Friday, December 30, 2011

Four Important Documentaries in 2011

Looking back at 2011, I would say that it was a great year for documentaries.  Here are four that I had the pleasure to see, learned a lot from, and reviewed.  They are listed in date order, because ranking them would be apples and oranges.  The dates and links are those of my reviews, which could be earlier than official release dates, in cases in which I was able to see a preview.

  • January 6, 2011:  There But for Fortune, Kenneth Bowser's vivid, incisive movie about Phil Ochs, second only to Bob Dylan in the opinion of many, certainly above Dylan in some ways ... more relevant than ever in view of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring ... look for it on PBS in 2012 ... details on the movie's Facebook page
  • September 2, 2011: Connected, Tiffany Shlain's triple threat movie, one part bio-doc about her father Leonard, one part history of media ala Marshall McLuhan, one-part about the growing interconnectedness of our world now expressed in Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring ... details on the movie's Facebook page



Monday, December 26, 2011

Who's the Leak on The Closer, Part 2

With The Closer now ending its Winter 2011 season, and only six episodes left to go this coming Summer of 2012, it seems a good time to ask, what more have we learned about who's the leak on The Closer - who on Brenda Leigh Johnson's team, largely defined to include all significant police and FBI on the show, have been feeding Goldman information?

In September, I analyzed the situation and concluded - surprise, surprise - that there was no obvious suspect.  But that's a compliment to the show. I thought Pope was the most likely, though, with an outside, long insane shot that Fritz might want her out of the business so she's no longer in danger so often of getting killed.

Pope in this winter season has seemed a little better a human being, i.e., less likely to be the leak than I thought in September, when the recollection that he had refused to let Raydor stop investigating Brenda was still prominent in my mind.  Since then ... well, he's still a bit of knife-you-in-the-back superior, but a little more supportive, at least, until tonight, when he tried to shove the "Johnson rule" down Brenda's throat.

But does that make him the leak?   Not necessarily.

As for Fritz, he's been as loving and supportive as always, which means he's exactly where he was in September, an extreme long shot to be the leak.

And I feel exactly as I did about the rest of the team in September.  David and Taylor are not implausible suspects, for different reasons, but I just can't quite see them doing this to Brenda.  And the rest of the team seem totally out of the question.

So that leaves us, with, once again, Pope as the best suspect, more by the Sherlockian logic of when you clear away all the impossibilities, what's left, however implausible, is the answer.

But then there's this: could it be that the twist the Summer of 2012 will have in store for us is that there has been no leak, never was a leak, in the first place?  But how then did Goldman get the information?  I don't have an answer for that.  But when you clear away the impossible, maybe all that's left is indeed the answer.

See alsoThe Closer 7.2: Pope ... Who's The Leak on the Closer?

And  The Closer 6.1: The New Building ... The Closer 6.2: Fun Bumps ... The Closer 6.11: Andy Flynn

And from Season 5:  The Roots of Testimony on The Closer and Finding Killers vs. Hearts on The Closer and Brenda Leigh's Niece and Libby from Lost on The Closer and Tom Skerritt on The Closer and Det. Richard Tracy on The Closer and Pres. Laura Roslin vs. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson  and The Closer Closes on a Fine Note for the Season




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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 ...




Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible is back with its 4th movie, and one of the best - well, better than the 3rd, which was pretty good, but I'm not sure about the 1st and 2nd movies in the franchise, which were each in their own ways superb.

Alias, Lost, and Fringe fans (I'm a big one, though not of the ending of Lost), will be glad to know that J. J. Abrams is back, this time getting top producer credit (he directed MI3), and Josh Holloway puts in an appearance at the beginning.    The antes are raised nicely in MI4, with the Kremlin blown up, the US Defense Secretary killed (played by major actor Tom Wilkinson, making the death even more surprising, and all-out nuclear war at stake between the US and Russia.  This had an appealing retro flavor, and was refreshing in view of so many Islamic terrorists in movies and on television.

The MI slight-of-hand devices and impersonations were also in fine display - with a projector that makes the guard think he's looking at a far wall with no one in the room, even though Ethan and Benji are actually walking right by the guard into the guarded room - and a cool double feint in which the team splits up and fools two of the villain groups at the same time, keeping in touch via the comm at their disposal.  

As in all the MI stories, there are a couple of escapes that fall a little short of believability - Brandt's survival in the wind tunnel or whatever that was is the one that most comes to mind.  But these were balanced by the MI plans and strategies which don't work out - including failure to stop the launch of the Russian nuclear warhead toward the US - which gives the movie a good smack-in-the-face plausibility.

And the acting, including and especially Tom Cruise as Ethan, was excellent.  Jane (Paula Patton) and Sabine (Léa Seydoux) were both dangerous in different ways and good to look at.   The team - which was ghosted or put into non-existence when wrongly held responsible for the Kremlin bombing - accomplishes its mission in the end, and will clearly be back, as Ethan's new team, for another romp, I hope not too far in the future.


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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 ...


Unforgettable

Bopping in here with a review of Unforgettable - not the Nat King Cole song, the new CBS series - which I've been watching this Fall, so far, 11 episodes, but haven't had a chance to review.

It's a good set-up - Carrie an NYPD detective has a better than photographic memory - she can recall not only everything she sees, but can pull into focus even tiny details on the periphery of her vision, that she almost didn't see, or wasn't aware of seeing, the first time.  Meanwhile, the one thing she doesn't remember enough of is who killed her sister, long ago, when she was a little girl.  Poppy Montgomery gives an appealingly sassy, sensitive performance.

Dylan Walsh - first seen years ago in Brooklyn South, another cop show - plays Det. Al Burns, Carrie's boss and de facto partner.  The two were also romantic partners years ago.  Carrie still thinks of him in that way, and Al feels the same way, deep down.  The rest of the squad is also a bit more memorable and wise-cracking and well written than the usual the NYPD precinct fare. 

Unforgettable also a colorful, real NYC ambiance, with real universities figuring in the story - NYU, CUNY, and hey, one episode even featured Fordham!  (Not my Communication and Media Studies Department, but the Sociology Department, pretty close.)  The series tries a little too hard, though, for social media currency, with one character talking about receipt of a "pdf," when clearly all that was needed was "text".

But the individual stories are diverting enough - almost as good as Law & Order: SVU's - and the central story, Carrie's hunt for the killer of her sister, receives enough attention in every episode to keep me watching.  I'll have more on Unforgettable in the New Year.


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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, December 24, 2011

CNN Distorts Ron Paul Interview

I should have known better.  When I saw Ron Paul stalk off after a few questions from Gloria Borger about the racist statements published under his name in his newsletter in the late 1980s / early 1990s, I should have suspected that there might well have been more to the interview.

I of all people should have known this, given that I gave a 45-minute lecture to my class at Fordham University in September 2007 about the mass media's misreporting of Ron Paul in the last Presidential campaign (see video below) - about how ABC and Fox, especially, cropped pictures, left Ron Paul out of poll reports, and committed other lies of omission in their coverage.

But, instead of suspecting CNN, as I should have, I simply assumed that what I saw on the screen was true.  I even commented on Facebook that Ron Paul should have talked more about the offensive newsletters, rather than abruptly terminating the interview.

And it turns out that's exactly what he did.  The bright spot in our media world, as I point in New New Media, is that we need no longer rely on the mass media as our sole source of information.  As Mediaite - itself a new new media site where you can see the uncut interview, and compare it to what CNN aired - aptly notes, the Daily Paul and Reddit brought the truth of this interview to everyone's attention (and thanks to my friend Michael Papagermanos for bringing this to my attention on Facebook about an hour ago).   Indeed, the complete interview not only shows Ron Paul giving Borger a full and repeated explanation of his views about the racist passages in his newsletters, but also has a clear and cogent an analysis as ever I've heard from Ron Paul (or anyone) about the dangers of going to war without the Declaration of War required by our Constitution - something I've been pointing out since the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and has been the case for every "war," beginning with the Korean War, that we've waged since World War II (the last legally waged war).  But Ron Paul's words about this, too, wound up on CNN's proverbial cutting room floor.

No one expects any television channel to air every second of an interview it tapes.  Cutting is an intrinsic and necessary part of television and radio news, just as editing is in the press.  But deceitful cutting - editing which distorts what the interviewee says, and therefore misleads the viewer - is most certainly not.

Such deceitful reporting is not only an attack on Ron Paul, but on all Americans and our democratic system of government.  The media are given special protections and status under the First Amendment - which, as my readers know, I've spent a lifetime vigorously supporting.  But the media also have a responsibility to report the truth, and not undermine our electoral process by cutting interviews to give wrong impressions.   Media that distort are worse than useless.   They are dangerous affronts to our freedom.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Prime Suspect Locked Away

NBC broadcast one of the final episodes of its short-lived new series, Prime Suspect, last night.

Too bad.  The show has a stellar cast - Maria Bello (ER), Brían F. O'Byrne (Brotherhood, Flashforward), Kirk Acevedo (Fringe!), Kenny Johnson (The Shield!!), to name just a few.  You can't get much better than that.  And the dialog has been sharp, humorous, tough, crackling.

But, sad to say, the plots were nothing special.  With the exception of one superb episode - 1.8 - which brings Jane (Bello) and Reg (O'Byrne) upstate and into a series of escalation action sequences as gripping as you might find in a good movie - the individual episode stories were trite and lackluster,  in contrast to the edge-of-your-seat mysteries in the original British series, which started Helen Mirren.

And the continuing story, which had potential, never really went anywhere.   Jane's difficulties as a female detective in the still male-chauvinist NYPD detective world barely went beyond the conflicts and abrasions of the first episode.  And her personal affairs, in particular, the possibilities of life with Matt (Johnson), never really were developed, either.

But, don't get me wrong, I would have been very happy to pick up the show for the rest of a complete season in the New Year, and will miss it, with all of its flaws.   NBC has added another good show to its roster of what might have beens, if only given a little more time on the air.   The Black Donnellys, Kidnapped, and Friday Night Lights (which managed a bunch of seasons only because NBC brought in DirecTV), and now Prime Suspect ... NBC has great taste in getting shows on the air, but doesn't seem to know what to do to keep them there.

Just two episodes left - next Thursday night, and the week after.  I'll be watching both.

See also review of Prime Suspect premiere ...


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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, December 19, 2011

Terra Nova Season One Finale

Well, Terra Nova saved it up for its season one finale just concluded on Fox tonight - and, with this season cut short, and a second not yet announced, this may well have been the series finale.  More would be the pity.  Tonight's two hours were the best since the two-hour season premiere, and in some ways even better.

One major character bravely dies.  Two even more major characters are almost killed, but somehow survive.   All characters are operating at their very best - or worst - which makes for a good story.

The most significant development - which goes beyond any individual character - has Jim traveling back to the future to blow up Hope Plaza.  This means no more people and shipments from the future.  One week after Taylor's brilliant, twisted son opened up the port for two-way business - so his partners in the future could make a fortune plundering the bountiful past - all transactions to and from future are finished.

Or are they?  In the last few scenes, we find that the badlands in Terra Nova have evidence of some other transport from the future.   The nature of these transactions could be the foundation of a second season.

As I've mentioned before, there are aspects of Terra Nova which are trite (the pseudo-military in the colony) and even goofy (Jim's family at times).  But there's a lot of vitality, intrigue, fascination with nature and science that wears quite well on this show.

I'm a sucker for science fiction, that's true.  But Terra Nova has something special, and I'd enjoy seeing the lost in the past family and related characters back with the dinosaurs and prehistoric microbes for at least one more season.

See also Terra Nova Debuts ... Terra Nova as Good Biological Science Fiction


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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 ...

Homeland Concludes First Season: Exceptional

Homeland wrapped up its excellent first season on Showtime tonight,  in a fine, intense, thornily surprising package - that turned out not to be wrapped up at all, i.e., the best kind of package for a season finale.

Dana - Brody's daughter - pretty much plays the most pivotal role.  She realized something was not right with her father last week, and suspects something bad,  but doesn't know what.  When she confronts Brody praying, he tells her he converted to Islam - Brody, like all ingenious liars, knows the best way of hiding something is to admit some significant part of it when caught in the lie.   But Dana's smart and intuitive, and is only mostly not completed convinced by Brody's religious confession.

When Carrie - who has figured out what Brody is up to - comes to Brody's home and tries to convince Dana to call her father and "talk him down," Dana calls the police instead.  Carrie's taken away in handcuffs, but she has tapped into Dana's residual misgivings.  She calls her father (especially powerful acting by Morgan Saylor as Dana and Damian Lewis as Brody in this episode), and indeed talks him down  - i.e., from setting off his suicide vest after it didn't work the first time, which would have killed not only Brody but the VP set to announce his campaign for President, and a whole bunch of high-ranking American officials.

Dana may even had had something to do with why the vest didn't work the first time - she interrupted her father when he was putting on and connecting the parts of the vest.   He had to take it off so Dana wouldn't see it, and he likely stuck a wire in a wrong place when he hurriedly had to put the vest back on.

But how did Brody get in the room with the VP et al?  That was one the best turns of the story.  I was wondering how Brody would get through the weapon detectors-  when Walker takes a shot that misses the VP, hits the political operative, and takes two more shots that hit no one.  This drives everyone including Brody into the building, with no one paying any attention to the weapon detector sounding off as the Secret Service hustles to get everyone to a safe room.  Smooth piece of plotting.

Brody later goes on to kill Walker, as part of his apparently successful effort to convince Nazir that the only thing that happened in the bunker is the vest didn't work, and Brody can actually do more damage to the US now, by being in a a position to take out the VP after the election and the VP has become President.

Meanwhile, Carrie at first takes Brody's survival to mean she was wrong to suspect him a second time.  She checks herself into a hospital to get shock treatment for her bi-polar condition, and just as she's about to go under the anesthesia, she recalls that Brody shouted the name of Nazir's son when Brody had a nightmare the night she and Brody spent together (outstanding acting by Claire Danes the whole season, but especially in tonight's and last week's episodes).  But she's unconscious the next moment, and the shock therapy might result in some kind of short term loss of memory.

But we won't forget a thing, and the ingredients at the end of this first season of Homeland look like the makings of an exceptional second season next year, as well.

See also Homeland on Showtime ... Homeland 1.8: Surprises



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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, December 18, 2011

Dexter Season 6 Finale: Through the Eyes of a Different Love

Well, I've been predicting all season that what we see in the very last scene of the Dexter Season 6 finale would happen - in fact, it's been in the cards, lurking behind almost every scene, for years.   It had to happen, sooner or later.   Dexter had been living on the borrowed time of it not happening, surviving any number of razor close calls, for years.  It had to happen.  It was inevitable.

But I never thought or predicted for a second that it would happen this way.   That Debra would discover the truth about Dexter, catch him in the very act of ritual murder, only after she had come to realize her deep love for him.  Not sisterly love.  Full fledged romantic, passionate, soul mate love.

This love may well inncoculate Dexter from Debra turning him in - giving not only the brother, but the man she loves, over to the police system.  Also, Dexter may be able to convince Debra that his killing of Travis was a first time thing, provoked by Travis trying to sacrifice Harrison.   There's no necessary connection between Dexter's killing of Travis and all of Dexter's other killing - his trademarked serial killings that we the audience know so well.  This always the big advantage of Dexter disposing so completely of the bodies.

But Deb has shown herself to be one sharp crime solver.   She has a keen nose for the truth.  Love for Dexter may blind her, but likely Dexter's explanations, however clever they may be, will eventually unravel if Debra puts her mind to it.  And likely a part of her will be unable to resist doing this - assuming Dexter doesn't tell her the whole truth in the first episode next season, which seems highly unlikely.

So real the question from now on is how long Deb's love for Dexter will keep her from turning him in - could be forever, could be sooner than that.  Could even be she'll in some sense approve of what Dexter has been doing.

One thing is now sure.  Dexter has changed in the most major way since its beginning - more so than when Rita was killed at the end of Season 4.  I'm thinking, though I've loved all Dexter these past six seasons, that it could even be a change for the better.

See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ... ... Dexter's Take on Videogames in 6.10 ... Dexter and Debra:  Dexter 6.11

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ... Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ... Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ... 4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3: Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ... Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2: Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1: First Place to Dexter



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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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Person of Interest 1.10: Carter Returns the Favor

Person of Interest percolated along quite well last night in episode 1.10, which featured Carter coming into the fold - or, at least, saving Reese and Finch from CIA operatives intent on killing Reese and Finch, too, if he got in the way.

How did we and Carter get there?

Well, Resse saved Carter's bacon last week, but she's been a tough cookie of an NYPD detective, and didn't show much sign of doing anything other than wanting to arrest Reese, even after last week.  Indeed, she set the CIA on to where Reese would be in 1.10.

Reese and Finch already had their hands full with four not one number coming up, and two down and out (as in dead) before their murders could be stopped.  In addition, Reese's old CIA colleagues, who until recently thought Reese was dead, are now after him, too.

Carter's conversion was a memorable moment.  It was the other shoe falling after last week's episode, and will profoundly change the series (for the good, as I've been saying).  She's a human being, who feels guilty about setting Reese up, after he saved her life.   With Reese shot by the CIA-hole, and making a desperate attempt to escape, it seems at first that only Finch will come to his rescue.  Which he bravely does - against Reese's insistence that Finch should stay away - but it's not quite fast enough, and Carter gets the drop on both of them, before they can drive away.  But-

Carter gives them a pass.  Which means the duo now not only have Fusco (drolly called "fiasco" by one of the characters last night) but Carter ... and we have a much better show! Good midseason finale and course correction.  Carter makes a more interesting friend than enemy.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch ... Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials ... Person of Interest 1.7: Meets Flashpoint and The Usual Suspects ... Person of Interest 1.8:  Widmore and Ben, At It Again ... Person of Interest 1.9: Evolution of a Series



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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, December 13, 2011

Hell on Wheels 1.6: Horse vs. Rail

Well, the iron horse beat the flesh-and-blood kind in Hell on Wheels 1.6 last evening, as it always did in the long run - of any track and any history.   And in this episode, the victory of the stoked engine symbolized the victory of the Industrial Revolution, which was just beginning, over the Native Americans across the Plains.

The tribes, of course, had lost in the East well before the Industrial Revolution and the rails across America.   As Senator Crane helpfully tells Cheyenne Chief Many Horses, his people are living in "The Stone Age".  True enough, but the Chief is more than wise enough not to go for Crane's generous offer of a reservation for his people.

Crane is not doing much better driving Durant in this episode.  When the Swede - in many ways the most commanding character, following his own and no one else's lights (fine acting by Christopher Heyerdahl) - tells the Senator that Durant has embezzled over $100,000 of government supplied funds for the railroad, the Senator tries to get Durant to admit that, and therein get Durant under his thumb.  Durant refuses, leaving Crane no option other than to leave with the threat of commencing charges against Durant when Crane gets back to Chicago.   As despicable as Durant often is, Crane is clearly worse, and the more dangerous  villains in Hell on Wheels are in government not railroad building.   Whatever that says about the political predilections today of the show's creators, the Durant-Crane confrontation back in 1865 certainly leaves me rooting for Durant.

Durant does get one good piece of fortune - from Lily, who gives him her husband's surveys, that she was previously holding out in hopes of a big payout (which her slain husband eminently deserved).  But her act was based on her realization of the importance of the railroad - to the country, to progress and civilization - which her husband certainly believed in, too.   And this, increasingly, will be what everyone believes in most - not just Durant for the money and the dream - but sooner or later Cullen and Elam, as well.  The transcontinental railroad, after all, not exceeded the horse, but pulled into play a lot of visions of destiny along the way.

Hey, though I love driving and flying, the rails are still my favorite way to travel, and I'd jump on a bullet train across America tomorrow if Amtrak had one.

See also  Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on the Track, and the Telegraph


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale: Stunner!

I love being wrong in my predictions about how plots and seasons end on television - it's a large part of what makes television great.

And, yeah, did I get the end of this superb season of Boardwalk Empire - its second season - wrong.

I predicted that Nucky and Jimmy would have a rapprochement.  Jimmy had no love for the weaklings in his would-be empire who were out to sink Nucky.   Jimmy would welcome Nucky's help in paying Manny back for the murder of Angela.  All of that was was true.  And yet-

As that seemed to be coming to fruition, Nucky inviting Jimmy to a place out in the rain with Manny waiting, bound, for the slaughter, Nucky kills Jimmy instead, in one of the all-time most stunning endings to a television season.

Before then, the ending was very Godfather-like - Nucky through his agents wrapping up all of his business after the charges against him are dismissed (the judge declares a "mistrial, without prejudice," which means the charges can be brought against Nucky again).  But Jimmy certainly appeared to be one of the Nucky's agents - someone who, unlike Eli earlier in the season, had been the recipient of Nucky's forgiveness.

But it turns out, as Nucky says to Jimmy before he fires the second shot into Jimmy, that Nucky does not seek forgiveness.   Nor does he forgive.   Nucky didn't forgive Eli and he didn't forgive Jimmy.  But Nucky knew he could control Eli more than Jimmy, that weak Eli was less of threat to him than was Jimmy.   If I were Eli, though, I wouldn't feel too confident about my future, either.

Nucky was probably telling the truth when he told Rothstein on the phone - I love seeing those old phones, hearing them ring - that he had a decision to make.  I doubt he actually flipped a coin in the air, as Rothstein suggested - not Nucky's way.   But Nucky realized his future was safer with Manny and no Jimmy than vice versa.

The ending was still like the Godfather in other ways - Nucky smoothly lying to Margaret about his deeds.   But Margaret is no Kay after she first married Michael.   So Margaret, though married now to Nucky, deeds the AC land to the Church, the land Nucky gave her for legal safekeeping before the trial.  I can only imagine Nucky's response to this - but we'll have to wait until next year to find out.

Did Jimmy know what Nucky intended for him? I guess his coming unarmed to the meeting suggests that.  Unable to protect his wife, disgusted with his mother, Jimmy had no reason to live - or, as he says to Nucky, he already died in the trenches overseas.  But it's also a little hard to believe that Jimmy wouldn't have welcomed someone else's weapon to shoot Manny out in the rain, and wouldn't have wanted more time with his boy, and wouldn't have wanted to leave her in Gillian's control, especially given her predilections.

A great season indeed - and a shout-out to Dominic Chianese, Uncle Junior on The Sopranos, who played Leander in Boardwalk Empire.   I'm glad he survived the taking care of business of Nucky's enemies this time around.




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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, December 11, 2011

Dexter and Debra: Dexter 6.11

Sometimes the next-to-last show of a season is even better than the finale.  I was thinking that about Dexter 6.11, until the coming attractions to next week's finale.

But here's the astonishing thing about 6.11.  I've been saying for a while that Dexter and Debra's relationship was going to change this season.  But I thought that was because Debra was finally going to get a glimpse of Dex's dark passenger - i.e., see that he was a serial killer, however otherwise kind and wonderful.  I didn't guess for a minute the way that their relationship has moved to being on the verge of changing tonight - changing to a physical couple, in all meanings of the phrase.

Deb dreamed about it, after a session with her shrink in which she (the shrink) suggested it.   Deb stalked out of the shrink's office at the very suggestion.  But the shrink did make the point that Deb and Dex are not biological sister and brother (though I still think there could be a chance that Harry is really Dexter's father, too).   And Deb wouldn't afterward have dreamed that Dexter kissed her, if some deep part of her didn't really want that.

This is the second week in a row that some kind of strange, unexpected, incest sex has been going on or suggested on television.  Dex are Deb were after all raised as sister and brother, even if they are not siblings biologically.  And last week we saw Jimmy sleeping with his mother on Boardwalk Empire (I'll review the finale of that fine season later tonight).   What's the world of cable television coming to?   Well, I guess it's certainly more realistic, off-the-wall, and stunning than it's ever been.

If Dex and Deb become a couple, that could have profound consequences on the future of the series, in addition to the obvious reasons.   Deb could find out about Dex's killing ways, and not be obligated to testify against him, if she was his wife.

But that's getting ahead of the story, and  is a probably at least a year or two off.   For next week, Dex still has to deal with Travis, who, according to the glimpses of next week's finale, has his eyes set on Harrison.   But, you've got it to hand it the writers for the Dexter-Debra thing:  in many ways, it's a logical development.   Where else can either now go for true comfort, giving what both have gone through for the past six years?

See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ... ... Dexter's Take on Videogames in 6.10

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ... Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ... Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ... 4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3: Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ... Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2: Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1: First Place to Dexter




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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


Person of Interest 1.9: Evolution of the Series

Well, Detective Carter finally gets more than an incidental, annoying role in Person of Interest 1.9 - she's the target, the number that comes up, and the episode gives us a pretty good story of Carter's background, who would want to kill her, and Reese and Finch's increasingly desperate moves to protect her.

Carter - like so many characters in law enforcement on television these days - has an Iraq back story.  But in a nice feint, this turns out not to be source of her impending intersection with death.

Eias - Enrico Colantoni from Flashpoint - also may have a role, but I won't say anything more about that, other than it's good to see Colantoni again, and that Elias is definitely in for some kind of Keyser Soze continuing role in Person of Interest, as I mentioned in my review of his first appearance in Person of Interest.

Mark Margolis - who had a great role in the past season of Breaking Bad, and also put in an appearance of Law & Order: SVU a few weeks ago - was also on hand in this episode as Moretti, a memorable character.

But by far the most important aspect of Person of Interest 1.9 is how Reese's protection of Carter - of course she doesn't get killed - will change their relationship and thus the dynamics of the series.  Carter gets that Reese was doing his utmost to make sure she wasn't taken out, but will this get her to give Reese and Finch a pass when their paths cross as Reese and Finch attempt to pull another person away from the jaws of death?  Well, she's a cop. so she can't make life easy for a vigilante, or look the other way, completely, but at least the series is now on a much more interesting footing regarding Carter.

PS - A friend over on Facebook - documentary film maker David Sobelman - asked me to say, in my next review (which this is) what I thought of the introductory sequences in Person of Interest - you know, the people walking around with squares over the heads, to signify the Machine's view.   I like Finch's voice-over, and the mosaic effect is ok, if a little obvious.   Better than Dexter's (great show, but the intro is a little boring already), not as good as Boardwalk Empire's (great show, great intro), if that helps.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch ... Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials ... Person of Interest 1.7: Meets Flashpoint and The Usual Suspects ... Person of Interest 1.8:  Widmore and Ben, At It 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 ...


Friday, December 9, 2011

More Lies from Mayor "I Have an Army" Bloomberg about OWS and the Press

According to Mayor Michael "I Have an Army"  Bloomberg, talking on radio this morning about the criticism he's received about preventing the press from covering his eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, “We didn’t keep anybody from reporting, they just had to stand to the side while the police did their job."

And how, exactly, is a reporter supposed to do her or his job when the police prevent this reporter from seeing what other police are doing?

And why, if Bloomberg and the police "didn't keep anybody from reporting," did Bloomberg after the Zuccotti Park eviction order the NYPD - his "army" - to keep their hands off reporters covering these events?

The answer, as the New York Times reported, is that a "coalition" of media representatives pressured Bloomberg into saying the right thing.

He also complimented his army aka police for doing "a great job" in their evictions at Zuccotti.   Is that why the coalition of media people complained?   Is preventing reporters from doing their jobs, roughing them up in some cases, not to mention the unconstitutional eviction of the Park itself, a "great job"?  Is Bloomberg already reneging on his order to police to leave reporters alone?  Didn't take long.

Fortunately, cellphones in the hands of uncredentialed, every day people have shown America and the world the truth - people put in the hospital (one, a former Marine, in critical condition), tear-gassed, shoved up against a wall (an elderly woman) - all by police, who are supposed to protect not assualt law-abiding people.

I'll give Bloomberg this - so far, none of the worst offenses by police have happened in New York City.  But pointing to a worse evil does not justify one not quite as bad, and Bloomberg by his talk and actions is well on the way to making New York, a city I was born in, lived all my life, and love, into a totalitarian town.

-Paul Levinson, PhD, Professor of Communication & Media Studies, Fordham University


my interview of NY Night News about Bloomberg, OWS, the press


Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bones 7.5: "Sexy Vehicle"

An extreme-weather Bones 7.5 - Bones' "first tornado," as she notes - with some great wind-blown shots, humor abounding, all topped off with Grandpa Z Z Top in town to take care of Angela and Hodgins' baby (all smiles, and delightful).

The "sexy vehicle" is Sweets' line, about a tornado-hunting truck, and what goes on inside it.   They're looking for the killer of a guy who was not a victim of a storm, at least, not the weather kind.  Booth is understandably protective - he doesn't want Bones accompanying him into tornado territory - and she of course doesn't want him regulating her life.   I'm with Booth on this one - near a tornado is no place Bones should be - but she's irrepressible, shows up anyway, and helps work the case.

Angela and Hodgins would prefer Grandpa Top nowhere near their baby - they don't want him blowin' like a hurrciane and over-stimulating Michael with his music - but his beard has to be enjoyable for a baby to tug, and I've always found "Sharp Dressed Man" both energizing and soothing at the same time.*  Angela and Hodgins see the light pretty soon, and go off to help with the tornadic case.

Bones and Booth never do come to a complete understanding, which is realistic, and good news for a long-term stable relationship (the only way that two strong people can constantly agree on everything is for one or the other to repress feelings, which is a prescription for problems).  Bones is more annoyed that Booth lied to her than that he was so protective.  Booth sincerely apologizes about the white lie in the tornado case (not letting her know he and Sweets were off on the trail for the tornado killer), but insists that he is going to continue to be protective.  Bones accepts Booth's apology, but not necessarily his protectiveness.  This is an adult, serious relationship, and continues to be a refreshing one-of-a-kind in television land.

See you in January with my review of the next Bones, and maybe before then with a review of another show on the dwindling winter screen (well, there's Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, and Hell on Wheels).

*And here are a few bars of Sharp Dressed Man with a pic of sexy vehicle ...

See also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ... Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox

And 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 ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

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 ...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on The Tracks, and the Telegraph

Thought it was time that I rolled in with a review of Hell on the Wheels, which rolled out its 5th episode on AMC this past Sunday.

I gotta first say that AMC has been coming up with nothing but aces with its series.  From Mad Men to Breaking Bad to The Walking Dead to The Killing and now Hell on Wheels, I'd say AMC has more top-notch series on the air than HBO and Showtime put together these days.

And Hell on Wheels is one of the best - which is to stay, every bit as good as those other four so far.  Now readers of this blog will know how partial I am t to historical dramas - Rome (HBO), The Tudors (Showtime), Mad Men (AMC), The Borgias (Showtime),  Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - and Hell on Wheels has carved out a niche all its own, in 1865, with the Civil War just over and Lincoln in his grave, as the opening episode tells us.

What I especially like about historical dramas is when they not only get the events but the technology and media of the time just right.   Hell on Wheels is about the building of the transcontinental railroad in the U.S., so it's just bursting with technology, accurately portrayed, blood, sweat and tears at every turn.

The only long distance medium at hand in those days was the telegraph, whose poles went up alongside the tracks, and kept information and money, the lifebloods of the massive construction project, flowing.  Colm Meaney puts in his best performance since Miles on Star Trek: The Next Generation (hey, another travel show) as the boss of the whole railroad operation - Thomas 'Doc' Durant - and one of my favorite parts of every episode is watching him bark messages ("STOP") to his hardworking telegraph operator.   (For more on the history and early impact of the telegraph, see my 1997 book, The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution.)  The telegraph has been called The Victorian Internet, and I call it an early form of tweeting in New New Media (2009).

Dominique McElligott is beautiful and bright as Lily Bell, whose beloved husband, surveyor for the railroad, dies at Indian hands in the first episode.   Durant certainly wants Lily - though he probably loves his railroad more - but it's likely just a matter of time before she gets together with Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount), the other fine lead of the series, a former Confederate determined to kill all of the Yankees who killed his wife in their home.

There's just one of those Yankees left, at this point, and it will be interesting to see whether he remains elusive for the entire season or series, or meets his demise sooner.  One of many interesting stories, subtle and powerful, that keep this railroad of a series and its viewers stoked.



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Monday, December 5, 2011

Boardwalk Empire 2.11: Gillian and Jimmy

No show nails it to the wall, follows through to the max with its implications, as much as Boardwalk Empire this season.   There's been sexual tension between Jimmy and his mother - who looks young and hot enough for a man of any age to want to bed - from the very beginning.   It finally happened last night in Boardwalk Empire 2.11.

It happened in a flashback, which was the lion's share of the episode.  Although it delayed our seeing Jimmy's response to the murder of Angela and her female lover - he spent most of the episode in shock in Princeton - the flashback filled in some of the crucial missing pieces of Jimmy's story.

Jimmy's an up-and-coming successful student at Princeton, where he meets Angela and gets her pregnant.   He might have had a happy life, but Gillian comes up from AC and flirts with his professor - who doesn't even imagine Gillian could be Jimmy's mother - and sleeps with him.   When Jimmy sees her walking out of the room, she feigns irritation at being taken advantage of.  When Jimmy sees the professor, he confronts him and soon beats the prof to a pulp - more than enough to get him expelled.  Later that evening, he mostly undresses and puts his drunken mother to bed.  She's hammered but not passed out, and when he leans over to kiss her goodnight - actually, already on top of her - she pulls him into all-out sex.   Jimmy now has lots of reasons to want to get out this place and join the Army.

This puts Jimmy's later life - the life we've seen in these first two seasons of BE - into much clearer perspective.   Nucky not Gillian is the source of the good and decency in Jimmy's personality.  Gillian brings out the worst in Jimmy, and is always urging him to do the worst things.  Back in present time, Jimmy almost kills Gillian when he comes back to Atlantic City, and sees his son in Gillian's hands.  But the Commodore saves Gillian - who then urges Jimmy to kill the Commodore, which he does, after he narrowly escapes being killed by the Commodore himself.

As for Nucky, he's finally beginning to see the truth about Margaret - she's holding him responsible for her daughter's polio (God has punished her for her sins).   At this point, Nucky would be better off without her and her guilt.

As I've said before, I see a re-alliance with Jimmy and Nucky in the future, maybe near future.  Both men are low on true friends.   Nucky would certainly have no problem with Jimmy killing Doyle and Manny in retribution for Angela.   And Jimmy should have no problem with Nucky getting Lucky and Al out of his hair (but not killed, because history won't allow that).

But, first, Nucky has to deal with the charges against him.  Van Alden's unmasking as a pyscho killer should help, and it will be good to see how this plays out in the season finale next week.


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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 ...


Dexter's Take on Video Games in 6.10

Well, Dexter weighs in with his take on violent video games in episode 6.10 tonight - namely, Masuka's assistant's creation of a new video game where the player can be a real serial killer.  Much to Dexter's discomfort, the list of serial killers includes the Bay Harbor Butcher - aka him, Dexter - real as can be in Dexter-land, and, for that reason alone, Dexter rips the assistant a new one for his video game.  Even without the Bay Harbor Butcher, Dexter would no doubt have been nonplussed about the video game - serial killing, for him, is never a game.

Dexter also vents his rage at the part of him that is Harry, sick and tired of the advice that has gotten him almost nowhere this season.   He's determined to get Travis all on his own, an understandable reaction to having been fooled by him - "he's mine" - though Travis' plan to kill not one but a whole bunch of people at the Miami Metro precinct may give Dexter no choice but to work with his team.

PhotobucketDebra's arc this season remains the most interesting to me.  Jennifer Carpenter was on both Dexter and The Good Wife tonight from 9-10pm Eastern - giving new meaning to Edmund Carpenter's observation  (no relation, he was a media anthropologist, a co-worker with Marshall McLuhan) in Oh! What a Blow that Phantom Gave Me! that only arch angels and people on television can be in more than one place at the same time.   Carpenter (Edmund) was talking about the image on a television show being on millions of screens at the same time.  But Carpenter (Jennifer) was on two different shows, and thus twice as many millions of screens at the same time.

Anyway, though it fun was to see Carpenter on The Good Wife, her character there was no comparison to the irrepressible Debra, who has the best foul mouth now on television.  I also still think - and I have no advance knowledge of this - that Debra's en route to finally beginning to find out who Dexter really is.

We'll see in the next two episodes, which will conclude this season.  In the meantime, the following are my views about violent video games, given in a debate with anti-video-game crusader Jack Thompson, on CNBC a few years ago.





See also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ...

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ... Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ... Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ... 4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3: Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ... Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2: Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1: First Place to Dexter




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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
InfiniteRegress.tv