Monday, May 30, 2011

The Borgias Season One Concludes

I haven't had a chance to review as many episodes of The Borgias as I would've wanted, but I've watched and greatly enjoyed every single one.  As I said in my first review of the series, The Borgias is not quite as good as The Tudors, which was almost as good as Rome, one of the transcendent masterpieces of television.  But that leaves The Borgias pretty good and entertaining indeed.

The last two episodes show why.   Not in command of any military to speak of, relying on his wit and devotedly loyal and brilliant family, Rodrigo Borgia - the Pope - manages to fend off and in effect defeat the awesome military might of King Charles of France.  Charles and his cannon have brought Milan to its knees, and ripped the front line of Juan's (Rodrigo's son's) army to shreds.  Rodrigo and Rome are defenseless.  His cardinals flee like rats from a sinking ship.

But beautiful Lucrezia, with a mind like her father's - sharp as a whip - turns being taken prisioner into a Borgia victory.  She charms Charles into sparing Rome and having a meeting with her father.   Charles is putty in Rodrigo's hands.   By the time the episode is over, Charles takes claim not of Rome but Naples - a city decimated by plague.

As Charles lays claim to a city of corpses, Rodrigo celebrates the birth of his grandchild, Lucrezia's son by her stablehand lover, not her boorish husband.   Rodrigo has managed to finesse that as well, manipulating the boor - who also deserted Rodrigo in his military time of need - into accepting an annulment.   As the Borgia family gathers, we see them at the height of their power, influence, and happiness.   They love no one as much as themselves, and that is their great attraction and key to their power.

History tells us there will be severe trials ahead.  I'm looking forward to the second season, and its scintillating mix of story, passion, skin, and spot-on technological accuracy.

See also The Borgias Sneak Preview Review ... The Borgias 1.5: Machiavellian Politics and Marriage ... The Borgias 1.6: Beds, Leg, Cannon



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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





Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Game of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces

Well, the stakes are significantly raised in Game of Thrones 1.7, in which King Robert succumbs to a boar that he drunkenly goes after in his hunt.  So drunk, indeed, that Ned suspects that Robert may have been victim to poison - provided by his Queen.

She has every reason to want to get rid of Robert, since Ned has told her that he knows that young Joffrey is not Robert's son.   And she makes a move to have Joffrey immediately become King, right after Robert dies.

Ned is ready for this.  He has the King's dying instruction in hand - appointing Ned the realm's protector, until the "rightful" heir takes the throne.   The "rightful" is actually Ned's word, which he gets by the dying King, who wanted Joffrey's name in his last proclamation.   Ned is not above deceit, either, if it's for a just cause (or, a cause that he deems just).

But Ned is not ready for the double-cross of Little Finger, who turns his men on Ned, right after Ned turns the tables on the Queen.  One of the best things about this Game of Thrones is how just about any piece on the board can suddenly swivel around and attack a presumed ally.

Meanwhile, although Ned did manage to countermand the King's order to kill Daenerys, it's not in time to stop the assassin, who tries and fails to poison Daenerys, thanks to Mormont's sharp intervention.  But the attempt enrages Drogo, who now vows to the cross the "poison" sea and claim the "iron chair" for Daenerys.

When you add word from the north that the strange creatures were not gone, only sleeping, now awake, and Daenerys's increasing interest in dragons, we have some good moves and fierce battles ahead in Game of Thrones.

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

The Killing 1.10: Running out of Suspects

The Killing 1.10 was Belko's night - and Stan's sidekick, though he's not the best balanced person in the world, and indeed may have a taste for the perverted, is not Rosie's killer.  In a great scene with Belko questioned by good-cop Linden and bad-cop Holder, Belko's innocence at least in this matter becomes clear.

So who, then, are we left with as possibles for Rosie's killer?  Not Bennet, who was exonerated last week (but not before Stan beat him to a pulp - Stan confessed to that and is now in jail).  Presumably not any of the other students, who were looked at early in the series, and crossed off the suspect list.  Perhaps one of them deserves a second look, but at present, the only viable suspect is ...

Someone in Richmond's campaign, as I've been saying all along.  And last night we and Gwen and Jamie see a picture - discovered by a campaign worker - of Richmond greeting Rosie, much like Bill Clinton greeting Monica Lewinsky in that famous photo we've all seen a thousand times.  This is no proof, of course, that Richmond and Rosie were having an affair, but it certainly suggests that question, and puts Rosie being found in a Richmond campaign car in a different, potentially darker light.  And, in the last scene, we see Gwen looking again at that photo.

On the other hand, it's still a little hard to believe that Richmond, Gwen, or Jamie actually killed Rosie, even if Richmond was sleeping with her.   Further, the MO of The Killing has been to paint or suggest someone as a suspect one week, only to clear him the next week.

Only three episodes left for this season of The Killing.  I'll be raptly watching each of them.

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

House Season 7 Finale - In Paradise

Well, as you know if you saw it, the House Season Seven finale ends with ... House on a paradisical island or shoreline somewhere ... confounding Wilson's expectation that House would likely be found in the darkest bar in New Jersey.

How and why House got to the island is the meat of the story - and the set-up for next season.  House drives his car into Cuddy's house, after he sees her with her date and another couple inside, through the window.   Cuddy vows to have him arrested if he ever comes near her again, presumably including at work anywhere in the hospital.

I know there are many opinions on House and Cuddy, but here's mine: she knew what she was getting into when she finally took him in her arms and initiated a relationship at the end of last season.  She knew House was unreliable, to say the least - an asocial drug addict genius with a supreme ego and a positive zest about doing anything he pleased and lying about it.   Cuddy knew all this, and proceeded to take House in her arms and open her heart to him anyway.

She had to know that this would have a profound effect on House, and at the same time not totally change him.   I therefore found her fury about his using again and lying about it earlier this season not all that sympathetic -  I thought she was wrong to break up with him.   Although she's certainly not wrong now to be livid at someone, anyone, driving a car into her house - a depraved act -  House's driving the car was something she was in some sense in part responsible for creating.

The good news for House is that the act may have finally gotten Cuddy out his system, and, very luckily for him and human decency,  he didn't hurt anyone with the car.   We see him in the last scene leaving a bar on the shore of his own volition well before inebriation.   House may be more in control of his life than ever before.

Will be interesting to see how all of this picks up next season.  Lisa Edelstein has been reported to have left the series - which should make for a very interesting final season, with no Cuddy - but you never know with a television series.  Cuddy could be back, and the next season may not be the final season.  

See also House and Cuddy on the Other Side in Season 7 Premiere ... House 7.2: House and Cuddy, Chapter 2 ... House 7.3: The Author and the White Lie ... House 7.9: The Vilda Chaya ... House 7.11: The Patient's Most Important Right ... House 7.14:  House, Death, and Cuddy ... House 7.16: Broken Hearts and their Repair ... House 7.17: Deadly Healthy Diet ... House 7.18: Thirteen Mysterious ... House 7.19: Rules ... House 7.20: Cuddy's Mother as Catalyst

And 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 ... House 6.18: Open Marriage


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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Treme 2.5: "Today I'm Gonna Write a Song"

Back from Barcelona - where the music is also pretty good and the food is just great - with a delayed review of Treme 2.5, where both the food and the music are sensational (or, the food looks sensational and the music is).

Steve Earle (Harley) tells Annie that, if she really wants to be a star, she has to sing and write her own songs.  Annie takes this advice to heart, and tells Davis, "today I'm gonna write a song".  Much as I like Annie, I wasn't unhappy to see her fail - songwriting, though it seems to be easy, just coming right out of your head, can take years to perfect as a craft, even if you have the talent.   The song she writes sounds good - but, as Harley tells her, Dylan already wrote it ("Don't Think Twice," which Annie unconsciously copied).

Meanwhile, back up in New York City, Janette's career seems to be recovering from the Sazerac - cognac cocktail - she threw in a top food-critic's face.  In fact, she's benefiting from the buzz, and her benefactor Tom Colicchio gets her another job as a chef in a great restaurant.  I was expecting Janette to return to New Orleans, but a scene with her enjoying Delmond's rendition of Jelly Roll Morton in New York City may be signaling an important reason for her to stay here (I live in New York, so it's here to me):  wouldn't it be fun if Janette and Delmond hooked up (I always thought she was beyond Davis).   But if that's where this is headed, we're in store for a stormy triangle, because Delmond's manager likes him also.

Delmond is already - as always - having further problems with Albert, who's making moves to leave New Orleans.  If he did that, he'd miss a chance to hear Antoine, who hit some good lines in "Slip Away" in this episode.

But Albert wouldn't miss the increasing crime.   The episode began with a funeral (not sure if the deceased was a victim of a crime) and concluded with an "enough is enough" rally of people in New Orleans sick and tired of the muggings, beatings, and murders.  Lt. Colson looks on at the demonstration with satisfaction, his boss does not, and also in this story is Oliver Thomas, playing himself as the charismatic Councilman who would later plead guilty to bribery charges.  Gutsy of David Simon to put in Thomas as himself in this role, but, hey, that's part of the charm of the series.

And my favorite song from episode 2.5:  well, we didn't actually hear it, but even a mention of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" makes it my favorite ...

And here's a taste of Dylan's Don't Think Twice ...

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music ... Treme 2.4: Angry Albert

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again

Back from Barcelona with a late but appreciative review of The Killing 1.9, which I just saw.

One way of looking at this whole quietly riveting series is that it's the story of Rosie's teacher.  He starts out looking like a dedicated teacher, then as possibly Rosie's killer, then as a victim of Stan's wrath just as evidence suggests Bennet's not the killer, then again as Rosie's killer as new evidence comes to light, and last (for now) as a victim, as Stan and his sidekick go after Bennet, just as Linden and Holden find out that Bennet's suspicious behavior was actually heroic, on behalf of another girl.

The last scene has Stan and sidekick beating Bennet to a pulp - beating a truly dedicated teacher to within an inch of his life.  I'm hoping, at least, that that's where it stops, because, well, Bennet is an admirable character.

But who, then, is the best bet for the real killer?   Stan's man apparently has a hankering for young girls - we see him looking at a little girl on a tricycle - but this doesn't quite prove, as yet, that he killed Rosie.

I'm still guessing/betting, as I have all along, that the killer resides in the Richmond campaign.  Not likely Richmond himself (though still a possibility) but someone wanting to make him and/or his campaign look bad.

We should see soon.  Just a few episodes left in one of the most thoughtful, original cop shows on television.

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After

Back from Barcelona with a delayed review of the excellent Game of Thrones 1.6, in which
  • King Robert proves to be wiser, or at least craftier, than we may have thought.  He gets Ned to put his Hand badge back on, without relenting in his vow to kill Daenerys, by plainly saying that he'll put the badge on Jaime Lannister if Ned doesn't take it back.   Then Robert goes hunting, leaving Ned as the Hand in charge, and able to send out warrants and men to bring the Lannisters to account for the killing of Ned's men last week.   Clever moves on Robert's part.
  • As for Ned, we get confirmation that bringing Tyrion to trial was entirely Kate's idea (though that should have been obvious).   Ned also realizes another obvious point: that the King's son is really the Queen's and her brother's - about as pure a Lannister as you can get.
  • Meanwhile, we get a delightful example of Tyrion's craftiness - that "shit imp," as the King calls him - as Tyrion deftly manipulates his captors to gain his release from his "sky cell" (nice term, that).  Especially good to see was Tyrion paying the dim-witted jailor the gold Tryion promised him - "the Lannisters pay their debts" - as he walks off to freedom.   I wonder, though, if it's the Lannisters or just Tyrion?
  • But the biggest change happens in the land across the sea, where Viserys finally get the gold crown he has been seeking - in molten gold, alas, for him, poured over his head to his horrible death.
Daenerys is totally fine with that - not only because her brother was threatening her baby, but because she is now convinced that she has a special relationship with the dragon, which makes her (among other things) impervious to heat, which her brother is not.


So Game of Thrones continues to expertly weave at least four diverse stories (though we saw nothing of the north in episode 1.6), and pull them gradually, inexorably together, toward an ending this season that will no doubt see others join Viserys in painful deaths.


See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


Friday, May 27, 2011

The Event Ends on NBC

Back from Barcelona, with a delayed review of The Event finale, which I just saw.   As I've been saying for weeks now, the series has been getting better and better, and the finale was the best yet.  More's the pity that NBC, in a typical feat of numbskulledness, has not renewed it.

The resolution of the deadly virus threat - the souped-up Spanish flu, with which Sophia was hoping to do away with our species, to make room for hers - was top-notch.  Two of three prongs of the attack stopped by commandos ordered by the not-yet-reinstated President Martinez, the third stopped by a combination for the 4-person team (Sean, Vicky, Sterling and Simon) and Martinez, now back in his rightful office.  But-

First, how did Martinez get back in power?  I guessed it - he tape recorded the VP confessing in what the VP thought was a private conversation.  Yeah, I guess it, but it will still good to see.

Now back to the "but".  Sophia says her plan to unleash the deadly virus was "an act of mercy".  The arrival of the aliens will spell worse, more painful, destruction for us.

It's not clear just why, but the nature of the arrival, which we do see, holds a clue: the arrival is not in star ship but the actual alien planet, which will undoubtedly have a destructive effect on the Earth, and is already beginning to have an impact with quakes all over the world.  Of course, our world cannot be completely destroyed, because it still has to make some kind of home for the aliens.

Two other developments:  Leila's pregnant with Sean's baby (obvious - but it would be interesting to see a quarter alien - have there been others?). And the President's wife is an alien (which was clear in the expression on her face when she refused to have her DNA tested, and explained to Martinez that she was sensitive about the government looking too carefully at origins of people, because her parents came from a different island in Caribbean than advertised).   Turns out she came from a different island all right, but one way out in space.

And so The Event ends on NBC.  Not the most original show in the world, as I've indicated in this review.   But a good show nonetheless, which I hope is picked up by another station, with the smarts to give it a second season or more.

See also The Event Debuts on NBC ... The Event 1.2: Aliens! ... The Event 1.4: 24 Back in Action! ... The Event 1.6: Not Only Aliens, Immortals! ... The Event 1.7: The Portal and its Implications  ... The Event 1.8: The "Republican" VP and the Anti-24 ... The Event 1.9: "Native Populations, Indigenous People" ... The Event 1.10: Satellite ... The Event 1.11-12: Hardball in Fiction ... The Event 1.13: A Little to Close to the Reality ... The Event 1.14: Upping the Ante ... The Event 1.15: Bluffs and Stakes ... The Event 1.16: High Placed Sleeper  ... The Event 1.17: Target Martinez  ... The Event 1.18: VP. President, Spanish Flu ... The Event 1.19: Triptych ... The Event 1.20: Two Poisons ... The Event: Penultimate




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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

Bones has concluded its sixth season, slow to get out of the gate (or slow after getting out of the gate) with three stellar episodes.  And tonight's season finale had some of the best elements of not only the season, but the entire series.

First, we had a laugh-out-loud funny Bones and Booth in costume as bowlers in pursuit of the killer.  Both were in fine form, and Emily Deschanel especially was hilarious as a white trash, gum-chewing bowling moll.   Add to that a great line by another bowler about Bones' bowling character Wanda talking like she watches "PBS on purpose" - you just can't take the Bones out of Wanda - and you have Bones fun at its best. 

Also worthy of note in the chuckles department tonight was a clip of Dwight Eisenhower showing up back at the Jeffersonian.   And it was fun to see Wendell virtually all alone and running the case in the lab tonight, as not only Bones and Booth but Angela and Hodgins had slightly more important business elsewhere.

Angela and Hodgins were having their baby.  The lead-up and birth were handled perfectly - again, with Bones' patented mix of profundity and humor - and the baby boy was adorable and in perfect condition, including his vision.  Happy endings are nice.

But the best came at the very end.  As I said last week, I was sure from Bones' expression with Angela that Bones had slept with Booth.   Bones' father - good to see on the show tonight - sees there's some kind of unusual good chemistry between them, too.   And the denouement is that Bones and Booth not only slept together, but Bones is pregnant with Booth's baby.   The expression on Bones' face at the end was, again, priceless - happiness and relief - and kudos again to Emily Deschanel for great acting (David Boreanaz was fine too!).   Given that the actress is pregnant - mazel tov! - this is a brilliant development in the Bones and Booth story in more ways than one.

I was going to say that I thought there should have been a least a little more reaction tonight to the loss of Mr. Nigel-Murray, but Bones knowing she's pregnancy suggests that a little time has passed - likely more than a week - since last week's episode, so it makes sense that no one would mention Nigel-Murray at this point.

Great co-writing tonight and show-running in general by Hart Hanson, Looking forward to the Fall!

See also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ... Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ... Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love

And 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 ... Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Criminal Minds Season 6 Finale

The Criminal Minds season 6 finale opens with Hotch calling a special morning meeting.   Reid notes that this is the first time Hotch has called such a meeting in three some odd years, and that last time was to announce Gideon's departure.   This time, the meeting is to perhaps encourage someone on the team to leave, which may happen even if no one wants to leave, since the FBI is tightening its belt.   The episode ends with no decision made by anyone about leaving, and in fact someone who left the team returning.  That would be J. J. - who's good to see back, but you'd have to had been in a catatonic state not to know about this, given all the spoilers and hints and coming attractions flying around.

In between was an excellent story, with the BAU working to bring down a vicious bunch of human traffickers.   Some good twists here with the trafflicking chief being a young woman the same age as the victims.   And a nice exchange of Rossi saving Morgan and Morgan returning the favor a little later when the head of the trafficking ring is about to kill him (not clear, though, what tips Rossi off to her - it seems to be her saying something about not wanting to be strapped down).

In many ways the most notable and promising development is the hint of some kind of attraction between Hotch and Andi, head of the FBI's Domestic Trafficking Task Force.   Would be nice to see the two of them get together, assuming Hotch is on the show next year (it would be a grievous loss to the show if he wasn't).

Which brings us back to J.J.  - there was no reason, plot- or character-wise, for her to leave in the first place.  She adds something unique to the team, as does every member (and that, in a nutshell, is what makes Criminal Minds so much better than not-renewed Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, in which Gina, Prophet, and Mick were never clearly defined).   Will be fun to see J.J. at work again in the Fall.

See also Criminal Minds in Sixth Season Premiere ... Criminal Minds 6.2: The Meaning of J. J. Leaving ... Criminal Minds 6.3: Proust, Twain, Travanti ... Tyra on Criminal Minds 6.13 ... Criminal Minds 6. 17: Prentiss Farewell Part I ... Criminal Minds 6.18: Farewell Emily ... Criminal Minds 6.19: Fight Club Redux Plus ... Criminal Minds 6.20: Emily's Ghost ... Criminal Minds 6.21: The Tweeting Killer ... Criminal Minds 6.22: Psycho and a Half ... Criminal Minds 6.23: The Good Lie

And Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again

Episode 1.8 of The Killing slyly put Rosie's teacher - Bennett Ahmed - back in our focus as a suspect, but not for the reasons we thought he might have been guilty earlier in the series.  It's pretty clear he didn't attack Rosie sexually, but what if Rosie was killed because she stumbled upon a terrorist operation that Ahmed was a part of?   That's the flavor of the week, in any case, and it's a measure of how good The Killing is that it has so many flavors.

Meanwhile, it was good to see Sarah finally begin to get over her differences with Holder, who, although odd, seems to be a good guy.   Sarah vs the FBI and her boss was a little trite, though - the local cop vs. FBI gambit has been over-exploited in American crime dramas on television.  But, getting back to the good in this episode, I was glad to see Sarah move further away from her fiance - she'd be better off with someone else, and in her job in Seattle.

The story of what Rosie's murder has done to her family continues to be wrenching, and more realistic and sensitive than anything else on television on this point.  Mitch endangers the boys when she leaves them in the idling car in the garage - completely understandable that she would be distracted when she steps back into the house by previously unreleased pictures of the murder scene.  And Stan's reaction, later, is right on key, and is Mitch's sister's.

So now the pendulum may be swinging back to the teacher, away from Stan's associate, who was looking better for the murder (strange to say anything is "better" regarding a suspect for a murder) in the past weeks.  But I've still a got a feeling the killer has more to do with the Richmond campaign ...

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Games of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige

A challenging time for Ned Stark on Game of Thrones 1.5 the other night on HBO.

First, he refuses to follow the King's command to kill Daenerys - the King's command occasioned by the news that Daenerys is pregnant, which cements the alliance of the Targaryen and the Dothraki, and sets up a much formidable threat to the throne.   Ned understands the threat, but is too decent to kill a woman with a child - or, for that matter, likely anyone who doesn't literally have a sword headed towards the King's neck.   Ned resigns his position as Hand.  Will his relationship with King Robert be old and deep enough to survive this?

Next for Ned is indeed a sword-in-hand confrontation with Jaime Lannister, who is furious about Tyrion's being taken hostage by Catelyn.  Lannister's men with little warning kill all of Ned's men by hurled spear, except Ned's Captain of the Guard, who's dispatched by Jaime via sword through the eye.  Jaime and Ned have a brief, intense duel, ended when one of Jaime's men spears Ned in the leg.

Why did he do that?  Likely because he estimated that Ned would prevail in the duel.   Jaime - unhappy with this conclusion to the sword play - strikes his man.   Ned has already aptly noted that Jaimie can't kill Ned, which would forfeit Tyrion's life in Catelyn's hands.

But this whole life-and-death incident - the best in the episode - raises an interesting question:  if Jaime was responsible for the second attempt on Bran's life - we know he was responsible for the first, we saw that with our own eyes - why would he be so outraged at Tyrion's being taken prisoner?   That is, Jaime would want Tyrion freed in any case, but there was something in his outrage that suggested (at least, to me) that neither he nor Tyrion was responsible.  Further, come to think of it, why would Jaime risk arming Bran's would-be assassin with Tyrion's sword in the first place?  But if not Jaime, who then was behind the second attack on Bran?  Cersei would similarly not be likely to put Tyrion's sword into the mix.

On other hand, it's still early times in Game of Thrones, and we don't know any of the characters - least of all the Lannisters - all that well ...

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things


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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NCIS Season 8 Finale

An excellent finale for NCIS season 8 tonight - even if the much-heralded second death proved to be someone who was pretty clearly killed last week.   Any death of a good guy is bad, notable news, but Special Agent Levin - whom we just became aware of a few episodes ago, as a member of E. J.'s team - was clearly the least known member of NCIS operations (though it was good to see Alimi Ballard, last seen on Numb3rs, back on the screen).   This is why I don't like spoilers, and should try harder to steer completely clear of them.

The story tonight was nonetheless outstanding.   Each scene carried a shock or surprise.   Even the angry-turned-tender moment between Abby and McGee was memorable.    Other good surprises included E.J. the SecNav's niece and not dead (I've grown to like her), Ziva taken prisoner by Cobb (rare to see her taken prisoner by anyone), and back to E.J., removing some kind chip or transponder or whatever from Levin's wrist (I'm still not clear what that is or why she removed it - maybe it will be explained next year).

I thought, when Palmer was in the elevator with E.J. and Cobb, that Palmer's might be the death disclosed in the spoilers, and I'm glad it wasn't.  I was sure, though, as soon as that elevator door closed, that Cobb was going to break out and take someone along with him.

In the end, Mike Franks, who left us last week, is more than a big enough loss to end this season.  He was a unique character on this show - as only a former boss of Gibbs could be - and, trite as it to say, he will be missed (trite because it's true).

Good set up, too, for next year's season.  Clearly DiNozzo isn't the one selling information.  And likely not Leon either.  That leaves ... well, you know who, and I'll see you here this Fall with reviews of Season 9.

See also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne ... NCIS 8.5: Dead DJ, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball ... NCIS 8.6: The Written Woman ... NCIS 8.7: "James Bond Movie Directed by Fellini" ... NCIS 8.8: Ziva's Father 
... NCIS 8.9: Leon's Story ... NCIS 8.10: DiNozzo In and Out ... NCIS 8.11: "The Sister Went Viral" ... Bob Newhart on NCIS 8.12 ... NCIS 8.13: The Wife or the Girlfriend ... NCIS 8.14: Kate ... NCIS 8.15: McGee and DiNozzo's Badges ... NCIS 8.16: Computer Games ... NCIS 8.17: Budget Cuts ... NCIS 8.18: Gibbs vs. the Kid ... NCIS 8.19: The Deadly Book ... NCIS 8.20: CIRay ... NCIS 8.21: Mask and Eye ... NCIS 8.22: "I'd Rather Have a Lead" ... NCIS 8.23: Answers and Questions

And see also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

The Event: Penultimate

So word came down from NBC a few days ago that this first season of The Event would be its last, which is too bad, because, as I've been saying, the story's been getting much better.   And this also makes it difficult to review this episode with any sense of wonder about where things will be going for these characters in any kind of future.  On the other hand, if Plato or some kind of related Platonic view is right that all stories exist somewhere, in a realm somewhat beyond human comprehension, but still amenable to human perception, then I can review this next-to-last episode with that in mind....

(How's that for a preface?)

The big reveal tonight in episode 1.21 is that Sophia's aliens were here first.   That's actually a good reveal for a continuing story that tells us why then they left Earth in the first place, whether some aliens stayed here and are actually some of us, etc.  About all we can fathom, at this point, is that Demsey had something to do with this.

Meanwhile, the story is tightening on both sides - the aliens are proceeding with their nefarious plan to kill we humans with a souped-up neo-Spanish flu, but we're winning some rounds on the White House front.

Let's look at that first.  President Martinez, injected last week with the reversal serum by his wife, is recovered to the point that he can leave the hospital - against doctor's orders - and confront the treacherous Jarvis.   It's an excellent confrontation, in which Jarvis, weak but not without resources, reminds Martinez that Jarvis is still President, and only the cabinet can deem Martinez fit enough to resume office.

Sophia's aliens are well into setting up three distribution points for the neo-Spanish-flu in the U.S.  One good break for us, though, is that Leila, now infected, and the alien Dr. Mengele - actually, a woman in this story - are located in a place that Simon, Blake, Vicki, and Sean, now working together, are able to reach.   They get a little information from the doc, but will it be in time?   And although it seems that Leila is doomed, even that's not certain, because she's a hybrid, and, in principle, anything is possible where hybrids are concerned.

As I've been pointing out, this is a fine 24-like show, which deserves more time.  As it is, I'll look forward to next week.

See also The Event Debuts on NBC ... The Event 1.2: Aliens! ... The Event 1.4: 24 Back in Action! ... The Event 1.6: Not Only Aliens, Immortals! ... The Event 1.7: The Portal and its Implications  ... The Event 1.8: The "Republican" VP and the Anti-24 ... The Event 1.9: "Native Populations, Indigenous People" ... The Event 1.10: Satellite ... The Event 1.11-12: Hardball in Fiction ... The Event 1.13: A Little to Close to the Reality ... The Event 1.14: Upping the Ante ... The Event 1.15: Bluffs and Stakes ... The Event 1.16: High Placed Sleeper  ... The Event 1.17: Target Martinez  ... The Event 1.18: VP. President, Spanish Flu ... The Event 1.19: Triptych ... The Event 1.20: Two Poisons





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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Treme 2.4: Angry Albert

Well, we finally get an episode of Treme this season - 2.4 - which delves a little into Albert's current story. Ok, the 4th episode maybe doesn't justify saying "finally," but I was missing more on Albert this season nonetheless.

He's an Indian Chief. Not the Native American kind, who have been living here for innumerable centuries, but the Mardi Gras kind, consisting of African Americans who march in great, colorful costumes in the Mardi Gras and on other holidays, and date back at least as far as the middle of the 1800s.

I confess to not fully understanding the Mardi Gras Indian culture, but that's sort of the point - or part of the point - of Albert's story in Treme.  Certainly the filmmaker, who wants to make a documentary about what Albert is doing, doesn't get it.  Even his son Delmond doesn't completely get it, and is still learning in his re-developing relationship with his father.

What's clear is how important the tradition and the costumes are to Albert - he spends most of the year working to make the parades as remarkable as possible. Katrina disrupted this, and last season we saw Albert struggling and succeeding despite the hurricane and its aftermaths.

This year his main obstacle is the government, and its slow processing of the vast amount of help all New Orleans needs. Delmond, in a powerful Christmas dinner scene in a restaurant, suggests to his father that he may clinically depressed. Albert responds, angrily, that he's angry.

Delmond later apologizes, but the truth, I'd say, is that they're both right, and Albert has every reason to feel both angry and depressed (psychologists will tell you that the two conditions are closely related).

But on the surface, most of our New Orleans people are acting more angry than depressed. Janette, in New York City, is justifiably furious at her dictatorial, insulting boss. Antoine would rather not be teaching. Desiree gets a nice piece of jewelry from Antoine, but my wife observed that she'd rather have received a ring.

One aspect of Treme, which usually makes most people happy, including me, is the music (the food, too, but you can't taste it through the screen). And my favorite song from episode 2.4 of Treme is ... Jelly Roll Morton's "Tom Cat Blues" - on a vinyl played by Delmond (don't know if it was an original 1923/1924 78-rpm record - but it was certainly derived from it).

Hey, I have old-fashioned as well as new-fashioned tastes ...


5-min podcast review of Treme


And here's a taste of Jelly Roll's Tom Cat Blues ... 

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Criminal Minds 6.23: The Good Lie

The benefits of lying have been explored on network television drama of late, with an episode several weeks ago on Bones, and now another this week on Criminal Minds.  Episode 6.23 focuses on a long-range serial killer at work for years.   One of his victims may be Derek's niece.

Derek's niece went missing several years ago, and is presumed dead.  Her mother - Derek's aunt - needs closure.   Derek is pained by not being able to give it to her - not being able either to find his niece's body or identify her killer.

The timing could be right with this serial killer, who buries his victims off the Jacksonville coast in Florida.   Derek's niece is not among them, but it's known that the killer was responsible for more deaths than there are remains.   In a climactic scene, Derek questions the killer, and shows him pictures of possible victims.

The killer sees that Derek has more than just FBI interest when he shows a picture of his niece.   The killer says yes, she was one of the his victims, and describes his pleasure in the killing.  But, unlike with the other victims the killer says are his, the killer does not identify Derek's niece by name.  Derek knows the killer was lying to him - his missing niece was not one of this killer's victims.

But when he sees his aunt shortly after, Derek tells her that the killer did admit to killing her daughter.  Derek is finally able to bring her some relief.

Was it right for Derek to lie to her?  I'd say no doubt it was.   The moral of this story is that truth ain't all it's cracked it up to be - there are times when lying is more humane, and therefore more ethical, then telling the unvarnished truth.   Sissela Bok's  Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life wasn't a source of quotes in this episode, but it surely could have been.

See also Criminal Minds in Sixth Season Premiere ... Criminal Minds 6.2: The Meaning of J. J. Leaving ... Criminal Minds 6.3: Proust, Twain, Travanti ... Tyra on Criminal Minds 6.13 ... Criminal Minds 6. 17: Prentiss Farewell Part I ... Criminal Minds 6.18: Farewell Emily ... Criminal Minds 6.19: Fight Club Redux Plus ... Criminal Minds 6.20: Emily's Ghost ... Criminal Minds 6.21: The Tweeting Killer ... Criminal Minds 6.22: Psycho and a Half

And Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...
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