Sunday, January 31, 2010

CBS Mars Grammys with Bleeps

CBS just marred a fine Grammy night by silencing the Lil Wayne, Eminem, Drake performance at least 10 times.

What is CBS afraid of? More unconstitutional FCC fines? If so, the CBS execs who made the bleeping decision should resign, and let people who have respect for Americans and our music step up and run the tiffany network.  Ed Sullivan has become a laughing stock for his presentation of Elvis only from the waist up, his censoring of the Rolling Stones, and his attempt to censor the Doors.   Historians will similarly look with ridicule upon CBS's ham-handed handling of the Grammys.

The audiences for network television are already receding. If the networks are to have any future at all, any chance of competing with the generally better programming of cable (when was the last time you heard a bleep on an HBO concert?) and the vistas of the Web, the networks need to stop running scared, and start treating their viewers like adults.

We do, after all, have a First Amendment in this country.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Caprica 1.2: Dawn of a Different Machine

Caprica moved from its pilot to episode 1.2 on the SyFy Channel tonight. The most interesting part, for me, was the development of young Bill Adama. I guess that's because I'm still more grounded in the Battlestar Galactica than the Caprica world.

The main story on Caprica concerns Zoey Graystone - killed by the terrorist bomb on the maglev in the pilot.   Her mind was already in an avatar - Second Life-like - program.  Her father moved the chip with Zoey's mind from the avatar program to a robot assembly, and thus we have what may be the first thinking Cylon.

Tonight we see how uncomfortable Zoey is in the Cylon body - lugged around like a bike or a lawnmower in the back of a pick-up - but she has an indomitable spirit that will make this new life work.  She reaches out to one her friends, and clearly has feelings.  She's more human than Cameron on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but Caprica at this point does have something deeply in common with the dawn of the machines in the Terminator stories.

The reveal tonight, though, concerned what Zoey may have done when she was still human: was she not only a victim but a perpetrator of  the terrorist bombing?   I'd say not, but it raises the question of whether the bomb was set off by someone else we may know.

That certainly wouldn't be young Bill Adama, whose sister was also killed in the attack.   Tonight we see the influence on Bill not just of his father, Joseph the attorney, but his uncle, Sam, who has a roughness and street-sense that we can recognize in the adult BSG Bill.

Given the power of Bill Adama in Battlestar Galactica, it's hard not to be pulled to anything we can learn about him in Caprica.   But the show ultimately has to fly on its own.


5-min podcast review of Caprica

See also:  Battlestar Galactica Caprica: Exquisite, Flawed Copies







Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, eBags, eHarmony, eMusic, Nutrisystem













The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Friday, January 29, 2010

Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13

Bones continues to get more empathetic on Bones, in tonight's episode 5.13 schooling Booth in love - not in the making of it, but in the truth that love conquers all, including previous encounters with the law and Victorian morality.

Bones reminds Booth that he helped her see that her father was worthy of her love, which would make her more fulfilled, even though her father was a criminal.   Booth needs this reminding because he has trouble accepting his younger brother Jared's love for a former call girl.  The set up allows for some great lines from Bones about the hierarchy of call girls, and their proficiency with sex.

Meanwhile, Bones may not be giving enough approval to insecure Assistant Nigel-Murray, as he and Jack crack a tough case involving a current-day dentist who's found dead in a Civil War battle trench.   Little seeds bursting through the skull confound the early autopsy diagnosis, but Bones figures it out in the end, and proceeds to a warm, wrapping scene of Booth and her, and Jared and his fiance, 'round a table in a restaurant.

Finding good shows on television was once like pulling teeth - they were as scarce as hen's teeth - but in our new golden age of television, you can find them just about any Thursday night on Bones.


Ok, I'll go quietly now.



5-min podcast review of Bones

See also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby















The Plot to Save Socrates





"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father

Walter's emotional health continues to improve - like Fringe itself - he's less crazy, feels more, thinks better, is more human.   In Fringe 2.14, he even gets angry at Peter, in another story with all the trimmings of fine, intriguing science fiction.

The villain is a Nazi, who likely has traveled through time, or appears young for whatever other wild reason though he's over a hundred years old.  That is never really explained, and it hardly matters, since the story soars on other big wings.

The Nazi worked with Robert Bischoff back in the 1930s.  Bischoff soon left Nazi Germany and came to the U.S.  He changed his name to Bishop in the United States - he's Walter's father.    The Nazi in our present has taken his and Bischoff's work, and built a weapon that can kill specific human groups, based on their DNA.  "All of Hitler's dream in one little toxin," as Peter puts it.

But for the first time in the series, Walter is furious with Peter, and won't accept his apology - Peter sold Robert's books, 10 years ago, ostensibly for money, but as Peter explains to Olivia the deeper reason was the resentment Peter had for Walter back then.   And now Walter, ever perceptive, may understand this full well.  That, combined with the genuine loss Walter feels for his father's missing books,  fuels his anger.   It was one of the most genuine, humanizing moments in the series, grounding Walter and Peter in a family relationship that is now as real as it's been bizarre.

I also liked Walter saying he'd like Olivia to be his daughter-in-law - I've been saying for a while that I see a romantic relationship in Peter and Olivia's future.

Meanwhile, Walter figures out to create a toxin that specifically targets the Nazi, who succumbs before he is able to unleash another attack.   Peter returns what he is able to find of Robert's books, and their relationship is repaired.   But neither yet knows that the Nazi in our present was a hundred years old, looking as young as he did in the photo of Robert and him in the 1930s.   (A commenter on Facebook asked me if thought Walter may have known that the Nazi was a hundred years old, but didn't want to tell Peter.   I certainly think this is a possibility - and perhaps Walter's silence is related to the Nazi's possible connection to Peter's alternate universe, which Walter clearly does not want to talk about.)

That's what I call one fine science fiction story.


5-min podcast review of Fringe


See also Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again"

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best







Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, eBags, eHarmony, eMusic, Nutrisystem














Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mixed Grades for Obama's 2010 State of the Union

Well, Barack Obama, one of the most gifted orators of this or any generation, delivered a fine, rousing State Union address tonight from the standpoint of style.  He made his points with eloquence, passion, and good humor.   No boor in the audience shouted "you lie," though Associate Justice Alito shook his head and said to himself "not true" when Obama wrongly criticized the Supreme Court's decision to remove restrictions on corporate funding of political ads (Alito was right - the Court's decision was in accordance with the First Amendment).

As to the substance, I give the speech mixed ratings.

What I most liked:

1. Repeal at last of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gays in the military.  It's long since time that Americans were treated equally, in all respects and rights, regardless of their sexual preferences (unless, of course, the preferences lead to crimes).

2.  Challenging both parties to enact some kind of meaningful health care reform.   The loss of the Democratic 60-super-majority in the Senate should not be allowed to freeze this important work.  As Obama astutely pointed out, the Democrats should not run for hills, and Republicans now have even more of a responsibility to step up and help make health care reform happen.

What I most disliked:

1.  Out of Iraq but full speed ahead in Afghanistan is a bad policy - planting the seeds for another Vietnam and Iraq.    With no declaration of war (as required by the Constitution), we have no legal business being there.   As a matter of practical result, it should be clear by now that these sorts of military engagements do not work.

2. Obama's chiding of the Supreme Court decision about corporate funding of political ads, movies, and the like communication was unfortunate.   As I indicated above, I see the Supreme Court's decision as a straight-up First Amendment victory - or, not allowing the government to get in the way of any speech and press.

***

I would say Obama's first year could be best described as actions not following through on the rhetoric.    Now, I find myself in agreement with only some of the rhetoric.   Will Obama will be able to thread the needle, and enact what needs to be enacted, and pull back from a dangerous military commitment and other unfortunate plans?   It won't be easy,  that's for sure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Damages Back with a Vengeance

Damages came back with a third scalding season on FX last night, with all the punishing trimmings, and a cast of new villains and maybe some heroes that rival what you might see in the movies.

The fundamental set-up is the same as last year.   Patty Hewes is once again in maybe mortal danger six months from now, this time from a car that crashes into hers, out of the blue, in a great jolting scene.   Meanwhile, back in the present, Patty is taking on a Bernie Madoff-type character (Louis Tobin, played by Len Cariou, who was just great in Brotherhood, as well as his wife (Lily Tomlin!), son (Campbell Scott), daughter-in-law (Reiko Aylesworth - Michelle on 24, and last year on Lost), and, just for superb measure, Martin Short as the tough, brutal, slightly sleazy Tobin lawyer Leonard Winstone (a staple on Damages).   Ellen's looking great and working in the DA's office.   Tom is getting his name of the door - it will be Hewes and Shayes.  But-

Back in the six months from now, Patty's just shaken up, not really hurt, by the crash, and Huntley (Tom Noonan) is on the case (great character from last season, good to see him back).   His investigation leads to the first shocker of the night - Tom's car is the one that took out Patty's.   And then, a bigger punch in the solar plexus:  Tom's car was apparently stolen.  He's dead.

In the present, there is one other thing to mention.   Keith Carradine, fresh from his role as Agent Frank Lundy on Dexter, is some kind of mysterious architect Julian Decker who's trying to get close to Patty.    With Carradine in the role, it's a certainty that something very major is going to happen between Julian and Patty, with some connection to the car crash.

So Damages is off and running with another searing season, a chess game with daggers, and easily one of the most intelligent shows on television.



5-min podcast review of Damages

See alsoDamages Concludes Season 2 ...  Lying about Damages ... 2.2: A Good World of Hurt ... Damages 1-10

















The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Monday, January 25, 2010

House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath

House 6.11 was split about 50/50 with a good story for the major characters, and a good story for the patient.

I'm always a sucker for a good story about House, and tonight's was quiet, off-beat, and very compelling.  Back in medical school, House thought his lower-than-expected grades in a course were due to the professor not liking him (astute!), so House switched his paper with another student's.  That paper received an A, which disproved House's hypothesis.   Now House learns that the other student (Wibberly, played by Ray Abruzzo from The Sopranos) got an F on his paper - written by House - which caused him to flunk out of med school.   Wibberly's life was ruined.  He's on the verge of losing his house.   House wants to make at least a little of this up to him by paying a few month's rent.

Thus we get another glimpse of the human being lurking not too deep in House.    He also cuts up a cherished photo of Cuddy's - and when she tells him, we see that he feels bad about that, too.  On his way to being at least a little of a mensch.

But House learns that making amends is never easy.   Wibberly doesn't want House's money - and tells House that, actually, he didn't flunk out of medical school at all.  He was drummed out of practicing medicine, years later, for another reason.   And when House goes to apologize to Cuddy, he sees her with her boyfriend Lucas, and House can't bring himself to interrupt them.

In the end, House slides his check through Wibberly's door.  It's a small, sad, brave, and important gesture.

Meanwhile, the patient whom House and team are treating is a psychopathic beauty - not a killer, but just devoid of feelings.   She's married to a rich, unattractive nebbish, for whom she has no feelings.   Thirteen helps solve the case, and in the process begins to mend fences with Foreman, at least insofar as their working together.

One pyschopath cured, one amend made by House - more or less - and at a professional relationship starting to mend.   Not a bad haul at all in another fine episode of House.


5-min podcast review of House

See also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7 ... House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon ... House 6.9: Wilson ... House 6.10: Back in Business









The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

24 Season 8 Hour 5: Renee's True Cover

The taut, riveting Hour 5 of 24 Season tonight was mostly about Renee - her back story, her current situation, her relationship with Vlad, her cover.

First, Vlad is another tough, head man in the Russian mafia, played by Callum Keith Rennie, late of Californication and Battlestar Galactica, in two memorable roles.  In 24, Vlad can broker a deal with the Russian arms dealer Bazhaev we met last week (played by Jurgen Prochnow - who for some reason I most remember as Duke Leto Atreides in the 1984 version of Dune).   Renee's mission is therefore to get to Vlad, to get to Bazhaev, so CTU can intercept the nukes.

But Vlad's not easily fooled, to say the least.   Renee has Jack's live updates in her ear, supplied by Chloe.  In a classic 24 scene, Vlad asks Renee a question not in the briefing material.  Renee stalls long enough to save her life and let Chloe get Jack->Renee the information.   But Vlad's still not completely convinced.  He switches cars and eludes Jack.  He kills the Russian guy who had his hand chopped off last week by Renee (guy has no luck).  Then he questions Renee and tries one more time to break her cover.

Renee convinces him, by indicating she'd just as soon die if he doesn't want the arms deal she's offering.   Vlad recognizes that she's not the same woman he knew six years ago - there's something different, colder, in her eyes.  But certainly no FBI or any government agent could indicate so truly a willingness to die ... a hardening of the soul ... So Renee succeeds, at least this far, in her cover, because the part of her outlook that's become toughened, calloused, is not a cover at all.

Other elements of the story have Bazhaev's son Josef (David Anders) defying his father and seeking a doctor for his brother, suffering from radiation poisoning, and Katee Sackoff's character going back to her apartment to meet the man from her former life who is blackmailing her.   But at this point in Day 8, it's all Renee - with Jack - and that's a pretty good story indeed.


5-min podcast review of 24

See also Season 8 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4


And see also Season 7 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18 ... Hour 19 ... Hour 20 ... Hour 21 ... Hour 22  ... Hours 23-24 


And see also Season 6 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hours 8 and 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hour 11 ... Hour 12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18... Hour 19 ... Hour 20 ... Hour 21 ... Hour 22 ... Hours 23-24










Sunday, January 24, 2010

Big Love 4.3: Super-Compressed, Super-Fine, and Lawrence O'Donnell

Big Love continues with its super-compressed, super-fine Season 4, with an episode - #3 - so packed with critical events that you'd miss a major beat if you blinked.

Among the intense happenings -

  • Sarah joins Barb at the casino, and tries to help when Barb accidentally hits a Blackfoot Native American with her car.  Sarah and Barb try to make it right by offering the woman - who's not badly hurt - a job in the casino.  But Barb's warned that she's a meth mule, and the Blackfoot people are trying to crack down on that.   Unfortunately, Sarah isn't there to get that message, and in her last scene we see her with the meth mule, trying to help her and her baby.
  • Alby sleeps with and takes camera-phone photos of his male lover, as he sleeps in bed next to him.    Next day, they plan to secretly run Juniper Creek.
  • J.J.'s on the warpath - he wants his daughter back, who's in Washington, DC will Bill and Nikki (see next bullet).   He settles for getting the results of his goading of Joey - who goes to dig up Roman, who Joey think has his (Joey's) DNA under his (Roman's) finger nails.  Cut to J.J.'s wife watching Joey and Wanda digging up Roman (all that was missing from this scene was J.J.'s character from True Blood).
  • So Bill and Nikki and Nikki's daughter are in Washington.  First, though, Bill talks to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, who plays Lee, Bill's lawyer.  Bill needs to get the endorsement of Utah's Senator.   Not easy to get.    Neither is any time in bed for Bill and Nikki, who never gets a chance to wear the lingerie Bill bought her for the occasion.  In fact, she winds up almost in jail after getting caught with an unloaded gun at the Senator's reception that Bill is crashing.   How does Bill do that?  After first falling out with Sissy Spacek - who plays the woman organizing the reception - Bill is warmly welcomed.   How did that happen?  Nikki extolled Bill's accomplishments to Spacek in the lady's room.   The takeway:  Bill's faith, sorely tested, came through for him.  But if that isn't enough in this high-octane episode -
  • Margene kisses Ben full on the lips, then goes on television, and Ben's introduced as Margene's husband.   Barb and Teeny (back on the show - but a new actress) see the introduction not the kiss.  How did this happen?  Margene feels abandoned because no one in her family has come to see her at the studio, and Ben shows up...
Trouble, trouble, trouble ... but irresistible television, as Big Love continues...



5-min podcast review of Big Love

See also Big Love Season 4 Start with Casino, Psycho, and Birds
... Big Love 3.2: Politician or Prophet?
See also: Big Love, Season 3 ... 1. a 4th ... 2. Two Issues Resolved, Two Not So Much ... 6. Exquisite, Perfectly Played ... Big Love Season 3 Finale: Bigger Love ...

And from Season 2: 2: Oh, Happy Day, and Not ... 3: Sons and Mothers ... 4. Help Me, Rhonda ... 5. The Waitress and More... 6. Just Lust ... 7. Margene's Mama ... 8. Polygamy and Misgivings ... 9. Swing Vote Margene ... 10. Polygamy as the Ultimate Cool/Bad ... 11. Family in Crisis ... Big Love Season 2 Concludes







Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, eBags, eHarmony, eMusic, Nutrisystem










The Plot to Save Socrates







"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby

JFK's bones and Angela's pregnancy were the stories in the unusual, appealing episode of Bones 5.12 tonight.   In both cases, the question is whether they are real.

Let's start with Angela.   She thinks she's pregnant.  This leads Jack to tell her that he wants to take care of her and the baby, even though the baby is Wendell's.   But it turns out Angela's pregnancy test gave a false positive.   Angela is left with a renewed deep appreciation of Jack.   What have I been telling ya - they're moving closer and closer to getting back together, which is where they belong.

Meanwhile,  Bones and team are obliged to perform an examination of an unidentified set of bones.  Unfortunately, the lame coming attractions repeatedly told us the bones were JFK's, thereby depriving us of the pleasure of figuring this out or discovering it ourselves (Fox: wake up!).   But the story was still very enjoyable, mostly because -

Booth stands up to the Secret Service team, led by Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones) from The Sarah Connor Chronicles (not really Ellison, but it was good to Jones in action again).   And -

There's some question of whether the bones are really JFK's.  Booth doesn't want them to be - he wants to believe the U. S. government would never cover up that there was more than one assassin.   (We also hear that he's a descendant of John Wilkes Booth - I can't recall if we knew that before.)   But Bones and the rest of the team conclude there was indeed more than one killer.

Booth's not happy.  But then Bones apparently discovers that the bones are really not JFK's, which makes Booth happy.  But it turns out she thinks the bones may really be JFK's after all, but she played it that they're not, for the sake of Booth.   That's a nice touch, indeed, and it gets Cam to tell Bones she's a good person.

Bones has always been more about relationships, ultimately, than about bones...  (And, hey, a fine Michael Jackson bit by Booth at the beginning.)


5-min podcast review of Bones


See also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles












The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again"

Those words - "I can't let Peter die again" - uttered by Walter to Astrid, may be the most important words in this season of Fringe so far.   Astrid won't forget them.  We know they provide the opening to in many ways the secret mainspring of our characters - that Walter's original son Peter, in this universe, died, and Walter replaced him with Peter from an alternate universe.   It wasn't clear until tonight if anyone other than Walter knew this - anyone including Peter, who we so far have no reason to think knows this.  But now Astrid knows - at least a little.

Her character has been gaining importance in the past few episodes, and what she heard Walter say tonight will no doubt give her a more important, even pivotal role.   Should be exciting to see where and how this goes...

Meanwhile, the story tonight was good, too.  A deadly ice-age virus is unleashed in present-day Boston.  Peter contracts it.  The twist or update to this classic science fiction theme is that the virus propels its human hosts to, literally, get out into the world.  This is consistent with what we do know of viruses - they hijack cells, and get them to do their bidding, so why not viruses hijacking people?

Walter finds a cure - volcanic ash, which stopped it the first time.  Olivia must fight a crazed Peter, in an effort to get the cure to the infected before the government official in charge (the Captain on Dexter - played by Geoff Pierson) does the logical thing for a deadly, uncontrollable virus, and wipes out all the carriers.

Peter and the infected get the cure.   There's a good last scene between Peter and Olivia, where he apologies and she says he wasn't himself, and Epsiode 13 of Season Two of one of the best science fiction series on television concludes,  almost in Twilight Zone territory, already, it's that good.


5-min podcast review of Fringe


See also Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best







Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Rent-a-Car, eBags, eHarmony, eMusic, Nutrisystem














Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why the Supreme Court Decision Allowing Direct Corporate Spending on Elections is Correct

Good for the US Supreme Court for overturning the 20-year ban on direct corporate spending on elections.  Last time I checked, the First Amendment - "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" - contained no language excluding corporations from its protections.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, no great champion of the First Amendment, predictably voted with the minority - that is, to uphold the ban.  President Obama, apparently also no great friend of freedom of speech, said the decision gives a "green light" to special interests.   Predictably, Keith Olbermann just finished ranting about the decision.  Fortunately his guest, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, tried to set Olbermann straight.

Contrary to Senator Schumer of New York, the decision has "not just predetermined the winners of next November's elections."   The decision is not political.  It favors neither party.  It favors freedom.  (I'm a lifelong Democrat, who voted for Obama.)

Justice Stevens, who wrote the minority, dissenting opinion, thinks the First Amendment was not intended to apply to corporations, which  "are not human beings. They can't vote and can't run for office."  But  by that reasoning, The New York Times and The Washington Post would have been entitled to no First Amendment protection when Richard Nixon tried to prevent them from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

It's hard, I know, to support the right of people or organizations to speak and write and buy ads when you utterly and vehemently disagree with their positions.  But that is precisely what the First Amendment was designed to support and protect.   Because it protects the expression not just of opinions you may detest, but your own most cherished opinions, when others may find them detestable.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts on the Coakley Loss

1. This is the way of democracy.  Surprising.  Take nothing for granted.  America has been split 50/050 politically at least since 2000.   Every race is potentially close.  Next time, if you're running for the Senate in a race crucial to the country - and these days, all races are - don't take any votes for granted, don't take a Christmas or any holiday vacation.

2.  Health care reform is not dead, it's just more complicated.  Think about this: if Franken had not won by that narrow margin in Minnesota, would Obama and all those interested in meaningful health care reform just have given up and gone home?  Of course not, they would have figured out another way to get there.  That's what they and we need to do now.

3. One of the ways that could work is the House just signing off on the Senate's bill, which would send it straight to Obama for his signature.  This would at least have one big advantage: the Senate bill has no Stupak amendment.

4. Other people running for the Senate next year - incumbents and otherwise - better wake up.   If Democrats run anyone other then the strongest possible candidates, they'll be in for more of the same.  In Massachusetts, think about what might have happened tonight had someone from Ted Kennedy's family - or the larger Kennedy family - stepped up.

Countdown to Lost Finale Season

I had a good interview with Bob Mann this afternoon for his "Let's Consider the Source" show, which will be aired next Tuesday January 26th at 7:30PM Eastern on XM Radio, channel 133.  One of things he asked me about were my thoughts about the Lost finale season - both of us are avid fans.   Here are some of things I told him:

1.  I hope the last season of Lost at last addresses some of the fascinating, inexplicable coincidences that occurred when major characters who wound up on the plane and the island were revealed to have crossed paths long prior to the flight.  Jack and Desmond running into each other on the steps of the stadium at the beginning of Season Two - before the two later met in the hatch on the island - is a prime such example.   So is Libby being in the mental institution with Hurley, also well before they met on the island.   (See my Lost: Keys to What's Really Going On for further examples and analysis).  Lost needs to explain at least some of this.

2. I thought the time travel that ran through Season 5 - last year - was by and large excellent, intriguing, and very well reasoned.  I'd like to see more follow-through on that in the finale season, and I'm not sure if the Jacob story can do that.   It can, if the story stays within the realm of scientific plausibility - I'm taking time travel here to be scientifically plausible, though likely impossible, see The Enjoyable Trouble with Time Travel for more.   But if the story of Jacob and his nemesis resorts to some sort of mystical razzmatazz, I'll be disappointed.

3.  On the subject of Jacob's nemesis - I have a feeling he took over John Locke's body well before the events on the island in Season 5.  I'm thinking the nemesis took over Locke when he was recuperating in the hospital after his father pushed him out of the window and broke his back.  Possibly Locke's father was already taken over by Jacob's nemesis, or has some other significant connection to the nemesis.

4. I predict the final resolution will not entail parallel universes, with one group of our heroes never crashing in the first place,  and the other proceeding just as we have seen them for the past five seasons.    Instead, I think we'll have a uni-universe ending, with all the stories converging and resolving into one.

I'll likely have further thoughts on these and other Lost issues, and I'll certainly be reviewing every new episode starting on the evening of February 2, 2010.   Looking forward!




5-min podcast Countdown to Lost








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The Plot to Save Socrates






"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Heroes 4.16: The Trial of Hiro

A thoughtful, captivating Heroes 4.16 last night, mostly because of the trial of Hiro.

Actually, he's not really on trial, he's dreaming he's on trial during the dangerous operation to remove his brain tumor and save his life.  This could have been a pretty trite piece, but Heroes served it up nicely with George Takei back as Hiro's father and now judge, David Anders back as Adam Monroe and now prosecutor (a good night for Anders - he was also on 24), and Ando (of course) as defense counsel.  The trial featured some of the best meta-lines of the season, with Hiro mentioning "Law and Order," and Monroe chiding Hiro's defense statement for cribbing from the opening lines of Quantum Leap - "putting things right that once went wrong".  How can you not enjoy that sort of poke-at-itself television?  I certainly did.  And the substance of the trial - the charges against Hiro, that he was wrong to ever try to manipulate the present by changing the past - was pretty good too.  Trials are not uncommon in science fiction, from Star Trek to Dr. Who, but I don't recall ever seeing one quite as focused on the rights and wrongs of time travel as this one.   Could become a YouTube classic.

Meanwhile, Sam and Vanessa almost make it.  But they don't, and this sets Sam on what will likely be his final destructive course.   More interesting and surprising is the strange relationship beginning to develop between Sylar and Claire.   He tells her there are really alike.  She resists, and puts a pencil in his eye.   But he (of course) recovers, and by the end Claire is beginning to realize that the two may have some things in common after all.   Where this will lead is interesting - will Sylar become better (he's already saying he's not his old self), Claire become evil (which would be a significant development indeed), or both...

It looks as if Mohinder might be taking his final leave, when he says goodbye to Noah at the beginning of the show ... but in response to Noah's "I guess this is it,"  Mohinder smiles and replies, "in our lives, when is it ever."

You know, say what you will about Heroes, but I think it still has something very special.  I'd miss it if it was gone, and I hope that doesn't come to be for a long time.



5-min podcast review of Heroes

See also Heroes Season 4 Premiere: Metaphysics, University, Carnival ... Heroes Meets The L Word in 4.5 ... Heroes 4 Mid-Season Finale  ... Heroes Season 4 Resumes ... Heroes 4.15: The Chess Game Continues

See also reviews of Season 3 Heroes Gets Lost ... Heroes 3 Begins: Best Yet, Riddled with Time Travel and Paradox ... Sylar's Redemption and other Heroes and Villains Mergers ... Costa Nuclear ... Hearts of Gold and the Debased ... Seeing the Future Trumps Time Travel ... Superpowered Chess with Shifting Pieces ... Villains and Backstories ... The Redemption of Sylar ... Thoughts on the Eclipse, Part I ... The Lore of the Comic Book Store ... Hiro's Time Traveling Closure ... Augmented ... Shades of Recalibration ... Baby, Rebel, and Last Fantasy ... All that Shape Changes Remains the Same? ... Season 3 Finale: Hopeful Deceptions

Reviews of Season 2 Heroes: Episode 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 7. Heroes Meets 12 Monkeys ... 9. How Immutable Are Fate and Isaac's Futures? ... 10. Penultimate for the Fall ... Heroes 2 Finale: Heroes Who Didn't Survive

And from Season 1: Heroes in Focus ... Heroes Five Years Gone: Triumph of Time Travel and Comics ... Heroes the Hard Part: Only the Pictures Not the Words ... Heroes Landslide: Winnowing and Convergence ... Heroes Volume One Finale












The Plot to Save Socrates





"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Monday, January 18, 2010

24 Season 8 Hours 3 and 4: The Female Jack

Hours 3 and 4 of 24, Day (or Season) 8, were on tonight with a fine, heart pounding, surprising story.   The two hours actually told two very different, though interconnected, stories ...

In Hour 3:  Omar Hassan (played by Slumdog Millionaire's Anil Kapoor - he reminds me a little of Omar Sharif back in his Lawrence of Arabia days) does the right thing, and supports reporter Meredith Reed's (Jennifer Westfeldt) admission to Hastings that she and Hassan had been having an affair.  But Hastings still think she could be part of the assassination attempt, and is swayed by planted evidence on Meredith's computer.   Only Chloe thinks the evidence may have been planted, but Hastings won't listen to her, and the assassination plan proceeds...

Out in Queens, Jack's doing his best to track and stop the assassin, but he winds up with a gun in his hand and a dead cop and his wife - they were killed by the assassin, who is now taking the slain cop's place in the protection detail for Hassan at the UN.   A Vic Mackey wannabee (actually, Domenick Lombardozzi - Herc  - from The Wire, a fine actor) and his partner played by Johnny Wu take Jack into custody.   Domenick beats Jack, certain that he's a cop killer.  Fortunately, Wu doesn't like this and is just convinced enough by Jack's story to call it in ... This allows Jack to get in touch with Cole at the U.N., and arrive there himself, just in time to -

Save Hassan.   As I say in my review of just about every episode, with 24 you never know...  But it's clear now that Cole is a major, valuable CTU agent, able to think and act almost as fast as Jack, and drive a wild car to stop an assassination with the best of 'em.

On to Hour 4:  There's almost always a bad guy behind the bad guy we've been dealing with on 24, and we soon meet that guy and his son (played by David Anders - Alias's Sark! and he just appeared in a reprise of Hiro's arch enemy in Heroes tonight).   There's weapons grade uranium involved, but Jack's still determined to get back to L.A. ... but hey, this is 24, as in 24 hours, so that's not gonna happen just yet.

But the real reason is the not the uranium but a radioactive relationship that didn't quite happen last year - between Renee (Annie Wersching) and Jack.  Here's my take on last year (Season 7): the two are attracted to each other, even love each other, should sleep with each other already.   Other elements:  Renee didn't approve of some of Jack's violent methods last year, but by the end of the year, well, maybe she had been transformed.

We find out just how much tonight.  She's called back from private security to help get to the Russian gang (the father and son) who are behind the uranium dealings.  Jack doesn't think she's ready to get back into the cross fires.   Hastings and Renee ignore his advice.   Jack won't be going to LA just yet.  He's going to go in with Renee.    She's not thrilled about having a babysitter, but, like I said, she feels something real for Jack so I'd say she's mostly glad he'll be with her.

So the two go out on the mission together.  And in Renee's very first interaction with a bad guy, she gets a little frustrated, and cuts his hand off!

This is the first time in the series that I can recall Jack partnered with a woman who has less patience with bad guys than he does.    Should be a riveting day for Jack and Renee and all else concerned.  (By the way, Chloe's better than ever.)


6-min podcast review of 24

See also Season 8 reviews: Hours 1 and 2


And see also Season 7 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18 ... Hour 19 ... Hour 20 ... Hour 21 ... Hour 22  ... Hours 23-24 

And see also Season 6 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hours 8 and 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hour 11 ... Hour 12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18... Hour 19 ... Hour 20 ... Hour 21 ... Hour 22 ... Hours 23-24










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