Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Blooded Bones 5.19!

The guitar not only wailed on Bones 5.19 last night - as Bones and Booth did a kick-ass few lines from Foreigner's Hot Blooded (one of my favorite all-time scenes from Bones) - but the guitar also weeped, and not gently, as it murdered not only our inhibitions as it always does in rock 'n' roll, but the poor victim, whose skull and other parts turned up in a too-gooey soak in a washing machine.

Actually, the victim wasn't poor, or worthy of our pity.  He was an obnoxious rich dude who was to play with a famous guitarist at Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp.   His killer, who wielded a guitar, was outstanding on stage, pumping out a first and final devastating performance as Booth prepared to take him away in handcuffs.

The guitar was a Gibson Les Paul  - creme de la creme and worth huge bucks - and this gave us another delightful chance to her Angela talk about her father (none other than Z Z Top - only on Bones!)  Nothing further with her and Jack last night, but the coming attractions promise something promising for next week.

There were lots of balls (not the eye kind) and romance in the air, as Arastoo and Jack talk about baseball (and Bones offers an explanation for its popularity - boys like to hit things - but my favorite line was Bones saying to Booth, with lips almost quivering, "our partnership is still important to me"), and Cam finally has a love interest (her daughter's gynecologist - though of course not for long).   But Dr. Linder looks good for Cam.

But to get back to my favorite scene.   What more could you ask if you're a fan:  Bones and Booth up at the microphone, tie (that Catherine gave him) wrapped around his head, Bones playing guitar, and both belting out Hot Blooded.   Bones even leans down, over, and up to the microphone,  right next to Booth, in what was in many ways the hottest scene between them in the series.   Long live sex and rock 'n' roll!

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 ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ... Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ... Bones Under Water in 5.18





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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

Fringe the Noir Musical

A superb Fringe 2.20 tonight - which could have just been hokey, given that most of the action situated the characters in Sam Spade-like costume, and they even broke into song - but instead delivered some of the best pieces of story development of the season.

The set-up:  Walter is babysitting Olivia's niece Ella, because Rachel her mother is away and Olivia wants to keep looking for Peter.   Walter, stoned out of his mind on "Brown Betty," some super-weed concoction, tells Ella a story, with some good payoffs for our appreciation of the characters in real Fringe.

The set-up of the story: Olivia is a private-eye, and Rachel (not her sister in this story) hires her to find Peter.   Olivia interviews Walter in this story (so note, we have now three Walters in Fringe:  Walter in real Fringe, alternate Walter or Walternate in the alternate reality, and now Walter in Walter's story).  Walter in his story tells Olivia that he put Rachel up to hire Olivia, because Walter wants her to find Peter, who has stolen Walter's artificial heart.  (Ah hah!  Just as Walter feels on some level Peter did in the real Fringe).

There's singing - most powerfully by Astrid, I thought - in Walter's story, but the piece de la resistance was easily Olivia's song to Peter, who's on the verge of death, after a savage attack by the Eternal Bald Observer team (always good to see them in action), known as "Watchers" in this story.  The song's "For Once in My Life," best known in Stevie Wonder's up-tempo hit version, but much better, I've always thought, by Tony Bennett as a slow, heart-tugging, ballad of love declaration.  Olivia sings it the slow way.   And this tells us what I have already thought for most of two years:  Olivia and Peter love each other, not plain and simple, but truly.

The other beautiful, instructive part of tonight's story within a story revolves around how Walter wants to end it.  In the musical story, Peter and Olivia come to see him, but Peter won't give Walter the heart, because he's done so much damage in the world.  Peter leaves and Walter accepts his fate.   This, to play a little Freud, is Walter punishing himself in his story as just desert for the wrong he has done - he's expiating his guilt.

But Ella, as severe a critic of Walter as some reviewers who don't care for Fringe, but with much more intelligence, creativity, and style, comes up a better ending:  Peter looks in Walter's eyes, and sees there is still much good in him, and splits the artificial heart in two, so both Walter and Peter can live.  After all, as Peter observes, the heart is magical.

Walter in real Fringe likes Ella's ending much better than his.  I agree.

Should be some fun and profundity ahead in the three concluding episodes of this season.  

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" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity

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

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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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

FlashForward 1.18: Triple Forks

Another superb FlashForward tonight - episode 1.18 - which makes at least two in a row.   And we had two important stories unfold tonight in crucial ways:

1.  The truth about Janis:  I had trouble believing she was a bad guy, a spy for the late Flosso group, for whatever nefarious purposes.   But that's what she told Simon, and it sure looked that way for most of tonight, as we see Janis recruited by Annabeth Gish (Eileen Caffee from Brotherhood) and reporting to her tough handler at a tropical fish store.  Janis even tries to steal a crucial document from Mark's wall. But-  It turns out Janis is not a double agent (an FBI agent working for some mysterious, evil group) but a triple agent!   Vogel recruited her before she was recruited by Annabeth.   And Vogel's mission for Janis was to allow herself to be recruited to spy on the FBI by whatever evil organization!   Nice twist!

I'm still not clear, though, who gunned her down in Washington.   Flosso's group had no reason - based on what we saw tonight, they still thought they had Janis in their control.   Maybe someone in the group had a flashforward which showed the truth about Janis?

Meanwhile, this other crucial, surprising story played out tonight:

2. Gabriel and Olivia: We first saw Gabriel last week.  Tonight he shows up at Olivia's door, with knowledge of her future - not from the general flashforward date - and convictions about what should be and should have been in Olivia's life.   His knowledge of just a little bit into the future, when Olivia could have been killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time at a car crash on a corner, not only turns out to be accurate, but saves Olivia's life.  Had Gabriel not delayed Olivia with his visit to her home, she would have been on that corner.   Gabriel's other knowledge is also relevant:  he's seen Lloyd as Olivia's true love throughout her life.   The relationship began when Olivia was a student a Harvard - which she decided not to be, in our reality.   Gabriel knows about this "fork" in the road of history because he has had multiple, individual flashfowards.   Turns out that Frost was running a center for savants with photographic memories, and sending them on little individual flashforwards (much like Bell and the children which included another Olivia, in Fringe).

The import of Gabriel's visions seems to be that she has been on the wrong track ever since not going to Harvard.  Further, she needs to make a course correction right now, lest things get much worse.

Good, deep, tantalizing stuff indeed, as FlashForward proceeds...


7-min podcast review of FlashForward


See also FlashForward Debuts and Oceanic Airlines as a Portal Between FlashForward and Lost ... 1.2: Proofs and Defiance of Inevitability ... 1.3: Conficting Visions and Futures ... 1.4: FlashForward Meets Shaft and House ... Drunk FlashForwarding in 1.5 ... Across the Universe in FlashForward 1.6 ... FlashForward 1.7: The Future Can Be ... FlashForward 1.8: The Nightie as a Grain of Sand ... FlashForward 1.9: Shelter from the Storm ... Olivia Benford at Harvard in Flashforward 1.10 ... Flashforward 1.12 Parts 1 and 2 ... FlashForward 1.13: Aaron's Daughter, Mark's Gun, and Magpies ... FlashForward 1.14:  Somalia, LA, Fate Irresistible and Resistible ... FlashForward 1.15: Who's That Lady? ... FlashForward 1.16: Mark's Gun and Demetri's Wedding ... FlashForward 1.17: Mark, Demetri, and Hari Seldon

Listen to 40-minute interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Save Flashforward!! - Let ABC know you love it!



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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

Why the Arizona Immigration Law is Unconstitutional

There has been a lot of discussion of the unconstitutionality of the new Arizona Immigration Law, which would allow police to stop any person they may find "suspicious" - or have "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is not in this country legally - and ask for the person's immigration papers.   Jonathan Turley, for example, on last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, emphasized that the Arizona law trespasses on Federal immigration purview, and on those grounds could be found unconstitutional.  *Note added 28 July 2010:  Delighted that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked the unconstitutional "papers please" part of this law.

I certainly agree, but would like to focus on what I see as a more fundamental violation of the Constitution in this new law.   It violates the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, which begins

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The new Arizona law is intended to identify illegal aliens.   But on the basis of "reasonable suspicion," an officer could pull over and demand papers from an American citizen, simply because he or she looked like the officer's expectations of an illegal alien.  (*Note added 1 May 2010:  The same applies to the amended law - see discussion in comments below, and my podcast on this topic.)  More specifically, someone who has dark hair and a mustache (as I proudly do) would be more likely to be stopped by a cop in Arizona, under this law, than a clean shaven guy with blond hair and blue eyes.   That seems to me to be ipso facto a violation of the equal protection provision of the 14th Amendment.

Now, police stop people who may look like suspects all the time.  If there's a description of a serial killer, which unfortunately happens to look like me, I think it's entirely appropriate that I be stopped and questioned (hey, I watch Criminal Minds).   But that's a very specific situation, and unlike what the Arizona Immigration Law does, which singles out a whole class of people, who happen to look like whatever the Arizona police might envision an illegal alien to look like.

I hope this law is struck down as soon as possible, as the unconstitutional, un-American piece of state legislation it is.


10-min podcast discussion of this issue, with consideration of the amended law, and a response to Chris Matthews

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Preliminary Predictions for Lost Finale

Well, with no new Lost on last night, I thought I'd put down some preliminary predictions for how I see this whole magical mystery tour ending.

First and foremost, I've thought since the beginning of this final season that what I've been calling the "alternate better LA reality" will merge into our original ongoing island reality.   I still feel that way now, with just a handful of episodes left.

Why do I call this alternate reality "better"?   (Everyone knows it's alternate.)  The reason is by and large every single major character in LA  is happier, more fulfilled, than on the island.   Ben and Claire are the most dramatic examples.   So is Desmond - doing far better in LA than down the well on the island.  Sawyer seems to be enjoying his life and work in LA far more than what he has now on the island (though his time with Juliet on the island was great while it lasted).   Jack is happier as a doctor in LA.  Sayid's now in custody in LA, but that's a lot better than being a "zombie," as Sawyer accurately put Sayid's status on the island last week.  And Nadia's alive in LA.  Hurley and Libby are connecting in LA -  a lot better than Hurley's situation on the island, even though he's getting more respect there.   Keamy's dead in LA, no worse than what he is on the island.  Faraday's alive and well in LA, a lot better than what happened to him on the island.  Same for Charlotte. Same for Charlie, Boone,  Elana - they're all alive in Los Angeles.  And although Charlie did reach heroic proportions before his death on the island, he's beginning to find himself in LA.  Sun and Jin are finally together on the island, but they're also together in LA, and that's certainly more secure for them.   Locke is in bad shape in a hospital in LA - courtesy of Desmond's car - but that's certainly better than being dead and inhabited by MIB on the island.   Only Kate is arguably in better shape on the island than in LA, where she is in custody, but I have a feeling things will soon take a turn for the worse for Kate on the island.

But why is this "better" part of the alternate LA reality so important?  Because it shows what our characters can be, free of the island's sway.   And I believe that when this better LA reality collapses into the island reality, it will have the effect of lifting all of our characters on the island.  Whether each one leaves the island or not, every character will have a clear vision of what her or his life can be.

How will this merge happen?   We've seen the beginning of it already, with Desmond on a mission to put everyone in alternate LA reality in touch with their true, original island selves.   Desmond is the catalyst.   And the person most likely to make this happen, to flip the switch, at this point, is Faraday.   He already told Desmond in LA that he, Faraday, had a sense that this - LA - wasn't the way it was supposed to be, and that Faraday thought he had been responsible, and that he had altered the course of reality with a bomb.

And I'll be back soon with more predictions - including who will live, and why.


7-min podcast review of Lost

See also Lost: Keys to What's Really Going On

V 1.9: Moral Complexity and NonStop Action

V 1.9 continues to serve up tough moral dilemmas with nonstop action.   Jeffrey, a human working with the Visitors to destroy the 5th column, was captured by our team last week, when Father Jack shot him.  This week, first Erica and then Kyle have at him.   Erica doesn't want to turn Jeffrey over to Kyle, and pleads with Jeffrey to cooperate.  But Jeffrey won't: his daughter was put in a wheel chair by a human driver on a cellphone, and the Vs got her to walk again.    He knows of nothing the Vs ever did to hurt anyone.  Why should he turn on them?   Erica is moved by this as a parent, but fortunately for the human race, she knows all too well of what the Visitors are capable.

V medicine is clearly one of their most powerful recruitment tools, and it's apparently working on Chad.  His V surgery to prevent a brain aneurysm that human technology could not even see has led him not only to publicly embrace and endorse the Visitors, but now serve as their secret agent, seeking information from Father Jack.   But given the possibility, even likelihood, that Chad will bump into some monstrous V plan on the ship,  I wouldn't be shocked if he were to turn into a double agent - working for humans as he pretended to work for Anna - before too long.   More shades of gray.

Ryan and Valerie barely escape a V Terminator-like "soldier" in one of the best action sequences of the series.   But Valerie wants to go it alone - she can't (yet) forgive Ryan for not letting her know that he was a Visitor.

And it looks as if Lisa is not abandoning the human sensitivity that was picked up on her scan last week.  In a significant scene, she tells Tyler not to take up permanent residence on the ship - this against Anna's express desires.   Her feelings for Tyler are counting more than loyalty to her mother, a human thing to do in any situation, even when your mother is not a lizard from space invading Earth.

The spectrum of characters, pro and con the Visitors, has the excellent effect of making most of the characters unpredictable, which keeps us on edge and continues to be one of the most appealing aspects of this series.

See also V Returns to TV ... V 1.2: The Effects and The Characters ... V 1.3: Multiple Twists and Lizard Visions ... V 1.4: Good Medicine for Television ... V's Back in 1.5 ... V 1.6: Floating Witches ... V 1.7: Ryan's Story ... V 1.8: Is Lisa Becoming 5th Column?





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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MSNBC Bleeps Levin and McCaskill on Drek Deal

Chris Matthews just put up his Big Number today - it was the number of times Senators Carl Levin and Claire McCaskill lambasted Goldman Sachs in the Senate today for suckering their clients into "shitty" deals.   The adjective came from a former Goldman Sachs exec, Tom Montag, who in an email to a former Goldman Sachs trader characterized a deal as "one shitty deal," and proceeded to aggressively sell it to their clients.

Except, we viewers weren't allowed to hear the actual quotes in full - they were bleeped.  The words written under the Big Number talked about "sh***y" and Matthews helpfully explained that the word rhymed with "kitty".

I once again fail to see the point of this.   Who doesn't know that sh***y stands for shitty?  Whose sensibilities are spared by not seeing the actual word?  Have a majority of Americans risen up in protest at prospect of seeing and hearing shitty on television? 

The FCC apparently thinks so, because it is fear of their outrageous fines that keeps television producers bleeping and asterisking - whether at the conclusion of the Grammys this year or Senators speaking on a very serious matter today.  

But wait - don't we have a First Amendment in this country, that says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging of speech or of the press"?   Why, yes, we do.   So how is it that the media seeking to cover a major Senate hearing are prevented, under threat of FCC fine, from broadcasting a quote from the hearing in its entirety?

A good question.  And one which I hope the new, evolving Supreme Court will take up some time soon.

In the meantime, here's a YouTube clip with the actual "shitty" quotes from the Senate hearing, courtesy of CSPAN 3, a cable station still not under FCC censorship, though the FCC is chafing at the bit to extend its control to cable .... Come to think of it, MSNBC is cable, so why did it bleep Levin?   (I haven't seen yet how Fox and CNN are covering this story, but I would expect them to knuckle under like MSNBC, and not go the brave CSPAN way.)

Note added at 9:32pm:  But Keith Olbermann did indeed play the unbleeped clips on his MSNBC Countdown show onight - kudos to Olbermann for standing up for the First Amendment!




See also The Flouting of the First Amendment

House 6.18: Open Marriage

Open marriage was the theme on House 6.18 - both for the patient and her husband, and Taub and his wife Rachel.   As usual for lots of House this season, the medical mystery was good - the culprit was lilacs and a bee sting - but the personal stories were better.

Taub's was the more interesting, because we know him and his wife, and his reputation for philandering.   The latest temptation is blond nurse Maya.   We saw Taub and her walking together, in something slightly more than a professional way, at the end of 6.15, the episode in which Taub convinces his wife and even House that he's not having any more extramarital affairs.   But in episode 6.18, Maya's fixing Taub's tie, and their body language impresses Thirteen enough to tell Taub that Maya would definitely sleep with him.

Rachel senses something's going on, and she proposes an open marriage to Taub.   He can have one night to do as he pleases, as long he's back by midnight and doesn't talk about who he was this.   Taub tells Rachel how much he loves her, but he's quick to agree.   He makes an assignation with Maya for the special night, and everything's set- 

But Rachel comes to see Taub in the parking facility, to tell him she can't go through with it.   Makes sense - I was surprised she came up with this in the first place.   Taub (of course) agrees - he says    doesn't need anyone else, etc.    But he sees Maya in the garage at the end of the next day, and - they kiss, and leave together to go some place to do more.  That one I did see coming.

Open marriage - Taub's going to have it, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, in other news from the episode, House is up to his old tricks at home, doing what he can to undermine Wilson and Sam, even though House said he wouldn't do that.  And it works.  Sam and Wilson realize you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, and it's not going to work for them - too bad, I thought they were a good couple.

So not a good night for true love on House at all - but when is it ever - and that's part of the the charm of the series.

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 ... House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath  ... House 6.12: The Progression to Mensch ... House 6.13: Cuddy's Perspective ... House Meets Blogger in 6.14 ... House 6.15: About Taub ... House 6.16: Revealing Couples ... House 6.17: Socrates on Steroids



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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

Monday, April 26, 2010

24 8.19: Jack vs. Chloe

Jack vs. Chloe - the very phrase is unbelievable to 24 fans - the two have been steadfast throughout the series, Chloe having Jack's back against all odds, willing to make any sacrifice to help him.  She thinks for herself.  But she has enormous respect for Jack's judgment.   The notion that she could work against him, let alone double cross him, even for what she perceives as his own good, is antithetical to our fundamental conceptions of 24.   But this is exactly what happens in Episode 8.19.

President Allison Taylor (we'll get to her in a moment) has ordered Chloe to take Jack into custody.   But Jack calls Chloe and pleads for her help in getting some time with Dana.   Chloe reluctantly agrees - at least, at first.   But she changes her mind, after assuring Jack, and puts together a plan to take Jack into custody after all.  Pretending to be the Chloe of old, she pretends to be sending Jack to where Dana is being held.   In reality, she's sending Jack to be apprehended by Cole and his team.

Chloe does this because she's been ordered to get Jack by the President, and because she thinks this is in Jack's best interest.  I still find it unacceptable.   Jack appears to walk right into the trap.  But he gets the drop on Cole.  Jack knew what was going on.  "I know Chloe," he explains to Cole, as he recruits him (good! - the two are a good team).   Jack apparently knows Chloe better than we know him - I was pretty sure Jack was walking into a trap.

But what did he know about Chloe?   Was it something in the tone of her voice?   Or did he know she would never disobey a President?   But wasn't Chloe around during the tenures of some bad Presidents - for example, Logan (24's Richard Nixon)?

Speaking of which, Logan has totally gotten to President Taylor - he's convinced her that no means is too much to achieve the end, the goal, of peace.   That includes even having a private team of killers torturing Dana to find out what she knows.  Ethan tries, in vain, to talk her out of this.  He correctly sees that Taylor wants the peace agreement not just as a step towards world peace, but to justify the Presidency that has taken her husband and her children from her in one way or another.

And the clock ticks down on the last episodes of 24, the television series, in a season which will rank as one of the very best in surprising, powerful twists.


7-min podcast review of 24

See also Season 8 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hour 11 ... Hour 12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hours 15-16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18

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 



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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

Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour

A mixed bag for Antoine tonight on Treme 1.3.  Starts out good, with sex with a woman from the club where he plays trombone, followed with sex with his woman at home.   But it ends with vicious cops kicking his trombone and beating him bloody.   Toni explains in another context that cops are on edge in post-Katrina New Orleans, but the truth is this happens all too often in cities around America, which haven't been flooded by a hurricane.

One restraint on police brutality, which I talk about in New New Media, is the ubiquity of camera phone videos and their easy upload to YouTube.   Whether criminal or out-of-control cop, it's getting increasingly harder to break the law in private.   I didn't see any cameras around when Antoine was beaten, but it was good to see Creighton watching a video his daughter made in Baton Rouge put on YouTube.   It's the end of 2006 - YouTube is bursting on to the scene.  (I put my first videos up there in July 2006.)

Sonny and Annie have a strong sweet-and-sour story tonight, too.  It's Annie's birthday.  Sonny gets money to buy her a fine bottle of wine to celebrate.   But real-life New Orleans pianist Tim McDermott swoops in to get Annie to play her violin at an upscale gig with him.   Sonny's welcome to tag along as a guest - keyboard, after all, is "already covered" - and Sonny's left drinking the wine at a table by himself.

Antoine also sings a great song, out in the street, with Sonny and Annie playing, right before his run-in with the cops.   Sounded to me like Wendell Pierce was singing, and it sure was good.   Throw in a little Dr. John music - on record and in a recording session in New York - and Davis and Janette taking each other's clothes off again, and you have a third straight fine episode of Treme.

See also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven"


5-min podcast review of Treme



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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


S

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity

Walter started to tell Peter the truth at the beginning of last night's Fringe - 2.19 - but was interrupted by the case at hand.   Fortunately or unfortunately for the Bishops, the case involved the alternate universe, aka the other side, and its events conspire to let Peter guess the truth all on his own.   All of this is fortunate for us, because it gave us a powerful, provocative episode - and moved the underlying story along in irreversible directions.

Walter's nemesis Newton (Walter actually has more than one) is bringing people over from the other side to this, our, universe.  The bodies from our side that this process engenders attracts the attention of Olivia and the team.   There's a daring scene near the end, in which a bridge from the alternate universe is close to merging with a bridge from ours - over the River Charles in Cambridge, MA - with a view on the part of Newton of getting more people from there to here.  Peter rushes to stop this - he doesn't want Walter to risk his life, and any contact with the other side under these circumstances would destroy anyone from this side.  Only Walter or Peter have the scientific knowledge to stop the merging.

A nearby cop on our side gets exposed to the other side, and dies.   Peter, who is also exposed, survives.  Peter puts two and infinity together, and realizes the reason he didn't die is that he's from the other side.

Peter confronts Walter, who comes to see Peter as he's recuperating.   The next we know, Peter's gone from the hospital.  He's at large, furious at his father.   Walter tries but doesn't quite explain to Peter that he had to take  Peter from the other side, otherwise Peter would have died there.   But whatever Walter is able to tell Peter, Walter has no explanation for why Walter didn't return Peter, after he had been cured.   Not having the heart to break his wife's heart is not likely to be all that persuasive to Peter, given that his absence from the other world must have broken his mother's and his father's alternate reality hearts.

Will be very interesting to see if Peter is able to see his real parents - Waltnerate and his wife.  I suspect that, in the end, Peter will still love our Walter, and will help him.   But that could take a lot of time, and in the meantime, this great, defining season continues.

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" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness of a Train

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

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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
 

Bones Under Water in 5.18

A fine aquarium story in Bones 5.18, which begins with a fish coughing up a skull - of the human variety.

Aquaria are usually peaceful, tranquil, soothing, even softly cosmic places.  The very name suggests something deep and nice, and the sight is even better.  So what's a skull and a skeleton soon discovered doing here?

There's poison fish and a charlatan and anger involved, but the better story, as always for me, is what's happening with our major characters against the peaceful but troubled waters under glass.

Jack and Angela find those waters romantic.  Standing in front of the live feed Angela has set up of the suspect aquarium draws them closer together.  Good.

No such luck for Bones and Booth, of course not.  Indeed, for pretty much the first time in the series, the two are branching out with others, at exactly the same time.   Bones goes out for coffee with Booth's boss Andrew - she says no to seeing a play with him, because that's "code for sex".   He makes her laugh.  Booth goes out with a smart beauty from an oceanic agency - Dr. Catherine Bryar, a marine biologist, or something like that - and it's clear that he had a good time, too.   (Rena Sofer has played a possible love interested for Jack Bauer on 24 - the sister-in-law of Jack's late brother - and currently an even more possible love interest for Gibbs on NCIS.)

But Bones and Booth meet for their customary end-of-episode quasi-date - in this case, a date to discuss their respective dates - and thus their relationship continues in the strange state of attraction that is the attraction of Bones.

The two are like two fish of water, and someday, maybe, they'll jump right in.

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 ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ... Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars




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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
 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

FlashForward 1.17: Mark, Demetri, and Hari Seldon

Robert J. Sawyer - author of the novel FlashForward on which the TV series is based - told me in our interview at the I-Con science fiction convention in Stony Brook, New York at the end of March that, before the season was over, I'd be standing up and cheering for Mark Benford.  I don't know if tonight's episode - 1.17 - was the one Rob had in mind, but I was certainly cheering.

The fate of Demetri hung in the balance tonight.  In FlashForward time, tonight was March 15, 2010, the day foretold and seen by Nhadra (Behrooz's mother from 24) as the day of Demetri's death.   Zoey's flashforward vision of their wedding, after March 15, which she realized was Demetri's funeral, added credence to what Nhadra saw.  So did the fact that Demetri had no flashforward vision at all.

Gibbons/Frost is holding Demetri prisoner, tied-up in a get-up of wires connected to a gun pointed right at his heart.   Any movement by Demetri, any attempt to put something in way of Demetri and the gun, will cause it fire.

It's not 100% clear what Frost wants out of all of this, but it has something to with stopping his own death, which he has also foreseen for this day.    Frost leaves a set of clues with Charlie, whom he talked to on the bench in the amusement park.

Mark first races brilliantly to get to Frost, in the best action sequence so far in the series.   He gets to Frost with just a little time left to save Demetri - Frost has left Mark a literally ticking clock - and Mark gets the drop on Frost-

Only to see Frost shot to death by Alda (female terrorist) who has escaped.   The Frost's death part of Frost's visions for the day has come true.   Will Demetri's?

Mark risks literally fulfilling Nhadra's vision - Mark killing Demetri with Mark's gun - by trying to turn the gun at least a little away from Demetri.   With seconds left - and with Demetri's life literally up for grabs by fate, because we've seen that most of the flashforwards do come true - Mark succeeds.   Demetri's death didn't happen, just as Gough's death did, both contrary to all the flashforward visions that have irresistibly, recalcitrantly,  come to be.  All that's shot is Demetri's picture on the timeline Frost has created on the wall.

It's a timeline that shows events well into the future - teeming with interconnections, like a Hari Seldon psychohistory map (see Asimov's Foundation novels) - come to life in today's Los Angeles.   But as soon as Demetri leaves the chair to which he's been confined, that map turns to sand and dissolves into the instant like an emptying hour glass.   One last trick of Gibbons/Frost.

You couldn't ask for anything more from this top-notch episode - written by David Goyer and Lisa Zwerling - except more tricks to come in the future.



7-min podcast review of FlashForward

See also FlashForward Debuts and Oceanic Airlines as a Portal Between FlashForward and Lost ... 1.2: Proofs and Defiance of Inevitability ... 1.3: Conficting Visions and Futures ... 1.4: FlashForward Meets Shaft and House ... Drunk FlashForwarding in 1.5 ... Across the Universe in FlashForward 1.6 ... FlashForward 1.7: The Future Can Be ... FlashForward 1.8: The Nightie as a Grain of Sand ... FlashForward 1.9: Shelter from the Storm ... Olivia Benford at Harvard in Flashforward 1.10 ... Flashforward 1.12 Parts 1 and 2 ... FlashForward 1.13: Aaron's Daughter, Mark's Gun, and Magpies ... FlashForward 1.14:  Somalia, LA, Fate Irresistible and Resistible ... FlashForward 1.15: Who's That Lady? ... FlashForward 1.16: Mark's Gun and Demetri's Wedding

Listen to 40-minute interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Listen to podcast about Asimov's Foundation series

Save Flashforward!! - Let ABC know you love it!


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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
 

V 1.8: Is Lisa Becoming 5th Column?

The most significant story in V 1.8 concerns beautiful Lisa - daughter of Anna, and, before the episode is over, lover of Tyler.

She fails the Visitor empathy test - meaning, she's displaying the rudiments of human emotion. Unlike her mother, Lisa may have a heart. As we saw last week with Ryan, this could be the beginning of a conversion from loyal-to-Anna Visitor to V 5th columnist.

The V-doc who tells Lisa she failed the test is, of course, a 5th columnist himself. This raises the possibility that he's lying to Lisa, for the purpose of manipulating her into working against her mother, or who knows what else. But I don't think he's lying.

Lots of good action in this episode, including Father Jack shooting a human who's working with the Visitors, and two love scenes. One is between Chad and Anna, but it's in his dream. The other is between Lisa and Tyler - that's real.

Memo to FlashForward - you could use more scenes like those. One of the great strengths of V, in both its original 1980s and current renditions, is its non-abstract, visceral appeal.

See also V Returns to TV ... V 1.2: The Effects and The Characters ... V 1.3: Multiple Twists and Lizard Visions ... V 1.4: Good Medicine for Television ... V's Back in 1.5 ... V 1.6: Floating Witches ... V 1.7: Ryan's Story





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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lost 6.13: Make Up, Break Up, Everything Is Shake Up

A wild and woolly Lost 6.13 tonight, in which the Mama's and Papa's Creeque Alley lyric - "make up, break up, everything is shake up" - came true for most of our characters.

Let's start on the island.   Sawyer wants to go with Kate, Hurley, Sun, and Lapidus on a boat - Locke's boat (which was the one that Libby gave to Des, which he used to get to the island many years ago) - to a place where they all can leave the island, once and for all.   Sayid's not included - he's a "zombie," according to Sawyer.  Neither is Claire - "she's crazy".  But before the day is over, Claire's on the boat and Jack is back on the island - or, exactly where faux-Locke wants him.   Locke also wanted Sayid to finish off Des in the well - but we see no evidence of that, and I'd say Des is alive and well somewhere. (Maybe Des was able to tell Sayid something about Nadja in better LA alternate reality.)

Also on the island, Sun and Jin are finally reunited - though, at the end of the episode, they and all of the above (except Jack, f-Locke, and Sayid), are under the guns of Widmore's people.

Back in better alternate reality LA, we have the following network-like, growing number of intersections: Sun (shot several episodes ago) recognizes Locke (hit by Desmond in the last hour) as they're brought into the hospital on stretchers at the same time.   The intensity of the experience makes Sun recall her knowing Locke from her life in island reality.    Hold that thought of Sun for a few seconds.

Also in better alternate LA reality, officer Sawyer is enjoying his questioning of Kate.  He and partner Miles go off to nab Sayid - for the Keamy et al shootings - which they do.   (Sayid says goodbye Nadja - at least she's alive and well.)    Meanwhile, Des intercepts Claire before she sees the adoption agency, and steers her to his lawyer's office - the lawyer being Elana.   Turns out this is actually a meeting to read Christian's will, so Jack shows up, too.  But-

He's called away, back to the hospital, to operate on Locke, the sight of whom may or may not put Jack back in touch with his island reality.   But something else is clear:  Sun and the baby will be ok, and Jin tells her that he'll never leave her.

This will have to suffice for the happy ending of this episode.  Interestingly, life is pretty good right now for Sun and Jin in both realities - they're finally together, in both - though being in the cross-hairs of Widmore's guns on the island can't be that much fun.

Whew!   Faux-Locke on the island also tells Jack that the Christian which Jack saw in his stay on the island was indeed the MIB.

Four more episodes, and the relationships are almost as volatile as the day this season started.


6-min podcast review of Lost


See also  Lost Season Six Double Premiere ... Three Questions Arising from the Lost Season Six Premiere: Linkage Between Two Realities,  Dead Bodies Inhabited, Who/What Survived H-Blast? ... Lost 6.3:  Kate and Claire, Tenacious Details, and Dr. Arzt's Arse at the Airport ... Lost 6.4:  Better LA, Wilder Island, Some Partial Answers at Last ... Lost 6.5: Jack's Family and Prester John's Speculum ... Lost 6.6: Sayid the Assassin in Both Realities ... Lost 6.7: A Better Ben in Both Realities ... Lost 6.8: The Third Team ... Lost 6.9: Richard's Story ... Lost 6.10: Cloudy Sun ... Lost 6.11: Reunion of Two Realities Begins ... Lost 6.12: Libby and Hurley and Cross-Reality Communication
 
More Lost - see : The Richard-Locke Compass Time Travel Loop ...

and Lost Returns in 5 Dimensions and 5.3: The Loops, The Bomb ... 5.4: A Saving Skip Back in Time ... 5.5 Two Time Loops and Mind Benders ... 5.6 A Lot of Questions ... 5.7 Bentham and Ben ... 5.8 True Love Ways ... 5.9 Two Times and a Baby ... 5.10 The Impossible Cannot Happen ... 5.11 Clockwork Perfect Time Travel ... 5.12: Ben v. Charles, and Locke' Slave ... 5.13: Lost Meets Star Wars and the Sixth Sense ... The Problem with Baby Aaron and the Return of the Oceanic Six ... 5.14: Eloise, Daniel, and Obsession Trumping Paradox ... 5.15: Moral Compasses in Motion ... Lost Season 5 Finale: Jacob and Locke





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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

House 6.17: Socrates on Steroids

A good scientific mystery in House 6.17 last night, as the team investigates a knight who is felled at a local Renaissance fair by something other than love and sword.   After some good digging around, House thinks he's discovered the root of the problem in the apothecary, which has been dispensing root vegetables like candy.   A white carrot may be the culprit - it's hemlock, most famously known for the poison that Socrates was sentenced to ingest by the Athenian assemblage.

I actually know a fair amount about hemlock, acquired in my research for my 2006 novel, The Plot to Save Socrates.   The symptoms of the victim in House seem somewhat to match what hemlock can wreak, but not completely.   Sure enough, House in the end figures out that the patient is suffering not only from hemlock - given to him by a jealous king - but steroids, which the knight took on his own, as a way of, well, enhancing his performance on the fighting field.  That's what happens when you mix old and new, and the old is a poison.

Interpersonally, it was great to see Libby from Lost - Cynthia Watros - especially after she was back on Lost last week, for the first time in years.   On House, she plays Wilson's first wife.   The two may be on track to getting back together.  Unsurprisingly, House opposes this.   But surprisingly - it's still refreshing to see House becoming a mensch - House in the end tosses the dossier he asked Lucas to get on Libby (actually, Sam for Samantha on this show) in the trash.    He's slowly learning to live with relationships he dislikes.

A sign of civilization, in contrast to what Athens did to Socrates, or what he allowed Athens to do to him, since he was given a chance to escape.

But there's no escaping the enjoyment 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 ... House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath  ... House 6.12: The Progression to Mensch ... House 6.13: Cuddy's Perspective ... House Meets Blogger in 6.14 ... House 6.15: About Taub ... House 6.16: Revealing Couples






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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
 

Monday, April 19, 2010

24 8.18: Blinding Peace

Episode 8.18 of 24 tonight has something you've never seen before on 24:  Jack turns against a President he has up until now supported at all costs.   Even more incredibly:  Jack turns against Chloe.

How did this happen?

On the one side, President Allison Taylor wants peace - "a peace that's escaped the world" until now.  She needs the Russians to do that.  Logan has brought them back to the signature table by threatening to reveal their orchestration of President Hassan's assassination and the dirty nuke that almost took out half of Manhattan.   The Russians' cooperation with the peace treaty is Logan's price for not outing what the Russians did.

On the other side, Jack wants justice, and sure, some revenge for Renee's death, too.  He's only human.  But as Ethan told the President, how can she work for peace with people - the Russians - who assassinated of the leading peace advocate (Hassan) and tried to blow up Manhattan.   Jack makes this point, too, in a great conversation with President.   How can she not want to get the bottom of who killed Hassan and almost took out the Upper West Side?   How can she be so blind as to prevent Jack from questioning Dana, who may well have some answers.

Her response is she wants peace, and can't let anything get in the way.

And in this one move, in this razor episode, Allison Taylor has moved a big step away from being a great, morally commanding President.  Is she on her way to becoming a Neville Chamberlain whose pursuit of "peace in our time" in the 1930s emboldened Hitler and paved the way for all horror that followed?

We'll see in the final six episodes.  But one thing's for sure:  24 has taken another wild turn, with Chloe, now in charge of CTU,  ordering planes to bring down the helicopter that Jack has commandeered to get to the Russians.


6-min podcast review of 24


See also Season 8 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hour 11 ... Hour 12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hours 15-16 ... Hour 17

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 






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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
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