"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Review: Plainsong

Plainsong is a brilliant story about normal people dealing with normal people's problems. Kent Haruf's prose creates a comfortable feeling allowing the reader to imagine being a friend to the character they most relate to. No matter who you are you can relate to any one of the characters. Guthrie's ordeal with facing single parenthood and a bout with loneliness, Victoria finding herself pregnant, out of wedlock, with seemingly no one to turn to and who could forget the sweet McPheron brothers. They are old, crusty, hard working ranchers who find it hard to relate to anything outside of the family business, let alone a 17 year old girl.

Haruf wonderfully arranges this story around the one character we knew the least about: Maggie Jones. The two main things we know about her is that she is loving because she takes care of her senile father and that she has a fiery side through her declaration that she would not compete with Judy, the school secretary, for Guthrie. Maggie Jones is the tie that binds and brings every one together on Memorial Day at the McPheron ranch.

The reader isn't left with a sweet, feel good story but one where we applaud the characters for their change, maturity, acceptance of responsibility. We watch them face and handle their problems. We are allowed to imagine a future for the characters. Ike and Bobby have accepted their mother's decision, Victoria is now a mother and more than likely will seek to achieve bigger and better things for her and her daughter. Maggie and Guthrie just might get married and the McPheron brothers now have a family to fill the void they had from the loss of their parents. Life is good.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Review: The Fourth Queen

"The Fourth Queen" is a fascinating study of what life may have been like in the harem of the Emperor of Morocco in the 18th century. The author based the character of Helen Gloag on a real Scottish girl of the same name who is supposed to have become the wife of the Emperor after being taken into captivity by pirates.

Debbie Taylor's Helen is actually a composite figure of several women, about whom little is actually known. Due to this lack of knowledge about Helen's personality, character, and ultimate fate, Ms Taylor was able to create Helen as one would a totally fictional character. Helen is a flawed heroine in many ways (uneducated, unsophisticated, and basically self-centered). She is an interesting contrast to the character of Batoom, who is one of the four wives of the emperor. Batoom is older, as independent as one can be in the confines of the harem, and a woman of great compassion. The other main character is "Microphilus," a male dwarf based upon a real man named Jeffrey Hudson, who lived a century earlier than the setting of this novel, but who also for a time lived as a captive in a North African harem. Microphilus fell almost instantly in love with Helen, even though he was having a relationship with Batoom.

The most fascinating parts of this book include the rise of Helen from a bewildered, and pregnant, captive to one of the four wives of the emperor, and the wonderful depiction of harem life. The harem is shown in all of its decadence -- these women have nothing to do but eat, groom themselves, eat, spend money on useless trinkets, plot against each other, practice sex with each other, and eat some more. There are a couple of scenes of explicit sex, a violent execution of a runaway, and a mystery involving a plot against one of the four queens. While much of the novel is told in third person, the parts of the book seen from Microphilus' point of view are taken from his hidden journal (the author states that the journal entries are based upon the writings of Jeffrey Hudson). Although the character of Helen was a bit of a problem for me, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to those who like something a little out of the ordinary.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review: Ms. Hempel's Chronicles

Ms. Hempel's Chronicles is a story about Ms. Hempel, who teaches seventh grade. She is new to the school and newly engaged. She is young so her teaching style differs from what an older teacher might do. She finds it acceptable to talk frankly with her students about anything and everything.

Truthfully, for me, I did not enjoy this book. I didn't hate it but I didn't really like it either. I found it jumped around way too much. It goes to Ms. Hempel's childhood and then back to her teaching. What I found most and didn't like was that a whole jumble of characters is introduced and I felt you really didn't get a chance to know any of them except for Ms. Hempel. As a character, I would have to say I liked her. She is funny in her teaching methods and her descriptions of her childhood were interesting in that she didn't exactly have a normal childhood. Her whole family seemed a bit off to me.

The wrting of author, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum is not really my style of writing to enjoy but still good. For some, they may really enjoy it. As I said for me the novel was too choppy. I did finish reading it because I was interested in what happened to Ms. Hempel in the end and unfortunately the end didn't really leave me completely understanding where she was at in her life at that point. Would I recommend this book-not likely. As I said this book could definitely appeal to others, just not to me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I finished Eat, Pray, Love last night. Apparently, a sensation that swept the land revolved around this book.

Okay, I knew that already. That's one of the reasons I avoided it up until now. There's also the fact that I thought it was a Christian memoir of a book, about how someone ate, prayed, and loved themselves into a devout state of being.

Instead, it is one woman's odyssey through three countries, a divorce, meditation, a relationship with God, three or four languages, and a few tons of pasta. I was surprised to find myself liking it.
The writing style opens a window into Elizabeth Gilbert's mind. We follow her through her divorce and into the realization that she needs to do something drastic to keep going. She's having a hard time coming to grips with her post-divorce relationships and love life. What better way to get over heartache is there than to eat your way through Italy and delve into a love affair with the Italian language, then head to India and Bali for more serious pursuits?

She makes friends, gabs up a storm, and ignores the historical sites and museums the tourists flock to in Italy. Instead of intellectual stimulation, she's looking for the crispiest calamari and the plumpest gnocci in town.

After gaining a few pounds (or a few dozen) she heads off to India to live in an ashram run by her guru. She makes friends, gabs up a storm, and muddles her way through spiritual enlightenment. Vicariously watching her work towards a still mind and compassionate heart makes it all seem like good fun, not the hard work I'm sure was actually involved in her transformation.

After losing a few pounds and gaining a world of inner happiness, she heads off to Bali, where she has sketchy, by-the-seat-of-her-pants instructions about possibly working for a local healer. In Bali, she makes friends, gabs up a storm, and finally finds love again.

By the end, I was rooting for her, but I was also unsure how long her new enlightenment would last when she was faced with the real world she'd left a year earlier- the world of New York publishing and business, where it's easy to get stressed and burnt out in a short matter of time.

All in all, Eat, Pray, Love made me want to go out and see the world. It's too bad I'm not a well-to-do writer from New York with a healthy savings account.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Warehouse 13: Pilot

The Sci-Fi Channel, newly dubbed Syfy, premiered its brand new supernatural drama/comedy Warehouse 13. The show is being called a mix between X-Files and Moonlighting, with a dash of Indiana Jones. The two hour premiere introduced me to Secret Service agents, Myka Bering and Peter Lattimer, two very different individuals who are thrown together on assignment to protect the President of the United States during his visit to a museum. Myka is the “by the book” type and Peter is the “reckless rule bender”, and begrudgingly they must work together to protect the President. Their actions separately executed end up protecting President from an angry goverment agent who appears to have been possessed by an ancient artifact. I learned throughout the show that Myka is top notch a profiler and Peter has an intuition that is spot on. Together they make one solid investigation team. Despite their success in saving the President, the next day they find themselves in desolate South Dakota, reassigned to one Mrs. Fredric, the head of a secret government department in charge of Warehouse 13.

The unwitting pair encounter Artie, who reveals himself as the agent in charge of Warehouse 13, and their mentor for their new roles as gatherers. Artie explains that his previous team members all met with some type of ill fate, and proceeds to show his new team members the secrets of Warehouse 13. He explains their job is to find, bag, and tagsupernatural artifacts for storage in the secret government-run Warehouse 13. The two agents are confused and upset, but are also curious. Their first assignment takes them on an adventure to hunt for an evil, golden, and bejeweled hair comb dating back to the Italian Renaissance. Myka and Peter narrowly escape their demise almost brought upon them by the item. They bag, tag, and bring the item back to Warehouse 13. The show ends with Myka having to decide if she will take a transfer away from Peter and Warehouse 13 or stay on the strangest assignment she will probably ever know.

The Verdict:

Warehouse 13, is the story of an eccentric caretaker named Artie, who is both comedic and mysterious. He balances the “odd couple” like characters of Myka and Peter, and seems to be the thread which binds the group together. Now throw in a warehouse packed full of strange powerful artifacts that vary from a “wishing” kettle to personal items that once belonged Harry Houdini, and you have the basis for a potentially great series. Yet is this enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seat?

I think that Myka and Peter as characters struggled to hold my attention for the first half of the pilot, while Artie had me from the moment he appeared on screen. The warehouse is massive and reminds me of the National Treasure films, and the charm and mystery they portrayed. I do also enjoy the light comedic vibe that hums just under the surface of this supernatural drama, and I hope the writers can keep it fresh. I am for now interested to see what Warehouse 13 holds and what is yet to be discovered throughout this new show’s first season.

The Closer - Half Load

I knew it! When the new season premiered, my take on the Kitty shenanigans looked like this: “My guess is that this is all a prelude to revisiting the talk of children from earlier in their engagement.” Now here I am and that’s just what I find. Away from the idea of a little Brenda or Fritz, I was reacquainted with Father Jack (Mark Rolston) as the team faced a particularly sensitive case.

Starting with the case, it was something quite different from the norm. There was no motive, and it ended up being more of a mystery than a typical murder investigation. That’s not a negative. There were a number of things I really liked about how it all played out. First, the take-charge Sanchez. He’s been in a bit of a weird spot since his shooting, but I’m taking this as him turning the corner. As is to be expected, the whole team came together to solve the case, but Sanchez is the one that really broke it figuring out how the two scenes were linked.

While this story could have certainly been done without bringing back Father Jack, I’m glad they did. It makes for great continuity, and rewards fans that have been playing along the whole time. His relationship with the department, and Brenda particularly, is very interesting to watch. It also sends up a flag that there may be another returning character. Did you catch the pictures of Stroh in Brenda’s unsolved cases room? I’m guessing a revisiting of that story before the end of the season.

Finally, the whole idea of hope, and imagining something better. At first, it felt like typical Brenda, shamelessly lifting Fritz’s honest sentiment to manipulate a witness. It didn’t finish that way though. The moment shared at the community center, after Father Jack explained what the meaning of the death really was, was very nice. And Brenda looking up to reflect on it all tied right back in to that conversation with Fritz.

I don’t know that it’s a done deal, but it looks like the topic is certainly on the table. The possibilities seem a little crazy. Can you imagine Brenda with hormonal issues brought on by pregnancy? It might be fun to watch the chaos, but the idea, and Brenda’s previous medical issues, leads me to the possibility that they could be in the market to adopt. That would also offer up the possibility of bringing in the kid earlier. My thinking is that, in true Closer style, the topic will be ignored next week. But then it will be a recurring thing, and I’ll be left at the end of this season wondering if she is pregnant, or if the adoption will go through. It really could go either way, but they have me curious.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Inglourious Basterds - Graphic but Good

Meet the Inglorious Bastards, er, the Inglourious Basterds: a quintessential Quentin Tarantino clan (see also Reservoir Dogs) helmed by an accent-affected Brad Pitt. Pitt, who plays a sort of Tennessean hillbilly, is the ringleader of the group of mostly Jewish-American soldiers whose aim is to kill — specifically by scalping — Nazis. It's as disgusting as it sounds, but the film is not all gory and the Basterds are only one in a series of interwoven stories. In fact, Brad Pitt and his band of men are each in fewer than half of the movie's chapters. Yes, there is violence but the biggest tone of the movie is artfully crafted tension that left me holding my breath, wondering where the action was going to come from next.

At its core, the film has the violent tendencies you'd expect from writer/director Tarantino. It's incredibly graphic and gory, but it's peppered with moments of genuine humor (albeit of the dark variety) with just a small dash of romance. In this regard, Basterds is very much like his classic film Pulp Fiction, but topically, the two couldn't be more different.

The movie begins with an incredible and very intense scene between a Nazi colonel (played by Christopher Waltz) and French countryman Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet). It sets up the tone of the film perfectly, while introducing one of the most chilling villains I've ever seen on the big screen, played superbly by Waltz. The vignette could stand alone as a short film, and doesn't quite blend in with the rest of the movie, but it will be what stays with you long after you've walked out of the theater. The rest of Basterds fast-forwards a few years, but I haven't seen the last of the first scene's survivors.

Elsewhere, Aldo Raine (Pitt) is prepping his troops to drop into Europe and kill as many Nazis as possible — he wants each solider to gather 100 scalps. Based on some of the more graphic scenes, the mission is a success. Most of their work takes place off-screen but their influence is clear when a bumbling Hitler and his high ranking official start trembling in their boots. As the Basterds' popularity rises, they're presented with an opportunity that ropes in famous actress and spy Bridget von Hammrsmark (Diane Kruger). The movie is building up to a climactic movie premiere, but unbeknownst to the Basterds, they're not the only ones plotting.

This, for me, is when the movie really starts getting good. Firstly, based on her relatively small résumé, I was not expecting to be so blown away by Kruger. She's simply stunning in her role including carrying one of the longest and most intense scenes. Pitt also pulls off the necessary swagger and bravado that goes with his ringleader role. When these two get together the screen seems to warm to their combined presence. Both Pitt and Kruger also add to the element of humor in the film, which is clear throughout all 2.5 hours of it.

It's hard to talk much more about the plot without spoilers, but it's one of the most satisfying — and quite frankly, entertaining and thought-provoking — movies I've seen in some time. If you can stomach the violence, the film is worth its weight in gold (or blood).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sweet Ruin by Cathi Hanauer

Elayna Leopold's story is a typical one in many ways: She's a suburban housewife with a young daughter, a workaholic husband, and an attraction to the adorable (and much younger) boy across the street. What I soon learn about Elayna, though, is that she's suffered two great losses in her life: the first, when she was a child, a loss of innocence after an episode with her parents; the second, much more recently, a loss of innocence of a very different kind: the death of her infant son, Oliver.

When I meet Elayna, Oliver has been gone for a year, and she's slowly reaching the acceptance stage of her grief. Helping her through the grieving process are her six-year-old daughter Hazel and best friend and college roommate Celeste. (Her husband, Paul, is a lawyer who's working around the clock on a death row case, and he's rarely home.) But it is Kevin, the artist across the street with the Weimaraner who poops in her yard, who will be both Elayna's salvation and her downfall as she hurtles toward something she can't take back.

Author Cathi Hanauer has a true gift. Sweet Ruin is a beautifully written novel, with particularly stunning descriptions of the seasons (which serve as a larger framework for the novel). Hanauer has a keen eye for detail and a good ear for dialogue. Her observations and insights on suburban life are spot-on and subtly sarcastic, which amused me.

However, I found many of the characters to be lacking, both in substance and believability. Elayna herself comes across as shallow and self-indulgent. I really wanted to have sympathy for her, but Hanauer never really offered me the opportunity to mourn Oliver's loss along with Elayna. Instead, I was treated to Elayna's seemingly endless interior monologue, most of it regarding Kevin. Kevin himself is never really fleshed-out, and I struggled to see Elayna's attraction to him. The character of Pansy, Hazel's daycare teacher, was a little bit too wacky for me; I just didn't "get" her. And the situation with Elayna's father was just creepy and could have been left out of the novel entirely.

What really saved the novel, for me, was Hazel. I saw her as an endearing, bright character in a novel of hollow ones. She lends a sense of innocence to the plot, and Hanauer really succeeds in conveying her expressions, dialogue, and utter child-ness. Hazel is the kind of child I want to have; Hanauer portrays her beautifully.

I really wanted to love this novel; as I mentioned, the writing is beautiful. I plan on picking up Hanauer's first novel from the library; I think she's an author I'll like reading. I just hope, in her next novel, she explores less stereotypical territory.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In Plain Sight: Rubble with a Cause

The idea of Mary having to protect a high-profile, high-risk witness trapped in the middle of a building collapse was an interesting one, and the production team knocked themselves out creating that setting for it. But once the David Zayas character showed up to confront the witness, things fell apart. It seemed to be missing a scene between when the explosion went off and when Mary and the bad guy had their guns on each other, and I have no idea what Zayas' plan was, exactly. Even if he hadn't been dumb enough to deliver a confession in the presence of a US Marshal (with or without her walkie-talkie turned on), how did he expect to get out of there? And all the talk of loyalty to partners above all else came out of left field. It's not that Mary isn't incredibly tight with Marshall, or that they'd risk their lives for each other (see him running into the building right before the explosion blocked the stairwells); it's that this wasn't the theme of the episode, or of Mary's interaction with her witness, until that moment.

I did like seeing Marshall and Stan working so hard in support of Mary, and I particularly liked Raph's reaction (or, rather, lack of one, as it's a cliche on these shows for the significant other to give the hero a hard time after a brutal day at work) to Mary being gone all day at the accident site. I just felt like the set-up didn't go anywhere that interesting.

Also, I fast-forwarded through the scene where Brandi interrupted the AA meeting. Do. Not. Care. Brandi's less irritating than Jinx is, but she really only works in a context directly tied to Mary; giving her a self-contained storyline is a waste of everybody's time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ghosts of Saint-Michel by Jake Lamar

There’s a lot of good stuff in Jake Lamar’s Ghosts of Saint-Michel. The plot’s twists and turns are aided by Lamar’s ability to tell the story out of sequence, allowing you to know both more and less than you should at any given time. The biggest potential weakness—amateurs engaged in a life and death struggle with professionals—works itself out as believably as possible. On balance, it’s a well-told tale of intrigue and murky allegiances.

The soul food restaurant of American expatriate Marva Dobbs is the talk of Paris. Returning home early from her August vacation, Marva intends to break off her affair with Hassan, an Algerian in his late twenties. Instead she finds him on the run, accused of being a terrorist. When Marva signs herself out of the hospital after a serious car accident and leaves with Hassan, no one (including the reader) knows whether she is a hostage or an accomplice.

Marva’s daughter, Naima, hears of the accident and rushes to Paris from her home in New York, becoming unintentionally embroiled in the intrigue surrounding the disappearances. What she learns about her parents strains her loyalties and teaches her things about herself she might have preferred not to know.

Lamar wields his cosmopolitan cast with aplomb. Hassan lives in the gray area between guilty and framed until near the end. “Retired” American spy Harvey Oldcorn could be the stereotypical spook; Lamar provides Oldcorn with enough background to keep him believable. Naima’s father, Loïc, has both more and less to him than you’re led to believe. Cleavon Semple is still trying to play both ends against the middle at nearly eighty years old.

It’s neck and neck for a while, but Naima eventually wins the lead role in the story, if only because more is seen through her eyes. She and Marva are both strong women, capable of carrying the story on her own. Lamar is careful not to give them abilities civilians wouldn’t possess. They adapt to the situation as it evolves without fully understanding what is going on.

Paris is the perfect location, as the story relies on the city’s convoluted Cold War past: Communists who may or may not be supporting colonial independence fighters, struggling against Gaullists, who may (or may not) be with the Americans. This is history when out story takes place, but the contacts, allegiances, and techniques developed forty years earlier are resurrected as what is essentially a cast of over-the-hill conspirators have their last hurrah.

With all that going for it, Ghosts of Saint-Michel doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. Much of the fault is in the characters. As much as Lamar wants you to like Marva and Naima, they’ll do whatever they have to do to get what they want. True, it’s all done for the greater good, righting injustice, yadda yadda yadda, but some minor characters are used badly. It’s not obvious at the time whether Lamar introduces them only as props for the bigger plan, but in retrospect it’s hard to see what else they do.

As well-written as the climactic scene is, coincidence plays a bigger part than it should. Saying too much would spoil it; suffice to say some serious aligning of planets takes place to get everyone where they need to be for the climax to work itself out. Lamar’s half-hearted attempt at an explanation only draws attention to it.

Another problem is that most American readers will be unaware of the Parisian Cold War intrigues that drive many of the characters’ motivations. Not an insurmountable obstacle, and Lamar brings everyone up to speed. Unfortunately, he does it is through dialog worthy of a tour guide at the Spy Museum; at times the characters might as well turn away from each other and speak directly to the audience.

Ghosts of Saint-Michel has much to recommend it. Anyone interested in a taste of the black American community in France should get a charge out of it. Lamar’s fifteen years in France show between each line; his familiarity with his adopted city is shown by the ease with which he describes it. Paris is the most likable character in Ghosts of Saint-Michel, which may ultimately be its biggest flaw, though not enough to be a deal breaker.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prison Break: Cowboys and Indians

"What kind of loser gets set up for two high profile assassinations within five years?" - Lincoln

That's a question I've been asking myself for some time now, except that my query was a bit more broad - what kind of loser gets messed up in this many conspiracies period? Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield (Quick sidebar: different last names. Obviously they weren't brothers.) haven't exactly had it easy, but it's finally starting to look like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel ... at least for Michael anyway.

Of course, his happiness hinges on who he wants to give Scylla to - Cristina or Krantz. Give it to the general and Sara lives. Give it to his mother and Lincoln lives. However, if I know one thing about Michael, it's that he's smarter than Cristina and Krantz combined.

The rest of the episode didn't provide too much in the way of explosive revelations - it was more set up for the finale. Hell, more than half of it was just waiting for Lincoln and Michael to escape from the hotel. That mini-fridge bomb was pretty cool, though.

Anyway, I did get a lot more info on Cristina's game plan - start a world war and sell Scylla to everyone, starting with India and China. Krantz made the best point about her. She's so prideful, that at this point she doesn't even realize what she's doing. It's all about the money which ironically enough will probably be worth nothing once the international economy crumbles as a result of the war she started.

With that in mind, the Cristina character has lost some of the allure she had when she first appeared. Initially, the prospect of Lincoln and Michael's mother appearing was intriguing and created all sorts of questions. Instead, she's just devolved into this one dimensional clichéd villain with extremely loose justifications for all of her actions.

I'm still having a hard time buying into her complete dismissal of Lincoln as family. She may have only adopted him, but she still helped raise him. It's just not believable and even though this show is the definition of exaggeration, for the most part, the characters have been pretty well fleshed out and Cristina just isn't. Granted, that's a direct result of her only being introduced a few episodes ago, but that's the problem - there wasn't time to give her more back story, and the overall plot is suffering as a result. I don't see how this all ties together. As things stand right now, the connection between season one's events and what's happening now is near non-existent and that kinda sucks.

The only other thing worth mentioning is Self. I finally found out his motivations for trying to steal Scylla. Years ago, he got drunk, and he and his wife were in a car accident, crippling her. His government benefits only covered a crappy facility and in an attempt to atone for his sin, stealing Scylla and selling it would have allowed him to put his estranged wife in a much better facility. Touching isn't it? I'm glad I found out, but it is a bit crazy to think that's what started season four off - Don Self's guilt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breaking Bad: 4 Days Out

When a cancer patient awaits the results of a PET-CT scan, the anxiety can be overwhelming. Walt deals with that anxiety by preparing for the worst, which in his case means cooking. And cooking in mass quantities, though even he wasn't prepared for just how massive it turned out to be. As for poor dumb Jesse, I'm just waiting for his whole life to fall apart again.

Jesse is a nice guy, but he's not that smart and he has the absolute worst luck of almost anyone on television. So now that he's getting into this semi-serious relationship with the landlord/neighbor, I'm just waiting for something horrible to happen to him or her or both. It's inevitable. Nobody suffers like Jesse suffers. Well, except for tonight. There was a whole lot of suffering going on from everybody. I'm sure Skinny Pete was suffering too, wherever he wound up.

It was nice to slow everything down and get an episode of just Walter and Jesse. Their relationship is so complicated, co-dependent and destructive at the same time. With his imminent death on his mind, because he was prepared for the worst out of that PET-CT, Walt essentially forced Jesse to take off into the desert and get some mad cooking going on. He had to lie to get him there, but Jesse wouldn't have appreciated Georgia O'Keefe anyway; though he would have seen a lot of vaginas in her work.

As soon as Walt told Jesse to put the keys someplace safe, I knew they were in trouble. As many times as Jesse screws things up, you'd think Walt would have learned by now. As it turns out, the keys might have been better sitting in their work area. What followed was a bizarre near-death experience in the desert that actually brought the two of them closer together, in a bizarre way. It also brought them more than a million dollars street value of meth, and they weren't even done.

I loved how when Walt was building the battery to save their asses, he was quizzing Jesse like he was a student, and then was ultimately disappointed when Jesse proved himself again to be kind of an idiot. It's those moments that really make these characters live and breathe on the screen. There was some amazing performances by both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in this episode.

Surprising to me was the results of Walt's PET-CT. With his tumor reduced by 80% and his cancer in remission, the ticking clock on this show's life expectancy just got extended. Hell, theoretically it could be extended indefinitely. I'm ashamed to admit I never even considered remission as a way to extend the show. And considering AMC is already on board a third season, it makes sense to slow down Walt's decline, though I don't think they can stop it altogether. That would just change the tone of the whole show.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rescue Me: Jimmy

"Not something you really wanna be lookin' at." - Lou

Just like Dr. Psychodramaturge telling Sheila that half of Damien's desire to be a firefighter is based on her objection, you knew that when Lou told Tommy not to look at the 9/11 footage he would anyway. Forbidden = fun. Of course, having Genevieve whisper lord knows what into Tommy's ear didn't hurt either. Whatever she muttered was probably fun too.

As shocking as the news footage is, the fact of the matter is nothing has changed. Jimmy Keefe is still dead. However, how and when he died are now the issue. Why wasn't he in Tower 1 when it collapsed on 9/11? Why did he leave and head to Tower 2? The events of that day are indescribable, and "hectic" doesn't even touch upon how unmanageable ground zero was. Jimmy was just doing his job.

As for Tommy, it obviously puts him in a situation where any blame he already carries is only intensified - could Jimmy have lived had Tommy been with him the whole time? Sure, it's definitely possible. On the flip side, Tommy could be dead right next to him.

What's more important is how this is going to affect Sheila. As she tries to purge herself of all thing and thoughts Tommy Gavin, finding out that her husband didn't die when she thought he did, eight years after the fact, isn't going to help. It's either going to bring the two of them closer or push them apart even farther. Which is it going to be?

Consider Damien. Sheila isn't going to lose her son the same way she lost her husband. Pushing away Tommy won't be the answer. Mick was right - that footage, seeing Jimmy, is only going to send Tommy down an all too familiar path, and Sheila has always been a part of that journey.

A few more thoughts on "Jimmy" --

It doesn't happen frequently, but seeing Lou flip out always makes for a good scene. I always think of Lou as comedic relief, but John Scurti has had a handful of seriously poignant speeches in this show over the past four seasons and they often get overlooked.

I'm not sure who's stupider - Tommy for getting Derrick a job as a barback or Derrick actually taking it.

As the episode ended, I couldn't help but laugh at Mike's bar, not because of all the headaches he went through to open it ("Lumberjacks," un-blacking the place, bribing the liquor authority rep), but because of how easy it's making Tommy's freefall. It's like Tommy asked, "what's the one thing my friends could do to screw up my life more" and they did that exact thing - open a bar. After Tommy's last meeting with the psychic when she told him that Jimmy wants him to know the truth, if I were Mick, I don't think it's Derrick I'd be so worried about with a bar full of whiskey under his nose.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In Plain Sight: In My Humboldt Opinion

Consistency,this is exactly the type of material I appreciate in a series and it is most often rarely seen.In Plain Sight manages to pull off a consistent 'Wow' of a Season 2! Giving me two consecutive installments, In My Humboldt Opinion, included.

Mary is now finding her way around her old job and she has 'The Newbie' Eleanor to deal with. As Mary tried to adapt to her surroundings and deal with her past struggles, Eleanor's new furniture arrangement wasn't cutting it. Good Mary was gone and Bitchy Mary was back, giving Eleanor competition for the 'bossy' title she wanted to claim. I smiled when Eleanor confronted Mary about her bossiness, saying that Mary cannot intimidate her, which is funny because by her saying that, Mary probably does intimidate her... as she did everyone. Everyone loves Mary, despite her ways and Eleanor had to earn her stripes, being the 'Newbie' and all!

In this case, Mary had to deal with a typical hypochondriac (Jerry); an owner of a marijuana plant testifying against his buyers. I found it surprising that he had a family; a wife and two children.I didn't really understand how his family put up with his drug-use; taking marijuana to stay sane, especially around the children. Was he always high on marijuana when he met his wife, how far did his condition date back? Was it his personality on or off marijuana she fell in love with?None-the-less, Jerry is afraid to speak on the witness stand... off the marijuana , and decides to take his life to prevent himself from testifying. So how much did he love his family if he was willing to take his own life and fake Amnesia?

Mary, Mary, Mary, she sure brought out the real Jerry. Giving him petty threats and then babying him in the end; attaching what appeared to be a smiley face on his microphone in court. At least she got him in court.While he was on the stand, Jerry took a little while to give his name on introduction, he also looked like a child.

On a real note, given "Boston Legal" Knowledge of a typical case in court, wouldn't the opposing party be aware of his marijuana usage. Prosecution could prosecute Jerry, someone with his mental state would say anything anyone told him to say... like Mary perhaps."Psst Jerry make sure and point out the guys that look the most guilty *wink*"Anyway, I didn't really get to see the prosecuting side and it was cool watching a frailly Jerry in court. I give credit to the scene where Mary placed the smiley sticker on his microphone and the point where he didn't need the smiley anymore.

The scenes with Mary and her analyst were well played; another intrusion into Mary's lifestyle which Mary took on surprisingly better than Eleanor.It was fun watching her analyst always writing in her note pad.

Mary - "What could you possibly be writing"

They actually formed a brief friendship-I guess; in the end. Then again if you look at the other side of the coin, Mary had to be nice to her, she held Mary's continuation at work in the palm of her hands, which encouraged Mary to behave a bit better to everyone. I loved how Mary fancied up her words when she was talking to Jerry.

Mary - "Just giving you something to write" :D

As for Mary's family, Jinx was back to her old crazy self- well alcoholic that is and Brandi was well changing her life, trying to go to school again, trying to become more civilized like Mary - a bit.

Eleanor sort of earned her stripes as well, breaking up the argument in the office, McQueen actually acted like a boss and who saw that Eleanor and McQueen thing coming?

Finally I got to see Ralph and their relationship has picked up heat again. Hmm, asking Mary to pass him a towel!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Castle: Ghosts

When a soccer mom turns up dead in a transient hotel, a secret life of crime unravels, leading Castle and Beckett on a wild goose chase through the past.

Castle and Beckett investigate the murder of a woman found drowned in a bathtub of motor oil at a transient hotel. But when they uncover a dark secret about the woman’s past, they must unravel a 20-year-old mystery with the help of a true crime journalist who may have been stalking the victim. Meanwhile, Beckett puts her poker face to the test as she squares off against Castle, with her money and pride at stake.

My Favorite Moments
1. During an interrogation of the ship captain’s son, Castle can be heard in the observation room shouting “Lee Wax! Lee Wax!”
2. Castle telling off Lee Wax for orchestrating a “better story” about the bombing. “It’s not illegal… it’s just slimy.”

My Favorite Quotes
1. “Yes, please… beat my pants of if you dare.” –Castle to Becket at the Gotham City Crew poker game.
2. “What are we playing for?” “Pride… or clothing.” -Beckett and Castle on the wages of their winner-takes-all poker hand.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Any Baby Boomer who thinks fondly on a childhood in the 1950s will enjoy this book immensely. Born in 1951 and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Bryson had what I might consider the average middle-class life in the geographic center of America. As such, it's easy for me to nod in agreement at many of the details he recalls: spider-web-like strands of airplane glue that stuck to everything except small plastic model pieces; the confusion of having two different actors play the Lone Ranger on TV; the stilted and unrealistic conversations I read in our Dick and Jane textbooks; and the fact that I spent my free time outside, making up our my games.

Bryson additionally got into a few unusual scrapes with some of his neighborhood buddies, and the distance of time makes each one of their escapades a real hoot. Those post-war days were indeed the best of times and the worst of times. The nation grew wealthy and happier and stronger, and technological advances like television made us feel more powerful. Simultaneously the Cold War intensified, and we grew ever more fearful of a nuclear attack from Russia. It was a unique and great time to be a kid.

"Happily," Bryson writes, "we were indestructible. We didn't need seat belts, air bags, smoke detectors, bottled water, or the Heimlich maneuver. We didn't require child-safety caps on our medicines. We didn't need helmets when we rode our bikes or pads for our knees and elbows when we went skating. We knew without a written reminder that bleach was not a refreshing drink and that gasoline when exposed to a match had a tendency to combust. We didn't have to worry about what we ate because nearly all foods were good for us: sugar gave us energy, red meat made us strong, ice cream gave us healthy bones, coffee kept us alert and purring productively."

To his own experiences, Bryson adds historical tidbits that now seem unbelievable, except that I suddenly remember when they were true. Everyone smoked. TV dinners were invented and enjoyed, even though each of the food components had an aluminum taste. The civil rights movement hadn't yet taken full form. No one knew or cared about the dangers of DDT or witnessing a nuclear test from a ridge a hundred miles away. And yet, most of us survived the decade.

Reading this memoir will make you wistful for those days of atomic toilets, comic book Kiddie Corrals, unrated movies, and grape Nehi bubbles up your nose. It'll also have you laughing right out of your chaise longue and Capri pants.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Prison Break: VS

There are four hours left of this final season of Prison Break before it’s all over, so I guess they can be allowed a slow episode. This episode was entitled “VS.” or “Vs.” depending on where you looked. That’s because there was an ain’t-you-clever double meaning there. There are now three factions fighting against one another, each one with a member of the Burrows-Scofield family. Mama Christina is trying to broker a deal for Scylla. Lincoln, working with the company, is trying to get it back for The Company so he can earn his freedom from their machinations. And Michael and Sarah just want to see it all come crashing down.

Surprisingly, Michael has the least well thought out overall plan at the moment, though he also has the most relevant and valuable information. Of the brothers, Michael has always been the brains. Maybe that’s why they’ve got Lincoln and his crew basically failing to get true information out of the other meaning of the title, a man by the initials V.S.

Vincent Sandinsky insists he’s an innocent pawn in all of this; he doesn’t even know Christina Scofield. Good thing for him Michael and Sarah stole his Blackberry because it tells a very different story. So that’s where the main plot is headed, though I don’t know yet what Christina wants with VS.

The problem with these teams on this show is you can never trust all of your players. In this case, as in many cases, that means Bagwell. Apparently, since the General doesn’t trust Lincoln, he has T-Bag working on the side for some sort of other deal I’m sure he has no intention of following through on.

T-Bag revealed to the General that Christina has Scylla and that they’re all in Miami, so now the General is heading south. So that means there will be all four factions fighting pretty soon. Things are definitely heading to a dramatic climax, and the clock is ticking.

But not just for the imminent end of Prison Break, but for Michael and Sarah’s chances at a normal life. Sarah is preggers. That means they have less than eight or nine months to have this thing completely done and be settling down to raise little prison breakers of their own.

I wonder if the writers will actually give the brothers a “Happily Ever After” when this long nightmare of theirs is over? It would almost seem too good to believe, but after all they’ve gone through, they deserve some happiness.

Mahone deserves some peace as well, though I’m not sure where he would find it. On the flip side, I want to see Self and Bagwell get what’s coming to them, and I mean in the worst possible Saw scenario way.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CSI: If I Had A Hammer

"If I Had a Hammer..." was marketed as the episode which had the CSIs likely releasing a person who was convicted of a crime that he had no part in. The episode started out this way, but it quickly turned into something different, leaving me feeling a little duped.

It was Catherine's first solo case and the technology and requirements for conviction were primitive compared to 2009. Jeremy Kent was convicted for robbery and the murder of an elderly man. What Kent didn't know at the time was his court-appointed attorney was conspiring against him and had another one of his clients testify in trial, saying that Kent made a full confession while in his cell.

I was taken aback by this, quite frankly. To think that your lawyer would do such a thing is pretty frightening, especially for someone facing a murder rap and would be facing the possibility of life in a state penitentiary.

After eighteen years of reading books about the law, Jeremy Kent decided it was time to file an appeal and managed to get the evidence reviewed once again. It's rare for this show to depict a guy representing himself in court.

Kent wasn't innocent of the murder. He was involved, but what the CSIs did learn was that he wasn't the only one who was guilty. His then-girlfriend was an accomplice. She was pregnant at the time and went on to have the child while the father rotted away in prison.

Sabrina was in for quite a shock when the police showed up on her doorstep and brought up what happened that night. She had a husband and a few kids and thought that she was done with that night.

Kent seemed to know that he wouldn't get released from prison, but at least with Sabrina going to court, he'll finally get to see the son he has never seen. It's too bad that Sabrina kept the boy from his father like that - Kent probably would have never appealed the conviction. This story seemed to take a while to get where it was going, but it proved entertaining nonetheless.

At times CSI reminds me of House when there are glaring science problems. In this case, I had an issue with the recovery of the hammer. It's unfathomable to think that the blood and the fingerprints would have survived. Wind, rain, and the tree encasement, all would have removed those pieces of evidence from the murder weapon.

This ridiculous use of creative licensing with the science and the terrible acting in the scene where Sabrina and her husband parted ways dragged down what was only a decent story to begin with.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Supernatural: Jump the Shark

Well, not really, but the writers were having some fun with one of the tenets of the phenomenon. Occasionally referred to as “Cousin Oliver Syndrome,” the sudden inclusion of new family, especially children, is an oldie, but goodie, in the shark jumping world. And more often than not, it brings with it disastrous results. Thankfully, while Sam and Dean did have a shiny new brother to meet, that’s where the similarities with the ill-fated Cousin Oliver ended. Although, I had to admire the attention to detail with Cousin Oliver’s diner.

I’ll admit it, when I first heard rumblings that Sam and Dean were going to meet their long lost brother, I was not amused. I know, I should be much more trusting than that with the Supernatural writers. But even after assuring myself that there would be more to the story, I still came into the episode sure that I didn’t like the new Winchester before I even met him. And then two surprising things happened.

First, I actually did like Adam. As he convinced Sam and Dean that he was the real deal, and then as they argued over what to do about him, he quickly grew on me. I started thinking that this could maybe work as an occasional recurring character. Of course, that all went out the window with surprise number two, the fantastic double reveal as Sam and Dean both found out just what was going on at the same time.

Ghouls! I was right with Sam that it wasn’t really Kate, but when Adam turned to say, “I know,” it totally caught me by surprise. The following torture scene was pretty grisly, and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I kept thinking, “You don’t want to make Sam angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.” Kate’s little comment about his blood tasting different opened the door for dark Sam to make an appearance. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but the big showdown, complete with a ghoul head being blown completely off, was outstanding.

There wasn’t a lot of bigger picture to the story. At least not where Castiel, the seals, and the coming apocalypse are concerned. But they did continue down the long slow trail of the changing Sam and Dean. It was interesting that both of them saw Sam in Adam, but had wildly differing reactions. Dean’s felt like a logical extension of how he once felt about Sam, tempered with all that has happened since he returned. And Sam’s felt like the ratcheting up of the tensions that are pushing him in what is becoming a more and more destructive direction.

Bones: The Girl in the Mask

A friend of Booth’s, from Tokyo, calls and wants him to look for his sister whom he hasn’t heard from in while. They find her head in a marsh.

The brother brings this well know Japanese scientist with him. The scientist is like the Japanese version of Bones. The funny part of the show is that Angela and Hodgins have a little bet going as to whether the scientist is a “dude” or “dudette”. And you know Sweets, he is like “does it really matter?”…. uh yeah!

They realize the victim was drowned, and then decapitated. All in all, the sister had a roommate who was a prostitute. She had a “john” who liked to get” rough” with the girls. So when he got too rough with the roommate, the sister went to visit the “john” and warned him that she had a brother who was a cop. He got a bit angry and decided to drown her. Then he called the pimp to clean up after him. So the pimp cut her head off and put it on a stake to warn the roommate and other prostitutes to stay in line.

Unfortunately they could only get the “john” because he is the one who killed her, and they had to make a “deal” with the pimp to get the “john”. Got it?

So now the scientist is getting ready to leave so Angela boldly goes up and giver him/her a hug to find out….she comes back to Hodgins, Camille and Sweets saying ”it moved, he’s a guy”…lol.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fringe: Bad Dreams

I really love it when Olivia works someone over, like she did in the this photo. But wow, this episode of Fringe was one psychological creep-fest from start to finish. They really had me feeling like something eerie was about to happen, and sure enough, a bunch of eerie stuff DID happen.

Just the idea that someone could possess mind-control abilities is creepy, and now it looks like at least one of our main characters -- Olivia, a.k.a. "Olive" -- might be in that situation. The scene on the street with Nick gathering followers and taking them to the rooftop gave me goosebumps. Olivia was really in a tough spot. Either shoot the guy with the mind-control powers, or let everyone die.

It was a good call on her part. And darkly funny when one of the people launched themselves off the roof and crashed into the car below, leading Walter to quip, "I sure hope Agent Dunham meant to do that." It's indicative of the Fringe writers' ability to be both creepy and funny at the same time.

And it's finally getting back around to ZFT and William Bell (and how cool to hear Leonard Nimoy's voice at the end, saying "Do we know what triggered it?") But oy, that video that Walter was watching. I've known that someone experimented on Olivia when she was a child, but did I know for sure it was Walter Bishop and William Bell? I think this was the first time I had something definitive on that. And how does Nina Sharp fit into it? She must have been part of it from the beginning.

I'll leave you with Nick's chilling rooftop monologue to Olivia: "I think they meant for us to forget. I did what they told us. I waited to be called up, stayed fit, stayed focused, stayed ready, the call never came. It never came. That man with the glasses showed up at the hospital. He spoke all the old words. He said, they're coming, what was written will come to pass. He said he knew how to wake me up. I want to stop hurting people."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chuck Vs. The Colonel

How many kinds of awesome (and Awesome) can you cram into one episode of Chuck? I think Ie found out, as "Chuck vs. the Colonel" finds Chuck running off with Sarah, Casey assigned to find them, Fulcrum hot on their tail, and some serious drama going down at the Buy More.

Let us now praise Captain Awesome. Ever since Devon caught that glimpse of General Beckman on Chuck's computer screen, I'd been wondering how long it would take him to find out about Chuck's spy life. It starts out as concern (Chuck hasn't been coming home) and grows into suspicion (why, that John Casey seems downright obsessed with Chuck!). Jeff and Lester give Devon the rundown on Casey's stalker-like behavior — which even an accomplished stalker like Jeff thinks is sick — and before long, Devon's trapped behind gates in Casey's apartment. There's no explaining that away, really, so Chuck confesses: he's a government asset, Chuck and Sarah are his handlers, and right now, he needs Devon to be, you know, Awesome. Devon accepts his mission with a jaunty salute, but he can barely get words out when Ellie confronts him. Good thing he's got prewedding jitters to blame.

Speaking of which: Chuck returns with Ellie's "wedding present," one Stephen Bartowski. But that doesn't come without a fight — one complete with government bombers. Fulcrum's had Chuck's dad locked up underground working on the new Intersect; little does anyone — including Chuck — know that he's actually building a program to get the Intersect out of Chuck's brain. The scene at the drive-in had so many wonderful moments: Roark taking his Steve Jobs-esque keynoting to the big screen; the identical agents in their identical cars; Stephen telling Chuck it's OK for him to open his eyes ("It's all for you"). I love the scene of them driving away as the theater behind them goes up in a wave of flames and the small smile on Chuck's face when his dad tells him he's really free.

Meanwhile, Emmett's fully installed in Big Mike's old job at the Buy More, even arranging for marlin removal. He tries to woo the now-friendless Morgan to the dark side (love the callback to the "ass man" gag), and it takes Anna's urging to get Morgan to admit he has dreams beyond the Buy More: being a Benihana chef in Hawaii ("I'm way past my prime, I'm not Asian, and I don't even know where to get the knives!"). Ultimately, he falls on his sword, takes off his shirt(s), and walks out in a blaze of glory to a slow clap. Dude.

Some other thoughts:

Chuck and Sarah make out! For real! And they'd totally have done more if not for Morgan swiping Chuck's wallet condom some indeterminate amount of time ago.

That's the best part of the hotel scenes, but there's also Casey getting chained to the radiator, then pulling the radiator out of the wall to get free, and then using the radiator as a weapon/shield. ("You can't kill me with that radiator. It is far too confined in this car for you to get the appropriate torque.")

Aww, all Casey wanted was to be invited to the mission!

So does Casey still get to be a colonel? It was sweet of him to praise (and protect) Sarah, but I hope he still gets his promotion! And will he ever kill that guy who keeps coming back?

Not only did Sarah and Casey get some good "stay in the car, Chuck" moments, but Chuck got one of his own, telling Sarah to stay put in the motel and then having her disappear out the bathroom window.

Really, the power goes out and all the holding cells in the Castle open?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bones: Double Death of the Dearly Departed

This episode was pretty much one of the funniest ones they had. I am just going to cover the funny moments…but believe me….they are funny.

Hank, a worker at the Jeffersonian, died and everyone is going to his wake. No, I had never met Hank in all the years Bones has been on TV, but that’s OK. At the wake, Bones is confused as to who Hank is, but yet everyone else comes up with some story on how Hank helped them. Bones just has this dazed look on her face like “who was this guy”, heck, even Booth knew who he was.

Each one of the “squints” gives there respect by visiting the casket. As Bones approaches the casket, she starts looking at this guy a little more closely, too closely. She starts to touch him and even feels around inside his shirt. This freaks out Booth and he comes over, only to have Bones tell him that Hank was murdered or “translated” as Booth made up a code word for murdered.
Since Bones wants to take the body to the Jeffersonian to prove he was “translated” (lol), her and Booth decide to sneak the body out of the funeral home. So picture this: Hodgins is giving a short little eulogy when he sees B&B outside in the courtyard, carrying the dead body (Booth at the head and Bones at the feet), very clumsily. So as they are dropping him and fumbling, Booth motions to Hodgins to keep talking. The look on Hodgins face is priceless. His face is turning red, and is somewhat choking, but the people just think he is getting emotional as he talks about Hank.

So now that Bones and Camille take the body back to the Jeffersonian, Booth has to keep everyone from viewing the body (that’s not there). They close the casket and tell some people that the body is seeping fluid…YUK! that is just gross, but what do you expect from the squints.
Now that Bones is back at the funeral and figures out how he was killed, she sends Sweets and Hodgins to go and bring the body back. The widow and the bimbo that Hank had an affair with argue. Then Booth sees Camille and Sweets trying to carry the body back into the casket room and take the same route B&B did. Believe me they are just as funny in carrying the body as B&B were. So to distract everyone, Booth gets everyone to start singing “Swing low, sweet chariot” and even does a little jig while he’s at it. (very funny).

Sweets: “This is why I hate funerals”
Angela: “This is why I love funerals”

Good episode

By the way, the step mother killed him, so her son could get the inheritance.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chuck Vs. Santa Claus

When a car crashes into the Buy More, it first appears that the Nerd Herders — and last-minute shoppers like Ellie and Awesome — are just being held hostage by a rather incompetent criminal. But the whole incident soon takes a more sinister turn.

The missions on Chuck rarely feel all that tense to me; Chuck's name is the title of the show, so how much danger could he actually be in? But in this episode, everything feels like it's up in the air. No, Chuck probably isn't going to die, but he might really be taken to a detention facility staffed by evil Fulcrum agents. Or Ellie or Awesome could be hurt. Or even Sarah or Casey could go down.

Things really start to go poorly when Sarah and Casey break into the Buy More. They only have two choices: be their civilian selves, or blow Chuck's cover and end up with a whole bunch of new people to protect. They choose the civilian route, and then some quirky coincidences (Sarah being Chuck's "girlfriend," Casey getting his toe shot off) lead to their release while Chuck's still inside.

Of course, those aren't coincidences at all but evil actions Fulcrum takes to get Chuck alone. It's fascinating to see the tone switch from "hey, weird holiday shopping crime!" to "OMG, they know everything about Chuck, and they're totally after him." And just minutes after cautioning Awesome not to be a hero, Chuck decides to be one himself, telling the agent that the Intersect is in his brain. How heartbreaking is the look on Chuck's face when he hugs Ellie good-bye, knowing that in all likelihood, he's seeing her for the last time?

Casey and Sarah aren't going to give up that easily, though, and they do manage to spring Chuck free. But Chuck's never been good at doing what he's told, and so instead of running back to the Castle and being reunited with his family, he lurks in the background of the tree lot — and ends up seeing Sarah shoot the agent dead. I don't know if Chuck could hear their conversation, but either way, he's now seen Sarah at her most ruthless, and — like Morgan seeing Anna kiss Lester, but worse — that image is never going to leave his mind.

Some other thoughts:

This episode isn't all sad and somber. In fact, the stuff with Awesome and the Buy More crew (in elf uniforms!) staging a coup that instantly fails until Morgan pops up with a fake snowblower is pretty hysterical.

Emmett and Big Mike drive the same car! And have matching coffee thermoses!

Anna loves Lester! For like a second, until he does something gross that I don't even want to know the details of, but still.

How sad was it to see Sarah standing there while everyone's calling their loved ones, with nobody to call herself?

General Beckman to Casey: "It's an electronics store, major, not Basra. Get it under control."

Also, when I first saw Casey with the armload of wrapping paper, I hoped it was because he was secretly really into Christmas.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Terminator: Earthlings Welcome Here

In general, I’m a pretty snarky person, so during the opening scenes of the episode, when we were introduced to the Eileen character, I thought she totally sounded like a dude. I chided myself for being mean, and was going to let it go. Then, of course, it turned out that the character really was a dude. I need to learn to trust my instincts more, I guess. I do have to commend any actress who is brave and secure enough to play a man or a transexual. You have to be pretty comfortable with yourself to do that.

On to the episode….

Well, that was an interesting episode. There were some important things happening, not the least of which was Sarah hunting down the three dots of her nightmares. It turned out that they led her to a UFO convention where she teamed up with Eileen/Alan to hunt down one of the ships. Everything lead Sarah to a warehouse where, after letting her guard down and being shot, she saw the “three dot” UFO above her.

Now, this was all a little bizarre for me. I have to assume that this is some sort of machine contraption from the future, but … what the crap? I would think something that big would be garnering a lot more attention, or would be doing some more serious damage. If I were the machines I wouldn’t send back a giant evil flying machine to hang out in a warehouse. I’d be blowing shit up and causing havoc.

I got some more background on Riley in this episode, too, and I feel a lot better about her these days now that I know she has a purpose. I understand that teenagers need relationships, blahbitty blah blah. I just wasn’t feeling the Riley/John dynamic. Now that I know she’s from the future, I’m a little cooler with it. It was interesting seeing the dynamic between her and Jesse. Jesse was not so sympathetic toward her little ward, and clearly the girl needed a little help. I have the feeling that her wrist slashing isn’t going to stick though. I haven’t seen the last of her.

Some quick hit thoughts:

I’ve thought John was annoying for a little while, but he had to go and take a sarcastic swipe at bloggers. It is so on, Terminator boy!

Apparently John is being “home schooled” now by Sarah. Nice to know that the writers recognize John hasn’t been to school in months and addressed it for us. I know as a viewer I appreciate attention to detail.

Was there more to Cameron checking out Riley’s tattoo than just making conversation? My guess is Cameron might know her from the future.

There wasn’t enough Ellison and John Henry interaction this episode. I’m still curious about what’s going to happen with them.

My favorite part of the episode had to be the conversation between Eileen and Sarah after they got shot up at the storage unit. “Why don’t you feel it?” Eileen asks Sarah disgustedly about the fear and horror of being so close to death. Sarah was a bit horrified as well. It was a nice reminder that she is still a woman real close to the breaking point.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eleventh Hour: Flesh

Spring break, whoohoo! Even in winter, Dayton Beach, FL is hopping. Life is one endless pool party for college students on break. Until a couple of them have to leave the party early. Lenny and his friend Greg collapse almost simultaneously, and an ambulance runs them to the hospital. However, Lenny and Greg don’t make it to the hospital. They flatline, and the paramedics have no luck reviving them.

The mystery of the… uh… dead people. Good luck with that one, Jacob.

But of course I being a devout watcher know there’s more to it than that! In the morgue, autopsies are being performed on both kids. Greg’s chest is flayed open, and the pathologist is making the first incision in Lenny… when he hears a beat. He turns around and, miraculously, Greg’s heart is still beating! Slowly but surely. When he turns back, Lenny has woken up and is justifiably shocked to see his best friend opened up on a slab.

Meanwhile, Jacob is spending some quality time with his old dog and some woman I have never seen before but for some reason I am being forced to believe that she and Jacob have slight yearnings towards each other. Rachel swoops in and saves me from awkward flirting by informing Jacob of the student zombie situation. They head to Florida to investigate. Evidently the kids were not dead but only in a state of suspended animation. In the hospital they meet the recovering Lenny, who turns out to be quite the chauvinist jerk, and he tells them that the only thing that he and Greg shared in the past few days was a girl by the name of Tabitha Jackson. Shared, as in… uh-huh. It looks like this might be some sort of sexually transmitted disease, and Jacob and Rachel go to talk to Tabitha. Poor Tabitha doesn’t remember anything about the night when she and Greg and Lenny supposedly got it on. She’s upset about what happened, how the boys got her drunk and took advantage of her. Rachel takes Tabitha to the hospital to get checked out. And just in time, because Tabitha collapses just like Lenny and Greg. Her body temperature drops drastically and her heart beat drops to five beats per minute.

But it looks like the suspended animation is not the only problem facing these kids. Rachel goes to see Lenny to tell him that he can leave, but that he’d better be careful because the nurses say he’s been harassing them, and if he doesn’t behave he’ll go to jail. Lenny gets fresh with Rachel and she insults him. When he reaches for her to get even, he notices that his leg is being eaten away by flesh-eating bacteria! Yummy.

Jacob decides to delve deeper into the science bits of this case and takes a look at the actual bacteria. Evidently the gene causes two stages: the first stage releases hydrogen sulfide, which causes the suspended animation. Stage two is when the victim wakes up and develops the flesh-eating bacteria. It’s key that Tabitha is prevented from reaching stage two, so they take her to the morgue to keep her body temperature down. In addition to learning all this, Jacob learns that the bacteria has no “junk” DNA, which means it is a man-made bacteria. Its resistance to extreme cold makes it look like it could have been developed for space travel.

It’s beginning to look a lot like an epidemic, because two more kids are brought in, down for the count. One is Belinda, and the other is Seth, the boy she was having sex with. He happens to have the same dagger and cherry tattoo that both Greg and Lenny have. Looks like they’re all friends!

Jacob and Rachel go talk to some NASA big wigs about this bug. They talk to Dr. West, who confirms that this is a gene being used by NASA for deep space travel and hibernation. All except for the flesh-eating part. He assures them that this has to be something different, because none of the bacteria is missing and there have been no break-ins. Jacob asks him about the gene in it that is designed to self-destruct, which may be the key to killing off the bug. However, West won’t tell him about it – it’s too classified.

Rachel does some research of her own and discovers that the three boys, Lenny, Greg, and Seth, were all accused of gang-raping a girl last year but got off due to lack of evidence. There was a fourth suspect, Derek, who hasn’t been discovered yet, but they’re sure he’s next. Is this a case of revenge? If it is, whoever is doing it is doing a good job, because Lenny is dead.

Our investigators head off to talk to Julia Taylor, the victim in last year’s rape. They’re sure she’s behind it. But of course she’s not, because she’s in a coma. It turns out that after the case was dismissed Julia, distraught at being called a liar and a whore, took up drinking and got in a car accident. However, Julia’s father works at NASA! His name is Henry West. Sound familiar?

Rachel has a trace put on Derek’s cell phone, thinking that West will go after him next. Derek is frantically trying to get out of Florida, but before he can West catches up to him and injects him with the bacteria. By the time Rachel and Jacob get there West has leapt off a balcony. Jacob manages to get West to tell him about the self-destruct gene, which turns out to be triggered by silver. Back at the hospital, the victims get a dose of silver in their bloodstream and they all wake up, right as rain. Another disgusting disease neutralized by Jacob Hood!

Flesh-eating bacteria is basically the coolest and grossest bacteria in the world, so props to the show for bringing it in. I liked the revenge plotline and didn’t have any trouble sympathizing with West (except of course when it came to getting innocent people involved). But this love plotline they’re scraping together for Jacob. What? At least Rachel and her bloke seemed to have a bit of chemistry. But this lady came out of nowhere.

Friday, April 10, 2009

CSI: 19 Down

In part one of the two-part episode that will hand off the reins of power at the Las Vegas crime lab from Gil Grissom to Raymond Langston, CSI spent as much time breaking the news about Gil's exit as it did lay the groundwork for Langston's entrance.

Speaking of entrances, Laurence Fishburne was given quite the platform, appearing in shadow until the light clicked on and he was revealed. It'll be interesting to see if Petersen's last scene will replicate Frank Sinatra vanishing into distant spotlights, singing "Excuse me while I disappear." Considering the Vegas connection, I think that would be a perfect way for him to go.

But not just yet. First there's this very complicated, very gruesome case that's still unresolved. The Dick and Jane Killer, a guy who murders couples, seems to have a copy cat on the loose because the confessed serial killer, Haskell, is already behind bars. Brass and Grissom learned that Langston was using Haskell -- via remote feed -- as part of his classwork at the University. Without telling the prof, Grissom got into the lecture hall in order to question Haskell. It seemed like an oblique way to get Langston and Grissom to work together -- they eschewed the direct approach -- but it did immediately create a schism between Brass and Langston, something to be played out when Langston takes Grissom's place at CSI.

Because this was a two-parter, I was left on edge about creepy Haskell. But if a prisoner is in keep-away, as Gil points out, why was he allowed an unsupervised phone call to Langston to taunt him and tip the authorities off about the ninth D&J kill? Still, Irwin scared me as Haskell, so he definitely did his job well.

Interestingly, for me the best part of the show was how oblivious Grissom was to the way his abrupt news flash about leaving CSI is affecting the team. He seemed genuinely stunned by the tears in assistant M.E. David's eyes when Gil said he would miss him and not the work. Like the bugs and insects he studies, Gil is still in the cocoon emotionally.

For a student of behavior, he should know that some reactions -- like Hodges being hurt that he was not personally informed by Gil -- were predictable. The coolest (as in wise and aware, not reserved and uncaring) reaction was probably Catherine's. She anticipated it, perhaps based on the conversation at the end of the last show about Grissom upping the ante. My favorite exchange was Brass and Grissom's, suggesting that they'll stay in touch and perhaps go out on the boat and celebrate July 4th together. Gil's response, "You have a boat?" was priceless. It was so obvious they never socialized before and likely never would in the future. Their relationship -- and friendship -- was all about the office.

As for Fishburne's character, it's too soon to tell. He only met with Grissom and Brass and only on his own turf. He came off as authoritative and imposing, but also intelligent and observant. He also was pretty obvious when dealing with Haskell, like putting him on hold to conference Gil in on the phone conversation. That could have been done in a more stealth-like fashion. I suspect Part Two will have more opportunities for Nick, Catherine and the others to meet/clash with Langston.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Name Is Earl: Orphan Earl

For a group of people who celebrate the holidays by decorating passed out drunks as if they were Christmas trees, the cast of clowns in Camden always find a way to enjoy the true spirit of the season. Of course, the story of how they get to that point is the fun part.

Earl used to be the local expert on ripping people off. One time in particular, he and Joy hatched a scheme to exploit generous people by obtaining donations for starving children in Africa. The only money they got was a $100 check from a kindly man named Arthur Hill. When Earl tracks the man down to return the money, he discovers that Joy has been sending letters from a fake child called Umbungo -- she sends pictures of Earl Jr. posing as the child along with everything from report cards to pictures of him with a "really hot American tourist (Joy)."

As it turns out, Joy's gotten two of her friends in on the action as well and Hill is sending three donation checks a month. Upset that the generous man is being taken for a ride and even enjoying it, Earl asks Joy to stop. Guess where that gets him — nowhere. Things seemingly take a turn for the worse when Randy finds out Mr. Hill has died while reading comics/obits, as is his habit. The man has left his considerable fortune to his three favorite (fake) charities. Joy and her cronies follow Earl and Randy as they break into Hill's house to find out who is lawyer is and inform him of the scam taking place.

When Earl gives Randy the will and tells him to go on foot in the hopes that Joy will follow him in his car to the lawyer's office, Joy has other plans. She takes the will from Randy and goes to the lawyer herself, only to find that Earl has spilled the beans already. However, the crooked lawyer offers to make sure they get their money in exchange for a small sum upfront and sex with Joy's friend. After a trip to a loan shark, the deal is done and Joy has won.

Or has she? I have to say I was a little suspicious when Earl gave the will to Randy, but I definitely didn't see Earl's masterful scam coming. Mr. Hill never died, there was no will, the lawyer was Earl's hired gun, and the money Joy got from the loan shark was to pay back Mr. Hill. All of this was jaw-droppingly awesome and one of the coolest things Earl's ever done. Mr. Hill wasn't as impressed as me though — he was more upset that all that he cared for (giving to the charities) was a lie.

Earl takes him to the trailer park to cheer him up by laughing at the wrongdoers, but there's no laughing to be done. They find everyone's homes in shambles due to a set of circumstances stemming from having to use their money to pay back the loan shark. The ever kind and generous Hill sees a new opportunity for charity and renewed purpose and gives everyone the money they need to get back on their feet. But in the end, he's given even more than he knew as the others follow his good example and learn the error of their ways.

It's great to see that even though Earl now uses his powers for good, his skills at being a scam artist and taking everyone for a ride are still intact. I thought this was a very well-written plot in terms of how that big surprise was orchestrated, but part of me wonders if I'm just a sucker and should have seen it coming a little more.

And now for a few funny moments:

Randy's research for his book on tasting non-food items called "I Have A Curious Tongue." "Cactus: Painful, but worth it." "Hair: Tastes like marijuana."

Earl and Joy's shoddy attempt at inventing facts about starvation in Africa. "9 out of 10 African children die every minute."

As a result of Joy's wrath, Earl apparently has only nine toes.

Joy's friend plans on using her new fortune to buy a "fur coat with the head still on it. Yeah, this bitch is real!"

Randy fakes getting into an argument in the car with Earl and yells "How can you say that about the soldiers, Earl, they're fighting for our freedom!"

Mr. Hill explains that his life isn't too eventful: "Sure, I like rodeo, and I do like to whittle, but not all that much."

When Earl gets Joy's refrigerator back, she's happy that she doesn't have to "keep the kids' antibiotics by the air conditioner" anymore.

The accurate depictions of Joy, Darnell, Earl Jr. and Dodge in Christmas cookie format.

Randy is constantly unaware of Earl's scams and compliments him when he finds out the truth. "Oh, man, I cried so much, you have no idea. I can't even tell you about the nightmares I've been having." And at the end, the ultimate show of Randy's gullibility: "I believed in that list for like, three years!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life: Canyon Flowers

Creepy. That’s how I felt during this episode of Life. From the time where Crews and Charlie found the dead driver buried as the stigma of a flower display to the very end scene, I had that sub-conscious feeling where I wanted to crawl a bit out of my skin. It wasn’t the murder itself that skeeved me out … it was the suspects and locations that gave me a bit of the heebie-jeebies.

It’s always the crazy ones who do the killing: Squeaky was always on my list as one of the suspects. She tried to throw me off by saying that Johnny Hazlet came and killed Tex, which made me think that it was Clifton who performed the murder. The more I thought about it, and the more evidence that was revealed, it made sense that Squeaky was the only one who could have committed the murders. Particularly since she seemed content that business picked up at her museum right after his death.

Flint and Maude and Clifton: At first, it didn’t seem possible that any of these folks could commit the murder. I mean, Flint and Maude didn’t even go outside. Clifton became my main suspect after Squeaky said Johnny killed Tex. He mention himself that he looked like his grandfather, so there was a logical connection. Turns out they weren’t murderers at all. They were just weird.

Mickey connects some puzzle pieces together: Good news and bad news for Charlie. The good news is that Mickey gave Charlie some additional information that may or may not be connected to the Conspiracy. The bad news … it may be more of ‘may not’ than ‘may.’ You see, it seems like the information Mickey gave would have been a bit inaccurate when it came to who FBI agent Bodner was working for. Mickey said he was working for an assassin Charlie and Dani captured last season. But, after the FBI agent visited Charlie at his house, it looks like it might be the other way around.

Ted gets busted: Charlie is a good cop. But, he sometimes gets involved in things he shouldn’t; even when he’s duly warned. Thusly, because he ended up visiting Mickey, Ted is in some serious trouble. When he mentioned to Charlie that he would never survive another run in lock up I should have realized that was some foreshadowing to his future circumstances. After catching Charlie Sr. instead of Olivia on the cell phone, being arrested was the end to a real crappy day.

The Los Angeles Museum of Murder and Mayhem (LAMoMaM): I did a quick check and there is no such thing as the LAMoMaM. That’s a good thing, because the place freaked me out. Especially when Crews and Dani went back after getting news of gunshots. Seeing all those displays of dead and dismembered victims made me, for just a second, want to turn away from the screen. Quite freaky.

The “non-relationship” relationship talk between Reese and Tidwell: The relationship issues between Dani and Tidwell took a back seat to the murder investigation. There was still one moment between them where the Captain stated he wanted two kids and Reese responded, “Good luck with that.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pushing Daisies: The Legend of Merle McQuoddy

On this episode of Pushing Daisies, Charles Charles is still alive and well-ish thanks to Ned's powers and Chuck's reckless decisions — but let's just say gratitude isn't exactly the first emotion he's showing. Meanwhile, Shane Botwin turns up as the son of a lighthouse operator who's been fried to death on her own spotlight. It may have been one of my favorite Daisies episodes of all time.

Chuck thinks that watching Ned and Charles fight is kind of cute — like she's any other girl whose boyfriend and dad don't get along. She says they can pretend to be the teenagers they never were, the star quarterback and the head cheerleader deep in puppy love, fighting against a dad who's protective and overbearing. But Ned? Ned's not so interested in going toe-to-toe with Charles Charles. Looming over their whole relationship is one uncomfortable little fact: Ned killed Charles (albeit inadvertently). And Charles doesn't seem at all interested in forgiving Ned's adolescent mistakes, dropping little reminders into every interaction (like putting "the last 20 years of my life back" on the grocery list).

This could be bad for Ned, very bad: Word could get out about what he does, and he figures it's not a big leap from there to angry mobs with pitchforks. But Charles has no interest whatsoever in obeying Ned's guide to the "alive-again lifestyle" (which involves things like announcing when you're moving around and, you know, not driving around in public with mummy bandages on your face — or, worse in the case of Charles, without mummy bandages on your face). He can't believe Chuck would choose such a small and restricted life and instead asks her to run away with him, to "choose cake over pie" and go on grand adventures like he promised her as a child. Ultimately, Chuck chooses Ned, but when they head upstairs for the apology they believe is coming from Charles, there's just an ominous note on his empty chair: "I chose, too."

Meanwhile, Olive and Emerson take on the lighthouse case together, which is quirky even by Daisies standards, involving a singing barbershop quartet of raincoat-clad sailors, a castaway rescued by a gay family cruise, and a murderer whose idea of a good time is making dioramas of her dead "notable husband" with glitter everywhere. Frankly, I didn't even bother to follow all its twists and turns — I was just in it for the spectacle. And, ultimately, there's a sweet ending: Olive cracks the case (!) by admitting her still-burning love for Ned, and Emerson tells her that if the Pie Hole ever gets too unpleasant as her crush cavorts with someone else, he has a PI job waiting for her.
Some other thoughts:

Olive's coordinated crime-fighting raincoats are genius! Olives for Olive, cod for Emerson, pies for Ned.

"Sometimes I just think to myself: Life. You can't make this crap up." — Annabelle

Also, "Such a depressing word, diorama." And "'Tis better to have loved and lost than to be you."

And "Shut the a-capel up." What a great episode for one-liners.

So many adorable Ned/Chuck plastic wrap kisses in this episode! I think my favorite, though, is the giant bear hug with the tarp after Ned tells Chuck he understands why she kept Charles alive.

I love Ned's aghast reaction to Charles saying he's not one for chocolate: "Everyone at least tolerates it!"

Will Charles Charles spill Ned's secrets? Are Chuck and Ned (especially Chuck) being too naive in believing that somehow, maybe they'll all be a big, happy family? And why am I not at all surprised that Lily hates clowns?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Neurotic Mixed with Beautiful

I'd probably say I'm a medium-sized fan of Woody Allen. If I were ordering a dose of Woody Allen at Starbucks, I'd probably get it in a grande cup. His nebbishy dialogue style grates on my nerves after too long, and some of his movies remind me of me at my most neurotic, which is tiring. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is more of the same Allenistic stuff I've grown to expect, but it's also given a refreshing jolt from the (mostly) talented and entirely beautiful cast. There's a nice balance of overthinky anxiety, wacky storyline, and attractive people to make this Woody Allen film a medium-sized, easy-to-drink treat.

The movie is narrated as though someone is reading us a story, and the detached commentary provides occasional insights into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, which I appreciated in this case. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are girlfriends who set off for a summer in Barcelona. They soon befriend a famous painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who is known for his volatile relationship with his ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).

Cristina becomes Juan Antonio's paramour, but before too long, Vicky finds herself drawn to him as well, despite her engagement to the wealthy, steady Doug (Chris Messina). The love triangle becomes a square when the emotionally unstable Maria Elena returns to live in Juan Antonio's house, which he now shares with Cristina. The tangled web gets messier — and funnier — as the summer goes on.

It's easy to relax into this Summer-in-Spain atmosphere, and the city lends a softer, friendlier vibe to the film than the usual fast-paced craziness of New York City, Allen's frequent location of choice. Bardem and Cruz are two of the hottest human beings ever, in my opinion, and both are superb as the love-crazed, passionate artists forever enmeshed in a love/hate, push-pull relationship. Even if they weren't superb, I would love watching them.

Using Spanish actors in a Spanish setting (as opposed to solely focusing on the Americans' experiences abroad) was wise, and these two often carry some of the wackier scenes simply because they are so comfortable in the setting. They're less easy with some of the anxious, uniquely Woody Allen-y dialogue, but frankly, so is Johansson. For all that talk of her being a "muse," she doesn't do very well with Allen's material. The one who really and truly does is Rebecca Hall, playing a character who thinks so much and so intensely about everything, she has a hard time just relaxing and being content. Sound like anyone else we could name? It's like she was born to star in a Woody Allen film, and I hope we get to see her in more of them.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I have never read a book by Anne Tyler before, and probably won't read another.

The characters were pretty boring. Some of them seemed to have interesting internal lives, and the sections of the book where the reader encountered a character alone were the best parts. But when interacting with each other they lost all dimension and the dialogue was flat and cliched.

The two little girls could have been given a lot more depth, considering they seemed to be the central characters of the book when they are first introduced. However, as the book goes on they have little interaction with the adult characters and seem more like stage props or pets. I guess, given the cover art, I thought the story would have been about the girls and that the reader would have been given more insight into their thoughts on being adopted, on growing up in American culture, etc. Just because they are children doesn't mean they can't have interesting perspectives on their situation.

Overall, it wasn't entirely poorly written, it was just boring and unengaging. Not to mention having to trudge through the pages and pages devoted to the "binky party," which really seemed to have no bearing on the rest of the plot at all.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Eli Stone: Help

When last I left Wethersby, Stone & Associates, Patti’s daughter Angela was in a world of hurt for having cocaine show up on her blood test for her DUI. Now Eli has a vision – of Patti singing the infamous Beatles song, no less (and isn’t Loretta Devine amazing?) – that his assistant needs his help. Which she does, because as Patti tells him in the midst of freaking out, Angela has now been arrested on drug charges. Cue Keith making his unhappy face.

Keith, Eli and Patti rush to Angela’s aid to find out she’s being accused of having stolen some fentanyl from the hospital she studies at in order to sell it for cocaine. Angela insists up, down and backwards that she’s innocent, which Eli believes because his vision had Patti telling him literally “She’s innocent.” Keith, on the other hand, is pretty sure she’s guilty, ticking off everyone else in the process. How cool is it, though, to see more of Jason George this season? Another under appreciated supporting actor.

Meanwhile, Matt and Taylor have no clue what to do with themselves. After apparently having a breakthrough last episode, Taylor is back to pushing Matt away. As in, she refers to him as the “biological father” when he says “boyfriend” to the nurse at her sonogram. Ouch! The final straw comes when Matt pulls strings to get Taylor into a Seal concert (more on that in a sec) and when he says “I love you,” she just blinks at him. This, of course, makes Matt incredibly angry, and he gives Taylor a lecture about how he’s finally in touch with his feelings and honestly in love with her before he walks off. I hate to repeat myself, but how cool is it to see Matt Dowd, of all people, become a character I honestly want to root for?

And in the ‘C’ story, Taylor finds out that her father’s second marriage is now on the rocks when she gets the call about his corporate credit card. Seems Mrs. Wethersby hasn’t been too happy with Jordan’s change of heart this season and they’ve separated. One has to feel for Jordan after all he’s done, especially when almost everyone else seems to be finding love – Keith and Angela, Matt and Taylor, Eli and his mystery date at the end of this episode (um, no), and let’s not forget Nate and Beth Keller. Neither of whom are in this episode. Darn.

Maggie is conned by some new annoying lawyer into helping a rich corporate heiress set up a trust fund. Which would suck if said heiress didn’t know Heidi Klum, who happens to be married to Seal, who happens to be Taylor’s favorite musician…yep, you guessed it. That’s how Matt got tickets to the Seal concert and it’s how Taylor gets Seal to perform on the law firm balcony as her way of sucking up to Matt and proving she really does have feelings for him. Aww. It would be cuter if the writers hadn’t insisted on making Taylor’s dialogue such a dead giveaway that there was going to be a random Seal appearance.

Back in the main story, Angela says she only did coke once at a party and offers up some guy to prove it. While looking for that guy, Keith finds someone else: Angela’s dealer, who says she was trading the fentanyl for cocaine. She’s very clearly guilty, no matter what Eli’s vision says. When Patti finally confronts her daughter (three episodes in the making!) the two have a massive argument where Angela tells Patti that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Eli is confused until Jordan confides that Patti was once an alcoholic until he intervened. She never went to rehab, though, simply stopped drinking, and Jordan wonders if this might push her over the edge. Eli finds her at her old bar, and listens to her talk about how hard she pushed her daughter and how she blames herself. When Patti told him “she’s innocent,” she didn’t mean legally, but she meant that she blames herself for everything going on around her, and that’s why she needs Eli’s help.

The boys broker a deal for Angela that keeps her out of jail, even if she will have a hard road to get back to medical school. Matt and Taylor make up. Jordan…mopes. And in what seems like “we stuck it on the end of the episode because we ran out of time to do it properly,” Eli goes on a blind date with some woman named Ashley.