V-the series 2009-?

I’m a late convert to this series, which has worked out well since I didn’t experience any lag time between broadcasts. (Courtesy of www.ch131.com)

First, let me say that I hope the lovely Morena Baccarin gets more starring roles and doesn’t fade away like predecessor Jane Badler . This character, named Diana in the old 1983/84 series is Anna here, and she’s everything you’d expect in a reptile dressed in top-model  synthetic skin & clothing. She could teach Machiavelli a few things. Want public sympathy & that of a specific person? Beat your daughter and have her legs broken, then have her taken to an FBI station and place her bruised face on television worldwide. Oh, and did I forget to add that you have to pressure said daughter into naming your political enemies as her attackers in order to get the public to help do your dirty work?  It almost seems like overkill that Anna has some kind of psychic power over nearly ever member of her species to make them feel “bliss”.

It’s interesting that this extraterrestrial, reptilian species is unable to feel “human emotions” with the exception of this quasi-religious rapture.  I guess we’re to assume that it’s a kind of psychic drug that helps Anna manage the emotions of other members of her species and adds to her already considerable powers of persuasion, not to mention duplicity.

The way she looked forward to her encounter with Ryan (a fine Morris Chestnut), whom she saw as merely a challenge to her duplicitous and psychic powers. “You killed her. Didn’t you?” Ryan accuses,  (referring to his lover, Valerie, who birthed his child) as he begins to choke her, she calmly removes his hand and replies that she and the medical staff have done everything to save her and would have succeeded had Ryan gotten to her ship sooner. She then cradles his face in her hands and emits the bliss inducing psychic state-symbolized by a burst of blinding white light-before introducing Ryan to his child. (Yes. Anna had in fact murdered Val, the baby’s mother.)

Casting a white female as the principal villainess and an African-American male as one of the heroes made me wonder whether  this was an oblique  way of tapping into Obama-Clinton-Palin tensions.

Other standouts in this series are Scott Wolf, channeling Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton as an ambitious television journalist, and Elizabeth Mitchell, whose adroit shifts of mood and persona would be even scarier if she were a reptile…

The resurrection of Joshua, played by Mark Hildreth was an interesting twist at the end, not to mention a brilliant set up for season 2. Will he be tortured for information or will Marcus, (a sinister Christopher Shyer )turn against Anna as her daughter Lisa is slowly doing. Marcus & Lisa were both seemingly pleased with Anna’s show of human emotion after learning that virtually all of her eggs were destroyed.

One of the underlying philosophical questions posed by this show is :How long can you pretend to be something that you’re not before it changes who you are? (Whether you’re an FBI agent pretending to be tolerant of the Visitors, or a Visitor pretending to be human).

V’s midseason return

Finale recap 1

Finale recap 2

Finale recap 3

Damages – Great beginning, then slowly deteriorated…

I was completely blown away by the first season of this show. Patty Hewes, as superlatively played by Glenn Close, was large and in charge. She had won an award, hired a new associate, and eventually, won a multibillion dollar case against Arthur Frobisher (played by a manic and effective Ted Danson). Mr. Frobisher sold off all his own stock just before his company went belly-up, you see…The acting and writing of that first season was exemplary.  Season two concluded with Patty losing her husband and her teenaged son. Season three finds Patty alone, and at times, seemingly struggling to maintain her sanity.

I have several problems with season three. Firstly, there were too many people were killed in rapid succession. An interesting character would get introduced, then killed off right away.  Secondly, there are just too many subplots.  (Martin Short’s Leonard Winstone/Lester Wiggins character being blackmailed by his father, Ellen’s possible adoption during early childhood and making Carol Tobin the killer of Danielle Marchetti, just to name a few). The strongest of them have been: Tom Shayes story as another of Louis Tobin’s fraud victims, which is interesting and credible, as is the impending parenthood of Patty’s son Michael and his much older girlfriend, Jill. Nonetheless, there have been too many double-crosses, lies, and manipulations for viewers to keep track. Even in a world of cops, robbers, and lawyers, you need to be able to follow the story – if every single character is double-dealing – it makes it hard for the viewer to follow what’s going on, and it seems less and less credible as a narrative.

Another thing I felt was inappropriate was Ellen jumping into the sack with Josh Reston far too quickly. From “I’ll think about it” after he asked for leads for his column at the Manhattan Observer newspaper to them sleeping together in their next scene. I thought Ellen was supposed to be more guarded and reflective after her stint with Patty Hewes?

I also have trouble with some basic details in the script. Patti initially offered Jill $100,000 to “walk away” from Michael, then $200,000. Jill balked at the notion and walked out. In a later episode; however, Jill agreed to $500,000 to disappear.  My criticism? In 2010, in New York City, half a million dollars might be a nice chunk of change, but it’s chump change in terms of setting someone up for life, especially an expectant mother. For that, if you’re not talking at least  the mid-seven figures, then you’re not seriously talking, and someone as worldly-wise as Patty Hewes is very well aware of that…

More screen time for Lily Tomlin and Len Cariou and less for Campbell Scott would have pleased me, too. One of my co-workers thinks it’s because some of these actors are movie stars and I’m used to seeing them in larger parts with more to do that I’m noticing the relative deprivation, which may be part of it, but I honestly don’t find the Joe Tobin character, played by Mr. Scott, to be very interesting.

What is interesting, is to see that the bossier Patty gets, the more people seem to defy her and do just the opposite of what she wants. I was half-expecting Jill to play off the windfall as Patty’s pre-wedding gift to the new couple. This would have been rich over a dinner with Ms. Hewes, I can just imagine her turning about six different shades of red;)  Patty has succeeded in one way; however, she has Jill and Michael lying to each other…

I have to give Jill credit for having moxy to openly deceive Patty, too.

Neither Patty nor Marilyn Tobin will be winning the Grandmother of the Year Award. The former wants to send the grandchild away forever, the latter stood passively by while she was killed.

The finale? We’re supposed to believe that Tom Shayes staggered back to his home bloody in broad daylight through the streets of New York the entire time while  instead of seeking medical attention? And his killer, Joe Tobin, (ugh!) just happens to arrive the very same moment? Why couldn’t Stuart Zedeck’s henchman, Mr. Falco have killed Tom off? That would have been far more credible. But to have Leonard Winstone shoot him, and then have Mr. Falco jump up and seemingly choke Winstone to death a few seconds later seemed absurd. And the way that manila envelope with the proof against the Tobins got passed around like a baton? Come on!!!

And don’t forget the homeless guy who only sleeps in the abandoned loft building -instead of a cardboard box when it’s time for someone staying there to be conveniently frightened for the camera…

This season felt very contrived and derivative of other films/television shows and I was very disappointed with the finale.

All things Damages

Q & A in re the season 3 finale

Big Love – Season Finale…

Well, that’s all folks. At least until January of 2011, rumor has it…This was some horse and pony show…here are my random thoughts:

One of the things bothered me about the finale – how the hell could Bill have Tom & Jerry removed just like that when they’re equal partners???

Other things that bothered me? Let’s see – JJ managed to steal eggs from his sister, his daughter, and use them to impregnate his ex-mother-in law and tried to impregnate his ex-wife. His son Roquet and his sister Wanda knew about it and neither of them said anything until Wanda miraculously regained the power of speech in the last episode.

One of the most positive things about this episode was Barb telling Bill that she wanted a different life and that she didn’t think she needed him anymore.

I guess Margene now has ANOTHER polygamous family to live with, eh? Will another guy be invited to join?

I sure hope the writers don’t figure a way to keep JJ & his creepy wife Malinda alive- that would totally suck. Who in their right mind would get on the wrong side of Adaleen or Nicki?   I do wonder; however, who it was that intercepted JJ when Adaleen was chasing after him, and helped her to tie him and Malinda up.

When Marilyn Densham was in Bill’s office about to break down into tears – saying “you can’t do this to me…” I really felt like we lost a moment of disclosure – WHY is Marilyn Densham so emotionally invested in Bill’s future???  She can’t seem to stay out of his face and we weren’t given a reason why that is…

“I thought when people saw you, they really saw you, they couldn’t help but love you.” Remember what happened to Jesus Christ when he was loved by Judas Iscariot, Bill? Loving someone doesn’t guarantee good decisions or treatment – just ask your wives…

Although this season has definitely been entertaining to put it mildly, overall, I have to agree with the assessment of the Star-Ledger’s Alan Sepinwall:

Big Love Season 4 Finale Review

Mary McNamara from the L.A. Times has an interesting theory about why this season seemed so wild and wacky: the shows producers like all the cast members so much they wanted to give each character something interesting to do. You know what they say about too many cooks spoiling the broth?

Big Love Season 4 -Mary McNamara’s Analysis

What do YOU think happens next??

The Good Wife – will she be bad?

Ok. By now, you know I love this show immensely, but this week’s episode gave more examples of why. It’s an incredibly smooth ensemble production with fine acting all around. The way the Broussard murder trial was cracked – Will suggested probing the immigrant status of the wife as a reason for the marriage to a key witness, in order to secure her testimony. Naturally, it was tenacious and lovely Kalinda who suggested that they look into the disappearance of the $50,000 in order to crack the case.  The wife of the key witness happened to make a charitable donation of exactly $50,000 right after the murder, thereby acting as an agent to conspiracy. This situation supersedes the spousal privilege that prevents one spouse being forced to testify against another…

Peter and house arrest. We could see he was going stir crazy. He has now hired Eli Gold  (hilariously played by Alan Cumming) to help him uncover who and how he was set up on corruption charges.  Gold promptly informs him that he’s under investigation by the FBI after glancing at a picture saved by junior detective Zach.

Given the previews for tonight’s episode the Good Wife may very well be bad…her flirtation with Will Gardner could jeopardize her potential partnership with the firm as well as her job in general, not to mention her marriage. I’m rather disappointed with the decision to move the show in this direction, since I’d rather see her reunited with her husband and have them fighting crime together – a Remington Steel/Thin Man for the 2010 generation.

Another Summary of “Bang” episode of The Good Wife.

Big Love goes back to Family Values…

Although this was another episode that was all over the map- one moment Nicki slaps Bill in the face for not telling her that his brother Joey’s the one who killed her father, Roman- then she’s in the bedroom with him professing she loves him and doesn’t want to share him? (which reels were spliced together to come up with that sequence?) – overall; however, it was more cohesive than the previous entry.

The focus was on Bill Hendrickson and his family dealing with threats to their interests and safety. There was a great scene with Ben, Tancy and Sarah in which they each revealed their feelings about Bill’s political campaign.

Marilyn’s true colors were forcefully revealed in a lovely dressing down scene with Bill. Marilyn’s intense dislike and vested interested in destroying Bill may become clear in the next season. Marilyn continually makes allusions to the past, as she did in her telephone conversation with Barb, which make me believe there’s some kind of prior connection to Bill or to his brethren. In any case, Ms. Spacek makes this show far more watchable for me than would otherwise be the case. (I must confess a passing morbid interest in the meltdowns of Nicki and Alby, but they’re somewhat predictable and a little played out…).

It ended with the core Hendricksons – Bill and Barb (his only legal wife) and their three children enjoying Tancy’s birthday celebration.

There will undoubtedly be countless loose ends at the end of next week’s episode, but I seriously hope the writing/storylines improve next season. These folks can’t hold a candle to the writing of In Treatment, Damages, Nurse Jackie, or even The Good Wife.


Big Love Jumps the Shark

As FaceBook poster Marian put it:

“How much crazy can they pack into one hour?!?!? Adaleen preggers and Nikki not, Margie married to Goran, Marilyn in with the protesters, Lois using a machete to cut off Hollis’s arm!!! Whew!!!”

This was definitely the episode when all semblance of reality faded away… What drug(s) have the writers been taking lately?   Adaleen is pregnant from one sexual encounter with JJ, which happened after their marriage in last week’s episode. Adaleen has to be pushing 60, no? She’s Alby’s mother as well as Nicki’s. The rapidity with which she got pregnant is absurd. It’s equally asurb to me that either Nicki or Margene would want to have another baby. I thought Margene was re-inventing herself as a career woman. Doesn’t she  think being pregnant might interfere with her onscreen appearance??Nicki doesn’t have her hands full with JJ/Caralyn, Bill and her other two children? Barb now insists she’s also a “partial mother” to Ana’s child? I might see this coming from Nicki, she was compound-reared, Barb was not.

Several viewers criticized the severed arm sequence since they (and I) think it unlikely a woman of Lois’ age and stature could cleave through bone so quickly and easily with a single machete strike. I initially thought she’d stabbed him in the back, which would make a lot more sense for someone behind a threat to one’s child to do than to chose to maim someone.

The Marilyn Densham story is about the only thing that seems plausible and very interesting lately. It’s wonderful to see Sissy Spacek in this mildly villainous role.

One of my co-workers thinks the Margene/Goren/Ana storyline could morph into a potential romance for Margene and a re-kindling of affections between Ana and Bill. It’s not the way I’d want the story to go, but I think it might be an improvement over the schlock of the last episode. We agreed;however , that another possible angle next season is that Goren tries to divorce Margene and lays claim to some of Margene’s earnings as a high-powered saleslady. It could also provide Ana leverage against Margene & Bill if Barb and the other wives try to force themselves into the life of Ana’s child; Ana & Goren could move away within the U.S. and insist on unsupervised visitation with Margene’s kids unless Bill & the wives back off on trying to parent Ana’s baby. It may also come to pass that some combination of these storyline’s emerge only to result in Ana’s baby not being Bill’s at all, but that of the man seen leaving Ana’s apartment in the previous season.

In any case, the writers need to get back to creating more credible, fully developed and original story lines instead of giving the impression of having plumbed the depths of Soap Opera Digest from the 1980s. Seriously, a group of stoned freshman students in a creative writing class might have come up with the latest episode, if not better. Message to HBO: Don’t insult your viewers’ intelligence if you want to keep your audience.

Good Wife – impossibly good!

I don’t know how the writers and actors pull out such incredible material and performances week after week, but this show needs to be on DVD and hopefully made into a feature film some day.

Why is it so good? Intricacy, on-screen chemistry, and unpredictability. In the episode “Hi“, we kind of thought Kalinda was on Peter Florrick’s side, but couldn’t be 100% sure, and we couldn’t be sure how she’d testify, but when she did, in a rather oblique, obfuscatory fashion, and beamed back at Mr. Childs after the judge granted a new trial, who could not help basking in the glow of triumph?

The legal reasoning behind Peter’s conviction seems increasingly murky – he slept with a call-girl 18 times. Fine, but how do specific sex acts tie in to specific cases which he’s accused of failing to prosecute?

Aside from the drama surrounding Peter’s trial, there the little matter of a murdered babysitter, and unemployed husband Jason (James Waterston), and a suspicious, breadwinning wife, Sonya (Sonja Sohn). The husband is the immediate suspect, Alicia and Cary are hauled in to help defend him at the behest of Diane and Will, respectively, and lovely Kalinda is assigned to try to uncover anything and everything they can use to point the police in a direction away from their client, regardless of his guilt or innocence. In the midst of this moral ambiguity, Alicia pilfers potentially incriminating evidence from a very soon to be declared crime scene (so hilariously soon after she arrives that she has to hide to escape the building undetected). Oh, and did I mention that Cary’s high as a kite for much of the proceedings?

The apparent emergence of gender loyalty over political correctness is interesting; Alicia has turned to Diane for advice more often than Will when given a choice – once because she was opposing a personal friend of his, but I think Diane is someone she not only respects, but trusts a bit more and now Alicia has earned Diane’s grudging respect. It almost seems like Diane and Will went out of their way to find opposite-gender proteges to compete for a position in the interests of political correctness, but inherent differences are winning out; Diane felt obliged to protect Sonya’s interests in this episode, and suggested that Will protect Jason’s. Just another thing to make me go “hmmm…” 😉

Who else thinks the judge who granted the new trial might have been the one Kalinda was talking about?


See? Who says TV can’t be educational?

Summary 1