Jump the Snark

{May 19, 2009}   Glee, 1×01: Pilot

“But provide what exactly? The understanding that money is the most important thing? Or the idea that the only life worth living is one that you’re really passionate about…?”

High school band geek me just got a thrill of nostalgia tonight.

Sure, the musical numbers are clearly pre-recorded and lip-synced ‘on stage’, sure the people are prettier than anyone was in high school, and the speeches are tv-ified and not entirely realistic. But that doesn’t so much matter with Glee, a show that premiered tonight on Fox, but we’ll be waiting until the fall for the whole season. However long that turns out to be, but I’m crossing my fingers.

What Glee does so very well is capture the earnest feelings of the teenagers who largely feel relegated to whatever high school caste they’ve been placed in since they got there, but who yearn to feel like they’re so much more. Who are certain, within, that they are so much more than just that, but don’t know how to show themselves and everyone else that.

And our protagonists, the six lonely members of the Glee club, start to learn in this pilot that important lesson in life: that it’s actually about how happy you are and what matters is your pride in what you do.

Let me wax nostalgic and maybe a little philosphic. It will surprise absolutely no one who knows me that I was a nerd in high school. Even worse, a band nerd! In a small marching band. Oh, and I didn’t even play an instrument, I spun a flag (twirling is what you do with a baton!). We were mocked a-plenty, but even our band director took the time out of a rehearsal one night when that happened to tell us it didn’t matter what anyone else thought of us. We were working hard, and dammit, they sure didn’t mock us when we were cheering and playing for the same team at the games. And much like the teacher who takes on the Glee club, Will, I’ll never forget that thrill of performing with a group I loved, no matter what anyone else thought of us. Our Thanksgiving Day performance my junior year, ending with “Sing, Sing, Sing,” is something I’ve never forgotten and never will.

Glee does an expert job of capturing that feeling in both the students and the teachers. Will, married to his high school sweetheart and teaching at his old high school, is clearly feeling lost. He’s not connecting with his wife like they used to, she’s pressuring him not only for a baby but to provide for them more than his teaching job allows, and he’s grabbing at strings to fulfill his responsibilities and also fulfill his own dreams. Emma, his adorably OCD and clean freak colleague who obviously habors a crush on him, encourages him to stick with the work he finds fulfilling, because isn’t that what’s important in life?

Of the glee club kids, we only get a close view in this episode of two of them: sophomore performing arts superstar Rachel (she has two dads!), who’s been groomed to seek performing success and fame since birth in an almost obsessive way. She’s like Reese Witherspoon in Election, but slightly less off-putting and creepy, and so far not weirdly obsessed with her teacher either. Her fears that her chances of making it and doing something with her life are quickly fading away when she’s all of 15 or 16 is convincingly played with all the fervor of a true sophomore in high school–THIS, what’s happening now, is the biggest deal there is and ever will be! And that, along with damned determination and considerable talent, throws her into the spotlight of the Glee club (quite willingly).

Then there’s Finn, the not-terribly-bright football star who gets duped into joining the Glee club, but once he’s there, he finds it speaks to him more than football ever has. Finn’s backstory speaks to a kid who wants so very much to be there for his widowed mom, and never to let her down–another very appropriate and relatable teenaged sentiment. He’s more talented than he would’ve thought, and when he tells his scornful teammates, screw you, we’re all losers anyways, and I can do football and glee club at the same time, it’s a turning point.

The most believable turning point for an actual teenager? Not so much, but this is TV. So it happens, and despite the words, what he’s saying is delivered with convincing conviction. He returns to the Glee club with an idea for a song that spells out the theme of the show in what would be heavy-handed if it weren’t so awesomely sung and choreographed: Don’t Stop Believing!

As the kids in the glee club (“New Directions”) belt out a heartfelt rendition of the Journey classic, Will, who had told them he was quitting to find a more lucrative job for his now growing family, walks back into the auditorium and his mind is changed. Here they are, putting their hearts and their vocal chords into it with or without him–the least he can do? Make sure it’s with him, dammit.

Was Glee perfect? No. But it was fun. It reminded me of the things I loved and hated alike in high school, and how I’ve always thought they made me a stronger person in the long run. It reminded me of the certainty within the uncertainty that I think you can only feel at that time in your life. When everything is the biggest deal ever–even if it only lasts for one song.

And since no one will be surprised to know I’m a big fan of musicals and have been in my fair share of those as well, the musical aspect of this was a huge plus, too! Now excuse me while I go check out those iTunes downloads of the songs from tonight’s episode.


{April 9, 2009}   Heroes: Playing Catch Up!

I’ve slacked off, and my apologies. But let’s catch up now, shall we?

Two episodes ago, “Cold Snap,” was actually pretty good. The quick version of what happened:
– We found out Rebel is Micah (no surprise)

– Rebel helps free Tracy, who is actually being set up so she can lead them to Rebel. When they meet up, she’s touched but tells Micah she’s not his mom, and she’s not a good person. He doesn’t really believe her, but she does redeem herself in freezing a slew of agents and herself to let him get away. The agents die, and presumably so does she when her frozen form is shattered. But, and I do groan so very much here, her frozen and broken face winks at us just before the end of the episode. UGH.

– Parkman has Daphne being treated at a hospital, and we see her hop up after being all patched up, tells him that seeing a vision of them married does not a marriage make, so long and thanks for all the fish, I’m going to Paris. But Parkman is somehow just a few steps behind her. How? He can fly. Before you get angry at this, it turns out that Parkman is just trying to give Daphne something to believe in as she lies on her deathbed and Daphne figures this out. She asks him to let her go, so he finally does, and she finally dies. Um, what? So why the hell didn’t they just kill her when we thought they killed her before? Dammit, Heroes!

– HRG’s hand is forced with Mama Petrelli’s whereabouts, and she narrowly dodges the agents for a while before Peter, the golden child, swoops in and rescues her. We’re treated to a shot of them hiding out inside the top of the Statue of Liberty for this week’s dose of SYMBOLISM! and that’s that.

-Oh yes, and Hiro and Ando avoided babysitting antics when they figured out that Baby Matt has a power, and is dubbed Baby Touch and Go! He can make thing stop or go, and he ends up making Hiro’s time-stopping powers “go”, which is integral in an escape from agents.

Then, we had the following week we had “Into Asylum,” which was downright boring.
– Nathan and Claire head for Mexico for safety. But not before Claire makes a stop to get some bangs. Teenagers! They hole up in a seedy motel, looking….well, seedy. Seriously, these two have no chemistry of any sort on screen, and it only makes their father-daughter relationship uber-creepy. Also, why should Mexico be safe when freaking Japan wasn’t safe for Hiro? Anyways, to get more money, Nathan decides to relive his glory days and try to outdrink some frat boys for cash. Um, dude, you’re like 40 or something. Not 21. Let Claire the human healing machine do this. But no, Nathan dons his Manly Hat this week, and as expected, loses. So Claire steps in and kicks some ass, just like I predicted. But don’t worry, if this show lasts another season, they’ll change their minds and say she CAN get drunk and expect us to forget this plot point just like they did. So Nathan gets drunk and maudlin, even though he should be drunk and vomiting up some organs at this point, manages to not die in his sleep as a drunken mess (sigh), and is just as lame a dad in the morning when he displays the new power of not having the worst frakking hangover known to man. He and Claire then apparently walk on back to the States, and we’ve all wasted our time.

– The other Petrelli family members, Mama and Peter, hole up in a church so Mama can try to sleep and dream and figure out what to do next, because just making a decision on her own is clearly impossible. So they’re here all night and Peter gets all angsty and mad at God and I don’t give a damn about his little “we had a deal!” speech, which is neither convincing nor original. And then, THEN! Agents arrive! They storm A CHURCH! THEY CAN’T DO THAT! That is not legal, or allowed, in any way! Dammit, Heroes! You fail at logic and reason and everything else! HRG spots the Petrellis, but says he doesn’t, and they’re safe until the next plot point. Mama manages to sleep and dream and says she knows where they need to go now.

– Dammit, Heroes! became my new catchphrase for this show.

-While all of this is happening, the one storyline that was kind of interesting is also happening. Sylar has made contact with the Hunter (whose name is Danko, btw), and wants to make a deal. He’ll help Danko hunt down people with powers (because we cannot say the M-word!), and Danko will let him take their powers. They begin with a shapeshifter. Annoying nitpick #1: it’s heavily implied early on that the shapeshifter must make skin contact with someone in order to take their shape, but later on they drop this notion in favor of making it easier to write and more powerful. This will inevitably bite them in the ass. Danko finally agrees, and Sylar berates him for trying to chase a shapeshifter, which is dumb. True! It is dumb! They break into the guys house, find out he likes taking new forms and identities and seducing women, and then head to his favorite bar to find him. He’s imitating Danko this time, so easy, right? Well, later on, he’s imitating Sylar instead, but they catch on and take him out. Interestingly, they kill him while he looks like Sylar, and Sylar takes his power the way he was shown by Elle (Oh my god! They referenced something from a past volume, holy crap!), so there’s no tell-tale head-splitting. Later as “Sylar” is bagged, HRG looks doubtful that this is indeed Sylar at all. As well he should.

So that’s me playing catch-up. I’ll get to this week’s episode of Fail and how it finally has driven me away from Heroes later.

Well, first thing’s first. Why exactly do you owe the Puppeteer ANY answers, Claire? You don’t! He tried to kill you and both your moms! You Owe Him Nothing! (And her hair color needs some serious help, she’s looking like one big shade of nude.)

And now Parkman, back at the Capitol Building, is being cornered by cops who think he’s a threat. Well, let’s see, you’re an ex-cop, so…you SHOULD know exactly how NOT to act. And none of what he does here remotely reflects that. Nathan, also, is winning the award for Least Subtle Superhero, since he’s making no efforts at all to hide his flying ability. Now they want us to believe that the Hunter is actually going to kill Parkman, and you know what? I hope they do! It would show that they have some balls on this show! (Added bonus, no more Nathan!) But no, the MacGuffin named Rebel saves the day. Ugh. And Matt’s drugged mind comes back online JUST in time.

I can’t even believe that this is remotely accurate for a bomb situation near the Capitol Building. And no one dies, and we all learn what we already knew: no balls.

Ah, but here comes Sylar! Maybe he’ll do us a favor and kill someone today in a delightfully evil manner! A girl can dream, after all. And we finally get to see John Glove as Sylar’s Dad! John Glover, raising megalomaniac evildoers since 2001!

Meanwhile, the gig is up for Nathan…and no one cares. Up to and including Nathan! Oh, I guess that Hunter guy does. Meh, whatever.

Now Nathan, the idiot, is trying to convince Tracy that he still cares. Funny how that’s hard to believe when you’ve got her locked up in a heat room with chains–I’m sort of on her side with thinking that’s a bunch of BS. And it is, let’s be honest. Nathan’s only trying to sweet talk Tracy because she’s the one they have on tape claiming he’s one of them. He is right, at least, in that he’s Tracy’s last hope. And…both he and Tracy are terrible liars, yet the Hunter passes up the opportunity to torture her further to get the truth out of her? Seriously? The Big Bad Ass Hunter? Whatevs!

HAH! Okay, Claire getting a job at the comic book store MAY be the best storyline ever. Her getting it purely because she’s hot makes perfect sense, but seriously, what better place for her to learn what being a hero is REALLY about than here? I hope this is as fantastically comedic as it damn well should be.

Sylar and his dad are bonding over not having epic battles, much to Sylar’s chagrin. Dad’s a cancer-ridden taxidermist facing the end of his days either way, and he’s not interested in making a big show for his prodigal son. He is interested in making him a rabbit statue, however, and we learn that daddy’s got the same ability that he does!

This scene here? This is what happens when you have two good actors on screen together. Glover, or Samson Gray rather, gets to the crux of Sylar’s problem, the reason for his journey here and even the reason we’ve been seeing fewer and fewer heads split open lately. Sure, he could’ve killed the agents, but why? It wasn’t a challenge, and Sylar can have as many powers as he likes, but, Samson tells him, it’s worthless if he’s living an unsatisfied life. “Do you want to know more?” he asks. “Or do you want to kill me now?” He offers Sylar the knife, and his son hesitates, but takes it…and doesn’t kill dear old dad. He asks what he does next as Samson holds up the scared rabbit by the scruff. “You cut him.” And so Sylar does, with gusto.

This? This is a daddy issues story I could actually get behind! It’d only be better if Elle was there to be awesome and snarky and so Samson could tell her to put a sock in snark and learn something. Sigh…pour another one out for the dearly departed!

Bennett points the Hunter in Angela’s direction, and I have to say that could be fun to watch.

Claire calls dad for some advice–how does one lead a successful double life, anyways? It’s nice to see her call him for advice, even if it is weird advice further showing that these peoples lives only revolve around powers, but I digress. As she’s talking to him, the agents tailing her race off to apprehend the Puppeteer. I buy his claim of wanting normalcy even less than I’ve ever bought Sylar’s, and even more lamentable is that the man is trying to give us a new nickname for Claire: “Barbie.” Even lamer than continuing to call her cheerleader, guys. She shows up after he takes out the agents, so….uh, yay? No seriously, this is one of the guys who actually SHOULD be locked up, what the hell are you doing?

Another deliciously awesome scene is given us as the Hunter approaches Angela at a posh restaraunt, where she’s drinking champagne and living the life of a rich retiree. He asks about Nathan, she tells him he was the odd one out, born powerless in a family of mutants, but he doesn’t buy it. She tells the Hunter she knows his type, and that they’re useful, but expendable. And then shakes him off very effectively with a veiled threat, recounting an incident in Angola in ’97 where a lot of people died…but, surprisingly, not him. And the dogged Hunter? He backs off! Angela’s delight in her neatly obtained win over this man so many fear is fantastic, and as he walks off, she continues with her champange-swiling and I love her for it. If I’m ever a duplicitous mastermind who’s firmly embedded in the shades of gray? I want to be as awesome at it as she is!

Now back to the Sylar cabin, filmed in quite a few shades of gray as well as hosting a pair (see what I did there?). Samson says a man needs a hobby; Sylar looks up with eager eyes that want approval and tells him he fixes watches. Samson chuckles at his retained need for connection. Aww, poor Sylar. But Samson is a firm misanthropist, it seems. People suck, so screw ’em. And…wow. He tells Sylar he doesn’t remember why exactly he killed mom and sold Sylar. Damn, that’s cold, man! Ahh, but Sylar is a willful man and he’ll spark your interest one way or another, old man–Sylar can heal and live forever! So there! Dad feigns disinterest….but is a good liar and is awesome! Tracy and Nathan, you could learn something here. He pins Sylar to the wall with arrows thrown telekinetically and dammit, he wants that power after all. I can’t blame him, who wants to die of painful lung cancer? He whistles…and Sylar seems to pass out.

Now, I just hope we aren’t about to be denied the best twist ever of watching Sylar be the one to get his head cut off and his brain mined for powers while he’s helpless to stop his assailant.

Okay, we don’t, but this is almost just as good. Sylar finally has the fight he wanted as his dad tries his hardest to cut that secret of immortality out of his brain, but Sylar is younger, stronger, and most importantly not crippled by lung cancer and an oxygen tank. He easily wins the fight, after getting dad’s ‘what I’d do differently’ speech: kill more, take more powers, not waste time, all the usual goals of an Evil Overlord! His dad begs for the healing power, and is denied, so he begs instead for death. “Oh you’ll die,” Sylar promises, slickly evil all over again. It’s just like dad said–Sylar could kill him or the cancer would. Sylar’s letting him die from cancer. He’s just small game, he tells his dad, throwing back at him an insult he put to his son earlier on. And so Sylar, newly motivated to evil and to not waste his time, walks jauntily out of the shack and goes along his merry way!

Claire gives Puppeteer his new IDs, and he gives her a creepy smile as he heads off. Probably to abuse some more women, but hey, that’s just an educated guess, what do I know? Claire heads home and sadly the comic book store will never get to teach her about heroism, because thanks to her real dad trying to fire the Hunter and ending up having to show off his flying ability to not die, her free pass is up and her house is getting raided. Rebel warns her of this just in time, however, and dear old Biological Dad shows up outside her window to help her escape. I find it questionable that the guy who’s looking in her room looks under the bed but not out the open window for her, but anyways.

And finally, we’re shown the next step in a somewhat clever twist–Hiro and Ando arrive at the address given to them to go save Matt Parkman. Looks like a nice little hotel complex, and a frustrated teenager gripes to them about having waited two full hours for a replacement. This seems strange because hey, isn’t Parkman in DC getting almost-but-sadly-not blown up? He is! The Matt Parkman they’re here to save? Oh yes, thatMatt Parkman would be his infant son.

{March 2, 2009}   Heroes: Exposed. Liveblogging!

My DVR is really annoying and having glitches and jumps all over the place here.

Anyways, why are they making Claire look so boring lately? Her hair seriously sucks. I realize Hayden P got a short haircut over the summer and it’s growing out, but by now, really, I think you can do something better than that awful ponytail and the terrible hairdo from when she was running around saving Alex.

And….what’s with Sylar’s hankering for a Big Jim hot dog?

Go Claire’s mom for being better at the game than Claire, and better than her husband thought she was! She proved that last half of the season in the Meredith-Puppetmaster scenarion, I’d say. Let’s see Mom and Mr. Muggles kick a little ass. 🙂

Wait wait wait. Peter doesn’t need skin contact to take powers? That means everytime he’s touched ANYONE AT ALL he’s been taking their powers. Since we saw from the opening of Volume 4 that he can’t control taking their powers when he touches them. UGH. Or but now he can, now that it’s convenient. Why couldn’t you just have had him take Parkman’s hand when he did that? At last they’re using the mental powers intelligently for once.

And Lyle’s existence as a plot point only being so ragingly obvious here was great. And go Mrs. Bennett being all bad-ass and subversive! See, Claire, you can learn something from your mother who raised you. Her mom’s quickly seeming like the most real person on this show.

I thought Sylar was given away as a baby. Now all these repressed memories of–WOAH. Okay, that kid is like…at least 5 if not older, and yet Sylar didn’t remember this until now? Seriously? Ticking clocks for the toy car. Watch out toy car, your head is SO coming off.

Haha, shockingly the geek boy is a hottie. Go you, Claire, it’s nice to see you acting like a teenager again. Also, he doesn’t look different enough to pass as a totally different person. Also, ouch, calling her special? Bad move, I would’ve thought. I do however like this guy SO MUCH BETTER THAN WEST. Is the dark-haired agent the much talked of Rachel Mills?

Haha! Matt yelling out Daphne at everything sounds like Michael on Lost yelling “Walt?!” all the time. And since when do external distractions work so effectively on disrupting Parkman’s ability? It makes sense, but HRG says it like we’ve seen it before when we haven’t.

And…this whole series of Sylar flashbacks are really NOT doing it for me. Interesting to see where Sylar gets the slice the head open thing, kind of, but…the musical choice is just really jarring, and trying to have the half-faded out image of adult Sylar in some shots is cliche. I still don’t buy Sylar forgetting all of this and never having suspicions of not being his adoptive parents child when he couldn’t remember the first 5 or so years of his life.

And the agents watching the Bennetts fall for the classic mislead. You got your top people there, huh? Oh for the love of God, the guy falls on girl set-up, really? At least they didn’t go all the way to the make-outs and forget all about the life-threatening situation going on. Lady, really, you’re not gonna look in the pool? Aww, underwater kiss t save Claire’s life. And also from her bubbles of air giving them away. And at least she passed the flashlight over the water briefly. (I think the full-on underwater make out would negate the breathing benefit with the water intake, but uh…okay. I know, I know…logic, here, what?)

Hm. And I have to agree with Peter not being a terrorist here. Oh–gees, way to frak it up by not listening Peter…ahh, but Nathan finally gives in on his good guy urges. Still the wishy-washiest of all “bad guys”, but eh, this is more like him at least.

Shouldn’t they be surprised about Peter’s ability working differently and him not healing now? Haha, Petrelli men really need to stop falling for the hug trick!

Aw, no, don’t kill the sidekick, Sylar. I mean, I know it’s what he does, but…oh, hey, he’s not killing him! Good for him. Heh, create a fellow villain, and then leave him to simmer. Check back in a few years to see if he’s done baking!

Ohhh….I see your game, Hunter. Clever! Doesn’t look good for Parkman, though. Or DC.

That’s right, Claire. Your mom is totally incredible!

AND WHAT THE FRAK! Did ANYONE die in that damn explosions? Seriously?!! Look, as awesomely evil as the Puppet Master was, he should be dead!! UGH. Just when I was liking your episode this week a little bit, too. Dammit Heroes!

Really, 24? Really? Dubaku is sitting there out in an open, shared room and not highly guarded in a private room at the hospital? Really?

Juma is IN DC? Seriously?

Okay, and Jack, WTF? How about you TELL the FBI, who are now mole-free, not to move in on this Ryan guy you’re tracking down, rather than telling Chloe to take his name off of the list? How about that? I’m torn between this being a bad writing choice and this being Jack too used to doing things his way (aka the not-so-legal-or-above-board way). I like the immediate professional rivalry between Janis and Chloe, though. 🙂

Is there a tie station on the way into the White House that they stopped at so Jack could look nice?

And why the FRAK is Jack pulling a gun on Bill?!? Like Bill wouldn’t help him of his own accord? What the hell is going on here? If they want Jack to snap for a reason, give him a trigger, this is just a total 180 from the end of the last hour. Okay, yes, he did say he doesn’t want to bring Bill down with him, but that kind of all goes back to the part where there’s no need to do this like this.

And now they all say they noticed an unknown person in the room with DUBAKU and NO ONE said anything? Are you frakking kidding me?

Now the back and forth of the grey matter of torture and Jack’s methods, this I like. I feel like the forceful shoves of the plot to get us here were overdone, but the back and forth I like. And the President’s line about how Jack should have come to her is completely valid.

See now, Agent Walker? She’s doing some good work! Investigating, following, calling in back up, staying connected to her people. And now taking a damn big risk by jumping onto that boat! Walker’s the woman. I’d watch 24 if it started being about her, I’ll say it here and now.

Woah, woah, woah…is Tony actually still a bad guy? The contact on “Emerson’s crew” is “dead”? An answer only given after hesitation? I think Tony’s might actually still be a bad guy! Maybe trying to get out of it, hence giving Jack those leads, or maybe just wanting to die or something, but…I am newly unconvinced of Tony’s true allegiance. Something sketchy is going on here.

Oh! And another big score for Walker! Takes a risk and it pays off big time–not that we didn’t know from the previews, thanks network, that the target is the White House! And Walker has info about Dubaku that has been specifically kept from his son, which may be a boon to her very soon.

Although…I’m having trouble figuring out how this underwater assault is going to get them inside the White House.

And now 7-8!

Don’t you sass Aaron Pierce, young lady. He is so much more awesome than you are.

Run Walker, run! Annnd who didn’t see that guy getting shot in short order.

Huh. The imagery of Jack being a rapid dog behind bars is especially striking in this scene with Bill. And good for you, Bill. Stand by who you are and what you believe.

Hm. Looks like the White House has become Helm’s Deep, with the weakness of a single water grate. And yet another extra about to die within moments! Tough life, that of a serviceman. Or policeman. Or anyone in 24…

Ahhh, laser grid! Helm’s Deep could’ve used one of these. The plan is getting a little more respectable. Although as my roommate is pointing out, what, there are no cameras in the White House that people are going to see these guys on? Really?

Ooo, nice move Walker! Get right to the point with this guy, excellent intuition! And Walker’s decent in a fight, too. And now, haha, how convenient that Jack’s not in his cage. And now sh*t is getting real. Oh no, Bill! Don’t you dare kill Bill, no!

Phew, no dead Bill. And his not being shot right away does make sense. And now we’ve got a situation echoing earlier in the day with Matobo. Hopefully the air vents are reasonably secure on this thing.

What? Just like that they fall back? Um, no! You get proof, Hobis! You’re fired Hobis. Epic National Security Fail!

So with the President maybe but not confirmed as even captured (never mind no dead), the ONLY person who can tell them to go in and get this taken care of is VP, and he’s not available? Um, WHAT? This “red tape” is seriously questionable. So is the teams pulling back with no confirmation she was even captured, moreso that part, in fact.

Face it, Juma. You’re done here.

Mm-hm. So Hodges and this shipment is the next big arc of the day–Juma and his little hostage crisis are just here to tide us over. And now, while I again say don’t sass Aaron Pierce young lady!, she’s smart to not want to be left alone.

The VP has a vacillating accent–it sounded Australian at first, now it’s sort of Southern. I’m doubtful this guy is actually Southern in real life here. And in a long tradition of VPs being stupid, here we go again! Or is he evil, too? HAH! Okay, his smackdown of the assistant Derek there was awesome!

Oh no, Aaron Pierce! I knew his end someday would have to be noble sacrifice in the line of duty, but…still! …oh phew, he’s alive still. But dammit, message not gotten out!

Hm. Now who’s going to die to save the First Daughter? Or is she actually going to die here? ….woah, sh*t. Eyes. Oh my god.

…and now I feel like I’ve watched the whole hour already. Stupid previews. I’m not watching you anymore.

On to Episode 3! Here we have a little fun, find out Eliza Dushku can sing, and the male fans get more short skirts and exposed toned abs than they could hope for in one week.

Boyd is getting patched up and released for duty again, although Dr. Saunders still wants him to take it easy. The two chat a little and become friendly enough to be on a first name basis. Echo is being nice to new girl Sierra while in mind-wiped state, helping her keep her balance when she wavers after getting off a treadmill. Sierra thanks her. “That’s what friends do,” Echo says pleasantly.

Security-type guy (or perhaps another Handler, I’m not sure) Laurence Dominic, the one who made the remarks at the end of last episode to Echo, is talking with lady in charge Adelle DeWitt, and the Attic is definitely not a throwaway term. Sounds like its the place where bad Actives get sent–so basically, let’s call it Dollhouse’s version of boxing a line of Cylons, shall we? Lovely.

Wise-cracking cocky Topher has Echo out on an assignment to help guard a pop starlet who’s as blatantly a Britney Spears ripoff as Britney Spears herself is, but in a subtle way–she’s going to be hired as a backup singer, the starlet (Rayna) knows nothing of what’s going on, and the idea is that she’ll protect Rayna from a crazy murdering fan because she’s her friend, not because she’s her bodyguard. (Rayna dislikes bodyguards. And mints. And taking sound advice.) So Echo is in place as the new girl, and Sierra is later on put in place as Rayna’s “Number One Fan” and the winner of some contest that gets her up on stage.

Rayna’s talented, but spoiled, and sick of fame–it turns out she’s been communicating with her stalker fan, and they’ve made an arrangement where he gets to kill her and she gets to die. Say what?! Yup. It’s kinda like that. New backup singer/best buddy thinks this isn’t such a cool idea, and foils the assassination attempt when the stalker tries to sniper Rayna on stage. Infuriated, he kidnaps the “Number One Fan,” threatening to kill her instead if Rayna won’t show up.

Things get twisty, because Echo, as is pointed in the post-engagement chat by Adelle and Boyd, thinks outside the box and the supposed mission parameters when it’s called for. In this case, her mission of protecting Rayna gets complicated, because Rayna’s biggest enemy is in fact herself. So in a showdown on the catwalk, Echo has the bond and gagged Rayna whom she knocked out after getting pissed off that she wouldn’t save herself OR her big fan, the stalker, and Sierra all in one place. She gives Rayna a taste of what dying might be like by shoving her off the catwalk–but she’s attached the starlet to a stretch of rope, so while she dangles, she does not drop. She takes out the stalker as well, and in the end saves the day all around–Sierra is safe, Rayna’s not semi-suicidal, and the stalker is out of the picture. Hooray! She proves she’s the bestest friend to not one, but two young women.

Meanwhile, in the world of Agent Ballard, things are also taking an interesting turn. His source of information, Lubov the mobster-type, says he’s got nothing, and we find out why: Lubov is another Active! Dun dun duh! Lubov is in fact an active named Victor and we see him around the Dollhouse in this episode, getting his mind wiped and socializing. This is an interesting little twist for a few reasons. There’s the obvious, of course–Dollhouse knows about Ballard, we can assume, and they are intentionally misleading him. But also in the background of all this, the actor Enver Gjokaj was reportedly cast as another active originally, but then his role was remade as they went on and they removed him from being one of the Dolls. And now, low and behold, the rumors were a red herring! Like Communism! Well-played, sirs. This makes me wonder about Ballard’s nice girl neighbor, Mellie, played by Miracle Laurie, who was also rumored to be a Doll before the show went on air, but was similarly said to have had her role remade into something else.

Right, back to Ballard! Victor/Lubov comes through a few days later with a lead he sounds only slightly confident in that leads Ballard to a sketchy ‘meeting’ in the basement of an abandoned hotel of some kind (am I the only one who was hoping for a revisit to the set of the Hyperion here?), and things go very sour when guns are fired, Ballard takes a bullet, but dispatches with his would-be killers. They seemed to be confused about who he was and why he was there as well, so it may have been a set up all around. Ballard makes a 911 call and is later shown in the hospital, being visited by his concerned neighbor, whom we’ve been shown has an unrequited longing for handsome Paul Ballard and his striking jaw line.

So, more intriguing plots are moving along. And what’s the latest with Echo and her memories? This one’s less clear, but as Echo and Sierra are meandering around the Dollhouse, Dominic and Boyd are watching them from above while chatting. Sierra sees Echo and smiles, changing her path to intersect with her friend. As they draw closer and Sierra seems about to greet her or some such, Echo glances up, sees the Handlers, and subtlely shakes her head at Sierra. They pass one another with no greeting or recognition.

Very interesting indeed. Does Sierra remember, or have some sense of, what Echo did to save her life? Does Echo remember Dominic’s threatening statement to her not long before? What exactly caused her to realize that a greeting or recognition between the two Actives might cause a problem with their Handlers?

The intrigue is mounting, and the plot is thickening. I’ve been told that word is this show really hits its stride around episode 6 or 7, so I’m eager to see what develops at that point. Until then, I’m glad to see it’s continuing to improve!

This show is getting much better.

After a somewhat lackluster start, the second and third episodes of Dollhouse stepped up the game, thanks to a number of factors.
1) We all expected the usual semi-lighthearted veneer and witty banter that we’re used to from Whedon. So the pilot was a little jarring when it lacked those things. Now we see what’s going on: this ain’t your usual Whedon.
2) While the first episode set up the general universe we’re working with, the rules of the Dollhouse, and the characters we’ll be following, it didn’t do much as far as intrigue to last a season or longer apart from the very beginning and the very end. But in these episodes, we got some serious backstory tidbits and promises of future tension. Awesome!

In “Target,” Echo is turned into an adventure-loving outdoors girl on a weekend date with a guy who seems to be pretty nice, just really into his outdoor activities. The warning signs aren’t clear until of course it’s too late–his comments about every other girl he’s taken into the wilderness with him being a disappointment who couldn’t keep up, his willingness to pay extra for the high risk engagement, his remarkable expertise with a bow and arrow, and his ease with life-threatening situations. Why is this? Oh right, because he’s a psycho taking his pointers from General Zaroff and wants to hunt him some human!

While Echo starts fighting for her life rather than enjoying post-coital bliss, we get some background on her Handler, Boyd, and some more history of the Dollhouse. Tidbit #1: Alpha, a former Active (if you hadn’t noticed yet, the Actives are named according to the NATO phonetic alphabet), went kinda nuts a few months and killed a whole lot of people. Somehow he accessed ALL of his imprints at once, and started slicing and dicing with terrifying efficiency, aiming for maximum pain as well as quick deaths. He killed Echo’s former Handler, gave Dr. Saunders her fetching facial scars, and also killed a slew of other Actives…but curiously left Echo alive in the midst of all this. Echo, naturally, had her memory wiped and was given a new Handler, Boyd the former cop. We see the imprinting process of the Handler and Active as well–they are set up so that the Active will always trust his/her Handler no matter what, as soon as they see them. There are certain key phrases such as “Everything is going to be okay” and “Do you trust me?” These come up later, hence the importance in hearing them now.

So Echo’s on the run from Psycho Hunter, and Boyd and his driver are attacked by a “ranger” who shoots the driver. Boyd takes him out and ties him up inside his van to get information out of him. The “ranger” was hired over the phone to keep anyone from interfering with what’s going on in the woods right now. Boyd takes off, leaving the ranger, intent on finding his girl. Echo isn’t doing too bad as she finds a ranger station, but that’s quickly followed by finding the real ranger dead in a closet and drinking from a contaminated flask of water. Psycho Hunter contacts her via the walkie in the hut and lets her know the water won’t kill her, just get her dizzy. This is where it gets interesting (I know, NOW it gets interesting, what? More interesting then, fine!). Echo starts hallucinating and seeing former versions of herself, one of whom we recognize as her actual personality, Caroline. Through this, fording a river while doped up, and finding Boyd, Echo decides she mad as hell and she’s not gonna take it anymore. Boyd takes an arrow through the abdomen, so it’s up to her–this time she’s the one telling Boyd everything will be okay and asking if he trusts her. He does.

Taking a gun and taunting her would-be killer over the walkie, she gets a few shots off before they end up wrestling in the dirt. Psycho ends up on top and starts choking the life out of her, but inspired by another hallucination, she grabs an arrow that’s on the ground near her and stabs that jackass in the neck. Oh snap!

Back in the Dollhouse after all of this, we hear about how this man’s entire background was thoroughly fabricated, so much so that they didn’t catch on at all when they did their check on him. What’s more the “ranger” that Boyd tied up? He’s dead. Killed with the same efficient slashes we now know Alpha was fond of using. Dun dun duh! Echo is wiped already wiped when one of the security types tell her that if it were up to him he’d put her “in the Attic or in the ground.” ‘Attic’ sure sounds specific, and we find out in the next episode that it is. As he turns around and walks off, Echo gives her shoulder a hard tap with her fist, echoing (see what I did there?) a gesture made by the Psycho Hunter earlier, in his pre-Psycho moments, when he told Echo about how it means keeping your shoulder to the ground, a statement made often by his own father. Now seen here with the supposedly tabula rasa’d Echo. Dun dun duh! Again!

So now we’ve got Alpha the Renegade Active (who, it seems we can safely assume, was the naked man at the end of the pilot) (in one of a handful of side scenes, we see Agent Ballard has received the photo of Caroline, and she doesn’t exist in any database anywhere). We’ve got Echo, already showing an ability to retain memories and information. We’ve got Alpha’s focus on Echo for reasons unknown, and someone (who may or may not also be Alpha) fabricating backgrounds with extreme expertise. The majority of the Dollhouse has been told that Alpha was killed, but it’s obvious now that this isn’t true. Now this is getting interesting!

Episode 3 recap coming today as well! Promise!

I’m…really not sure how to feel about this.

Warner Bros. remaking The NeverEnding Story.

On the one hand, I absolutely adore the original movie and think it was fantastic and it’s a classic that warms my heart. Plus, the wonderful awfulness of that theme song by Limahl!

On the other hand…there is SO much potential for that story to be even better. Were this news bite telling us that Peter Jackson were remaking the film, I’d be beyond thrilled. But we’ve got Dieter Geissler who’s resume includes Sleepy Hollow, sure, but also the two god-awful sequels for the original NeverEnding Story, as well as not one but two failed TV shows based on the original story. I can’t speak personally to the quality of the TV ventures, but I did see the sequel and it was awful, but at least it came from the original source material, Michael Ende’s novel. The third installment was a story that was entirely made up and had nothing to do with the original book whatsoever, I never saw it and never plan to because there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that thing’s any good.

But given today’s technology and penchant for fantasy epics, there’s a lot of room for this to be an amazing film. The genuineness of the original costumes and effects can be argued, but hey, we will always have that original. And there’s also Hollywood’s recent penchant for remaking films of the 80’s that don’t really need remaking to consider…how have most of those fared so far? Honest question, I haven’t seen too many of them myself.

So, I’m torn. But I’m almost positive Michael Ende is still pissed. (scroll down to ‘Production’)

{February 24, 2009}   We Are Experiencing Delays…

Thoughts on Dollhouse, Heroes and 24 will be going up, I promise! Watch this space for further developments, hopefully starting later this evening. 🙂

{February 17, 2009}   Heroes 3×16: “Building 26”

I’m not quite sure what the Building 26 in the episode’s title is, but my first guess is that’s where Nathan’s uber-illegal activity is going on.

Quick thoughts on tonight first:
One, Claire didn’t totally annoy me tonight!
Two, Hiro really really did!
Three, How does one violent act change a woman’s morals utterly, seriously?
Four, Sylar and Angry Young Skywalker frakking ROCK. This is by far my favorite storyline!

Claire Bennet: She’s Not Gonna Take It Anymore!
Okay, let’s take a look at Claire and the Bennets first. Blah, blah, lying to mom and Lyle, blah blah. This routine is getting old, and I’m with Claire when she tells daddy dearest: “That’s the thing, dad. You can’t [control me].” You know what, he can’t! That’s entirely correct! Now stop wearing your hair in a french braid like you’re 12 and let’s go save that comic book guy! Alex the Comic Book Guy I kind of like–he’s funny, cute, a geek, wears glasses, has a superpower…okay, yes, I mostly just want him to be my boyfriend, don’t judge me! Their interaction is amusing, as Alex is convinced that Claire’s been put up to this by some friend of his. (Although the ‘cute blondes don’t come in here’ schtick is a little much–all kinds of people go into comic book stores, Tim Kringe [sic], but since you refuse to have real comic book writers on your staff, you wouldn’t know that, so instead you’re going to further the stereotype. Thanks, ass.) Anyways, she shows him she means business just as HRG comes in to try and round up Alex. Now, since the ‘motivation’ in this whole thing is that people with powers (they still refuse to use the M word!) are just too darn dangerous to be allowed to live free, you have to wonder, man, what can this Alex kid do? Turn liquids into solids? Erase your mind? Blow you up by looing at you, walk through walls, what? He can breathe underwater. That’s….that’s it? Seriously? Have those government not heard the numerous jokes out there about how totally not useful Aquaman is? And hey, he can at least talk to fish, too! *facepalm* So Alex the Deep One and Claire run away, and somehow this works because they hide behind a shurbery, and now he’s living in her closet. That’s okay, I already like him more than West.

And in perhaps Claire’s BEST move of the night? She refused to be a party to dad’s lies any longer and told her mother right up front what was going on. Good for her! She’s really NOT letting her dad control her anymore! Mom is understandably pissed and finally tells HRG what he’s won: getting his ass kicked out of the house. Frankly, it’s about time. He had her memory wiped consistently for years, and then still continued to lie to her on a regular basis. He might love his wife, but it really doesn’t matter if he’s going to keep lying to her like this. Mad props to Mrs. Bennet for this one! I would have kind of liked it if Claire had maintained her anger at her father when she told him he was moving out, but I suppose her feeling sad about it also makes sense.

Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahashi: Whiny Idiot Ball
Hiro and Ando have gone to India, following the path created for them by Parkman’s artwork. Hiro sees a wedding is going on at the location depicted, and immediately decides this means he has to stop the wedding. Um, why? What in that painting says “stop the wedding”?

While Hiro is off being a self-centered dumbass, Ando is getting sh*t done. He happens upon the bride-to-be, who is not looking forward to her arranged marriage, and she interprets him as the sign she’s been praying for that she should not do this. Ando is happy to have done something good, and Hiro’s whining that he was supposed to stop the wedding and get his powers. Meh, meh, meh, cry me a river Hiro, and another thing, how the hell was doing this supposed to give you back your powers??

Ando later accurately pinpoints that Hiro is jeaous because he has powers and Hiro doesn’t, and Hiro has to put up with being the sidekick now. When Ando gets kidnapped (while trying to do the right thing, rather than moping about uselessly), Hiro unfortunately gets the chance to do his loud and yelling and waving his arms so that hey everyone look at me being a hero over here!! thing, and gets to stop the wedding from going through. The image in the painting comes to pass, and Hiro yells that damned “YATTA!” line again and I kind of want to shoot someone. He claims to have learned that one can be a hero with powers(I’m not buying it), then when the bride figures out that their names are familiar because she got in a fax or them from “Rebel” saying to go save Parkman in LA, Hiro loudly exclaims that it is a fax from destiny.

Um, no. It’s from some person calling themselves “Rebel.”

Hiro’s had his hands glued to the Idiot Ball for a while now, starting in earnest with that god awful ‘I’m ten years old’ storyline in Volume 3, but this episode was just awful in regards to his character. It’s like he only managed to age his brain back to 15! I could understand some mild jealousy and resentment of Ando being the “hero” now, but to this degree is just ridiculous, and his repeated idiotic insistence that “Destiny” was faxing him or guiding him or some other bullsh*t stupid response was just irritating beyond belief. I used to like Hiro, but in this episode? Someone could’ve hit him with a truck and I’d have been okay with that. Furthermore, an iPhone? Traveling abroad? What happened to staying off the grid, people?

Nathan Petrelli: My New Power Is Erasing Morals!
In some building, I presume Building 26, Nathan is going on about how dangerous people with powers are (they might stay underwater for hours, or even go swimming less than an hour after eating!) and how they all need to be rounded up to the visiting DHS representitive. Moira “Toe Pick” Kelly is the rep in question, and accurately points out that Nathan is violating human rights like it’s coming into style, and after she sees that the has Tracy Strauss (whom she knows) under hot lamps, she’s made up her mind. This place is getting shut down so fast they’ll be dizzy, there’s no reason that these people don’t still have the same rights as everyone else. And she’s completely right! Then, however, Tracy notices that the chain holding her is weak, so she pulls it free, and breaks out, taking a man hostage, but when she sees that she’s surrounded, she settles for freezing and shattering him instead of trying to get out of there. Why? Who knows. The DHS woman sees all this happen. So Tracy’s locked back up and tells Nathan she knows he left the chain broken and the door unlocked for a reason, and that next time she will get out of there (I argue, what stopped you this time, and also, why didn’t they kill you after they saw you murder someone, but hey, what do I know, right…). Nathan in turn blames The Hunter, who doesn’t so much care and says the sacrifice was necessary. DHS woman has forgotten what the defintion of human rights is, apparently, and tells Nathan he’ll have all the funding he needs.

Really? Okay one, even if she did now think this was all necessary and above board, then how about the fact that they seem to only have ONE prisoner? ONE! And second of all, okay, ONE prisoner is a killer. Does that mean every single one of these people with powers is a bad guy? Um, no. But hey, thanks for furthering prejudice. Toe pick!

(And one more note: there’s an unmissable line about the Patriot Act giving them a lot of leeway in this whole shady business. Which is just another reminder of, hey thanks for the social commentary….four years later. Late to the party much, Kring?)

Sylar and Angry Young Skywalker: Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.
Now for the storyline of awesome! Sylar is fantastic as always, and I’m liking his sidekick here. Thinking that Luke may be putting him on, he pulls over and informs very carefully of what it is he usually does to people and why he knows if he’s being lied to–he cuts open their heads and takes their powers.

“So you’re…a serial killer?”
“I’m not a serial killer.”
“Well, you have method of how you kill people, there’s a pattern to who you go after…”
“Okay, fine, technically I’m a serial killer!” Hee!

Sylar doesn’t kill him, as he can see that Luke does clearly know the address and that’s no lie. Luke also has some more info on Sylar’s dad: he sold his son for money, and he was really into birds. He used to take Luke hunting for birds with him sometimes, in a red wagon that Sylar suddenly remembers from his youth. This was pretty interesting, because finally Sylar asks Luke, “Why would he tell you all of that?” “I don’t know…maybe because I reminded him of you.” And that’s no lie either, methinks.

In the diner they go to, Sylar starts giving Luke tips on…well, on how to be a serial killer, as far as I can tell!

1. Always have an objective.
2. Know your endagme before you begin.
3. Keep a clear head, emotions make you sloppy.
4. Understand your motivation and what you want.

While Sylar once just wanted powers, now he just wants to find his dad, and hopes to find some answers about himself from that. This whole conversation shows a little more self-awareness than I quite believe from Sylar–or at least, the way it’s presented is a little off coming from him somehow. But Angry Young Skywalker seems touched by his story, so he writes down the address and gives it to Sylar. Sylar accurately points out that he’s got no reason to not kill Luke now, and Luke just says he’s kind of hoping his wannabe mentor won’t do that. as Sylar ponders the pros and cons, he notices that suddenly they’re being surrounded by the same breed of stooges who tried to take him down back at dad’s old digs, and it turns into a dangerous stand-off. Luke distracts the man with a gun on the “sweet spot” on the back of Sylar’s head, and the serial killer makes good on an escape, leaving Luke behind to fend for himself! Which he doesn’t do so well at, quickly falling into the government’s custody. Surprisingly, however, Sylar returns in cognito and slaughters the agents, taking both a laptop (Dude, he’s getting a Dell!), and his padawan. When Luke asks why he bothered rescuing him and taking him with him, Sylar insists it’s nothing and it just makes things easier for him and doesn’t mess up his plans. Which is true–there’s no way for Luke to spill the address to someone else this way. But Sylar then turns on the radio and ends that topic of conversation.

These two I love. I’m so glad they’re still on their road trip, it’s fantastic. I like Luke, he plays off of Quinto pretty well, being neither annoying nor saccharine. He’s not a sidekick to redeem Sylar, he’s a rebellious teen to be lead down the path. Will the apprentice one day try to overcome the master? Or be killed for his insolence? Or when it’s convenient? Or will he indeed succeed in getting under Sylar’s skin, for good or for ill?

Finally, we end on a scene the surprised me a little bit. HRG is getting a few drinks at the hotel bar where he’s staying for now, and then suddenly everything’s going dizzy. I figured the government was taking him in now, but not so! Parkman, Peter and Suresh stand up and go to his “aid,” saying it looks like he’s had too much, but they’ll make sure he gets home okay. Clever move, boys! I’m not sure how they drugged his drink, but regardless, well-played. First smart thing they’ve done in a while!

et cetera