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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Gotham “Pilot” S1 E1

We are a little superhero crazy right now.   Last year we had Arrow (in its second season) and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (first season.)    This year we have four more coming…The Flash, Constantine, iZombie, and now Gotham.  Is it too much?   I guess we’ll have to see.  Like anything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.    We really didn’t need 3 different CSIs, 3 different NCISs, 2 Criminal Minds,10 different reality talent competitions, etc.   So will the comic/superhero genre be too much?    We’ll see.  In my opinion as long as they are good shows, it makes so difference to me.   And I would argue Gotham isn’t in the same realm as the other comic book shows.    Gotham is an origin story.  This is not a Batman story, in the present form as we know Batman.   In fact, Bruno Heller (the man behind The Mentalist and others) has already come out and said, we not see the Caped Crusader.   That makes me happy.  There are so many movies about Batman, I don’t need a TV show about him….unless it’s different.   Gotham is different.

As I said before, Gotham is an origin story.   What does that mean?   It means we get to see characters we are familiar with (and some we don’t) before we really knew them.   A prequel if you will.  But this isn’t the story of how Batman becomes Batman.  At least not directly.    This is the story of the man who helped define the future Bruce Wayne and the city that Batman fiercely protects.  In a way, Gotham is very much the central character of the show the way New York City was for Sex and the City.   But Gotham’s central protagonist is rookie Detective Jim Gordon (future Commissioner James Gordon) played by Ben Mackenzie who’s first real crime to solve is the murder of Tom and Martha Wayne, parents of Bruce Wayne (our future Batman.)  The Waynes are the wealthiest family in Gotham (so I’m not sure why they were walking down a dark alley at night but that’s another story.)   So when Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are sent to the crime scene, Bullock wants no part of it.   Gordon goes over to talk to Bruce, who witnesses the crime, and connects with him instantly.  Scenes like this are why I love origin stories so much.   You know how this relationship eventually evolves and what their relationship is in the Batman world as we know it today.  But we’ve never seen how it all started.  We were told, but hearing it and seeing it are so different.   It’s a great look into the history of this friendship.   Gordon opens up to Bruce to let him know he knows what he’s going through because of the death of his father at a young age.   He promises him he’ll find out who did this and bring them to justice.   We are introduced to a plethora of characters throughout the pilot most of whom we already know…..Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman (Camren Bicondovra), Oswald Cobblepot AKA The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma AKA The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Ivy Pepper AKA Poison Ivy (Clare Foley), Barbara Kean AKA Mrs Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards), and is it possible the stand up comedian at Mooney’s establishment is the man we will come to know as The Joker?   Maybe not.   But Mooney spent a little too much time (as did the camera) paying attention to the stand up.   If he was just background for her scene with Cobblepot, why bother giving him so much screen time?   Just something to think about.  While I love seeing all the people as their original selves vs. their pseudonyms did we really need to meet EVERYONE in the pilot.    Couldn’t we have saved some for later?   Just seemed as if the show runners were trying to pack 10 pounds of poop into a 5 pound bag.

With all the characters we met that we have some familiarity with, two of the most interesting to me was the one who I knew nothing about and who was brand new….Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith.)   Maybe it was the way Smith was playing her but I found her to be sinister, hard ass, a bit terrifying, and incredibly enjoyable.   Mooney is one of the big crime lords in Gotham and is fortunate enough to have some of the cops (like Gordon’s partner) in her pocket for protection.   But when Mooney thinks Gordon and Bullock didn’t fall in line with her way of doing business, she had them scheduled to be killed.   Not to mention, when she finds out the Cobblepot snitched on her, she comes down on him with a violent fury, just short of killing him.     Don’t pee in her Cheerios.  But someone even scarier with stronger, more powerful ties in Gotham saves their lives.    That man is Carmen Falcone, head of the Gotham City mob with a connection to Gordon’s father.   We learn that Falcone and Gordon’s father (the former DA of Gotham) were actually friends.   I wonder how much of that is actually true vs. Falcone’s interpretation of their arrangement.  But this scene (among others) is where we learn why Jim Gordon will have a rough go in Gotham and why the Caped Crusader is eventually needed.  Falcone has everyone in his payroll….cops, lawyers, politicians, you name it.   Falcone runs the city.  In his own twisted way, he loves the city and vows to protect it at all costs.   Protect it from whom?    I would say from naive, doe eyed cops who want to “clean up” the city from crime and corruption.   “You can’t have organized crime without law and order.  I love this city and I see it going to hell.   I won’t let it go without a fight” Falcone informs Gordon.  In Falcone’s mind, the cops are a necessary part of his business model.  However, he expects those cops to fall in line with HIS sense of order and justice.   Falcone being as smart as he is realizes that Gordon is a good man, like his dad.  He’s honorable, a straight shooter, and someone who will do the right thing.   So in order to keep him in line, he orders him (through Bullock) to kill Cobblepot.  It’s an incredible scene watching Gordon walk Cobblepot to the end of the pier while Cobblepot pleads for his life.   And just before Gordon pulls the trigger he tells him “don’t ever come back to Gotham.”  He shoots and dumps him in the water.  Now, Gordon doesn’t actually shoot him ( you can’t kill The Penguin in the pilot) but from Bullock’s vantage point, Gordon did what Falcone wanted.   In the end, Gordon goes to Wayne Manor to see Master Bruce (Alfred of course is with him) to let him know that the man arrested for his parents’ murder wasn’t the right man.   That person is still at large and Gordon intends to find him.   But the key is Bruce keeping quite about what he knows in order for him to do that.  Bruce agrees.   You can already begin to see a transformation in Bruce from the scared, crying child, to the methodical, vigilante he will become.

While a lot happened in this episode, the big thing that stood out to me was how well cast this show is.  Mackenie is perfectly cast as Gordon.   He has the rugged toughness you need to be a top cop in a tough town but he also has the righteous, superior aura that certainly divides the good guys from the bad and highlights the ones in the middle, like Bullock.   But how long can he hold onto these high ground morals while trying to clean up the city from the inside of a department wrought with corruption and fear?   Will it break him?   You have to think no because we know he does become the Commissioner.   But just because he rises through the ranks, doesn’t mean he hasn’t had to change who he is to some degree for the greater good.   So I’m looking forward to seeing that evolution over the course of the series.   Another standout from the show was Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot/The Penguin.  He was brilliant.   He was pathetic and creepy and sad and murderous.  You watched him transform from a weak, desperate to be accepted henchman for Fish Mooney to disgraced outcast with an ax to grind against all who wronged him.   When you have a show based on a hugely popular comic story and as well a massively successful movie collection over the course of many years, people can have preconceived notions of how characters should look, sound, and act.  I try very hard not to have those when I go into a show like this and for the most part it’s easy because everyone is so much younger in Gotham from when we come to know them in Batman.  But for characters like The Penguin, The Riddler, possibly The Joker who are old enough to still have early insights into the characters they will become, that we already know, I think it’s much harder for those actors vs. Selina Kyle who is really just a baby at this point.  Taylor pulls it off superbly.  Logue’s Bullock will be the one to watch for me in the sense that I’m not sure what to make of him.   He can easily come across as the prototypical disgruntled veteran cop who hates everyone and life in general.  I don’t think that’s the case here.   You see signs of him where he may have been very much like Gordon when he started out.  But because of certain situations and possibly life altering decisions he’s had to make, he’s become the shades of grey cop who has been sucked into the corruption way of life more so as a means of preservation rather than conscious choice.   It’s probably why Gordon angers and frustrates him because he sees himself in him.   Someone who once wanted the same things Gordon did but wasn’t strong enough to see it through.  He probably sees Gordon as some who has the stones to fight the good fight and I think that makes him proud yet thoroughly embittered at the same time.   Maybe none of that is true and I’m looking for a deeper meaning that isn’t there (wouldn’t be the first time.)

Having said all that, in the simplest of terms, Gotham is a cop procedural with a cast of characters we are well aware of.   I really don’t think of this as a superhero show the way I do Arrow or probably will when I watch The Flash.  This is a cop show…like Castle.  Except instead of a precinct and villains we don’t know, Gotham has a precinct and villains we mostly do know.  However, we don’t know them in these current forms.  We know what they become.  The fun part will be watching how they get there!

DVRs: 4

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP AND REVIEW: The Mysteries of Laura “Pilot” S1 E1

It’s hard to believe the new season has kicked off.   And I’m not going to lie, I don’t like when networks do these “special previews” and premiere shows outside of premiere week.    One, I’m not ready for it yet.   Two, I usually forget the show is premiering because my mind has not kicked into that gear yet.   And three, it loses some of the pomp and circumstance (at least in my household) of premiere week.   It’s like the start of the NFL season.   To me, the season starts the first Sunday of the season.   10-12 games are on the docket for the day (usually my Eagles are one of those teams.)   I make my traditional chili, I get the beer chilled, my house is decorated in Eagles green, I have my Eagles jersey on, the phone is shut off, and I watch football for 10-11 straight hours.   It’s awesome.   The season doesn’t start on Thursday.   I hate Thursday games.   It’s one thing during holidays when nothing else is on but not every Thursday.   So I can’t get excited about that Thursday game because that’s not the start of the season for me.   Sunday is.   The TV Fall Season is the same way.   This isn’t premiere week.   Next week is.    I have nothing to do at night next week.  I will have all my DVRs set up, I will have my schedule of what I’m watching live and what I’ll watch on the DVR later.   It’s amazing!!    So I don’t know if it hurts or helps shows like The Mysteries of Laura (TMOL) to premiere early.  In one regard, there is very little competition so you have a better chance of getting a solid audience.    But that can also hurt you if your pilot isn’t the greatest but you build into your momentum and get better as more episodes come around.   If the pilot is bad or iffy, you may have already lost people after one episode.    It’s also a good thing because it’s been 4-5 months (if you’re Sleepy Hollow 7 months) since we’ve seen our favorite shows so people are itching for something new to watch.   And don’t give me the summer season has new shows now because there’s a reason those shows air in the summer (network shows I mean.)  It’s because TV viewing goes down significantly in the summer time and therefore not as much pressure for ratings for advertisers.    Bottom line, if you’re going to break the premiere week mold, you better have something people will jump on or else you’ve shot yourself in the foot.   TMOL might have just shot themselves in the foot.   If they get 10 million people to watch again next week, I will quit my real job.

TMOL stars Debra Messing as Det. Laura Diamond.  She is one of the top detectives in her precinct struggling to juggle her job, her marriage, and her kids.   Certainly not a new premise but one you hope due to casting, will have a new twist or new life breathing into it.   And as much as I love Messing, this character is as cliché as they come.   Her desk is a mess, her car is a mess, she’s late, she’s disheveled, and she’s unconventional.    The problem is, none of this resonates with me.  I don’t buy her as a detective let alone the best detective.   Seriously, what detective goes to a home to investigate death threats and sits down with the guests and has cake and wine?   Even her captain when he is offered wine says “oh I really shouldn’t.”  YOU THINK?   You are on duty aren’t you?    Isn’t there a rule about drinking and being on the job?   And this all happens after she shoots a perp in the ear while he’s holding a man hostage in the middle of a busy park.   And she picks the ear that closest to the hostage instead of the outside ear.    That’s great police work.    Then there are her parenting skills.    For an interview for a Pre-K school (because her kids were kicked out of the other one) she feeds her kids enough cough syrup so they are calm and almost asleep.   She must have overdone it though considering her one son pukes it up.   Then when her children are urinating on each other in public, instead of punishing them or freaking out OVER THE FACT HER KIDS ARE PEEING ON EACH OTHER FOR FUN, she asks politely asks them to stop.  No wonder her kids are monsters.    It also doesn’t help that her husband (soon to be ex) Jake (Josh Lucas) is just a big kid himself…but not in a good way.    He’s not Jack Tripper in Three’s Company where he’s funny and goofy and slightly frustrating because he’s just a big kid but he’s so lovable you can’t be mad at him.   Plus when he needs to buck up, he does.  Jake isn’t close to that.   He seems to shirk his parenting duties and when he is around his kids, he’s bringing them pizza and wrestling with them on the couch and then leaves.   When his kids are peeing on each other in the park, he thinks it’s funny and it doesn’t seem to phase him at all.    You’re probably reading this thinking what’s wrong with a dad bringing his kids pizza and wrestling around with them?  Nothing at all….as long as he steps up and is their father when it counts, not just their buddy.    I don’t get the impression Jake has time for the serious stuff…only the fun stuff.   So from a home life perspective, there isn’t one likable person in the Diamond household.

There was a case that I really didn’t care about.   This phone mogul was receiving death threats and everyone (except Laura) thought it was the wife.   Turns out it was Laura’s Captain (Elias from Person of Interest) who was the person who killed him because he was having an affair with his wife.   Ok I’ll admit I didn’t see that twist coming but it fell flat because the rest of the case was so uninteresting.    Because Captain Elias was obviously removed of his duties as captain of the squad.   Guess who just so happens to be put in his place?     That’s right…Laura’s husband Jake.    Which again, isn’t there something against spouses working in the same precinct let alone one reporting to the other?

I really wanted to like this show but I just didn’t.   I like a lot of the cast, independent of this show, but they all deserve better than this.   The writing is bad, the premise is worse, and there isn’t a likable character on the show.   Not to mention this show doesn’t seem to know what they want to be.    Is this a comedy?   Is this a dramatic cop show with some comedic elements?   Is it a family show?   And shows don’t have to be channeled into one vain or another…they can cross multiple angles (which Castle does brilliantly.)  But this show doesn’t seem to have a direction.    On top of that, I just can’t buy that Laura is so good at her job yet so awful a parent.  Mostly because I don’t believe she’s as good a detective as we’re being told she is.    Kate Beckett, Olivia Benson, Brenda Leigh Johnson….those are good cops.   Laura?   I guess shooting a perp with precision in the middle of Battery Park is supposed to indicate she’s the best of the best.   Or really dumb and really lucky.   I’m not sure.   But she didn’t come across as a confident, seasoned vet who commands respect in her squad.      Add in the husband being forgettable and the kids being beyond disastrous, I have no interest in seeing where Laura goes from here and what her mysteries actually are.

DVRs: 1

 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Castle “Target” & “Hunt” S5 E 15 & 16

WOW.   Just….wow.  Easily the two best episodes Castle has ever done.  It was very reminiscent of the two parter they did a few seasons ago (Tick, Tick, Tick & Boom) where I was on the edge of my seat dying to know what was going to happen next.  But what put this twofer (a little 30 Rock reference) ahead of the others was the emotional tug on your heart-strings from so many angles in addition to the action packed portions of the episodes.

Believe it or not, I’m going to start with the 3 negatives so I can get them out-of-the-way and because they were so minor.  First, I thought Dylan Walsh was woefully underused as a guest start.   In these twofers, Castle has always had really strong guest stars from Adrian Pasdar to Dana Delaney who have been excellent in their roles and really added a strong character base to such a plot driven series of episodes.  I was really excited to see Walsh as a guest star because I’ve always been a fan of his.   But because this was so Castle focused, Walsh really wasn’t needed.  I think we only saw him for about 5 minutes in “Hunt” so for me, you could have cast any actor to play that part because he wasn’t as integral to the story and didn’t seem to enhance it at all.  Second, the lack of Beckett and Castle working together on this.  Now I know they did, but not in their usual way.  Again, this is minor because I liked the way she was more Kate the girlfriend than Beckett the cop in these episodes.  She was there as the woman who loves him and is broken over seeing this happen to Alexis and to him.  I was hoping to see them go off to Paris together to get Alexis back but I applaud Marlowe for taking the daring risk of not doing that because it honestly made better sense for the story.  Rick would leave Kate behind because he couldn’t risk her doing the things he needed to do to get Alexis back because she is an officer of the law.  He, on the other hand, is a desperate father frantically trying to save his little girl.  Therefore, he can use his contacts, however shady they are, to get the information he needs and not put Beckett in a difficult situation.  And even though it was the right call and I agreed with it 100%, there was a part of me, who so loves seeing them work together, sad that the one time you really need Beckett’s skills to team up with him, is the one time we can’t see it.   Finally, the CGI of Paris was horrible.  Wow, it couldn’t have looked any worse.   But that’s all for the negative.   See I told you it was minor!

I’ve read many articles over the years where the cast of Castle doesn’t get their due credit for being “serious” actors.  Because this show has many episodes where the goofiness and silliness is played up, the serious tones don’t seem to carry as much weight.  After watch “Target” and “Hunt” I would defy anyone to tell me these people aren’t serious actors.  I’ve always said that Stana Katic is painfully underrated for her acting skills.  She’s one of best on TV in my opinion who can really hit certain notes from a comedic side as well as a serious side.   She has the chops for both.  And over the years, she has gotten stronger and stronger.  Her best scene of the twofers was when she was questioning Hanson’s girlfriend and that girl gave her nothing but attitude and disrespect.  The next thing you know, Beckett kicks her chair so hard that chick goes flying off her chair into a wall and Beckett gets in her face screaming about how she’s in her way of finding a missing girl.  Holy. Shit!  I’ve seen Beckett get fired up before but this was something different.  She would have been last person on earth (well maybe second after Castle) that I would have ever messed with at that point.  She was brilliant!   This was a combination of cop being agitated at a person blocking her investigation and a girlfriend so angry that this bitch would block her ability to find her boyfriend’s missing daughter.  Not a good combination for little miss sassy pants!

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alexis character.  I certainly don’t dislike her but I always thought she was written a little too perfectly.  And I know I’m being a hypocrite because I’m always the first one to defend the Reagan family on Blue Bloods and they (except for Danny at times) are written the same way.   But it’s one thing for adults who have been around a long time and who are bound by the law, to be so black and white, good vs bad in their convictions.  It’s a whole other thing for it to be a young girl in high school to be so righteous.  See how I justify that?   But seriously, Alexis seemed way too mature for her age.  Now is there something wrong with showing a responsible, respectful, good person?  Absolutely not.  In fact, I wish we saw more of that.  But no one is THAT perfect.  I mean this girl never made a mistake.  EVER.  And making mistakes doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human.  So that’s always been my gripe with Alexis.  But I have to admit, there was no one rooting for her to be saved more than me.  And Molly Quinn was sensational.  True to Alexis’ character, she played her as calm and cerebral during the early parts of the situation always looking out for her friend.  It wasn’t until she was able to Skype her dad and see him that she lost it a bit.   And I would be the same way.  If I saw my dad, I would lose it.  It wasn’t until later when she realizes that not only is she not in NYC but she’s in Paris, did she really get scared.   And later when we saw her in that cage not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing where her friend was, not knowing if she was going to live, did we see her eyes swollen and red with fear.  I’m glad she played it that way and they wrote it that way because as strong and as smart as Alexis is, she’s still a 19-year-old person with no training or experience in these situations.  You bet she’d be scared out of her mind.   My only gripe is at the end when she is rescued and Castle brings her back home, when she’s walking up to her front door, all she says very cavalierly is “wow I’m so glad to be home” like she had a really bad flight back from spring break instead being held hostage for days by crazy people.   Maybe it’s me, but I would still be a little more shaken up and she seemed like she was ready to just get back to normal.  Even with that, Molly Quinn, you were outstanding!!

So 1,200 words in, let’s get to our main man and all that went down for him.   Because not only did he have to save his daughter’s life, but in the middle of all this mayhem, he meets, for the first (really second) time in his life, his father!   Nathan Fillion was BRILLIANT in these episodes.  He didn’t just knock it out of the park, he drilled it to the moon!  The first scene we really see a whole new Castle is from last week’s “Target” when he asks Beckett to have a moment alone with the man who drove the van with the girls in it.  I know there has been much discussion over this scene and my opinion is that I have no problem with it.   He’s a father desperate to find his daughter and this man is his only lead.  You do what you have to do to find her.  No issues at all with that.  Extenuating circumstances cause people to do extraordinary things they wouldn’t normally do or condone.  And I think it was even better that we didn’t see it!

So Castle has left everyone behind and has headed to Paris to find Alexis.  Her friend Sara was released but Alexis was not.  Fearing she’s not collateral damage, he high tails it to Paris to use his contacts there to track Alexis down.   One of Castle’s old connections, that he used to help him with some of his books, introduces him to man named Jacque who will help him find Alexis.  Jacque is able to help and tells Castle the kidnappers want 3 million in Euro in exchange for Alexis.  When they go to the drop point, in a move I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t see coming, Jacque turns the tables on Castle and puts a gun to his head and takes his money.   Just as Rick is about to meet his maker, bullets start flying from an unknown location and all the baddies (including Jacque) are taken out.  Castle turns around to see Mr. Barbra Streisand standing there telling him that he’s the good guy and that he should come with him immediately.  When back at his place, Castle sees all the pictures of Alexis on the wall and Jackson Hunt (that’s the name he gave to Castle) explains to him that this whole situation is his fault.   That Alexis was kidnapped because of him as a payback for killing a former KGB member’s wife and child years ago.  Castle is understandably confused and asks how this could have anything to do with Alexis and that’s when Hunt tells him that they went after her because he was careless and slipped.  They went after her, because she is his granddaughter.  “Rick, I’m your father.”  As if this man doesn’t have enough to deal with….WOW!!!!!  Now that’s how you introduce a long-lost father into the fold!

My fear with this storyline is that I really thought Brolin was going to end up being a bad guy.   Turns out, he’s nothing of the sort.  He’s actually a hero in many ways.   We learn that he had a wonderful night with Martha but being a spy, was called away on an assignment, he couldn’t disclose that to her, so he left.  A year later he learns about Castle.  Then Castle learns that his father has been keeping track of him all these years and that they even met once.  Curious, Castle asks when.  He tells about the time they were in a book store and Castle was looking for something to read and his dad recommended Casino Royale.  “That was you?” Rick asks him and he confirms it.  Castle tells him that’s the book that made him want to become a writer.  Aw.  Then Hunt tells him the words every kids wants to hear from their father “Son, I’m really proud of you.”  The look (and the tears) in Castle’s eyes were indescribable.  It was beautiful.  I loved the way the writers and the actors handled this moment and this whole encounter.   It could have been really cheesy or really cliché.  Instead, it was so perfectly handled.  Brolin played it so well.  He was very matter-of-fact about his life without seeming cold and distant.  He also told Castle how he followed his life and career, as any proud parent would, without being creepy.  It was perfection.  And Rick, well talk about bad timing.  Your whole life this enigma finally comes back and instead of having a Walton’s type reunion, you have to pull all that aside because your daughter’s life is at risk.  And to top it off, once his plan to rescue her is enacted, they just have to run and not look back.  He won’t know if his father made it out or not and that’s the way it has to be.   So no steak dinner reunion for these men.  It’s hi, nice to meet you, love you, now let’s go bomb these KGB freaks ok?

His plan works like a charm and Alexis is rescued by her dad and pop-pop.  When they get home, Martha and Kate are both there so excited to see them and hugs and kisses are flowing everywhere.  Castle walks into the kitchen where a package arrived for him.  He opens it up and inside is a copy of Casino Royale.  Dad is ok!!!!  He then looks at Martha with a huge smile on his face and says “mom, there’s something I have to tell you.”  Face to black.

What an amazing set of episodes from Castle.  I really have to say that I am so impressed with how Andrew Marlowe has handled this season.  He finally puts his leads together, Beckett’s mother’s storyline is no longer a who done it but a how are we going to catch him direction, Alexis is kidnapped, and Rick meets his father.  And the fans were worried Season 5 might suck with Caskett together.  Please!!!!  This show is better than ever!!!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in ABC, Recaps and Reviews

 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Castle “Recoil” S5 E13

Castle has always done a fantastic job with any episodes involving Johanna Beckett’s murder.  Last night revisited that story line and honestly, this was a weaker episode.  It’s hard to compare it to some of the other nail-biting, edge of your seat episodes they’ve had in the past, but since it’s not really about who anymore but when, it didn’t seem to pack as much punch.  Having said that, there were parts of the episode that were really fantastic.

Jack Coleman plays a great baddie.  Senator Bracken sure fits that bill. As we learn, not only does Beckett have a major beef with the Senator, but apparently so do a lot of other people who claim that he is responsible for their love one’s death.  In this case, a woman is murdered and she has ties to Senator Bracken so immediately Beckett and the boys think he’s guilty.  But as evidence is revealed to them, it turns out that Bracken was not the perp, but the victim.  Someone is planning to take out the Senator, this young woman found out and was killed.

The investigation leads to a man named Robert McManus, who we learn his son was murdered and he blames Bracken.  In their hunt for McManus, they find his apartment and Beckett, finds him.  She sees that he is a broken man and let’s him escape by “missing” when she shoots at him.  This really messes with Beckett especially when she finds out that he has C4 he is planning to use to attack Bracken.   Now innocent lives, not just Bracken’s, are at risk and this crushes Kate.  They track down the vest loaded with C4 and other evidence linking McManus to the crime and they arrest him.   None of this sits well with Beckett.  The vest was too complex for McManus to have rigged and there were too many pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit.   Eventually, she comes to the conclusion that the bomber is going after Bracken where he is giving a speech on energy conservation.  She orders the evacuation of the building and after a quick sweep, nothing was found.  The Senator is furious for her blowing his big campaign speech and threatens to take her down.  Just when this is looking really bad for Beckett, she starts hearing a pinging sound.   It’s the same sound she heard on the cell phone recording the night the young woman was shot.  She realizes the bomb is in the car and runs to the Senator to keep from getting into the limo.  Just then, the detonator is activated and bomb explodes.  Castle tracks down the bomber (who was Bracken’s limo driver for years) and the Senator thanks Beckett for saving his life.   The real bomber is captured and McManus was just the man the bomber was framing do deflect attention away from himself.

I loved seeing how this affected Kate.  She’s always been a no-nonsense cop.  Things are very black and white with her when it comes to the law.  In “Recoil” we saw that line blur for the first time in her career.   We all know why Kate hates Bracken and that she’s just waiting for the chance to take him down.  And we learn in this episode that his criminal acts aren’t limited to just the Johanna Beckett case.  Turns out, if the claims against him are true, this man is pretty evil.  I give Kate so much credit because, like Castle said, if it were me and this is the bastard that had my mother killed, I’m not sure I would have saved his life.  And she did it twice.  The first time, she let McManus go because this is a man who is planning on killing the person responsible for her mother’s death.  It would certainly keep the blood off her hands and rid the world of an awful human being.  So would it really be so bad if she let him go and enact his plan?   She realizes that yes it would.  Especially when she finds out that this went from a sniper rifle attack, where just Bracken would be killed, to a bombing attack where innocent people would be killed.   She could never live with herself if she thought she let a killer go who was now going to destroy innocent people’s lives.  So she find McManus and stops him.   Only that’s not the right guy.   The second time is when she hears the clicking of the cigarette lighter and sees that the bomb is in the Senator’s limo and therefore, she runs to block him from entering the car.  So she saves him, twice.  Ok technically, McManus wasn’t a killer but in her mind, she wasn’t sure so she just went on the information she had.  So from a decision standpoint, where she could choose to let it happen or stop it, twice she chose to stop it.

I think the best part of this episode is seeing Kate struggle so much with this.  And it’s completely understandable.  The daughter in her wants her mom’s killer to pay for what he did no matter how that happens.  But the cop in her says it has been done through the right channels and the right way.  She doesn’t have the luxury of allowing someone to commit murder.  Well, really no one does, cop or no cop, but the dilemma is slightly stronger when you are an office of the law and you have sworn to always uphold it.  Kate’s integrity is a huge part of her makeup.  She is incredibly ethical and the lines of right and wrong are always very clear to her.  That’s why to see her start to blur that line was really eye-opening from her character’s perspective because she’d never done that before.  She would never even think of doing something like that.  But cops are not machines and I can’t blame them when a case is personal, that emotions, at times, can cloud their judgement. But Kate stays true to her character and eventually choose the right path.  In the end, while watching Bracken on the news with Castle, she tells Castle that eventually he’s slip up and that when he does, she’ll be there to make sure justice is served.  I, for one, am really looking forward to watching Kate bring him down.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in ABC, Recaps and Reviews

 

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: The Following “Pilot” S1 E1

I read all the advanced reviews, listened to all the podcasts, saw the “Inside the Following” trailer.  This show was awesome!!!  It was so gripping and thrilling.  I haven’t been on the edge of my seat that much watching a TV show in a very long time.  Many people from the writers, to the actors, to the critics can really blow up a show’s premise, for both the good and the bad, and sometimes it can be to the extreme of what we’re really watching.  I’ve seen interviews where cast members say they are doing a show that’s really groundbreaking and thought-provoking.  Turns out the show is dull and boring.  I’ve seen show runners say shows are intelligent and  cerebral with intense twist and turns.  Then they turn out shows like The Killing, which was none of those things.    But in all the build up to The Following, I can honestly say, not one report was blown out of proportion.  The show was scary, thrilling, mysterious, creepy, gross, edgy, smart, and sadistic.  And I can’t wait until next week.

The show follows Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who is a former FBI agent responsible for capturing the world’s most notorious serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy.)  Hardy has left the bureau under, not so clear circumstances, but apparently has perfected his ability to imbibe copious amounts of vodka out of Poland Springs bottles.  It appears, at least today, that due to being stabbed in the heart by Carroll and not playing well with others, that Hardy was out.  It also might have something to do with his relationship with Claire but I’m not 100% sure if that’s accurate.  But Hardy is recruited back once Carroll escapes from prison.  From there, things happen very quickly and what we learn in the 42 minutes of air time is not what we (I should say I) was expecting.

First there is Carroll himself, the former college professor with an obsession over Edgar Allan Poe, turned collegiate serial killer.  I always complain that shows/movies give away too much of what’s going on in previews these days, but with The Following, nothing I saw in the preview really clued me into the bigger picture.   Probably because I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I went in expecting to see one thing and now it’s something completely different.  I thought this was going to be about Carroll escaping and starting his rampage all over with Hardy and crew trying to capture him.  I also thought, that’s going to make the series awfully challenging for many seasons to come if they are only ever chasing Carroll.  What we eventually learn is that his escape (and eventual immediate capture) is just the foundation for a much larger, more sinister plot than anyone could have imagined.    We also learn that you can trust no one.  You can’t take one character on this show at face value or else you could get Survivor blind sided.  It makes watching the show so much more enjoyable when you just don’t know who to trust.

Then there is the romantic triangle that is so bizarre when you think about it.  Carroll was married to another college professor, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) who eventually falls in love with her husband’s captor, Hardy.  There are SOOO many questions here.  First, when did Claire and Hardy fall in love?  The one time line we were privy to this evening was in 2002 when Carroll comes home and throws his wife on their bed and she tells him the news that she’s pregnant.  They seem quite happy and in love at this point.  Did Claire already know Hardy at this point?  Was she already having an affair with him?  My guess is that she didn’t know about her husband’s extra curricular activities at that time, so when did she learn?  See I think, she and Hardy didn’t get together until later but my husband has a different theory.  He thinks Joey, Claire’s son, is actually Hardy’s and not Carroll’s.  Remember the scene where she hands the letter to Hardy and she says that “he knows” and Hardy tells her that he’s bluffing and he’s just pretending?   My husband thinks that in the letter Carroll tells Claire he knows Joey is Hardy’s kid.  That means one of two things.  One, that Hardy and Claire’s affair was happening back in 2002 and therefore she was pregnant with Hardy’s kid or two, that she was pregnant at that time but something happened and she lost the baby and got pregnant later with Hardy’s kid.  The former is more plausible because if Carroll is captured in 2003 (and not knowing months at this point) that could be a tight timeline for a second pregnancy.

Finally there is the cult angle.   Like I said earlier, I was expecting this show to be about re-capturing Carroll once he escapes prison and starts his murdering ways again.  But that isn’t the case at all.  This isn’t about Carroll anymore.   I mean it is because it’s his plan, but it isn’t JUST about Carroll because there are so many people involved that it’s bigger than we even realize at this point.  It’s Silence of the Lambs meets Charles Manson!!  I’m not a huge “cult” person because I find them amazingly creepy, and not in a fascinating way.  But this I do find incredibly interesting because I want to know how someone like Joe Carroll is able to get so many people to do what he wishes.   Why would they do this?   How does he get in touch with them?  How does he develop these relationships to the point where people would spend years of their lives following his lead?  Does he have a main point of contact on the outside helping him?   It’s unreal!!   And on a side note, I find it a little disturbing that I was more upset and cringing over the scene where we saw all the puppies who had been slaughtered than I was seeing 4 police officers brutally murdered in the prison.  When I saw that video with the cop with the puppy, I had to cover my eyes because if he hurt that dog and I had to see it, I may have been done with the show.   How wrong is that?

Ok I’m going to go out on a crazy wild limb and say that Agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) is one of the followers.  I know I know, I’m nuts and it’s only the first episode so why do I want to make a crazy prediction so early.   Because it’s fun!!  This show has already proven that you can’t trust anyone.  Look at Maggie Grace’s adorable gay neighbors who loved her and were there to protect her.  Not so adorable and lovable now are they? Although I said to my husband when the second guy showed up that I didn’t trust him and that I thought he was in on it.  Then there’s Joey’s nanny who’s obviously been with Joey and Claire a long time.   Yep, she’s one of them too.  And Carroll has already gotten one law enforcement officer on his side so I wouldn’t put it past him to reach higher.  He obviously has the intelligence, the charisma, and the arrogance to pull it off.  I wouldn’t put it past him to have a FBI agent in his pocket.  Weston seems the perfect choice at this point.  He’s young, he’s smart, he has a man crush on Hardy and his work, he appears to want to get to know him better and learn from him, he knows the case backwards and forwards, and no one would suspect him.  So I’m all in on Weston being part of the cult.

The big question is why?  Why is Carroll doing this?  Is it because Hardy and his wife had an affair and he wants to get back at both of them?  Is it because he can and he wants to see how far he can take this?  Is it because he’s bored and Angry Birds just isn’t cutting it any more (pardon the pun.)  I have to believe he has a master plan that has levels we haven’t even begun to think of yet.  But I can’t wait to see where this show takes us.

One of the reasons why I think this show works so well is the chemistry between Bacon and Purefoy.  Is it Hopkins/Foster worthy?   Not quite, but it’s pretty damn good.  The scene where Carroll has been recaptured and he explains to Hardy his plan is so chilling, Purefoy knocks it out of the park.  Bacon also does a masterful job of showing his intense anger and disgust while keeping his composure.  You can see the wheels spinning in his head as Carroll unloads all this new information onto him.  It should set up a beautiful, sinister dance between the two of them for the rest of the series.  But I will say one thing.  Agent Hardy, the next time you get a hunch, please please please, bring back up with you!  Why you would go to the Lighthouse by yourself, is beyond me.  And while we’re on that, I’m heartbroken Maggie Grace was killed.  To survive an attack by a serial killer only to learn that the people you trusted for three years, worked for him and led you right back to him only so he could finish the job?  And to expose what happened to her to Hardy the way he did?  Just, evil!

I want to take one brief moment to comment on the violence of the show.  There have been many people commenting on it and since I have a forum to put in my two cents, I’m going to.  I think we live in a society today where violence is all too present.  With technology advancing, it’s easier for people to find more ways to be destructive and deadly and it’s incredibly scary.  There was no worse display of that than what happened in Newtown, CT just last month.  It’s raised many topics about gun laws and gun control.  It has also resurfaced the discussion on violence in video games, movies, and TV.   And I can understand it.  Tragedies like this hit everyone hard.  And even when there isn’t a tragedy current in our heads, many people find it unnecessary to show the levels of violence that many games, movies, and TV shows so graphically display.   But I also understand that we live in a society where people have the creative rights to depict and tell stories as they choose.  Storytellers have the right to broadcast and film their stories as they feel is necessary to tell the best story or get their message across.  And just as they have the right to do it, people who don’t agree with it have the right to not support it by not purchasing those video games, not buying tickets to those movies, or simply changing the channel on their TVs.

This show won’t be for everyone.  It’s dark, it’s gruesome.  And while I’m someone who abhors violence, especially against children and animals, I can also put shows like this in their proper context.  Because for me, I find shows like this compelling.   I want to know how the FBI would attack a situation like this.  I want to see how they profile a twisted individual.  I want to see how they learn and adapt to get smarter and better so that they continue to get evil like that off the streets.  I want to see if I can figure this out right along with them.  Now is this a documentary on the BAU of the FBI?  Of course not.  It’s a TV show for entertainment, not a History Channel expose.  But shows like this don’t happen in a vacuum.  They do research and have consultants that aid with adding realism into a fictional show.  Now scenes and situations will be dramatized for effect but there are storytellers who like to have as much realism as possible when telling a story like this.   And what it all comes down to is that this is fiction, not reality.  If people want to watch a show like this (that is brilliant right off the bat), I think it’s absolutely ok.   If other people want to crucify it for its violent nature, that’s absolutely ok too.  The beauty of this age of TV is that there are hundreds of channels for you to pick from on Monday nights at 9pm.  If The Following isn’t your bag, it’s a shame but I get it.  And I respect your right to watch something else.    Just respect my right to want to watch it.

What did you all think?  Did you like The Following?  Are you as hooked as I am?  Or were you just too creeped out by people stabbing themselves in the eye to come back?   Let me know!

 

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SERIES PREMIERE REVIEW: Deception “Pilot” S1 E1

I’ve read a lot of reviews on the series premiere of Deception.  I had a conference call this morning and I was bored so I read reviews!   Just kidding boss…(not really.)  It was fascinating to see the early reports.  People either all out hated it or loved it and thought it was better than Revenge.   My opinion, somewhere in the middle.  I didn’t think the show was awful or incredible.  It’s a decent show that has potential.

The basic premise is Joanna Locasta (Meagan Good) is an NYC detective who was informed by her old partner and current FBI agent Will Moreno (Las Alonzo) that her best friend Vivian Bowers (Bree Williamson) has died of a drug overdose.  Since the FBI was already looking into the Bowers family for other crimes, he wants her to go undercover and infiltrate the family to see if she can find out what really happened to Vivian (both think she was murdered.)  He asks her because Joanna grew up with the family because her mother was the Bowers custodial manager and she and Vivian were best friends.  She agrees and the story begins.

We meet the Bowers family, the patriarch Robert (Victor Garber), the step-mother Sophia (Katherine LaNasa), troubled son Edward (Tate Donovan) and his “estranged” wife Samantha (Marin Hinkle), playboy Julian (of course he’s named Julian) (Wes Brown), and youngest sibling Mia (Ella Rae Park.)   Basically, everyone is a suspect (except Mia in my opinion) and they all have issues…drug, sex, something creepy and mysterious.  They’re nuts.  Who can you trust?   Absolutely no one!   Last night on Twitter, I went out on a limb to say that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn, eventually, that Sophia and Edward were the “good guys” on the show because they are coming across as the biggest asses right now.  However, if Sophia stayed deliciously nasty, I wouldn’t hate it!

There were many twists and turns for the pilot!  With the big one being that SPOILER ALERT……Mia is really Vivian’s daughter not sister……….SPOILER OVER.  And it confirmed the idea of something more sinister happening to Vivian when we see the close up of a wicked bruise on her check that has a distinct imprint on it and at the end of the episode we see SPOILER ALERT…….Julian hunched down and crying on the docks with a ring in his hand that matches the same pattern on Vivian’s face.  He then hurls the ring into the Hudson River………..SPOILER OVER.   We also see that Edward and Samantha are having issues.  I would go out on a limb to say they are separated over something Edward was alleged to have done.  They have their typical soap opera type cryptic conversation that leads to much speculation as to what the hell they are talking about. He also grabs her quite a bit, which I don’t like.  But she’s very afraid of him and he’s very aloof about life in general.  So what’s going on there?  The big question is can Joanna keep her secret about who she is, other than “Who Killed Vivian” of course!  We did have someone find out that she’s really a cop but he was killed before that storyline could have gotten really interesting.  But who killed him?  Is it the same person/people who killed Vivian?

What did I think?  I liked it.  Was it the greatest hour of TV I ever watched?  Nope.  Was it the worst?  Nope.  I was surprised how harsh some other critics were on the show.  It’s a nighttime soap so it’s going to be campy and silly at times.  I mean seriously?  Tate Donovan is Victor Garber’s son?  Did Garber turn 75 and I didn’t realize it or is Donovan really 40 years old?  I think not.  Garber’s 64 and Donovan is 50.  You do the math.  But this is not the first nor the last time there would be age issues on TV shows (see Kelsey Grammer and John Mahoney on Frasier.)   The one comment I saw in a few reviews that I agree with is that if you’re going to be a nighttime, campy soap, act like it.  Don’t try to be a serious show when you clearly aren’t.  And Deception does seem caught in a little bit of that “are we a serious show or a soap?”  Except LaNasa.  She got the memo.   And she’s great!  If Deception can realize who/what it realize is, I think the show will be fine.  I’m still not sold on Good as the leading lady yet.  She doesn’t command the screen the way Emily van Camp, Kerry Washington, Jada Pinkett Smith, or Kyra Sedgwick can.  But I’m willing to give her a chance.  She’s good but not as dominant as I’d like her to be.

What did you think of Deception?  Will you keep watching?  Did you hate it as much as some of the critics did?

DVR Rating: 3 DVRs

 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Castle “Probable Cause” Season 5 Episode 5

Best.  Castle.  Ever.   To me, it’s a real testament to the writers and the actors when you know what the outcome is going to be and you’re still anxiously watching the episode with excitement and anticipation…that’s what this episode was for me.

I’m going to get my one pet peeve out-of-the-way right now so I can focus on all the delicious good stuff.  ABC, you ruined the surprise for me when you listed the actors at the beginning of the show.  I’m sure most people don’t know who Michael Mosley is.   Or if your like me with a lot of actors, you know the face because you’ve seen them in virtually every show (which was Margo Martindale for me for years) but you’re not sure of their name.   But for me, I know exactly who Michael Mosley is, because I think he’s excellent, and so when I saw the “Guest Starring” and underneath it “Michael Mosley” I knew it would be a 3XK episode.   I bit of advice, if you want to pull off a big “ta da” moment in the episode, for those of us (me and his mother) who know who he is, it would have been a bigger “TA DA!!!!!” moment had I not known he was in the episode.  Just eliminate his name!!  Shows have done that before when they don’t want to ruin the surprise.  Hell you did it for Revenge this year when you left Madeline Stowe’s name off the opening credits to not give the surprise away.  Not that it was much of a surprise but I digress.  I’m begging you (and this goes for everyone, not just Castle and ABC) for those of us insane TV fans who knows the actors playing key characters, if you want to have a big reveal, don’t put the actor’s name in the credits!  Simple.  Easy.   Done.  I’ve said my piece.

As for the episode itself….wow!!!!  What an amazing job all the way around.   Think about it.   You know Castle isn’t guilty of murder and (me and Mrs. Mosley) knew who was behind it.  But it didn’t matter.  It was still so riveting to watch how this was all going to play out.   And even though we knew Castle would be innocent and 3XK was involved, Beckett didn’t.  Ryan and Esposito didn’t.  So I was happy to take that ride with them.  Castle, at this point, is all about these characters.   I’m invested in this show because I’m invested in these characters.  Whether we have a light-hearted Castle, a serious Castle, a romantic Castle, or serialized Castle, every Castle works because of the actors/characters.   You can see it in every scene in this episode.  When Kate is sitting with Esposito, and she calls him Javi instead of Esposito, and she’s talking about helping Castle and Javi says that he loves him too but that he has to follow the evidence (more on that later.)  And then the scene with Lanie and Beckett where Kate is pouring her soul out to Lanie.  When I watch this show, I really feel as though these people would run through fire for each other.  It’s why, when the story is somewhat transparent, it doesn’t matter because I still don’t know how it will impact the characters and how they will handle it.  And that is what I really want to see as much as how the storyline will play itself out.

There seemed to be much debate, surprisingly to me, over Beckett and the Boys reaction to Castle and the charges against him.  I was shocked to hear and read that some people thought they were too easy to believe the evidence and not Castle.  First off, I don’t think that’s what happened.  Second, that’s their job.  That’s why they’re so good.  Not because they go soft on each other but because they do what is their duty…find the truth.  As Esposito said, if it was anyone else, they would follow the evidence wherever it took them and go from there.  Until they could find a reasonable explanation, they had no other choice.  I think it was very true to character and the right thing to do from a storytelling aspect.  And there were several drops from Ryan and Esposito about how they don’t like that they have to go after their friend but they have no choice.  Kate said multiple times how this is way off base but that she’ll go by the book until she proves otherwise.  I was thrilled with how the writers handled it.   And in the end, the truth won out and Castle has all charges against him, dropped.  Case closed right?

As Castle and Beckett were heading home, they had to wait for a bridge to close.  No sooner were they discussing how they thought it might have been too easy, BOOM, their car is hit from behind.  Who hits them, well that would be 3XK.  After some back and forth, Castle gets the upper hand and shoots 3XK several times sending him over the side of the bridge.  Alas, when divers go to retrieve his body out the next morning, the body is nowhere to be found and Castle knows this story is far from over.

So why was 3XK after Castle?   Because Castle ruined 3XKs anonymity.  He felt he couldn’t be who he needed to be because people knew he was out there.   He couldn’t kill and hunt they way he wanted to because of Castle.  So he needed to plan Castle’s demise and destroy his and Kate’s lives at the same time.  When that didn’t work out, he planned another metal attack….he came after them on the bridge and planned his “death.”  That way, if people think he’s gone, he can go back to doing what he loves most…hunting and killing.     So he’s still out there and Castle is fully aware that he and everyone he loves could be in danger.

These are the episodes when Castle is at its best.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what made Castle fall in love with it from the beginning and that’s the funny, silly, don’t take itself too seriously show.  But when the show goes to the serious moments, the cast really shines and the writers do a terrific job making us believe in what we are seeing.  And just like I am on the Monica Potter better get some damn Emmy love this year, Stana Katic better get some damn Emmy love this year because she has been brilliant.

What did you think guys?   Did you love this episode?   Were you surprised by the 3XK reveal?  Sound off below!!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in ABC, Recaps and Reviews

 

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