling her guts.  Part of the charm of Johnson’s character has been her awkward interaction with other people, for the character to suddenly be able to function coldly and cooly enough to trap the agent does beggar belief somewhat.

On the plus side, Michael Gaston proves that he can play real stinkers with an impressive aplomb.  Carter shows that nothing is beneath him when it comes to Jane Doe and it is obvious that the “black hole” he promises to send Doe to is, in fact,  a hole six feet deep.  The only complaint about the scene,  where he switches from waterboarding to a power drill to interrogate Jane in the deserted building, comes from the rather quiet gunshots that dispatch the CIA baddie with extreme prejudice.

In that enclosed area, the sound should have been deafening, not the little popping noises on offer.

Kudos to Heidi Germaine Schnappauf who, as  stunt performer, has followed the time honored tradition of switching to actor and acquitted herself quite well. Despite there being a minimal amount of dialogue for her character Heidi not only makes the fight sequence look very real, but she also rocks it as the redheaded Russian cell member.

In terms of series bad guy, mad props go  to Gaston as Carter. This actor knows how to be a proper villain.

Blindspot - Season 1
Carter having some last words with Mayfair…

Anther complaint has to do with Jane’s sneaking off to meet with Weller, and giving him  some serious after dark PDA while she is there. Granted, the storyline is about appreciating the one you have feelings for before losing them, but overall, it was one of those “too convenient” moments. Of course if she did not sneak away from her security detail Carter could not have caught her…

Patterson’s speech to Jane was tear inducing and much more believable than her sudden interrogation expertise.  Ashley Johnson is a brilliant actress and this scene proves it; chops to the Nth degree and a delivery that is flawless.

Blindspot ends on the note that Jane now “knows” that she has orchestrated the events leading to the present. It is a “mission” and it is going to plan.  Now all the remains is for the series to return in the new year and reveal what that plan is.

The sudden change of the series into Total Recall may be  trifle annoying, but hey, this is television with some great twists, turns, and sudden surprises. Show creator Marcos Siega has given us a series with a great storyline that challenges and keeps the viewer guessing.  For fans of  Blindspot, January 2016 cannot get here quick enough. 

Gotham: The Son of Gotham – Cliffhanger (Review)


Gotham: The Son of Gotham, apart from its cliffhanger type ending, feels almost like a “coming of age” episode where young Bruce Wayne learns about deception from Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and Silver St Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind). In many ways, with all those dangling plot threads, this would have been a brilliant mid-season finale.  With so many main characters in peril, along with the suggestion of looming death to a couple, it will be hard to wait for a week to see what has happened to who. 

By the time the end credits roll: Bruce is surprised by a gloating Galavan, Alfred is missing after having his clock cleaned pretty thoroughly by a shaken Tabby, Penguin saves a beaten and bloody Jim Gordon only to begin beating the semiconscious cop to learn the whereabouts of Theo.

It has to be said, Theo and Tabby have turned out to be very hard on the honest denizens of Gotham. While sis got a surprise when the butler turned out to be an almost deadly handful, it was Gordon who got the biggest jolt when her brother almost effortlessly beat the detective to a pulp.

Another revelation in Son of Gotham is that Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is actually a bit of a neanderthal.  An anachronism who may want to “clean up the city” but who is ultimately ill equipped to do so. Granted it has been shown that the man has an old fashioned approach but his snide remarks at Gordon’s rather impressive vocabulary, speaks volumes about the new captain’s intelligence level and attitude.

The monks of St Dumas have moved to the fore and started their campaign to clean up the city aka, reek vengeance for Theo.  It is interesting to note that the numbers of their sacrifices are made up of the criminal fraternity rather than the city’s hierarchy.  This episode had some very pleasing stand out moments.

Bruce’s playing of Theo’s littlest player, Silver was brilliant. Guest star Tommy Flanagan (Gladiator, Sin City) was spot on as the menacing thug, named Tom,  who threatens to cut off fingers until he learns what Wayne wants to know. This whole piece was perfect as throughout the entire interaction, the viewer keeps trying to figure out who really hired Tom to slice and dice his victims.

The reveal, that  the knife wielding threat was paid by Wayne and is an associate of Selina’s was priceless. As the crocodile tears dried on Silver’s face, Kyle repays St Cloud for her nastiness earlier in the season.  The scene also shows young Bruce Wayne taking those first steps to becoming the flawed hero later when he is older and more capable of fighting the criminals of Gotham.

The battle between Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) was impressively choreographed and highlighted the more pragmatic, and brutal, Pennyworth who is able to dish out the punishment to those who jeopardize his charge regardless of race, creed or gender. Unfortunately despite marking Galavan’s sister, she ultimately gains the upper hand as Alfred has underestimated his opponent’s madness and homicidal capabilities. 

On a sidenote, Alfred continues to underestimate Bruce (David Mazouz) and his abilities.  Although this most likely has more to do with his not understanding the boy’s deep issues and need for revenge. 

In terms of amusement, the uneasy alliance between Penguin and Nygma continues to provide chuckles although Nygma’s scene with Dr Thompkins was suitably tense. Jim Gordon’s girlfriend is unable to sense the madness beneath Nygma’s barely controlled facade and it makes for a suspenseful interaction between the future Riddler and GCPD’s M.E.

Silver shows her inner Cyndi Lauper and shows her “True Colors.”

The wounded monk scene managed to give enough information to Gordon to worry him and this was followed by Alfred bitting off more than he could chew.

*Sidenote* Alfred, as played by Sean Pertwee, is a delight. Unfortunately, since Pertwee has made career out of dying, usually in quite horrific ways, on screen, the sight of the actor laying in the back of a garbage truck with a knife in his back and bleeding from other Tabby induced wounds, was disturbing.  Sure, Alfred Pennyworth is a major character, but as Bruno Heller tends to play rather loosely with the Gotham verse, one can easily imaging this “Alfred” dying and Bruce hiring an English replacement with the proviso that the new butler also be called Alfred Pennyworth. Wayne is, after all, a Billionaire with a few screws maligned after this parents murder. Only more episodes will reveal whether Pertwee manages to live after his encounter with Ms. Galavan.

The bit where Theo does his “super-villain” speech, revealing what his plans are, who he really is, yada, yada, works well.  While it is a bit cliched and stereotypical, as well as overly obvious as a bit of necessary exposition, it is acceptable.

In the business of the Penguin and Nygma/Riddler “partnership” a less obvious act looks to set up some major discord between the two villains.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) has serious issues with Nygma’s keeping Kris Kringle’s specs. Later, when Cobblepot learns that Theo Galavan has been released, the “King of Gotham” crushes the late Ms. Kringle’s glasses with a convulsive clenching of his fist. 

Oops. This may prove to be the undoing of the new partnership as Edward has proven that his “crazy” is much more potent that Oswald’s.

It is now apparent that “The Son of Gotham” is Bruce Wayne and with Alfred “out of the picture,” Jim Gordon beaten to a bloody mess and Galavan with the upper hand, the future Batman is going to have an interesting next few episodes.  In the meantime, viewers may want to prepare for the “death” of this Alfred…

Alfred (Sean Pertwee) fleeing the deadly Tabby…

Gotham airs Mondays on Fox. Tune in and catch up.

Castle: Mr & Mrs Castle – Finally (Review)


It is difficult not to watch Castle: Mr and Mrs Castle and heave a sigh of relief whilst simultaneously muttering a heartfelt “finally.” Not so much for a return of the old “standards” which work so well for the Caskett team in the past, but more for the writers finally giving Toks Olagundoye a chance to do what the performer does so well.

Exuding that aura of cheeky classiness that simply overruns everyone else in front of the camera in her scenes, Toks rocks it feeling like a character that has been on the show for years.  After presumably making the actress a new regular, it has taken  a little time for the writers to work the character of Hayley Vargas into the storyline until this latest episode.

Mr and Mrs Castle also wraps up, albeit with a bit of a rush toward the end of the episode, the whole “breakup” of Rick and Kate. (As review this will go out before the episode airs, but only just, the ending will not be discussed any further to avoid running full tilt into spoiler territory.)

The main plot deals  with a shipboard dancer on a theme ship winds up in the drink in period costume and a bullet in her head. At the Lanie-less autopsy, performed instead by Arye Gross as the vitriolic and sarcastic M.E. Perlmutter, a bag of pure uncut heroin is found in the woman’s body.

Cue a tie in to Kate and Vikram’s case, the one that necessitated Beckett moving out of the family luxury apartment.   Captain Beckett goes to the ship to investigate and soon learns that “Top of the World” Castle has joined her. The two split up, as the ships heads for open international waters and the couple have one hour to investigate.

This gives Nathan Fillion a chance to show off his comic roots (Fillion is an adept comic performer who built up his chops on Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (1991-2001). Rick questions the ship’s dancers, doing a comedy riff with a  dance rehearsal where he plays Miss Congeniality‘s Sandra Bullock (in a deleted scene, watch the film’s featurette) to great comic effect.

Kate and Rick show that they still work better together and after they get a recording of a crew member smuggling heroin they separate. Kate to follow leads and Rick to team up with Hayley and her hacking expertise so he can learn who sent the “anniversary text.”

Rick in the Dance Rehearsal scene…

The scene where Hayley (Olagundoye) almost hacks Vikram’s firewall defenses feels like a cross between the Bond battle in Never Say Never Again and any other “hacking themed film” where both sides fight “to the death.”  Sadly, Molly C. Quinn is only seen for a split second but Susan Sullivan does get a bit more to do in terms of the running breakup subplot.

This episode lacked the feeling of fumbling desperation of the previous episodes of season eight, although it has to be noted that seeing Adam Baldwin sing and show off his comedic chops in the previous episode was not disappointing by any means.

It now seems that Olagundoye will become a firm regular on this season of Castle, and please may the writers learn what this  performer has to offer.  Hint to the writers:  Watch old episodes of The Avengers (the ones with Emma Peel, aka Dame Diana Rigg) and the scales will be lifted…

Mr and Mrs Castle has less of everyone peripheral; Javi, Kevin, Alexis, Martha and, thankfully, Vikram, all have minimal screen time, with Laney showing up not at all.

Kudos have to be handed out to Sunkrish Bala as Kate’s new partner. This actor is skilled at being both  amusingly annoying and the spanner in Rick’s marriage. 

If there can be any complaint, it is the very rushed ending of this episode where things finally fall into place.  That said, Lucy, the home system that Castle bought when Kate moved out, does manage to get the final gag.

This episode feels like a return to the Castle that fans know and love. The interaction between Rick and Kate during the hacking scene was spot on; funny and comfortable as well as a return to form. Castle airs Mondays on ABC and season eight has finally picked up the dropped reins of character arc and storyline and moved forward. Tune in and bliss out.

Agent X: The Devil and John Case (Review)


Agent X: The Devil and John Case continues to suffer from  the same lethargic pacing that this TNT action/drama has exhibited since its pilot debut. Jeff Hephner as John Case, aka “Agent X,” still manages to deliver the goods, although his dialogue had been halved this week.   Thus far the new series seems to take itself far too seriously with a tendency to manufacture gravitas and Sharon Stone as the vice president, who has a secret agent all to herself, is almost glum in her portrayal of the widowed right-hand of the president. 

The show, despite its creeping delivery,  has enough plot devices to sink a stereotypical trope ship.  Agent X does have  a dearth of talent available, Stone and  Gerald McRaney represent the big and small screen in terms of acting talent and the guest stars as well as recurring role “fillers” are not small potatoes either.

The “Jack in the box” villain, who shoots the captive man and woman at the end of the episode, who also appeared in the Agent X pilot, is a regular on another “Agent” show. Andrew Howard, who plays Banks on the opposing team to Phil Coulson’s gang on Joss Whedon’s small screen Marvel series, Agents of SHIELD. This Welsh actor proves here that he can be menacing in just about any scenario.

It was also nice to see Carlos Gómez (Gang Related, The Glades) in a cameo role as the corrupt local police chief. The plot of this episode of Agent X takes Case down south of the border to take on a Santeria type cartel boss who is terrorizing the locals and responsible for the death of a undercover DEA agent.

Arturo Del Puerto plays El Diablo, a Bruja (Or Brujo?)  leader of the cartel who seems omnipresent until he faces Case at the end of the episode.  The drugs lord is searching for a ledger which can incriminate him and his gang.  Case has to, find the ledger, stop the cartel and look good while saving the day.

Sadly,  the entire episode, with its subplot of the vice president trying to find out if her late husband the senator was having a affair, feels like one long cliche with worn out tropes being shuffled into the plot. With all the reliances on stereotypes it was a little surprising  not to see Danny Trejo on board as an aging enforcer…

On a positive note, it was very nice to see that the cancellation of Constantine did not keep Angelica Celaya (she played Zed Martin on the short-lived NBC series) from doing an impressive job as Luna, the local cop who befriends John Case and later fights El Diablo in the dusty street.

In the area of vice presidential subterfuge, the “dead husband having an affair” subplot indicates that there are some governmental things going on that  may need Natalie Maccabee’s “Man X” to step in do some bad guy bashing.

Sadly, Olga Fonda as Olga Petrovka, was missing this week and because of this sinful omission, the show felt a bit flat as she is the only performer who seems capable of chewing up bits of scenery, while everyone one else underplays their parts so much they appear comatose.

Energy is needed in this new TNT offering and if the viewer’s interest is to be piqued, then adrenaline needs to be forcefully injected…Stat. Agent X airs Sundays on TNT. Tune in and see just how well film star Sharon Stone translates to the small screen.


The Librarians and the Hollow Men (Review) When Bad Guys Do Good


In this week’s episode of The Librarians (and the Hollow Men) the team get some assistance from the original Librarian Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) as they attempt to track down the Eye of Zarathustra which is the latest artifact to disappear from the library. On top of the building’s rooms and contents moving about, things are going missing.  While Prospero is a “presence” in the episode, it is only his “minion” Professor Moriarty (South African actor David S. Lee) who interacts with the librarians. 

The entire team, including Flynn, are put to sleep, with Pan’s Pipes, another missing artifact from the facility, and the head Librarian is “kidnapped” by a mysterious “stalker-y” bearded man (played by Gotham actor Drew Powell).  Colonel Baird (Rebecca Romijn) teams up with Moriarty to save Flynn from the bearded menace.

Powell’s character turns out to be “Ray” the physical incarnation of the library. The “man” counts Flynn as his best friend and Moriarty, somewhat surprisingly, sacrifices himself to save Ray and the Library.  By the end of the episode,  the Library is reunited with Ray, Eve Baird puts some distance between her and Flynn and Moriarty has revealed a surprising depth of character.

The new librarians have to take a back seat in the story as the episode deals with the increasing “attraction” between Moriarty and Baird and on Wyle’s return as Flynn.  Drew Powell proves that he has a deft touch when it comes to acting outside his Butch Gilzean comfort zone.  This actor is a delight to watch as the pathos filled character who turns out to not be human, or a demigod or even a fictional character but a physical incarnation of the fantastical building.

John Harlan Kim, as Ezekiel Jones is becoming the constant “comic relief” and the group dynamic between the three new librarians has solidified into a great routine of give and take. Kane’s character continues to grow, as does Booth’s Cassandra.  The comedy is clear and precise and well written.

The Librarians and the Hollow Men also continues its Indiana Jones theme and the series has thus far given the character of Professor Moriarty a Hans Zimmer  tin-panny piano riff of Discombobulate from the 2009 Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes theme. These touches are clever and appreciated equally  by the film buff and fans of fantasy television a’la Dr Who.

It will be interesting to note whether Moriarty’s wooing of Baird will actually pay off for the arch villain.  Certainly the Dionysian version of Holmes attracts the female of the species almost without effort. As Eve says to Cillian:

“Cassandra, please do not fangirl over the arch villain.”

There a number of amusing moments, for instance, Jenkins warns that they are dealing with a “dangerous being” when speaking of Ray (who has kidnapped Flynn). The camera dissolves to Ray comically, and noisily, slurping a milkshake as he listen’s to his victim, Carson.

Romijn shows, once again, that she can handle the physical rigors of fighting off the baddies and Christian Kane proves that he can deliver broader strokes of the comedic brush. (His “country boy” scene is good for a giggle or two, as is his follow up with the spear.)

John Larroquette has been relegated to straight-man, which he does majestically. Face set in an eternal grimace of tired acceptance, his Jenkins carries the weight of centuries. After all, as the curator points out, he is “semi” immortal and the actor is able to portray this timelessness with his expression alone. 

The Librarians continues to almost effortlessly entertain with storylines that can be enjoyed by all. TNT and its dedication to family entertainment have opted for a show that is a delight to follow by everyone. Tune in on Sundays and catch the comedic action.